The three systems are keypad locks, card locks and biometric locks. Keypad locks have a numbered keypad near the doorknob, where the user has to enter a PIN code to open the door. Card locks, which are used at most hotels, require a card with a magnetic stripe, like a credit card, to open the door. Biometric systems usually have a fingerprint reader for a lock, where the user swipes his or her finger to gain access.
Although all these systems are basically mechanical, they do require some sort of centralized control, which can usually be done through a computer network. The greatest perk of card readers is that the magnetic strip could be activated to only allow access to certain employees. When those employees leave, the card can be turned off or deactivated without having to physically access the lock.
Keypad door locks come in both electronic and mechanical varieties, both of which cost between $100 and $150 per lock, depending on the brand. Schlage, a well-known general lock maker division of the Ingersoll-Rand Company, has the Camelot deadbolt, which requires a 9V battery for operation. The Codelock 290 from Codelocks LLC is another keypad lock, but is fully mechanical.
One precaution: Make sure mechanical keypads have a sufficient number of easy-to-change code combinations. This type of lock is ideal for low-traffic areas, like a school server room where the keypad won't wear out quickly from over-use.
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This was first published in October 2008