The single most important feature in home security is a secure lock. Every lock is designed to keep your door closed. However, not all locks are created equal. Some locks are merely practical, some offer mild protection against unwanted access, while others focus on security beyond the door itself. Determining the most secure locks for your home may be more complicated than it seems.
So, which locks provide the best security? Security may not be the easiest thing to define. Some consider security an idea. However, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) knows how to establish security and generates a security rating for all locks. According to their system, the most secure locks are those that possess a Grade 1 rating. Most residential properties can be well secured with a Grade 2 rated lock, but the MOST SECURE locks with have a Grade 1 rating.
Types of Door Locks
You may be surprised to know that there are well over two-dozen different types of locks, from padlocks to complicated pinion locks, there is a lock made to protect just about anything. When it comes to door locks, thankfully the field narrows significantly. However, there are still several door locks options to choose from, each with their own strengths, and obvious weakness.
Deadbolt is often considered the most secure type of lock. What makes deadbolts unique is that they cannot be moved easily from the locked to unlock position. All deadbolts require some type of rotation to disengage the lock. How the lock is operated determines which type of deadbolt it is.
Single-cylinder deadbolts are perhaps the most common. These are the type of deadbolt that features a keyhole on one side and a thumb turn on the other; allowing both key and non-key operation depending on which side of the door you are on. Usually, the thumb turn is found on the interior of a door; allowing the door to be secured from the inside without the need of a key.
Double cylinder deadbolts look and operate in much the same as a single-cylinder; with one significant difference. A key is required to lock or unlock the deadbolt from either side of the door. The risk of a double cylinder deadbolt is that there is no way to unlock the deadbolt in an emergency. Therefore, these types of deadbolts are rarely used in primary entrances or fire exits.
Lockable Thumb turn
Another type of deadbolt is one with a lockable thumb turn. These bolts feature a traditional key lock on one side and a thumb turn on the other side. However, inside the thumb turn is an additional key lock; this allows the best of both worlds.
You can have a traditionally secured single-cylinder style deadbolt or lock the inside, preventing the thumb turn from being able to lock or unlock the door. These locks are often found in areas where children may be able to lock a door keeping adults out. Locking the thumb turn eliminates the risk of accidentally being locked out without a key.
Jimmy proof deadbolts are mounted on the interior surface of a door instead of part of the actual door. Jimmy proof locks used cylinders that when engaged, prevents the door and jam for being separated. These are standard locks in apartment buildings or as an added security measure since they can be installed on almost any door easily.
The type of lock that people are probably most familiar with handles locks, these are built right into the doorknob. There are a few different options in traditional handle locks, though they work essentially the same.
You use either a key tumbler or a thumb turn (or other unlock option) to engage the locking mechanism, which only prevents the cylinder from being turned to open the door. Handle locks are the least secure type regular door lock.
Knob locks are built into a regular round doorknob. Knob locks can be either key or thumb turn operated; some also feature a hidden unlock that uses a special pin to disengage the lock through a hole in the knob.
Lever Handle Locks
Lever handle locks work just like knob locks except for the long, bar-style handle. Lever handle locks are often used in schools, and places where those using the door may have dexterity issues.
Barrel Bolt and Chain Lock
Both barrel bolts and chain locks provide very limited security. Each operates by connecting the door to the jam, either by manually sliding a cylinder or attaching a chain. Where these types of locks work are when they are used at or near the top of a door to prevent children from access. They will not keep an intruder from entering your home.
Electronic Locks are the lock for the modern age. Available with a wide range of technology built into the lock, electronic locks are some of the most secure lock options if you can afford them.
Sensor locks, sometimes called automatic locks, usually use infrared technology to sense movement or detect a signal that will operate the lock allowing the door to be accessed or not. You may recognize this type of lock from a hotel room, by swiping a card the electron sensor triggers the lock to disengage, allowing you to open the door.
Smart locks are the newest type of locks available and feature some high-tech features depending on the make and model. Most smart locks use remote access features, meaning you can use your smartphone or even a key fob to unlock the door without ever having to touch a thing.
Smart locks often have additional features such as video and audio components, touchpad pin access, and even voice control. All Smart locks still include traditional key access in case you or someone else does not have the smart device to unlock the door.
Bluetooth locks are some of the most popular smart locks. They use Bluetooth technology to sense your proximity (your smartphone) automatically unlocking. Bluetooth enabled locks to require small proximity between you and the lock in order to work.
The biggest downfall to a Bluetooth lock is the potential for interference with other devices that you may have connected to the Bluetooth on your smartphone. If you purchase a smart lock with Bluetooth capability, you will want to ensure it has the latest Bluetooth technology, which has more integrated protection against interference.
Wi-Fi is another type of smart lock that uses your internet to operate the lock. With a Wi-Fi lock, you get the added feature of remote access allowing you to operate your lock from anywhere right on your smartphone. Wi-Fi locks, like most smart locks, have traditional key access in case of power or Wi-Fi failure.
