Whether you’re debating over door fixtures for the new home you’re building or you’re considering swapping out your old deadbolt for a high-tech smart lock, choosing the right locks is key to keeping your home safe and secure. Learn more about the most common lock options and decide what’s right for you.
Deadbolts come in several different styles, but the most common (called a single cylinder deadbolt) operates with a key from the outside and a twist-knob from the inside. When installed properly, high-quality deadbolts are known to stand up against burglars since they can only be unlocked by physically turning the key or twist-knob, which makes them much tougher to tamper with than spring-loaded doorknob locks.
Some deadbolts require a key from both sides of the door, which may be more secure against burglars — but this can be dangerous in situations where you need to leave your home quickly and can’t track down your key (during a fire, for example). If your door can only be unlocked from the inside using a key, be sure to keep one close by, where you’ll be able to find it in an emergency (and in the dark).
Go for the heavy metal: For enhanced security, look for a deadbolt with a hardened steel bolt and reinforce the hole in your doorframe with a metal strike plate.
Basic doorknob locks
Doorknob locks can be locked and unlocked from the inside, either by pushing and turning the doorknob itself, pushing a button, or turning a dial in the doorknob. Many doorknob locks can also be unlocked from the outside using a key.
When located on the external door of a house, a basic doorknob lock is often used in combination with a deadbolt. The locking mechanism is usually spring-loaded and located inside the doorknob itself, so a doorknob lock is easier to tamper with than a deadbolt. While generally not secure enough to be used as your home’s primary lock, if you’re looking to add some extra privacy to your bathroom or keep little hands away from your indoor workshop, a doorknob lock just might do the trick.
Keyless entry pads and smart locks
Many keyless entry pads and smart locks operate like deadbolts, requiring a physical “turn” to lock and unlock — but in both cases, this turn is activated automatically by a motor instead of a key. While keyless entry pads allow you to lock and unlock your door by entering a passcode on a digital keypad, tapping your key fob on the lock, or pressing a button on your key fob like you would to unlock your car, smart locks are designed to be operated using your smartphone and a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.
Smart locks can allow you to do things like:
- Unlock your door by tapping your cell phone on the lock, waving your phone or key fob near the lock, tapping your finger on the lock with your phone close by, holding your phone and making a “key turn” motion near the lock, or even just standing within range of the lock with your phone in your pocket
- Send a virtual, limited-access “key” to someone who is going to be visiting your home when you aren’t there (like your dog walker or house-sitter)
- Remotely lock or unlock your door (no more driving back around the block to check if you locked the door before heading out of town for a weekend)
- And some can even integrate with a smart home security system so you’ll be notified when someone else unlocks your door
Don’t forget to recharge: Both keyless entry pads and smart locks are generally battery operated, and if you forget to charge or replace the batteries and they run out (or if your phone dies while you’re away from home), you could be left outside in the cold. Be sure to read your owner's manual so you know how to manually unlock your door if the batteries die before you have a chance to replace them.
And lock your phone, too: If you’re using a smart lock, be sure to protect your phone with a secure password to prevent any unauthorized unlocking.
Whichever type of lock you choose, keeping your doors securely locked at all times — even when you’ll only be gone for a few minutes — can help prevent unexpected visitors and keep your home and family safe and sound. Do your research and consider consulting a professional locksmith before deciding which type of lock is best for you.
Sometimes a break-in happens despite your best efforts to prevent it. Thankfully, your home insurance policy has you covered when you need it most, and your broker will be there to guide you every step of the way. If you have any questions or want to update your coverage at any time, be sure to talk to your licensed broker.