Welcome to an edition of the Adventures of a Vancouver Locksmith. A series where we explore some of the more interesting jobs or situations we encountered. As one of the most popular locksmiths in Vancouver, I can’t cover everything I do in a month. So I will just include the stuff that I found interesting or something I think a commercial or residential client should keep an eye out for.

As always, if you need a professional locksmith that puts your needs first, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at alex@locksmithvancouver.com. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!

One of my recent jobs involved a commercial client with a chain link fence. Due to their need for high security, Client A required Grade 1 Heavy Duty hardware on all doors. However, unlike your standard solid wood/metal doors, chain link fence “doors” are more like a gate. It has a round or square tubular frame covered with a chain link skin. As a result, it is difficult to modify a chain link fence door because the only truly solid area is what we call the gate box. 

Gate boxes come in different sizes and configurations. Pretty much all the gate boxes you will see in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are manufactured by a company called Keedex. These have to be welded on and can accommodate a standard cylindrical lock and more complicated electronic locks. Because they need to be welded onto the gate, we almost never change the type of lock on a gate. It will be cheaper to get a new gate vs. hiring a welder to cut out the old gate box and install a new one.

Last time, I had a job like that was in Gastown. Client B had an antique cast iron gate and needed to switch from an outdated Schlage electronic lock to an Alarm Lock DL2700WP. The WP stands for Weather Proof and it’s the only electronic lock I would install on exterior gates and perimeter doors. 

Now the lock including installation was under $1800 including taxes. However, the cost to hire a gate specialist to cut out the old gate box, weld on the new gate box, refinish and repaint, etc. cost over $4000. So, you can see why this is not normally done. If it was not an antique piece of history that had to be preserved, it would have been cheaper to get a new gate.

Luckily, my chain link fence Client A had a Kaba Simplex L1000 mechanical code lock. You see these a lot on chain link fence gates and particularly in industrial applications. They look like this. The old lock is on the left, the new lock is on the right.

Locksmith Vancouver
Locksmith Vancouver

These are the granddaddy of Heavy Duty code locks. They were revolutionary at the time, but they’ve aged badly over the years. It is known for a glaring security design flaw and is often more expensive compared to better-quality electronic locks.

These days, very few clients want these locks. I haven’t installed a new one in years. I mostly replace them with either a Schlage CO-100 on interior doors and Alarm Lock DL2700 on exterior doors and gates. Why pay more for a less capable lock?

I sometimes hear the argument that a non-battery-operated code lock is better for remote locations where it’s rarely used. The argument is that you never have to worry about the battery being dead. For example, unmanned cell towers in the middle of nowhere where a technician might drop by once or twice a year.

My counter-argument is that the batteries of both Schlage CO and Alarm Lock Trilogy locks will last on average 2 years even with moderate use. In very low-use areas, it might last 5 years or more. Plus, the newer electronic locks can be upgraded with things like Intrusion Alarm Relays, Door Position Sensors, Remote Auditing, and networked into a global access control system. Things that the Simplex 1000 can never do.

I’ll write a more detailed article about electronic locks in the future, but let’s get back to Client A.

Client A used this door for deliveries and wanted the ability to unlock the door via remote. We get requested for this a lot with commercial clients.

There are two ways you can retrofit this feature. On a normal door, you would typically buy a Power Supply, Controller, Mag Lock or Electric Strike, Wiring, Receiver, and a Remote. Then you would have to hire an electrician to run 120V power to the Power Supply and hire a low voltage technician or a locksmith to install the rest of the gear. 

Or you can just hire me to install a stand-alone lock like the Alarm Lock 2700 which has an optional remote release upgrade. No expensive access control panels, no wires, and way less expensive.

While it’s a great option, there a few items to consider:

  • It’s basically a car garage door opener. So the range is limited to 100ft and concrete walls will reduce signal range.
  • One remote can simultaneously open up to 50 locks.
  • A 4 button remote is available.
  • It doesn’t work on Alarm Lock’s Double Sided locks.
  • When unlocked the lock will flash green and you will hear a click, but it will not buzz as an audible cue.

The final caveat I have is that it’s not an instantaneous door release. There is about a one-second delay between pressing the button and the door releasing. Just like your garage door opener. 

In terms of the gate box, the Keedex gate box for a Simplex 1000 is the same as the one for an Alarm Lock DL2700. A couple of holes will need to be enlarged. Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward swpa. As you can imagine, we replace a lot of Simplex 1000’s with Alarm Lock DL2700’s. 

As always, if you need a professional Vancouver locksmith that puts your needs first, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at alex@locksmithvancouver.com. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!

I will end this article with a couple of things I noticed about the Alarm Lock DL series. First, I honestly hate their battery cover plate design. Due to the weather protection on their batteries, the battery pack is pretty bulky and there a lot of wires to accommodate different upgrades. So it’s packed in there. 

It doesn’t help that the battery cover screw hole is on a super weird angle and the screw itself is very small and thin. On more than one occasion have I lost the screw while trying to get it in or twisted the head off and left with one headache of a problem.

They give you two of these screws, but the backup screw has a tamper-proof head of an extremely uncommon size. I really wish that Alarm Lock would change that design.

The second observation is related to Client B. In Vancouver, we had a lot of icy rain in 2021 when we installed the DL2700WP. The Weather Proof series can stand up to rain, snow, and sleet. It is rated to operate from -35 to +66 degrees Celsius. However, the metal keypad can ice up when exposed to icy rain. Client B had to install a small awning over the keypad so that it wasn’t completely exposed to the weather.

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Unlike most electronic locks like the Schlage CO series with a vertical keypad, the Alarm Lock keypad is angled toward the user for ease of use. Unfortunately, it can mean that it can get iced over a bit more easily. Just something to think about when considering electronic locks on exterior doors and gates.

As always, if you need a professional Vancouver locksmith that puts your needs first, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at alex@locksmithvancouver.com. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!

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