Z-Wave smart locks use radio frequency languages. They all require a smart hub, which must be in the range of the lock to work properly. These smart locks can then be operated remotely through the smart hub and internet connection.
The strength and security of a lock are examined and assigned a rating from the American National Standards Institute or ANSI. They help to homeowners by preventing the take my word for its approach to the level of security a lock can provide. The ratings consider a lock’s durability as well as how much it can withstand forced entry.
Here are the ratings are given by the ANSI:
- Grade 1: This is the highest rating a lock can receive. Grade 1 deadbolts were once primarily limited to industrial buildings but are becoming more popular in residences.
- Grade 2: Many locks found in today’s homes are Grade 2 locks. Made with high-quality steel, grade 2 locks deter most intruders. Grade 2 locks are adequate for most residential needs.
- Grade 3: Grade 3 locks are made with substandard materials. While they may provide some level of protection, the lower quality materials will often fail when tested for durability and force.
Technology and Security
As smart technology advances the way we integrate technology and security, it is only natural that the way we use locks evolves too. We briefly covered smart locks by the way they are connected; there are many other advanced smart lock features that are worth a look.
Voice Operated Locks
These days, we can use our voice in connection with the enabled device to control so many things, from our lights to television, even many cars. Having the ability to use your voice to lock and unlock a door is a pretty cool trick.
The advanced voice recognition in many virtual assistant software, like Alexa or Siri, has now even made it possible to know if you are the person asking or if the voice is unknown. The technology is only going to continue to improve.
Smart Home Connectivity
The big focus of any smart tech is the ability to connect to a network of smart home devices. When you are looking for smart locks you will have to make sure that it will integrate with any existing devices you may already have, or if you need additional equipment.
The central unit of most smart home systems is a hub or smart device with a built-in hub. A hub is a smart device that acts as a director, controlling communication between multiple devices. Some smart speakers, like the Echo 2 from Amazon, have built-in smart hubs that allow you to connect a smart lock to Alexa. The hub will also be how you will be able to use your smartphone to control your lock remotely as well.
Smart Lock – Hackable or Secure?
It is only natural to wonder how secure a smart lock is, especially when we hear of hackers breaking into personal accounts almost daily. Security experts are divided on the issues around smart locks and their level of security. The biggest problem is how the lock and smart technology are integrated.
Smart Locks versus Traditional Locks
When smart locks are compared directly to traditional locks, and purposefully attempted to be bypassed, the result is that in most cases the smart lock requires more specific skill set than most common criminals possess, while a traditional lock may be picked or forced open.
The backup locking system in most smart locks use keys or other ways to use the lock, but they are often hidden, or only accessible from the protected side of the lock. This eliminates the ability for a run of the mill thief to pick or otherwise bypass the lock.
Technology is Improving
The truth is that traditional locks have been around for… well, forever. There is not going to be some miraculous advancement in locking technology that will throw a criminal for a loop. However, smart locks are going to continue to improve each year, as smart technology continues to advance. Criminals will be forced to find new ways to combat the locks or try a different approach.
The Truth About Lock Security
The reality is that a lock is only truly going to keep someone out of your home if they are not genuinely motivated to enter. No lock will work to keep out every criminal; even bank vaults fail occasionally. If someone wants to get into your home, they are going to find a way. The best you can hope for is to make it difficult enough they give up.
You can help improve any locks security level by increasing the strength of the installation. Using lock security grade screws to attach a strike plate to your door frame will allow you to use the framing to deter someone from kicking in a door. This can improve the security of even a cheaper deadbolt.
While you can, and should, take measures to get the strongest and most secure locks you can access, locks are only a fraction of a wider home security system; a small piece of a puzzle. Pairing a great quality lock with a well-designed home security system will offer you and your family the best chance against any unwanted visitors.
Top 5 Most Secure Door Locks
Secure locks are not all created equal, from the information above, you may understand how types of locks there are, making choosing just a few, a difficult task. However, thanks in part to the hardworking testing of ANSI, we can be sure that the locks below will provide a great level of security to your entry doors.
Standard Door Locks
Baldwin Prestige 380
Made of solid brass and hardened steel, this traditional single-cylinder deadbolt offers ANSI Grade 2 security while still being high design. The sturdy strike plate and long screws can withstand some hefty punishment. This lock also features a Smart key, Re-Key Technology, that allows you to change your key as often as you like.
This Baldwin lock is a medium-duty single-cylinder deadbolt with a thumb-turn on its inside. The deadbolt can be retracted or thrown by turning it or using a key, or using your thumb while you are inside.
