When my front door’s regular mechanical deadbolt lock started seizing up, I wasn’t even considering keyless locks until I saw them at Home Depot.

You know, the electronic kind with a keypad like in office buildings. My first reaction was ‘oh hell no,’ … but I decided to at least read up on them. After all, I’m hoping I won’t have to do this again for at least another 10 years.

Long story short, here’s what I found out about these newfangled kind of locks, compared to traditional mechanical locks:

  • Some people like the extra convenience of keyless electronic locks
  • For others, the bigger appeal is that they seem safer—especially those who worry about someone finding a spare key under the doormat, behind the flowerpot, etc.
  • But you pay for those benefits—about $100-$200 more. Most traditional mechanical deadbolt locks are $25-$50, whereas keyless locks are in the $100-$250 range.

So if doing it the way you’ve been doing it forever isn’t really all that inconvenient, and security issues like where the extra key is aren’t a concern, it might be hard to justify the cost.

Seemed like a good idea. but …

I liked the idea of getting rid of my thigh-stabbing key—and not worrying about whether anyone would finally find my extra key hidden in the mailbox (so clever!).

But didn’t I have to worry about being … hacked or something? Turns out, not so much. The deadbolt in keyless locks itself is the same principle as in a mechanical lock, so that’s essentially a wash. It’s the lock itself that’s different. And as far as someone actually hacking the individual pushbutton or keypad middle-of-the-pack locks I looked at, it’s possible but quite unlikely.

So if some kind of hacking/compromise wasn’t a real issue, what about power? And was I gonna need an electrician or locksmith to install them? Nope and nope. They generally run on batteries and you can install lots of models yourself in a few minutes with just a screwdriver.

Okay, what about cost? If I expect this lock to last 10 years minimum like my last one, was I willing to pay $10-15 more per year? Just for the extra conveniences and so that I don’t have to worry about my extra key being found? For me, after hemming and hawing a bit, the answer was yes.

More convenient than I imagined

It’s been two years, and here’s why I like my keyless lock (pictured below) over the old way:

  • I don’t have to worry about someone finding my ‘extra’ key. When neighbors, friends or repairmen needed to get in my house, I always worried that someone would see my mailbox hiding place, or just find it outright. Now I can give them a special secondary code that I can enable and disable whenever I want to. (It’s a good idea to never give your main code to anyone, just in case).
  • No wrestling keys out of my pocket. The key is in my head—it’s the 4-digit code. I just tap it in and the deadbolt slides open. I can even do it with a bag of groceries in my hand. And I certainly don’t miss reaching for keys AT ALL—that’s so old school!
  • Easy to open, especially in the dark. I often forget to leave the porch light on when I’m out late. Before, my wife and I would be fumbling around in the dark for our keys. But the keypad buttons are lit, so now I can easily open the door in a couple of seconds.
  • No key stabbing me in the thigh or worse. ‘Nuff said. And one less key to haul around.

One other thing I worried about initially but that’s not really an issue: wouldn’t the batteries die and lock me out?

Practically all models, including the Schlage I bought (pictured below), give you plenty of advance warning when the batteries start to weaken. Like weeks of warning, in general. When my batteries got tired after a year or so, the blinking red light was impossible to miss. I replaced them in a few minutes, and it was easy.

And many models let you use a conventional key as a backup feature—just don’t hide it under the mat would be my advice!

Lots of options to fit your needs

There are of course all kinds of options: Different finishes. With or without handles. Pushbuttons or keypads. Hard-wired or battery-operated.

And more, in a range of prices. I picked the Schlage® because it had the right balance of features for the right price and lots of good reviews—and I could install it myself.

In particular, I liked the turn-knob feature that makes locking the deadbolt on the way out so easy. You can also get kinds that lock automatically every time they close.

Here’s a link to some of Amazon’s most popular keyless locks, not including the new smart-phone types. Those are a whole ‘nother thing. Now you can even simply tap your smartphone on the lock to open—amazing. Hope this helps!

-Hank