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Question DetailsAsked on 11/29/2014

what is best dead bolt or keyless

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You are sort of mixing apples and oranges here - the most common swing-door (as opposed to sliding door) locking door mechanisms include key and keyless (electronic). The actual most common door latches are spring-loaded latchbolt (also called latch or sneck) like this -

on normal household doors, and deadbolts - solid bolts that are moved into position manually usually (but can be electric) if they move into the doorframe like this -

, or can be springloaded if latching into a metal frame at the side like this -

Either type of latching mechanism can be keyed or electric operated.

Now - for what is best - as with everything, depends. Most name brand manufacturers make all types. Certainly the normal latch type is easily defeated in most cases though some types are better than others (especially the ones where the bolt cannot be pushed back when the door is locked), whereas deadbolts are harder to defeat, are not susceptible to "carding", and usually take more force to overcome. The most secure type is generally the deadbolt with rigid mounting on the door without an outside exposed lock cylinder that can be punched out, or the type with the bolt going all the way through the lock well into both the door (even when locked) and the doorframe and through the locking mechanism so it cannot be driven through, with reinforced metal plates at each face of the frame so they cannot be broken out.

Obviously the most secure type of all (though not legal in many areas for fire safety reasons) is deadbolts bolted only into the inside of the door (no outside exposure) both top and bottom, penetrating well into reinforced openings in the wall/floor - the classic ones in the movies where the guy is withdrawing several bolts to open the door - but of course they can only be used when you are inside.

Any type that has an outdoor keyhole is susceptible to lockpicking and, except for the most expensive ones, key "bumping" to open them, so from that aspect the electronic keypad type is more secure than them - if a secure type. Unfortunately, many of the common ones can have the cover on the keypad ripped right off with a screwdriver and the mechanism then worked by hand, or the entire unit knocked off the door with a hammer, so you need a good higher-end product in a brandname product. The electronic units (keypad or card), especially the in-door type that are battery-operated as opposed to jamb-mounted household current powered ones, are prone to battery failure which can be a security risk if you are trapped outdoors, though the household powered ones have the same problem if the power is out (or has been cut by a burglar) and the backup battery (if it has one) is dead. Keypad units are also susceptible, especially for the lower-end units with less digits in the code, to guessing the code from the wear and dirt on the buttons.

How much security you use is dependent on where you live, what you are protecting, and how hard it is to get in otherwise - I have seen people with large french doors and full-height windows on the patio (and no large dog) spend many hundreds on high-security front door lock systems - makes no sense. For a normal house with exterior windows and maybe a sliding glass door, your door locks only have to make it hard enough for a burglar to not want to spend the time to overcome it rather than break a window or patio door. They do not want to be standing at your front door for more than 30 seconds or so trying to break in because they are (usually) visible from the street, and with glass doors it only ahs to be good enough to defeat a burglar looking for the easy target, because if he is serious he is ready to go through the glass anyway.

If personal security is the issue, unless all exterior doors are security doors and all windows have security bars, many times the best solution is decent locks, a good alarm system with LOUD siren, and maybe a bedroom or bathroom or similar room with phone and without accessible window with security door and good deadbolts to retreat to.

It is easy to get too carried away on front door security - especially on houses with other exterior access, as opposed to third story or higher apartments without a fire escape outside the windows where a good door security system can provide fairly good protection except against upper-story burglars. There is even one famous (infamous ?) story about a casino resort that put in high-end exterior security lock systems and bars - but forgot the swimming pool came under the wall inside the bar/lounge area, so a burglar team just swam under to access the interior. They ignored the high-tech security on the safe (which did not have terrible amount of money in it overnight anyway) and just stole the valuable art pieces and a couple hundred thousand $ in liquor.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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