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Which Type of Safe Lock?

Which Type of Safe Lock?

Dan Cartwright
Written by Dan Cartwright
Placed on 24 June 2020
A wide variety of locks are available for safes. You can buy a safe with a key lock, mechanical code lock, electronic combination lock or biometric lock. There are also time locks and safes can be equipped with double locks so that 2 people are needed to open the safe. Each type of lock has its own advantages and disadvantages. The best lock is the lock that you feel comfortable with, best fits your situation and is the most practical.

Safe with Cylinder Lock

Safe with cylinder lockActually, a cylinder lock is not suitable for a burglar-resistant safe. Cylinder locks are used on key boxes and a number of light fire resistant safes and fire resistant drawers. The focus here is on fire safety and not protecting against theft.

A cylinder lock reduces costs, making the safe cheaper to purchase.

Safe with Double-Bit Key Lock

Double-bit keysMost safes are fitted with a double-bit key lock as standard. This is the cheapest variant and therefore an important advantage over an electronic code lock.

A safe with key lock is equipped with a double-bit key mechanism to meet the high security requirement. In terms of security, a safe with a key lock is no less than a safe with an electronic code lock. In addition, a key lock is much less sensitive to changing weather conditions, making this lock variant very reliable.

A disadvantage of a key lock is that the key has to be managed properly. If a burglar finds the safe key, he will certainly look for the safe and open it without hindrance.

Safe with Mechanical Combination Lock

Mechanical combination lockA mechanical (number) combination lock is operated by dialing the correct code several times. Depending on the version, a full turn is usually made 3 or 4x, and then the 'opening code' is turned. This operates the lock and the safe can be opened. A mechanical code lock can be set to any desired code by means of an adjustment key. This adjustment is done through an opening in the back of the safe door.

A mechanical combination lock has a very high reliability and only the person with the correct code can open the safe. No key needs to be managed for this lock.

The disadvantage of a safe with a mechanical code lock is a higher purchase price and it requires precise turning in the correct position.

Safe with Electronic Code Lock

Electronic code lockAn electronic code lock or digital lock on a safe offers a number of advantages. This way you do not have to manage a key, but you can open the safe with a personal PIN code. Most electronic combination locks are also equipped with a master code and one or more user codes.

In addition, there is special anti-manipulation blocking. The digital lock is temporarily blocked for a number of incorrect attempts. Advanced electronic safes also have the option to set an opening delay, double code or even offer an option to connect to an alarm system.

Electronic code locks for safes are battery powered and in case of a weak battery you will be warned visually and / or acoustically in time. If you ignore this warning, you can always connect a battery from the outside and open the safe with your user code. You can then replace the battery.

Electronic Code Lock + Emergency Key

Electronic code lock + emergency keyThe reliability of today's electronic code locks for safes is high. Cheaper (and often not certified) locks are equipped with an emergency key to open the safe if the electronics refuse service or a so-called 'lock out'. These types of electronic locks are less reliable. An emergency key can usually not be reordered, because there is no registration of the emergency locks and keys.

A disadvantage is that safes equipped with a good electronic code lock are more expensive to purchase compared to a key lock.

Note: You often buy electronic lockers for a few tens at the hardware store. These locks are generally not safe. A good lock simply costs a bit more.

Safe with Biometric Code Lock by Fingerprint

Biometric code lock by fingerprintBiometric locks on safes have been used for several years, but are only available on a limited number of safes. This is mainly due to the high purchase price. In addition, it is expensive to get a biometric code lock certified for burglar-resistant safes.

A big advantage of a biometric code lock is that the safe can be opened with a fingerprint. In this way, several people can access a safe. With advanced biometric locks, a log can be read and users can be managed (add, remove, temporarily block).

Advantages and disadvantages of safe locks in a row

Safe lock type Benefits Cons
Cylinder (safety lock)
  • Cheapest variant
  • Very high reliability
  • Easy to operate
  • Only available on key boxes and light fire resistant lockers
  • Key must be properly managed
  • In some cases registration of keys for repeat orders
Double-bit key lock
  • Cheap variant
  • Very high reliability
  • Easy to operate
  • Suitable for certified burglar resistant safes
  • Key must be properly managed; if a burglar finds the key, he has unhindered access to the contents of the safe
  • No registration of extra keys added
Mechanical combination lock                      
  • Very high reliability
  • No key needs to be managed
  • No risk of multiple keys
  • Operation is not very practical; requires some routine
  • More expensive to purchase
Electronic combination lock 
  • Very reliable
  • Suitable for administrator (master code) and one or more users
  • Provided with manipulation lock (after entering incorrect code)
  • No risk of key loss or unmanaged key duplication
  • Optional with opening delay, dual code, connection to alarm, time lock functions
  • Administrator can create, change and delete codes
  • More expensive to purchase compared to key lock variant
  • More frequent operating errors
Biometric code lock
  • Suitable for administrator (master code) and one or more users
  • No key and no code required; open with a fingerprint
  • Equipped with anti-manipulation lock (after incorrect fingerprint entry)
  • No risk of multiple keys
  • Sensitive to proper operation
  • Not suitable or limited for certified burglary safes
  • More expensive to purchase
  • More susceptible to failure, reliability still leaves much to be desired
Dan Cartwright
Written by Dan Cartwright
Placed on 24 June 2020
Categories: Advice & Tips