Copying House and Apartment Key Fobs

Over the years, our Downtown Vancouver Key Store has become one of Vancouver’s longest independent Key Stores with the help of our many loyal customers. Throughout that time, we have seen an overall trend from copying mechanical keys to copying house and apartment Key Fobs. While there are several advantages of switching to RFID technology, one of the drawbacks for owners is the cost and time to receive copies from building management.

As a result, it was a common occurrence for our clients to request their key fobs be duplicated along with their mechanical keys. Unfortunately, for several years, there were technological barriers that prevented us from providing such a service.

However, due to recent advancement in technology, we are happy at Archer Lock Services to announce that we are now able to duplicate most low and high frequency Key Fobs at our Gastown location.

This article will discuss a few things to know before copying your Key Fob or garage door opener. If you have any questions or comments, please call or text me at 604-363-3760 or email me at You can also drop by our Downtown Vancouver Key Store located 555 West Hastings St. We are located inside the SFU/Harbour Centre, on the bottom floor next to the BC Liquor Store. We are open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm.

Market Transition to Key Fobs

To be quite honest, I’ve been hearing about the complete digital transformation of the lock industry for years, but it never seems to happen. While most office buildings have embraced Key Fobs on both perimeter and interior doors, most residential buildings only use card readers on perimeter doors – if not just the main front door.

There are many buildings in the West End that still issue mechanical keys to the front door to the residents and/or tenants. It might be cost prohibitive to upgrade to card readers or the building may simply prefer the simplicity of mechanical keys. 

Of course, the biggest headache for all residents can be if one person loses the common front door key. In such a scenario, it’s not uncommon for the building to rekey the front door and issue new keys to everyone at the expense of the resident who lost the master key in the first place.

Last time I performed such a service was a few years ago in the West End for a mid rise building with ~80 units. Even with 80 units, the cost was high enough for the unit holder to make an insurance claim.

With Key Fobs, the building management just needs to remove the lost credential from the Controller software and issue a new Fob to the resident. However, if your building does not have an on-site concierge or caretaker, it might take several business days to receive your new fob(s) which can be of great inconvenience.

Copying House and Apartment Key Fobs

At our Vancouver Key Store, we can copy most Key Fobs in a couple of minutes. High Encryption Fobs take a little bit longer. So here’s a few things to know before coming to our Key Store to copy your house and apartment Key Fobs.

#1: Identifying Your Key Fob

Take a look at your Key Fob. On the front or back, there should be embossed letters or a sticker to help you identify your fob brand. Common brands in Vancouver include:

  • HID
  • HID iClass
  • DKS
  • ICT
  • Keyscan
  • Schlage
  • Liftmaster
  • Linear
  • Indala
  • Kantech

To be honest, most of these brands use low frequency/encryption on their Key Fobs. Higher frequencies have been around for a while but these systems and related Key Fobs cost more. As such, most developers install the cheapest systems they can find and leave it up to the end users to upgrade down the road.

I would say, most strata councils and commercial landlords never make the upgrade. It normally involves replacing all the existing card readers and issuing new Key Fobs which can get quite expensive.

However, I did recently visit a residential building in Coal Harbour that made the switch and had begun to issue all the residents and tenants the new High Encryption Key Fobs. Unfortunately, it caused a mini revolt as the system upgrade canceled all the cloned fobs that owners and tenants were using. Plus many owners had to pick up the new Key Fobs in-person and tenants were barred from doing so. Imagine flying-in internationally, just to pick up a couple of Key Fobs. No wonder people were upset.

If you are not sure which Key Fob you have, please come by our Vancouver Key Store located at 555 W Hastings St. We can scan the fob and help identify the blank needed. This is important as the Low Encryption Key Fob copies are currently $50 each while High Encryption Key Fob copies are $75+.

#2: Garage Door Openers vs Key Fobs

I used to live in a building in East Vancouver near Central Park with multiple overhead garage doors in the parkade. The building issued the gray LiftMaster garage door openers with an integrated Key Fob. 

