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Advice on Choosing an Electronic Digital Door Lock

Updated: 06/16/2024
electronic door lock

Electronic digital door locks are becoming more and more popular, and there are a great many to choose from, but which one is best for you?

Before you start looking, there are a few things to consider, so check out the list below:

  • How secure do you need it to be?
  • What method of entry do you want, code number, swipe card or tag, fingerprint recognition or how about using your smartphone as your key?
  • Is your door suitable for a digital lock?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many people are going to be using it, and do they each need a different code?
  • How easy is it to change the code?

Digital Mortice Lock

There are a few different types of lock that we shall talk about first, and we will start with the most common one to be found at the moment, which is a digital mortice lock.

A digital mortice lock is one where the lock body is cut into the actual door, and then a face plate is attached to the front and back of the door. They usually have a sprung latch to hold the door closed, and then a mortice bolt shoots out to provide strength and security. The hole or mortice is often quite large, and although a competent DIYer could do it, it is one of those jobs that can go horribly wrong so maybe get a locksmith in for this one.

There are quite a few that are quite similar, and the most common by far is the Yale YM3109. Other makes include Hafele EL8000, Gateman and Schlage. Prices range from $500 to over $1000. If you need more than one code number, then check before you buy. For example, the Yale YM 3109 only has one numerical code, whereas some others have up to 25 codes at one time.

Digital Deadbolt

This type of lock is probably your cheapest option and for most is the easiest one to retrofit. A deadbolt is the type of lock with a ‘bolt’ that is slid into the doorframe when you turn the key. It is one of the most robust and most secure types of lock, but you do need to have a spring latch to hold the door shut.

This is one lock that can be fitted by a competent DIYer, but with electronic deadbolts they have to be fitted well. If there is any catching at all the lock will soon fail. If you already have a deadbolt, then you can swap the old mechanical one for the new digital one without having to drill more holes.

There are quite a few on the market with by far the most common again being the Yale. Other makes include Windsor, Schlage, Assa Abloy and prices range from $220 to $600. They usually have up to 25 or more programmable codes and the latest ones will also work using your smartphone.

Digital Deadlatch

These come in a variety of subtypes but generally can be identified as being locks that screw onto the back of the door with only one hole through the door and no mortice to be cut out a little like a night latch.

On the face of it these should be the easiest to fit but take care as with all locks there is only ever a small leeway for error. Prices start at around $250. Examples of these include the Hafele ER4800

Smart Lock Keyless Entry

These are the cutting edge of lock technology and work by using your smartphone to control your lock via an app. All of the big technology companies are getting in on the act but beware as each one ties you into their own system. Most also tie into home automation so if you want to turn on your light or close your curtains from work then you can.

One of the most fantastic things about this lock is that it is simple to fit but also you do not have to take your phone out of your pocket to unlock the door. The device can detect your approach and unlock the door for you and also lock the door automatically when you leave. This is the latest technology so prices start at around $700.

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