As with most complex questions, the answer is going to be “sometimes”. The case also differs greatly between residential and commercial high security locks applications.
All about high-security locks
‘Are high-security locks worth it,’ is a question two types of customers may ask. The first type of customer may want a little extra protection while looking for the cheapest solution. In the case of that type of customer, high-security locks may not be the right path. The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is true even when it comes to locks.
The second type of customer that may want a high-security lock is willing to pay a high price. Often such customers wish to keep expensive items secured behind a locked door. These people know the lack of a proficient lock would result in a significant loss financially.
If you are looking for the best door locks for home security, then you need to figure out what type of customer you are. In the end, a typical lock may suffice if there are other entryways, like windows, that criminals are more likely to use. However, if sliding doors or windows are secured properly, then the best door locks for home security will be high-security locks. This is particularly true if a criminal has tested other ways of entry and failed.
Many aspects need to be taken into consideration when calling a lock “high-security.” The following are just a few key aspects to take into account.
Traits of High-Security Door Locks
If you are knowledgeable, then you will know that drilling is one of the easiest ways to destroy a lock and gain entry. Locksmiths use this technique out of necessity. Once a lock is drilled, usually, there is no going back.
A criminal will use a drill, if it is practical, to gain easy entry quickly. With drilling, the criminal saves his or her strength; they won’t have to slam their shoulder or foot against the lock.
There are a few ways high-security locks protect from drilling. However, two ways are most common to prevent drilling. They are the use of anti-drill plates and hardened steel ball-bearings. These two methods either protect from the drill entering the lock or protect from the drill being effective.
Plainly put, you want heavy locks. The heavier, the better. This is because the metal that is used to create the lock is essential. If the producer of the lock skimps on production costs by using hollow spaces or plastics, then your security will be highly compromised.
A light lock will be of no use security-wise because they won’t be able to withstand a hard impact. Consequently, a broken lock made of cheap metals or plastics is pointless despite any security measures it has in place to stop picking or drilling.
Copying of Keys
Eventually, in everyone’s life, a lockout will happen. The smart keep this in mind and get copies of keys to avoid the annoyance of being locked out. If you have security in mind, this is an ineffective way to keep your locked door protected. Each key copy opens the possibility of a criminal obtaining the key and gaining access to your home or office.
Therefore, keeping the production of copies low is wise. However, what if your key is lost and someone copies it before returning it? In that case, you need to protect your keys from being copied. You can do this by making sure your high-security lock has patented keyways. This way, no machine but a specific machine can make copies of your lock.
Like with the metal contents of the lock being solid and heavy, the bolt of a high-security lock needs to be strong. The strength of the bolt is essential to stop a criminal from using their shoulder, a battering ram, a sledge hammer, or the like. The idea the criminal has in mind is to overpower the bolt with brut strength. Only a heavy bolt can withstand such brute force attacks without buckling.
A secure bolt also protects from different types of sawing to slice the bolt in half. Therefore, good bolt strength protects from brut force and tools.
High Security Locks for Residential Properties
With residential, if you are worried about a break in, but have nothing special of value in the house, the answer is going to be High security locks are not worth it for you.
The reason is that with residential properties, locks are one of the statistically lowest probability compromised element in break-ins and theft. Normally, perpetrators gain entrance to your residence through a window, sliding door, a backdoor that is left open and the likes. The benefit of having a high security lock is not going to help much in this case – as the perpetrators are still going to gain access through different means.
If you are looking to increase the security of your residential property, we recommend the following options:
- Adding one-sided deadbolts (that can only be operated from the inside)
- Simply replacing your locks to a higher security brand/type (ex. Kwikset Smart Key or the New Schlage Anti-Pick systems).
- Adding a comprehensive security solution including security cameras and sensors.
All of the above are going to increase the security of your home more than a high security lock, and in many cases will be more cost-effective.
The one exception to this rule, is if you do have something of high value to protect in your house, and already took all the other security measures listed above. All of your doors and windows are already protected, and you have a security system. In this case, it does make sense to install a high security lock as your lock becomes the weakest link in your home security.
High Security Locks for Commercial Properties
With commercial properties, the picture is a little bit different. In many cases, it does make sense to install a high security lock. This is due to the high value cash and items many B&M business have in side, and that in general commercial buildings are built with higher security features (temper proof glass, commercial metal doors, less windows etc).
In this case, one of the most important considerations are the cost factors of the system. High security systems such as Medeco are quite expensive.
As a one-time cost, and depending on the amount of doors and locks you are seeking to protect, the cost is manageable. Where things get expensive is in routine maintenance and operational expenses such as re-keying. If you have a high turn-over rate for employees, where employees get fired in unpleasant ways, you may want to have your keys re-keyed pretty often – in which case it can get pretty expensive.
However, a benefit of using a system such as Medeco, is that employees are unlikely to be able to make copies of the keys – since only Medeco licensed professionals can duplicate the keys, and require a lock certificate in order to do so (so if you keep the lock certificate safe it is very unlikely an employee will be able to copy the key).
High-security lock brands that we love
Medeco Locks: This brand of locks is accessible and usually more affordable than most high-security locks. Medeco locks have an extensive catalog that can provide security at a manageable price. However, because of the lower price range, these locks don’t offer the absolute best protection.
Mul-t-lock: A lock brand that is costly but provides some of the best protection from drilling and sawing attempts. Mul-t-lock also keeps the complexity of the tumbler in mind. Complexity lowers the chance of a criminal picking your lock.
Bowley lock: The Bowley lock is all about the complexity of the tumbler. With a unique key design, the lock is esthetically pleasing. However, beyond esthetics, the key and position of internal pins make it hard for pickers to get in.
Price Considerations For High-Security Door Locks
Like all products on the market, the price of a lock can go up or down almost without reason. That is because prices are often based on supply and demand. Suppose a brand is in high demand (even if it is just because it is popular) then expect to pay more. However, that brand may not be the safest because high demand leads to high cost of production, which means cheaply made products.
When it comes to high-security locks, often higher protection will cost more no matter what. Such locks are designed for clients who are willing to spend more on security. Security may be wanted for peace of mind or as stated above to protect costly possessions. Beyond supply and demand, the cost of security locks can vary based on how many safety measures the producers consider important (see the list above) and the material used. Heavier metals cost more and complex keyways also results in increased cost.
Final Comments about High Security Locks
It is important to remember that the lock is only as secure as the door it is install on. In the video below, you can see an example of a Medeco lock standing a forced entry kick attack. Since it is a promotional video, they will not show you what will happen to most of the residential doors in the U.S . In most cases, the door hinges are just going to break, and while the deadbolt may stay in place, the door will just rip open from the hinges. So if you do choose to go with a high security lock, make sure you have a reinforced frame and hinges that will not buckle down during an attack.
In conclusion, choosing a high-security lock may not be the right decision for all customers. However, if you do find yourself in need of one, we can help you pick the right lock for your needs.