Most Garage Door Openers have 2 or 4 buttons but it’s rare for most buildings to use more than 1 or 2 buttons. In this building, it used all 4 buttons for 4 different garage doors which made things interesting during rush hour when everyone wanted to leave the parkade to enter at the same time. The electric motors broke down all the time from all the stops and starts.

For us, the Key Fob is the part you use to tap the Card Reader next to the door to gain access. The Garage Door Opener is the device to open the overhead garage door. It just happens that most modern garage door openers from companies like KeyScan, LiftMaster, DKS, and ICT combine both devices into one.

While enclosed into one device, both parts are independent of each other. As such, even if the garage door is broken or out of battery power, the Key Fob will still work fine.

At our Key Store, we can copy almost all Low Encryption Key Fobs and most High Encryption Key Fobs. Some specialty High Encryption like the HID iClass require special OEM fobs as they operate at a different frequency. As a result, they cost more. Regardless, all Key Fobs are guaranteed to work.

On the other hand, while we can copy Garage Door Openers with a day’s notice, we cannot guarantee that it will work with your building’s garage door system. The reason is because some systems require the Controller to be entered into the teach/programming mode which is done via a physical button/switch on the motor. Since we and you cannot do that, we can’t guarantee that it will work. The Key Fob should work just fine. 

We have had better Garage Door Opener results with brands like ICT, DKS, and KeyScan Blue. However, with some other systems like LiftMaster, it’s a bit of an unknown.

As a result, we recommend you use our services to copy your Key Fobs. If you need a Garage Door Opener, we recommend you contact your Building Management. They will have OEM software and devices specific to your building’s systems.

#3: Mini Fob vs RFID Sticker

Several years ago, I had a client brag about injecting a RFID chip into his hand so he can unlock doors with a wave of his hand. I thought it was a pretty stupid idea, and my mind has not changed since. I asked him how he planned to get the thing out if it malfunctions, and he did not have a good answer. It would probably require some sort of surgery and cutting into your hands is never a good idea. There’s a lot of sensitive muscle tissue and ligaments in that part of your body. In my opinion, it is an unnecessary risk.

A more reasonable alternative would be a RFID Sticker. It’s not just a piece of wire embedded paper you can stick onto your phone case. It’s more like a thin piece of wire embedded plastic with a sticky coating on one side. The main advantage is that it can be conveniently stuck onto your phone case. Theoretically, you can leave home with just your cell phone.

On the other hand, here’s a few reasons why you might not want to do this:

  1. The sticker can be easily peeled off by someone and they now have access to your building and/or home.
  2. The sticker part can be affected by water, moisture, heat, sweat, etc. Your fob could just fall off and you would not notice until you got home.
  3. There is no IP rating for a RFID sticker. Never expose it to the elements.
  4. Lost your cell phone? Well now you are locked out of your home as well.

I generally do not recommend RFID stickers unless you are super focused on reducing your pocket luggage. Some people like to run without their keys, in which case this may be the perfect alternative. Generally, I say stick to plastic Key Fobs, they last virtually forever and handle the Vancouver weather and seasons much better.


Free yourself from the burden of worrying what to do if you lose your Key Fob. Make an extra set at our Key Store in Downtown Vancouver. Just remember that while most Key Fobs use Low Frequency Encryption, some buildings do require High Frequency Encrypted Key Fobs. 

If you are not sure, I recommend coming to your Key Store located at 555 W Hasting St for a quick scan on our trustworthy and fast scanner. We can tell you what type of Key Fob you have and how much it will cost to duplicate. We are located near Gastown on the bottom floor of the SFU/Harbour Centre, across the street from the Waterfront Station. The Vancouver Key Store is open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. It may be open on Saturdays for the Summer. Contact us to find out more.

If you have any questions or comments, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at In addition to copying your House and Apartment Key Fobs, we can also install Fob Systems and perform repairs as well.

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