This deadbolt comes with an innovative SmartKey security feature that protects the lock against common attacks such as lock picks. It is also strengthened to make it saw, drill, and kick-resistant. This makes the deadbolt ideal for securing your office, home, or job site from malicious intruders. It also features a rigid retractable bolt capable of sliding into the appropriate mortise in door frames when you close the door and turn the cylinder.
The SmartKey feature also allows you to change keys quickly and easily if you suspect someone has a copy of your key. Simply insert the current key, put in the SmartKey tool, and then remove the old key and insert the new one. All these details are well-explained in the instruction manual with pictures.
The deadbolt can be added to a standard doorknob lockset as an added level of security. With deadbolts, you are afforded an enhanced protection measure against break-ins, more so when you use them to supplement existing locksets.
Baldwin deadbolts guarantee superior performance and the luxury of several keying systems, making them perfect for restaurants, multi-family housing, and retail.
The locks are firmly attached to the door thanks to steel bolts. The bolts go through an inner cylinder housing or a steel plate and are directly threaded into the outer cylinder housing through the back.
Handling is non-handed, meaning you can use it on left-hand or right-hand doors swinging out or in.
Grade Two Baldwin deadbolts are designed with almost identical features to Grade Ones, including a variable backset with a removable anti-pry shield, tapered free-to-spin trim ring to counter wrenching, and a lock-in-place design.
The bolt is made of rigid zinc with a hardened anti-saw steel pin insert. Like other locks from Baldwin, this lock affords you the versatility of using it in any door in your home, including exterior doors.
- ADA-compliant thumb turn
- Latch tube design
- Incorporated anti-pry shield behind the cylinder assembly for extra security and fast installation
- Easy to install
- Tapered front to overcome wrenching
This lock is a chrome-finished deadbolt that can easily be paired with several knobs or handles. This lock is also ANSI Grade 2 and an all-around strong deadbolt. What makes the Falcon D241 unique is the lock’s heat-treated steel bolts and solid brass plug and housing. This deadbolt comes with a five-pin chamber by default. However, six and seven-pin cores can be found for added security against the lock being picked.
The Falcon brand has, in recent years, established itself as a household name. It is a brand synonymous with unrivaled quality and innovation, with its hardware offering superior designs to transform your house into a home. Falcon has continued to live up to the promise of delivering ultra-modern luxury to discerning architects, designers, and homeowners as proof of their time-tested prowess in making the best standard door locks.
Falcon collection deadbolts feature a high degree of elegance and style. You can get them in double and single-cylinder varieties, and they feature outstanding craftsmanship and a graceful, simple design to perfectly complement several themes and styles. All of the locks have a smart key system, an excellent innovation that lets you re-key locks on your own quickly and easily without needing the input of locksmiths. Furthermore, every deadbolt has a lifetime finish and mechanical warranty as a testament to the lock’s long life.
These locks have single-cylinder keyed entry functions, such as deadbolts and handle sets that are only keyed outward with the associated thumb turn on the interior, allowing for quick and easy locking or unlocking. Commonly, single-cylinder locks are employed in securing residential location entrances thanks to their easy usage and safety.
The re-key technology lets you re-key the locks in seconds. The lock had stainless steel pins, racks, and side-locking bars for added security and strength.
- Round single-cylinder deadbolt
- Effortless, easy access
- Superior security
- Conventional inspired design
- Includes a pair of keys, finish warranty, and lifetime mechanical
- Features SmartKey Security; easily re-key the lock in seconds
- The instruction manual could be better
Kwikset is a company that has established itself as one of the leading companies in lock manufacturing. It was established in 1946, and since then, they have innovated various unmatched locks that offer the best security features. The Kwikset 980S is one of their many creations that has exceeded industry standards and provides top-of-the-range security and home protection.
This seemingly simple deadbolt provides an amazing ANSI Grade 1 rating. This single-cylinder deadbolt features the traditional key and thumb turn design with added security features like the patented side locking bar technology.
When Kwikset set out to make this deadbolt, they wanted to make sure no homeowner ever had to settle for less or compromise on security. The deadbolt is one of the toughest on the market. Its strengthened build allows it to withstand attacks such as lock bumping to prevent unauthorized entry.
In addition, the deadbolt has received a BHMA/ANSI Grade 1 certification, the highest certification in residential security.
The latch is fully adjustable, allowing this deadbolt to fit into standard door sizes. It is easily turned by hand on the inside while relying on the key to open it from the outside.
The side locking bar uses patented technology for enhanced security to fend off conventional attacks against deadbolts, such as the use of pins.
When it comes to the exterior finish, the Kwikset 980S does not disappoint. It comes with a Venetian bronze finish that’s colored gold for a refined look and adds a rusty touch to your decor. You also get a lifetime warranty on the finish and mechanical parts when you purchase this product.
The lock is quite easy to install and only requires a screwdriver to install and operate within minutes. The lock also has Microban antimicrobial technology to keep its surface clean and protected from bacteria.
