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Comparing Smart and Traditional Locks

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Locks

Technology has shaken the lock and security industry up quite a bit in recent years, with major advancements made to lock technology that has remained stable for centuries – and technically, millenia. In this blog entry, the experts at Top Locksmith will help provide our readers some detail as to the major differences between traditional locks and smart locks, with a highlighted emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of them both.


Traditional Locks

Traditional locks come in a wide variety of constructions. Basically, the term refers to all locks that don’t operate automatically, and need to be manually controlled in order to lock. These locks, today, often include deadbolt locks, knob locks, and mortise locks. They are often activated by turning a key, twisting a thumbturn, or pressing a button – and deactivated with similar manual gestures.


How Traditional Locks Work

Most of these locks are operated with keys, that activate the locking technology, locking or unlocking the entire thing. These include pin tumbler locks, rim locks, and mortise locks. For example, pin tumbler locks are some of the most common locks used in normal homes. It works with a collection of springed pins that are placed inside cylinders. The cylinders have a series of both key pins and driver pins. When the matching key is placed inside it, the key pins are raised, moving the driver pins up, and alighting them at the shear line – allowing the key to turn to lock or unlock the door. The wrong key will misalign the pins, preventing the lock from being able to be opened.


Security of Traditional Locks

This varies! Some traditional locks are secure, and some are really not. Deadbolts, for example, of the single or double cylinder varieties, are known as being very secure – but only when used correctly. Deadbolts are graded by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on a scale of 1-3, with Grade 1 being the strongest.


There’s many ways to improve the existing security of a traditional lock by adding on enhancements like solid metal striking plates, or extending the deadbolt throws or screws. Many locks can resist forced entry attempts like lock bumping or picking. However, a lock is only as strong as it is properly installed. You need to make sure that the frame is secure, and that the lock is firmly and perfectly installed to make the most of it.


Smart Locks

Smart locks are automated traditional locks, at least in their most simple varieties. They allow for lock mechanism to be activated electronically and sometimes at a remote distance. They have a different human-interface process than non electronic traditional locks. Smart locks, as opposed to non smart electronic locks, can usually be operated via an app or program on a smartphone, as well as have cross-operation with other kinds of smart devices. Smart locks keep a usage record of their access history, and provide much more practical comfort than traditional locks, as they eliminate the need to search for keys. However, they may not be as secure, as their manufacturers place an emphasis on convenience, rather than plainly security – but this isn’t ALWAYS the case.


How Smart Locks work

Smart locks require the receipt of a cryptographic key code in order to lock or unlock. The keys for operating smart locks can come in many forms. Some are special key fobs that are automatically sensed when they are in proximity of the lock. Some are controlled through software on one’s phone. Smart locks can be integrated with other smart home security devices to only operate in turn with a series of authentication processes with other devices.


Smart Lock Security

Smart locks do offer the security benefit of remote monitoring and tracking of the lock usage, as well as the option to lock your doors even while you are away. However, they do not often change the manual construction of traditional locks, so they aren’t making any major physical improvements to security. Most smart locks work with deadbolts, meaning yes, they are way more secure than a simple Euro cylinder lock, however sometimes this means that they have limited options for interface – meaning that sometimes they can’t work with lever handles, or cannot work with double cylinder deadbolts. Sometimes smart locks require their own brand’s hardware to be installed to work. Since it’s harder to make custom modifications to smart locks, they might be more vulnerable to burglar bypass methods that these modifications would offer protection from. Additionally, they are somewhat vulnerable to cyber attacks – but it should remain said that the average neighborhood burglar isn’t going to be hacking into your smart lock software to access your home.


There’s many benefits to both traditional and smart locks. Traditional locks offer the ability to broad customization and integration of multiple security layers, while smart locks offer the fantastic option of being able to monitor one’s lock access history, as well as activate locks from a far distance. Which one is best, is really up to you, based on your particular security needs.

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