Adventures of a Vancouver Locksmith #7
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 email@example.com. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!
Lately, I have received quite a number of inquiries regarding electronic locks for residential applications. Mostly from condo owners who are running AirBnB or just want the convenience of an electronic lock.
So I would like to take some time to discuss the trade-off between mechanical and electronic locks. Plus I will go over the electronic locks I recommend as a locksmith in Vancouver.
When it comes to the differences between mechanical vs electronic locks, I will assume that this is for residential applications only. Things get a bit more complicated and much more expensive for commercial applications.
Mechanical locks are:
- Dollar for dollar, a better value
- Easier to install and maintain
- Greater options in terms of designs and keyways
- Depending on the brand, a higher quality lock at the same price level
- Depending on the brand, a higher security lock at the same price level
- Generally will last longer
- Never have to worry about batteries losing power
On the other hand, electronic locks are:
- Dollar for dollar, more expensive and worse value
- Slightly more difficult to install and program
- Depending on the brand and design, they won’t last as long
- Generally less secure than mechanical locks at the same price level
- Limited options in designs and keyway – what you see is what you get
- If the batteries run out of juice, you may need to call a Vancouver locksmith
- Much more convenient as you do not need keys
Seeing the list above, one may ask … what is the point of electronic locks?
When it comes to residential applications, you are simply paying more to gain convenience while lowering security and everything else.
However, convenience is nothing to sneeze at. I have the Nest Yale electronic locks on my home and I love the convenience of not having to use keys. I will discuss why I think the Nest Yale lock is the best electronic lock for residential applications a bit later.
Most modern apartments have a locked front door, locked stairwell doors, and a card reader elevator. So perhaps you do not need a high-security lock. Only you would know how safe your building is, but if break-ins are not a common occurrence in the building then it would be reasonable to trade security for convenience.
When my wife and I were living in East Vancouver, I never considered installing an electronic lock. Property crimes are fairly rampant in the neighbourhood so security was always a concern.
When we lived in Port Coquitlam in the suburbs, security was much less of a concern. This is one of the reasons why we moved back to PoCo this Fall. (Plus it offered the most affordable housing before crossing the Port Mann bridge.)
That is not to say PoCo doesn’t have its share of property crimes. It does. However, it’s nothing on the level of East Vancouver and the Downtown core.
This is why I felt comfortable installing Nest Yale electronic locks on my apartment doors even though we are on the ground level.
Here are a few reasons why I recommend the Nest Yale lock:
- There is no cheap override key cylinder to be picked or drilled open
- It has emergency battery terminals on the outside in case the main batteries die
- It comes with an integrated privacy feature to disable the keypad
- Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity is standard
- Super easy to program and use manually, via voice commands, or with the mobile app
- Comes with guest and temporary password generation
- Keypad is fast and responsive
- Designed with a Grade 2 Deadbolt and Grade 2 features
Now the Nest Yale lock is one of the most expensive residential electronic locks you can buy. However, I think it’s worth the price given all it offers.
The Nest app and its integration with Google Home is the best in its class. It’s fairly intuitive and the setup process is the easiest I’ve seen.
As a professional locksmith, I highly recommend Schlage, but their connectivity tools and apps for their electronic locks are a dog’s breakfast. Their roots are in commercial electronic locks so a lot of their earlier products used things like a ZWAVE bridge that required very specific and costly routers and other networking hardware that a regular homeowner would never get.
Even 6 or 7 years ago, it was such a pain in the butt to set up a wifi bridge to an electronic lock that only a masochist would do it. Customer Service for this kind of stuff was virtually non-existent.
These days, products like the Schlage Connect are easier to use. They use the more modern Z-Wave2 protocol and use an API to connect with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and etc.
However, In my experience, they still fall behind the Nest in terms of ease of use and the quality of their apps. Nest is a part of Google so it’s not surprising that their software is top-notch.
When the Nest Yale locks were first introduced, they really raised the bar for electronic locks. More established lock companies like Schlage and Weiser had to step up to keep up. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are not quite there yet.
Before moving onto the only other electronic lock I would recommend, I would like to perform a Public Service Announcement.
Stay away from fingerprint locks.
Stay away, run away from fingerprint locks. There are absolutely no good fingerprint locks for residential applications yet. There may be one in the future. However, the demand for fingerprint locks is small, so the quality and range of products are very bad.
There are commercial-grade fingerprint locks available in the market. The decent ones often have GSA certification for use in U.S. government facilities, but they are beyond the reach of the average consumer and very very expensive.
This applies to fingerprint safes as well. Yes, good ones exist but not for the average home electronic market.
Long story made short. Fingerprint technology creates a digital code based on your fingerprint using reference points. The more reference points it uses, the more unique the digital code, and the more secure the safe.
On average, forensic fingerprint analysis used in criminal cases uses 8 to 12 reference points. Home electronic fingerprint locks use as little as 1 or 2 reference points. In short, they are not very secure.
If Apple could not make the fingerprint scanner on their iPhones work well, no lock company can either.
The only other electronic deadbolt I would recommend is the Schlage BE365. It has no Bluetooth, no wifi, no extra frills of any kind. It is a basic 4-digit keypad electronic lock. Along with its sister, the FE 575/595, I install these most often in commercial applications where the client doesn’t want to pay for a commercial-grade lock or it is a low-traffic door with no need for security nor quality.
Some of my residential clients also prefer this because it’s cheap and efficient. Less features mean the batteries last longer and it is not as painful to replace when it inevitably breaks.
On the subject of price, the Nest Yale and the BE365 locks I supply are more expensive than what you can buy it for at Best Buy or Home Depot. Actually, the price difference is quite significant.
The reason for the price difference is that the big box store can buy and sell these locks at a much better discount than the local lock distributors. Even as a professional Vancouver locksmith, it literally costs me more to buy the Nest Yale lock at the wholesaler than to buy one at Best Buy.
Which is why I recommend that clients buy these locks themselves then have us install and program.
The upside is that it is cheaper for the client. The downside is that we can only provide warranties on products that we procure and install. Our relationships with our wholesalers allow us to return products and get an immediate replacement, as long as it’s in stock, or guarantee the same price if it needs to be reordered from the factory.
If you are holding the warranty, you will need to contact the manufacturer yourself which can be a massive headache. In fact, it can be so painful that most people would just give up.
As a professional locksmith, I can transfer that burden to the wholesaler and make it so much easier for the client. So for my commercial clients, it makes sense to pay more and eliminate the hassle. However, that kind of convenience comes with a price.
As always, if you need a professional locksmith in Vancouver that puts your needs first, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer same-day service and the best warranty in town!