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March 5, 2019

Battery Operated Lock Products Found Wanting - Are You Aware Of The Pitfalls?

There are many and varied brands of wireless digital door locks currently in the wider market. Many of these products we have discussed in this website and picture here. Many of the pictured products here operate on small batteries, either AA, AAA, 9V or even watch cell batteries. The market is quite vast with many of the leading manufacturers in the world also producing a wireless battery powered product to corner some market share too.
 I think it is somewhat interesting, having traveled abroad recently, that not as many European countries appear to share the fascination for wireless battery powered locks, quite like the USA.

I remember traveling to Canada a few years ago and noticed very few instances of wireless digital locks installed on residences and buildings there too.
So, this begs the question as to why there appears to be a consumer fascination for these electronic gadgets, especially in the largest market in the world, the USA.
 Having recently returned from abroad, I noticed that hardwired digital lock systems and access control products appear to be more favored there. Hardwired products offer significant longevity and advantages to wireless battery operation, but essentially there is never, ever a need to have to replace batteries. Replacing batteries, while an inconvenience, is a hidden ongoing cost, rarely considered by consumers.
 There are also a great many and varied commercial products in the wireless genre that continue to come to market, offering increased access control and some also include audit trails, among other desired traits. These products too require constant and never ending battery replacement to ensure correct and continuing operations. Often there will be a maintenance manager or janitor employed in a building responsible for replacing batteries and keeping every thing working normally. And when a product fails, it is often because lax maintenance is responsible. Batteries are not replaced timely enough and staff find themselves locked out, through no fault of their own.
 Some upmarket commercial access control products of the wireless variety are very good quality and offer some advantages to mechanical keyed systems, but they too require constant battery replacements to ensure continued operations.
There are some very interesting and quite good looking products that are quite functional on offer across the world. many also use remote fobs to lock or unlock and, of course, these remote fobs require batteries replaced too. The hidden costs are not discussed by manufacturers or retailers and many consumers are in the dark about the longterm disadvantages of having to constantly replace batteries.
 We have been selling the wireless battery operated electric strike, here for a few years now, but this product is not immune either to the continuing need to replace batteries.
We are also the North American distributor for the fabulous Meroni line of lock products and even their digital battery operated product requires continual battery replacement for continued operation,

 The issues listed above about battery life are not the only problems plaguing the wireless lock industry. Many brands also use motor driven deadbolts that require the door and frame to be in perfect alignment so the bolt can enter the strike and frame. If there is door movement or weathering, frames can move and impede the natural locking/unlocking of your product. Other use issues occur due to poorly installed doors. Most doors found in America today, on residential homes and even some commercial dwellings are built from wooden doors and frames, often installed using short screws in the hinges to attach to the frame.
 The IBC (International Building Code) accepted and gazetted by many American localities, demand that the height of the operating door handle be 36" from the floor. When the original building code was written by the Army Corp Of Engineers in 1949, the average height of an American Adult was 5'6" tall, while today the average height (male/female) is 5'10" tall.
 Understanding a persons height is important because the average door is about 6'8" tall in North America. In many other countries, people install their locks significantly higher. The reason is simple. The lower the handle, the likelihood of you pushing down on the handle is higher and that continued downward pressure contributes to door sagging. The half inch screws in your hinges cannot take the weight of the door combined with constant pushing down on the handle, so the door drops. You often see this by the rubbing of the upper portion of your door on the frame and a wider gap at the top on the lock side than the gap on the hinge side. Also, sometimes your door will drag on the floor.
 I do a fair amount of commercial locksmith and door repair work and often see these electronic battery operated locks in the field. I often ask my customers as to their happiness with the products. Many, who have been using them for quite some time, have realized that the chore of constantly replacing batteries is becoming far too common and often and they make the choice to remove batteries altogether, preferring to go back to the mechanical, maintenance free key lock system.
 So what do i recommend?

I'm glad you asked.
I always ask the customer why they want a digital door lock in the first place.
Most simply desire the convenience of not having to carry a key and that they cannot be locked out if they have a combination.
I then ask how often they have had to replace batteries.
The most common answer I get is, "once every 2-3 months, sometimes more".


 When I press a little bit further, the clients who might have had them for longer, often indicate that after the fourth time replacing the batteries, they simply go back to using the mechanical key.

