If you want to get the pros and cons of electronic safe lock over a mechanical safe lock, then you should ask any locksmith or someone who regularly uses safes. You will get various opinions and answers. Some people have practical and valid reasons why they prefer one safe lock over the other. At times, it’s because of familiarity with one safe lock and practicality is not put into so much thought. In this blog, I will consider in on the argument, if at all there is one.
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Factors to consider when choosing a safe lock
Before you decide if you want either electronic or mechanical safe lock, there are some factors you need to consider.
1. What is the main purpose of the safe?
- Cash control
- Storing documents such as insurance, deeds, wills, etc.
- Securing weapons
- Storage of ammunition
- controlled substances such as Rx
2. How regularly is the safe accessed in a day or overtime?
- Each hour
- Two times a day
- Once every week
- A few times in months
3. How quickly must you access it?
- With a little delay
- A short time but more than a few hours
- Not bothered by the time to access
4. When you access the safe, how reliable must it be?
- Must function every time
- Is the battery power a problem or not?
- Failure of the lock is not a severe problem to present operations
5. What can go amiss with a mechanical lock?
6. What can go a miss with an electronic lock?
7. What is the surrounding of the safe’s location? Is it:
- Dry, damp, dark, or well-lighted
- Confined area or space
- Area unrestricted to access
8. What external occurrences may affect the operation of the safe lock?
- Tornado, fire, floods, attempted burglary, EMP, etc.
- Forced under pressure
9. When trying to unlock the safe, what factors could be physical limitations?
- Mechanical aptitude
10. What are the immediate fears to compromise at hand?
- People surrounding the area who could see the combination order
- Small-time period accessible for unsanctioned attempts to access stored items
11. What security threats are there that are long term?
- Social engineering to get lock’s combination
- Longer time in discovering possible combinations
12. Is accessing the safe quickly a priority?
13. Will there be or is there extra security layers in place, for example, dogs, alarms, video surveillance, and concealment?
The above factors are some of the things to consider and that affect electronic or mechanical safe lock’s choice. Other considerations are time delays, attack resistance, dual-factor authentication, UL listings, among many others.
Author’s Professional Opinion
From the years I have been in security and locksmith, I prefer mechanical safe lock. There are a few things that make electronic safe locks appealing such as:
- Relative complexity
- Ease of accessing electronics
- No operational skills and knowledge needed to open mechanical safe locks
Normally, however, even when electronic locks fail, mechanical locks remain functional. In the same way, electronic safe locks are not well-engineered to endure lock installers or end-users. Broken power connections, spoiled keypads, and pinched data cables are very mutual. The failure of electronic locks is more today than the past shortcomings of mechanical safe locks. Though the electronic safe appears to be everywhere, they are not ready for the majority.
Cons of Electronic Locks
- Data and power cables regularly fail
- Replacement batteries are cheap and have a short lifespan. They tend to fail when you need them.
- End users naturally harm electronic keypads.
- Chemical and water damage corrodes power and electronic connections to the locks.
- When the combinations fail, the end-users often spoil the bolt handlers. Contrary, they will try a mechanical lock first before breaking the safe.
- Combinations in the electronic safe are straightforward.
- Users seem to change combinations similar to the old combinations.
- Unlike with mechanical safe locks, an electronic lock will deny you access to critical things due to the global political environment that is there currently.
Cons of mechanical locks
- Users usually spin the dial using excess force; thus, spoiling the gate, brass wheel flys, and lever.
- The dial rod can be easily bent, preventing accurate and smooth operation.
- Open the lock takes a longer time.
- Environmental locations and factors can affect the operation of the safe lock if not properly serviced and cleaned.
- Changing the combination is not easy, especially by the end-user with no training and correct tools.
- Duress fine-motors services fail, thus, making it hard to dial in the combination correctly.
- The mechanical safe key is mostly lost in inconvenient times.
Addressing the cons of both safe locks will clear up the process of making your decision.
Which is better between Electronic and Mechanical Safe lock
Generally, I recommend mechanical safe lock in most cases over the electronic safe lock. I find electronic locks not to have long-term reliability.
The mechanical lock holds up well under abuse by the end-user and does not depend much on environmental and external factors. It also does not depend on fixed batteries supply. It will work even many years after installation and operates quietly. The general security of the safe lock counterweights the problems associated with ease of access.
I install Amsec Electronic safe locks weekly and use them in place of electronic locks from other brands. These Amsec models are more comfortable to program and use, and robust compared to other similar models. They have a high demand from my customers as well as corporate management policies.
Electronic locks fit well in cases that do not require maximum operational interruption. Also, setting the combination requires just a few minutes. The safe lock has an inbuilt time delay options that are essential in theft or robbery defence, though under pressure this is not beneficial. Electronic safe locks are very useful with cash control.
In cases where many persons will require to access the safe regularly, electronic locks for controlled constituent security are excellent. I do not highly recommend them for personal locations unless the key supply is stored using a mechanism with a high-security key lock. In such a case, you can move the materials needed for a static period to electronic storage. Then you can resupply them through authorized personnel.
For short-term requirements that need to be accessed daily, electronic safe locks are the best. On the other hand, mechanical safe locks are great when it comes to long-term operation due to its reliability and capacity to function even when everything else fails.
Therefore, with the two options and their cons and pros, you can now make a well-informed decision on what will suit you well.