Electronic Door Locks: Types and Varieties
When it comes to electronic door locks, you’ll find a whole lot of variety. Some are new and high tech while others are classic and old school. Some are simple keypads while others are connected to your smartphone. Here are a few of the common types and varieties of electronic door locks that you can find to add to your home automation system.
Magnetic Locks and Electric Latch Release Locks
These are a couple of the common ways that electronic door locks actually work. A very basic electronic lock, the mag lock uses an electromagnet and armature to lock the door. This is slightly less convenient for use because you have to unlock it for both entry and exit through the doorway. Then there’s the electric latch release lock. Also called electric strikes, these replace the normal fixed strike plate; the ramped strike will move when the lock is operated correctly (without requiring a key). They can be configured to lock when power is employed or disconnected.
The most common types of electronic door locks have keypads. These more old school methods have a keypad with numbers or possibly letters, and you program them with a certain code (usually four to six digits in length) so that only application of the correct numerical code or password will allow entry access. Some of these have added features such as audible beeping for each key pressing. Some have added security features – for example, the ScramblePad will rearrange the numbers each time so that it is more difficult for someone to guess the access code.
Like at most hotels and many businesses, some electronic door locks have a place to swipe a security card. The cards are usually RFID cards, or Radio Frequency Identification Cards. The process works like a credit card swipe – the lock uses data transfer to access the appropriate credentials on the card.
For increasingly secure systems, biometric locks can be used. These will use fingerprint scanning, retinal scanning, voice identification, or other biometric readings to allow access.
There are several smartphone electronic door locks that have recently come out or are in development. These use a smartphone app to control the locks, and each works in a slightly different way. For example, some smart locks are individually customizable (with individual codes and access hours/days), send notifications upon entry and exit, and use Bluetooth to recognize and automatically unlock when an authorized phone is nearby. Others are simply placed over your existing deadbolt and connect to your smartphone that way to unlock the door. Some can even allow remote access for unlocking the door, while others require only that you tap the lock with your finger (recognizing the Bluetooth nearby).
Systems: Networked and Standalone
Electronic door locks are set up with two kinds of systems: networked and standalone. Networked locks are all centrally connected to a computer, which allows you to control all the connected doors from one place. Benefits include simplicity of access and the ability to lock all doors together, but a major downside is that it is less secure. On the other hand, standalone locks are unique to each door. The ups and downs are reversed for standalone locks – they are more secure, but they are less convenient to control because every door is individually managed. Unless your home is particularly large, a standalone system is probably sufficient.
If security is a major concern, the two factor authentication approach may be wise; install a locking system that employs multiple of these approaches to work together to unlock the door. And with all the developments in home automation over the years, there are yet more options for electronic door locks. Thankfully, electronic locks are as unique as you or I; thus, with a little luck, each of us can find the perfect lock to fit the needs of our own homes.