Electronic Door Locks – Fad or Feature?

Technology is invading our homes, and the newest invasion is in that which is intended to keep people out.  High-tech locks include fingerprint, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled systems, are threatening to make house keys as obsolete as rotary phones.  Do these electronic door locks make your home any more secure?  Is this just a fad, or a value giving sales feature for your home?

The first part to examine is the types of locks that are available.

  • Biometric: Locks that recognize your fingerprints and open with a swipe of your finger. ($280-$340)
  • Key fob (proximity lock): Carry a fob in your pocket, and these locks open automatically or with a simple tap; or press the fob button and unlock the door as soon as you pull into the driveway. ($220)
  • Smart phone-controlled: Your smart phone syncs with your lock via Bluetooth, enabling you to control entrance remotely and keep track of who comes and goes. Some locks recognize your phone and open automatically as you approach. Some will text you when someone else opens the door. ($200)
  • Surveillance lock: Combines easy access with surveillance and takes a picture of whoever opens your door. You can program codes for specific people, and the lock will offer a warm LED greeting when they arrive. ($280)
The next thing you want to consider is will you like it.
Let’s be honest, that’s quite a bit of money to plop down on just a lock for one door.  So how do you know that it’s worth all that money?  Well, if you are not tech savvy, you will not like it at all.  Like all new “smart” devices, you have to be able to know (or at least willing to learn) how to use it.
Latch key kids have been around for decades now.  These systems make it easier for those children who arrive home before their parents.  There’s no need to worry about losing a key, as a simple swipe of the finger or code will let them into the house.
It’s definitely a conversation starter.  Imagine walking up to a house and seeing a glowing blue keypad, demanding your attention.  That makes it a selling point for sure.  But until we hit the future or find the next “big” thing, we’ll never know if it’s just a current fad or a true feature.  If you’re looking to sell soon, it’s still a feature, but down the line it may fade into fad obscurity.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the security aspect.
 Just because it’s newer and flashy, does it mean it’s better?  We’ve all fell prey to the newest fad thinking it was better, only to find out it had fatal flaws.  You would think that with the high price for a lock on one door you are getting better protection.  So the big question is do electronic key locks make your house any more secure than traditional key locks?  That answer is no, however depending on the type and brand it is not any worse either!
Burglars are criminals of opportunity and look for the least resistance.  Statistics show that they are more likely to use an unlocked door or pry open a window or door.  In fact, criminals admit that security systems with camera surveillance, not locks regardless of the type, are the biggest deterrent against burglaries.

Consumer’s Report tested several types of locks. The top-rated Medeco Maxum 11WC60L, a regular keyed lock that costs $190, defied forced entry (the most common type of home break-in) better than the high-tech locks tested.  Which points to the fact that electronic door locks are for convenience, not security.

In fact, several flaws have been known to come up with these locks.  In testing, a team of British lock hackers easily opened a fingerprint-reading lock by inserting a paperclip into its backup key chamber.  Since they are electric, any power outage or circuit board failure will cause the system to shut down, requiring you to use the back up key entry.
What you’re looking at now is that an electronic door lock will be a value increasing selling feature that could provide convenience for your family.  However, this trend may not last a few years down the road.  To get more information on improvements that will increase the value of your home, call Helen today at 847.967.0022 or email [email protected].