8 advantages and 1 (BIG) disadvantage of digital locks over mechanical locks

6 min read

First of all, what do we mean by digital locks? They are all the types of locks that allow doors to be opened by electronic or digital methods. And there are many of them…

  • Access control systems: Users are identified using an RFID card – typically seen in offices or hospitals.
  • Biometric locks: Normally users activate these locks with their fingerprint. You might have seen them, for example, in your local gym.
  • Wireless car keys: Practically all cars use these.
  • Digital locks opened with a smartphone: Users open the door using the bluetooth or NFC connection on their mobile phone. At the moment, these are not so common. But you will certainly be seeing more and more of them.
  • Motorized mechanical locks: These kinds of locks use conventional keys on the outside, but there is a mechanical lock on the inside. They are beginning to be seen in homes.

Common benefits of digital locks

  1. Copies of keys cannot be made. The holder is certain of the number of keys in circulation.
  2. One key for everything. A single key (or a single finger!) contains the access rights for all the doors it needs to open – no more carrying around large bunches of keys!
  3. The security code cannot be seen. The keys normally have digital encryption.
  4. Lost keys are not a problem. The access rights of lost keys are simply removed from the system. If someone tries to use that key fraudulently, the lock will not open.
  5. No need to guard your keys. Because, in reality, your keys, cards or finger do not open anything until the access rights have been correctly programmed.
  6. Access rights can be updated. Access rights for the key can be quickly and easily changed in the administration software. The changes are communicated to the digital lock.
  7. Remote updates. Many digital locks are connected to some sort of network that allows access rights to be changed remotely.
  8. Very secure systems. Mechanical locking systems are simply not so secure.

All these characteristics make digital locks far superior to mechanical locks; especially in facilities with many doors such as schools, hospitals, town halls or community buildings. In these cases, having control over the keys’ access rights, not having to change locks in case of lost keys, and having one key for everything is a huge advantage.

So, why aren’t digital locks installed on all the doors in the world? Their disadvantage and the reason why their widespread use has been slowed down is because digital locks require a power source. Most digital lock manufacturers solve this problem in one of two ways. The first is by putting a battery into the lock, Sounds simple, right? You pay for one battery and replace it when it runs out. That’s fine for a single door. But just imagine how the costs and maintenance problems multiply if you’re talking about a building with many doors or a complex of buildings with hundreds of access points. Firstly, it’s an ongoing nightmare to remember to change the batteries before they run out. If the battery does run out, you don’t get in. And that’s a huge risk for premises like hospitals, schools or municipalities. Then there’s a huge cost involved in battery purchases alone, let alone the maintenance costs of the person who replaces them. And then there’s the environmental costs of the maintenance-related travel to and from the site, the use of precious resources, and what to do with all the battery waste.

The second option is to wire the door. Not such a big investment if you’re talking about a single door. But, again, the costs escalate exponentially if you’re talking about wiring hundreds of doors. In addition to the cost, there are two more drawbacks: if the building’s power goes out, the locks won’t work. And, digital locks usually just release the slider in the door. If the door is closed and also locked by turning the key, the digital system won’t work.

For nearly two decades, iLOQ has focused on creating locking solutions that offer all the above benefits and none of the disadvantages. Our solutions are unique in that they are battery- and cable-free. The power needed to open a lock with the iLOQ S5 digital locking system is generated by the motion of inserting the key into the lock. And the power needed to open a lock with the iLOQ S50 mobile access sharing solution comes from a smartphone running the iLOQ S50 mobile app. And what’s more, all your access management needs, whether they are digital, mobile or a combination of the two, can be handled from one flexible, modifiable, easy-to-use platform – the iLOQ 5 Series.

We hope we have given you some food for thought. You can read more about iLOQ on our website. If, in the meantime, you have any questions, please get in touch with our sales team or leave a comment in the box below.

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