Helpful Hank's DIY Tips

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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!


Schlage FE595 CAM 505 ACC Camelot Design Keypad Entry with Accent Levers, Lifetime Polished Brass