This indicates to me that many customers are now using their you beaut $250+ wireless battery operated door lock identically to when they simply had a mechanical key. Many keyed door locks cost significantly less than $250+, so that is a clear indication (to me) that they are not receiving the value for their money.
 With WiFi and Bluetooth and NFC components being included in many later models of battery operated door locks, there is more requirement for power to be able to use the products. Why would you rely on batteries constantly to power these power hungry products? Batteries can only last so long, no? And often they will fail when you least expect them or require them.
As to my recommendations on products that can offer the best of both worlds, you might consider the Kaba Powerplex digital door  lock that uses an electro-mechanical power module embedded within, that when the handle is turned, the unit powers up enough juice to enter your combination. No need to ever replace batteries yet still the convenience of electronic combination entry.
Certainly not cheap. Quality products cost more of course, but the Kaba Powerplex delivers where other products fail.

In the next week I will be repairing a customers back door mechanical door lock. They initially requested another electronic deadbolt for the convenience of not having to carry a key. (my service call that day to them was to unlock another digital door lock that wasnt operating. It was of course a flat battery) I recommended that they install a mechanical key box like the Supra brand wall mounted heavy duty mechanical digital key box to the cement wall outside their home and place their operating key inside. That way they can maintain the original lock on the door and still enjoy the convenience of not having to carry their key, for the paltry cost of about $35 plus installation.

The choice is yours. I'd be interested to hear your comments in the box below. Comments are subject to moderation.

1 comment:

  1. We attended to service another client today, requiring their locks rekeyed. We had been to this property before (about 12 months ago) to get their wireless battery powered Schlage entrance set repaired. The product had been replaced twice previously under warranty from the manufacturer. They asked us to rekey this lock and I inquired as to why, when they use the combination keypad for entry. They told me that they were sick and tired of having to replace the batteries (9V) every 3 months and that since I was there last, the product worked flawlessly for the longest time, but they still decided to go back to using the mechanical operating key. This unit was installed inside a garage and led to an upstairs office above. The lock still suffered from the constant need to replace batteries, even though it is not exposed to the elements.

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Danny was very professional and friendly at the same time. He not only gave me the quote and fixed the exterior door and explained his work. He was prompt and upfront about the work and did the work. He came in time took care of it on the same day. (Sasheethn K St Louis MO) June 2018d out problems but assured not urgent. Please feel free to have Danny pass out my number for my total experience review 314-351-5553

Charlie M. (St Louis, MO) November 2015


Danny was pleasure to meet and was very knowledgable. He explained several lock replacement options but I decided none of them were a good fit for a storm door, however, I did replace a lock on my entry door with a type of lock I had never seen before. I would highly recommend this company.
Patricia J (Bridgeton, MO) March 2014
They were prompt and showed up when he said he would show up. He knew his stuff. I had ordered new handles and he was honest enough to say that we don't need them that he can fix the doors and he did. Made me lock and unlock my doors to his satisfaction so that I knew what to do. Am very, very pleased with the service and cost.
Joyce K (Glencoe, MO) May 2015

Showed up on time for appointment. Was very knowledgeable about the project and offered a solution beyond what I asked to be done.
Stephen G (Chesterfield, MO) May 2015


Daniel was right on time, assessed the problems I had with two doors, made the repairs, and explained what caused the problems to begin with .... He is a "door expert" and a true professional. I highly recommend him.

Vince V (St. Louis MO) May, 2015




Danny was fabulous! He went over my concerns and he provided me with more than a fair quote. He was there when he said he was going to be there. I would highly recommend Danny. Cheers!
Denise S (Imperial, MO) May 8, 2014

Hired Danny to re-key locks on "new" house purchase. He advised to replace with new deadbolts & door knobs on 3 entry doors instead which I agreed with. All doors have 1 matching key & the safety of excellent quality product & workmanship. He also added new strike plate to door frame to complete project.. I recommend as your 1st & only call to a Locksmith.

Denise F (St. Louis, MO) April 3, 2014


Danny was very helpful in solving a pretty complex problem involving many lock.
Scott C (Eureka, MO) March 27, 2014




Needed patio door track to run smoothly. Arrived early, fixed door and explained what he was doing during repair. Quick and easy. Door works great, my wife will now speak to me, and I've become a better dancer.

Mike W. (Arnold/Oakville MO) July 2013


The owner spent a longtime with me on the phone helping diagnosis the problem. He was on-time, friendly and helped resolve my issue. I will definitely use him again!

Chris C (Lake St Louis, MO) July 2013


I had a very pleasant experience with Master Key Systems. They came out, did the job (which took longer than expected) and they did not change the price they quoted me. Now, I am not certain that it was a great value for the money because I don't have a comparison, but they did what they said, when they said, for the price they said. Enough said!!!

