THE PATHFINDER TO YOUR DOOR LOCK
The most important things to know
to choose meaningfully.
A door lock is a mechanical or electro-mechanical fastening and resisting mechanism between two surfaces, namely the door and the frame.
When it comes to security, door locks are sometimes overlooked by homeowners that prioritise the adoption of security cameras and sirens. However, the reality is that most break-ins usually happen through a home door. For instance, in the case of England and Wales, 70% of the incidents of domestic burglary in a dwelling occur through a home door1. The adoption of a high-security door lock is, therefore, a remarkable solution to increase the peace of mind.
Smart door locks, also, to prevent break-ins pursue the goal of providing homeowners and renters with additional convenience. If you decide to install a smart door lock, you will be able to know when the door is opened, to enable home entries from remote, to assign dedicated keys to friends and family members, to integrate door locks as part of different scenes and much more.
The main components of a standard door lock are:
- The Lock Body. Also known as the cylinder, is the part of the lock where you insert the key. The insertion of the right key generates the displacement of a chain of pins that in normal conditions, keep the cylinder from turning. The movement of the pins, in turn, releases the cylinder, allowing in this way that the deadbolt (next component on the list) can move and disengage from the door frame.
- Deadbolts and Latches. These are the parts that extend from the door and engage in the doorframe. The main goal of deadbolts and latches is to hold the door in place.
While latches can be found on most doors, deadbolts are typical from external doors like the front door of a house. Latches consist of spring-loaded bolts, with an angled surface on the top, that move back and forward based on any applied pressure. Doors equipped with latches generally lock automatically after being closed, and it is when door handles or doorknobs are turned to open the door that latches retract and disengage. Deadbolts instead do not count on a spring system, do not present any angled surface, are thicker than latches, do not rely on any doorknob or door handle and engage and disengage just with the use of a key or turn knob.
- The Strike Plate. It is the plate attached to the doorframe, and it is used to guide the bolt into the small square-shaped hole. It is designed to hold the bolt tightly into the doorframe when the lock is engaged.
Time saved thanks to the possibility of managing home accesses from remote and controlling the status of the home door without displacements.
No direct impact on the physical environment.
Peace of mind increased thanks to the possibility of tracking who enters and leaves your home and eventually avoiding break-ins through preventive alerts.
No direct impact on home costs.
Doors can present different types and number of door locks. The main types that can be found on residential external doors are the following:
These refer to the traditional door locks that require a physical key to be opened. There are five main sub-categories of mechanical door locks:
- Mortice Locks. A mortice lock is a mechanical lock that is fitted into a pocket of the door. They are very common and usually present a deadbolt, a latch or a combination of both. This combination is known as a mortice sash lock.
- Single Cylinder Locks. These present a keyhole on the exterior side of the door and a turn knob on the interior so that the door can be locked and unlocked from the interior without the need of a key. This can be problematic if someone reaches access to the turn knob through a close window.
- Double Cylinder Locks. These present keyholes both on the exterior and interior sides of the door, increasing the level of security but also hindering the way out in case of emergency.
- Multi-Point Locks. As the name indicates, multi-point locks are made of several locking points that engage and disengage with the use of a single key or turn knob. They generally include a latch, a deadbolt and additional hook and compression bolts. To operate them properly, it is necessary to follow a specific sequence that typically consists of lifting the door handle, turning the key and bringing the door handle back to the resting position.
- Night Latches. These are fitted on the surface of the door, and when the door is closed, the night latch automatically keeps the door in place. It can be distinguished between:
- Non-Deadlocking Night Latches. This solution does not make it possible to lock the latch from the outside with a key. In this way, it prevents that someone remains closed inside the home.
- Deadlocking Night Latches. These are the same as non-deadlocking night latches with the difference that the latch can be locked from outside. To open the lock from inside it will be needed the key.
- Auto-Deadlocking Night Latches. These lock the latches automatically when the door is closed. Additionally, when closing the door, a pin is depressed to deadlock the latch and prevent slipping. To open the lock is needed a key.
These locks instead of using traditional keys support themselves on an electrical current that activates an electromagnet, a motor or a solenoid. These locks can be operated through an authentication token (for instance swipe cards and infrared digital devices), a radio-frequency identification device (for instance Bluetooth enabled smartphones), an access code (inserted on integrated keypads and touchscreens) or biometrics (integrated fingerprint readers, retina/iris scanners, face and voice recognisers).
Many electronic locks come with a combination of the key system so that in case your primary authentication method is not identified as valid, and you can still use an emergency one.
Some electronic locks also have a remote entry system (can be easily operated by a smartphone) to enable other people entering into your home.
These locks combine features of both mechanical and electronic locking systems. Either through retrofit or complete replacement of mechanical door locks, hybrid door locks offer the possibility of continue using traditional keys with the convenience and additional advantages of electronic locks.
If you are thinking about keeping your home safe while increasing convenience and control electronic and hybrid door locks may provide you with the features that you are looking for. Before making a choice, there are certain factors that you may want to consider:
If you want to forget about traditional keys, electronic door locks might be the right fit for you. Instead, if you wish still to keep traditional keys as a valid entry method, then a hybrid door lock might be the right solution for you. In this case, you will have to decide between keeping your existing deadbolt (some electronic door locks clamp on the interior side of your current lock) or replacing your current deadbolt by a new one. In any case, make sure that the door lock is compatible with your current (lock types, door thicknesses supported and backset distance, which is the distance between the edge of the door and the centre of the hole of the deadbolt).
Most smart locks work on batteries, and for this reason, you may want to choose a lock with long battery life. Generally speaking, Bluetooth door locks consume much less energy than Wi-Fi ones. Make sure as well to choose a door lock that informs you about low-battery status.
There are a wide variety of entry methods that can be supported by door locks. Make sure to select the ones that support your preferred ones: physical keys, tags, cards, codes inserted on keypads and touchscreens, fingerprint reading, retina and iris scanning, face and voice recognition or proximity and remote enabled access.
There are door locks that combine different types of alerts so to adequately warn you of a potential security issue both when you are at home and when you are away. They notify you when there is an attempt of meddling with the lock, or in case wrong passcodes have been inserted repeatedly. The most common type of alerts is audible alerts (sound), visual alerts (emit light) and remote mobile alerts (send a push notification, email and others).
Auto-locking and auto-unlocking systems automatically lock and unlock the door when you leave the house or enter it. A feature that you may appreciate once you are in bed ready to go to sleep and you are not sure of having locked the door, or while running out of the home with your hands busy.
1 Office for National Statistics, Overview of burglary and other household theft: England and Wales. Accessed September 2019. <https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/overviewofburglaryandotherhouseholdtheft/englandandwales#what-is-known-about-the-nature-and-circumstances-of-such-incidents>.