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.
Best Standard Door Locks
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 stand up to some hefty punishment. This lock also features Smart key, Re-Key Technology, that allows you to change your key as often as you like.
This lock is chrome finished deadbolt that can easily be paired with several knobs or handles. This lock is also ANSI grade 2, it’s just an all-around strong deadbolt. What makes the Falcon D241 unique is the locks heat-treated steel bolts and solid brass plug and housing. This deadbolt comes with a 5-pin chamber by default, however, 6 and 7-pin cores can be found for added security against the lock being picked.
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.
Best Smart Locks
This is a retrofit lock, which is designed to be paired with a deadbolt, replacing the interior, thumb turn side of the deadbolt. This lock allows automatic locking possibilities including geofencing. This lock also allows the use of electronic keys, virtual keys that you can share with anyone you want through your smartphone. It also logs and tracks each time the lock is used. Works with most common virtual voice assistants including Alexa and Google Assistant, but is not compatible with AppleHome.
This deadbolt is very similar to the August lock above, except it replaces your entire lock and gives you keypad entry. You can easily manage your Sense Smart lock from your smartphone and activate or delete access codes whenever you need it. The Sense Smart also works with all major virtual voice assistants. This lock requires a Schlage Sense Wi-Fi for voice control and remote access.
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!