Rekeying this deadbolt is also easier now than ever before. The deadbolt comes with two keys and SmartKey security, allowing you to change the key to your lock in seconds. Simply insert your old key, then put in your smart key. Remove the old key and then insert your new key, and that’s it. Your new key is ready to use. You can check out this video for step-by-step instructions. In addition, the instruction manual is extremely detailed and comes with easy-to-read instructions on installing and using the deadbolt.
- Easy to install
- Changing the keys is fast
- Easy to open from the inside
- Smart security features protect it from attacks
- Lifetime warranty
- Rekeying can sometimes take a few tries before it works
August Smart Lock Pro
Technology has made our lives easier and more convenient. These advancements have also improved deadbolts and led to the development of smart locks with Wi-Fi connectivity that can be controlled by voice. The August Smart Lock Pro is one such lock that’s compatible with voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant. It allows keyless entry and gives you updates about your door lock activity, such as the mode of entry used (if it was manually or automatically locked or opened).
This is a retrofit lock, which is designed to be paired with a deadbolt, replacing the interior thumb-turn side of the deadbolt. The lock has automatic locking features, including geofencing. There are electronic keys and virtual keys that you can share with anyone you want through your smartphone.
This smart lock is one of the locks that scores five stars on its lock features, ease of use, and simplified installation. It locks and unlocks automatically, meaning that even if you forget to lock it, you don’t have to worry about it staying that way for too long. You can set the auto-lock feature to delay for up to 30 minutes.
Even more, it has a hands-free feature that recognizes you automatically when you arrive and unlocks the door for you.
If you want to share access with your loved ones, you can generate virtual keys that give them shared access.
The app that comes with the lock also offers many advantages, especially in monitoring and controlling your lock. Even if you lose your physical key, you can still use the app to gain access to your home.
In addition, you can use it to grant guests access and monitor who comes and leaves your home. The connected Wi-Fi bridge allows you to do all these remotely. You can also set a time limit on guest access, thus allowing access for a set amount of time.
The smart notifications feature can be set to notify you when specific people come and leave. This makes it easy to monitor activities, such as when your kids get home from school or when your babysitter or dog walker comes and leaves.
Besides the smart lock included in the package, you also get a lock adapter and mounting hardware to make it easy for you to install. In addition, they’ve included four double A batteries to get you started. The DoorSense Sensor monitors and logs the lock activity while the August Wi-Fi bridge connects it to your phone.
- Monitors entry and leave activities
- The lock can be controlled remotely
- You can have shared access using virtual keys
- Automatically locks when you are away
- Not compatible with AppleHome kit
The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt
This deadbolt is similar to the August lock above, except it replaces your entire lock and gives you a keypad entry. You can easily manage your Sense Smart lock from your smartphone and activate or delete access codes whenever necessary. The Sense Smart also works with all major virtual voice assistants. This lock requires Schlage Sense Wi-Fi for voice control and remote access.
The idea behind the Schlage Sense smart deadbolt is simply to improve your life and make it easier and more convenient. The keypad takes away the need to carry keys with you and the worry of losing them. In addition, the lock is compatible with Android and iPhones, and there’s an app to monitor and control the lock.
One of the best features of this deadbolt is how you can assign virtual keys to up to 30 people. This allows you to accommodate your family and other people, such as dog walkers or a babysitter. It also makes it easier to know who came in since unique access codes can be assigned to the names of those who have access.
With the Wi-Fi adapter (sold separately), you can access the notifications remotely from the comfort of your phone. The Wi-Fi connectivity also enables voice control, allowing you to give the lock commands through Siri or Google Assistant.
You can also pair the deadbolt with your phone using Bluetooth so that it detects it when you are home and unlocks it. However, it is important to note that Bluetooth connectivity does not allow remote control.
The deadbolt also has an alarm that detects potential door attacks and alerts you. The Schlage Sense app also updates the lock and lets you enjoy new features immediately.
This lock also has an impressive battery life and is one of the easiest to install and use(you just need a screwdriver). There are backup keys, and since the lock uses removable batteries, you can still rely on it to function even when there is a power outage.
Schlage has been in the industry for more than nine decades, which is why they have complete faith in their products. To ease your mind, they offer a limited lifetime guarantee on the mechanical components and the finish of this deadbolt. There is also a three-year warranty on the electronics.
- It can be used even when there is no power
- Excellent warranty coverage
- You can share access codes with up to 30 people
- The deadbolt can be remotely controlled and monitored
- Alarm technology senses door attacks
- The remote functionality is not reliable
Locks are often the primary source of protection for any home. Door locks can be easily upgraded to add an extra layer of security to the main access point of your home. We hope that you have found the information we have provided helpful in understanding the different types of locks, and possibly even some ideas for lock upgrades that you may want to make. We wish you and yours all the best. Stay Safe!