The definition of an electronic lock is one that operates using an electric current. Some systems are mounted directly on the lock and are the only security device employed, while others are connected to an access control system. There are two main types of electronic locks: magnetic locks and electric strikes. In mag locks, the magnet on the door frame engages the armature on the door, where they are tightly held together. Mag locks can be easily installed and are very resistant to attack. Electric strikes are used as a replacement for a standard strike, and the latch and bolt insert directly into the electronic device.
Authentication is the method employed by an electronic lock to open and grant access. The most common is the use of a numerical code, where a specific sequence of numbers or letters must be entered for the lock to disengage. These types of locks are frequently seen on entrance doors in apartment buildings, business complexes or parking garages. Another common use for numerical access locks is a safe or vault. Another authentication method is a security token, such as a key card that must be scanned or swiped to let the user in. This type of electronic lock may also be found on entry doors, businesses, parking garages and elevators. The most high tech authentication method, which is gaining in popularity, is biometrics. This involves fingerprint scanning, retinal scanning and voiceprint identification that grants users access to secured places. High security locations and companies that can afford such a system are the likely places where this type of electronic lock will be found.
Like any other security measure, there are pros and cons to using an electronic lock. The main perks are:
1) Key control, giving the owner of the lock the ability to add and remove keys without having to incur the expense of rekeying.
2) Fine access control, meaning that time and place can be factors in allowing the electronic lock to be disengaged.
3) Transaction logging, so a record is kept of all activity that occurs.
4) It’s a keyless lock system.
The disadvantages of electronic locking systems are:
1) Depending on the exact type of system used, the electronic lock may disengage in a power outage.
2) Sometimes there is an increased gap size between the strike and the door latch, which is vulnerable to jimmying.
3) There may be a delay in the door opening or closing, allowing time for someone to sneak in uninvited