Electronic Door Locks vs. Mechanical Locks: Which One Is Safer?

Lately, it seems like almost everything is going digital. Our door locks are no exception.

Gone are the days when traditional mechanical locks were your only option at the local hardware store. Now, a trip into town or online reveals various locking systems, ranging from old-fashioned deadbolts to ultra-modern electronic door locks.

While these new models have more bells and whistles than the ones you grew up with, are they safer?

While electronic locks have made major strides since their initial debut, they remain susceptible to hacking and cybercrime, while mechanical ones are susceptible to being picked. Ultimately, homeowners will need to decide which system is more appropriate for their properties depending on the pros and cons of each.

Pros of electronic door locks:

  • It can be controlled remotely using a smartphone app or web interface
  • It can be programmed to allow access to specific people at specific times
  • Can be easily changed or updated to allow/deny access to certain individuals
  • Can record the activity and provide a log of who entered and exited the door
  • Some models have built-in alarm systems or can be integrated with a home security system
  • It can be used with other smart home devices to create a fully automated system.

Cons of electronic door locks:

  • It may be more expensive than mechanical locks.
  • Dependent on the power source or batteries, which may need to be replaced
  • It may be vulnerable to technical issues or malfunctions
  • It may be vulnerable to hacking or security breaches.

Pros of mechanical door locks:

  • Can be more durable and long-lasting than electronic locks
  • Do not require a power source or batteries
  • It may be less expensive than electronic locks
  • It can still provide a high level of security, depending on the type of lock used

Cons of mechanical door locks:

  • Cannot be controlled remotely
  • Cannot be easily changed or updated to allow/deny access to certain individuals
  • Cannot record activity or provide a log of who entered and exited the door
  • It cannot be integrated with a home security system or other smart home devices

We’ll share the benefits and drawbacks of each kind of system, along with its associated security features.

The Issue of Access Control

One of the main pain points of mechanical door locks is that once someone knows how to open them, they have free, unlimited access to your home. There are some instances in which you might prefer this! For instance, you might have a housekeeper, babysitter, or relative who needs to enter your home regularly when you aren’t there.

However, you don’t want a potential intruder reaching under your mat and obtaining the same key. While you can always change your hiding spot, you can never guarantee it won’t be discovered.

On the other hand, electronic door locks are keyless. To permit someone to enter, you must assign them a personal, four-digit, or six-digit PIN. When they no longer need access to your home, you can disable that PIN. Some advanced systems will even allow you to customize a set time of day when the PIN is valid so that no one can enter at midnight without your approval!

High-Tech Options and Add-Ons

Door handle with Electronic keypad

While modern electronic lock systems are more sleek and difficult to hack than ever before, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, until recently, these types of systems were no more secure than a manual deadbolt.

Anyone close to the door at the time of opening could discern the PIN code and essentially gain access to the “key.” Moreover, the most basic systems still allow a mechanical key cylinder.

However, more recent models operate via wireless control, offering security and peace of mind. A useful feature is whether your electronic system has a keypad; most of these systems use standard communication technologies, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, to operate.

The only drawback? This setup opens the doors for potential cybercriminals to hack into the door system, overcoming myriad security obstacles to gain entry. Thankfully, there are a few best practices that concerned homeowners can follow to keep their property protected. These include:

  • Choosing a challenging, hard-to-crack access code
  • Not sharing your code with any unauthorized person
  • Keeping all codes in a secure location
  • Keeping any backup mechanical keys in a secure location
  • Changing your code after any security incident
  • Keeping batteries up to date and electronic systems well-maintained

In addition, users should take the time to leverage all the safety features that their electronic locks include—from remote connectivity and integrated alarm technology to auto-open and auto-lock tools.

Emergency Access

Anyone who’s ever fumbled at their front door while balancing an armful of groceries and a set of keys knows that mechanical locks can be cumbersome. Even the best locks can be difficult to open, especially in a hurry.

That’s why, in the event of an emergency, when you’re in a rush to get inside your home, electronic door locks are preferred. Quick access allows you to enter in seconds. You can also automatically open the door for a loved one via your smartphone, even if you’re miles away.

Quick access to this technology makes all the difference if an intruder or any other suspicious person is on your property.

Alarms and Notifications

If someone breaks into your home by breaking your mechanical door lock, the only notification you’ll receive is the sound of your home alarm if you set it up. While this noise can alert neighbors that something is amiss, it isn’t much of a deterrent if you live in a more rural area.

You might receive a personal notification if you’ve invested in a professionally monitored home alarm system. However, research shows that only 22% of homeowners have done so.

The good news? Most modern electronic door systems include tamper alarms, remote access capabilities, and user notifications, so you’re aware of any compromise in real-time. This can empower you to take quicker action.

Installation and Troubleshooting

Another benefit of electronic deadbolt, keyless deadbolt, and locking systems is that they’re easier to install in most cases than their mechanical counterparts. They’re also a cinch to retrofit onto an existing doorframe.

In addition, troubleshooting support is typically offered through the manufacturer in the form of a mobile app, online chat function, or digital library of Q&A guides and step-by-step instructions.

Stay Safe by Investing in Electronic Door Locks

Ultimately, both mechanical and electronic door locks have their pros and cons. While the former might be tried-and-true, it’s also not tamper-proof and can easily be compromised.

At the same time, while electronic locks have made major strides since their initial debut, they remain susceptible to hacking and cybercrime. Ultimately, homeowners will need to decide which system is more appropriate for their properties depending on the pros and cons of each.

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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