Antonio B (Saint Louis, Missouri) March 2013


Professional.. Upfront about charges. Fixed the sticky door within 20 minutes. I will recommend Master Key for exterior door issues.
Muthu R (Ballwin, MO) July 2012


Danny was a master craftsman, knowledgable and professional. I will be calling on him again in the future as well as passing on his services to friends and family.

Marsha L (Saint Louis, MO) July 2012


Danny was excellent! I called him on a Monday to fix a sliding glass door. He happened to have the exact part we needed (and it was not an easy find - we had looked everywhere) and he came over Tuesday evening. He stayed until 8:00 until the job was done, and cleaned up afterwards. He was courteous, professional, and efficient! I could not be happier!

Rachel P Maryland Heights, MO (July 2012)


He did an excellent job. Got there on time and quickly solved the issue. Was very pleasant and explained the situation and how to keep the door from sticking in the future. Would definitely use Master Key LLC again!

Neil F. (Saint Louis, MO) April 2012


Danny was very friendly and knowledgeable, although his apprentice seemed to do most of the work, Danny kept an eye on him to make sure it was done right. He had very reasonable pricing for re-keying.
Greg D (St Louis, MO) October 2011


He was extrememly fabulous and helpful and did a wonderful job. He was very professional.
Shannon M. (Arnold, MO) October 2011


Growing up spending so much of my time in Italy, the uniqueness of the Nova Classico left quite an impression on me. To be able to have and enjoy them in my own home here in the states is a nostalgic indulgence I'm enjoying beyond words. Thank you Danny for coordinating this transaction.

Joseph M (Chicago, IL) September 2011





great job. hired on the spot and he did job right then at great price

Ron B (Arnold, MO) July 2011







I searched the internet and found your services. I received three phone calls within several days. A service call was scheduled. Two gentlemen arrived promptly, analyzed the problem and fixed it.
James & Florenc M Saint Louis, MO July 2011

The repairman was on time and did an excellent job of fixing a very stubborn door lock. He was persistent and cleaned up the work area afterwards. I would use this service again.

Brenda F (Saint Peters, MO) June 2011


Danny at Master Key Systems has succeeded in making the purchasing of our Meroni door locks, from Italy, an absolute breeze. Even though I live in Australia with a 16hr time difference and was ordering door knobs from Italy that weren't in stock, the whole process was faultless. Danny was prompt and efficient with all his emails and made sure we had covered every possible variable so that the product I received was exactly as required. I would have no hesitation in recommending Danny for your next purchase.
Patrick Carr (Canberra, Australia)


Your product really helped because I needed to secure a nurse's station adjacent to a waiting room and needed a pocket door. Unfortunately, no real options were available to lock a pocket door effectively that would keep me compliant with HIPAA and secure an area that stores medical supplies. This was vitally important as this particular waiting room was for "waiting detox patients". Thank you very much.
Randall R The Fritz Clinic (Birmingham, Al) March 2011


Danny was very polite and knew what the problem was and how to fix it. He also gave me some information about other issues that could arise with my door and locks. Will hire again if I ever need that type of work done.
Jason M Imperial, MO March 2011




I had an exterior basement door that dragged when opening and closing. The hinges were not fitting properly and the door frame had shifted, probably due to the age of the house.The screwswould not go far enough into the wall without hitting stone...even using a special drill bit. Dan worked a long time drilling and sanding to shore up the door as best as possible. I know it will never be perfect. He could have easily sold me a new door and the same issue would happen. He was honest, thorough, and did an excellent job without charging me a fortune. I'm satisfied with the door now. If you want an honest, experienced man, Then Dan is the man

Roger M Saint Louis, MO March 2011


I purchased the Cowdroy P697 Pocket door lock with key over the internet. I emailed questions before my purchase and was provided with the answers quickly by return email. The purchase was quick and easy and the lock was shipped immediatly. Installation is quick and easy. But you do need to convert millimeters to inches (use the internet) in the installation instructions. And the lock looks great and works great. I will do business with them again. THANK YOU

Ed D (February, 2011)





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Welcome to Locks210.com.
This site is to inform about historical and modern approaches to Keys and Physical Security products and services.
Locks210.com, a division of Master Key Systems America LLC, established in 2006, offers residents and businesses of St Louis Locksmith premium quality products and services. As the Premier Bilock Extreme Security Dealer in The Mid-West,
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