We often are presented with the task of helping with specification of a keyless entry for a residential project. Depending on what the design and function needs are, this could take us in many different directions. Let’s start with the basic options for electronic entry.

  1. Electric Strikes : Electric strikes are sometimes used on residential projects, especially when there might be a particular need/convenience to run the power on the jamb side. Basically, when you send your signal to unlock the door, the electric strike keeper moves out of the way so that the door can swing clear. The only electric strike that I know of that works differently than this is the Securitron MUNL, which pushes the latch out of the strike instead, allowing the user to then push the door open. (Be very careful with specifying the MUNLs as they have pre-load issues, are not weather resistant, and Accurate locks will need to be modified to accommodate these particular electric strikes. The MUNL cannot be used with a deadbolt.)

    PROS : Power at the jamb (not through the door), some models give flexibility to use a fixed pull on the exterior if desired, some fairly low profile options like the HES 4500C or Securitron MUNL.

    CONS : Electric strikes are not seen as a great aesthetic option due to the cutout on the jamb that is required to install an electric strike. You also don’t usually have many finish options, and limited options for strike length. Some people have complained about the sound.

  2. Electrified Mortise Locks : The only electrified mortise locks I will reference here are Accurate Lock & Hardware Motor Drive Electric Mortise Locks. These mortise locks are wired for power transfer to the lever/knob hub. When a signal is sent to unlock the door, the outside lever/knob hub is freed so that the user is now able to push down their lever (or turn their knob), retract the latch, and swing the door open. Otherwise, the outside lever/knob is always rigid/locked. Power must be run from the mortise lock, through the width of the door, through one of the hinges through the jamb, and then routed off to wherever it needs to go. Keypad or keyfob or wireless set up is typically provided by the AV consultant on the project.

    PROS : Aesthetically pleasing because all the power/wires are hidden from sight. Accurate can still build the lock to lever or knob specification of choice, keeping the design consistent with the rest of the hardware. No batteries, no worries about running out of power unless the power goes out. Can easily be changed from FAIL SECURE to FAIL SAFE in the field. Low power requirements. Keyed cylinder override. Inside lever always free with M9159E.

    CONS : Requires drilling through the width of the door to run power, requires power transfer hinge, which is added labor/cost. Always must have lever or knob to retract latch and swing door open once lever hub is freed up. Fixed pulls cannot be used. No deadbolt. Sometimes the lack of deadbolt bothers homeowners, and they will opt to have a separate “night security” small mortise deadlock, like a 9503. They can throw the bolt for added security at night, but they will need to remember to unlock during the day or whenever they want to be free to use electronic access to go in and out.

    There are other electrified mortise locks, like Schlage’s version, but they are not as easy to adapt to other manufacturer’s trim.

  3. Smart Lock-Deadbolt : Most of the smart locks out there now (August, Yale/Nest, Schlage, Kwikset, Friday Labs) can be bought online (no need to go through a dealer) and are built to work with an existing tubular deadbolt.

    PROS : Ease of use for end user. No keys needed. Works with most standard tubular deadbolts.

    CONS : Most dealers will not sell; purchaser buys at own risk. Battery operated, will need to be regularly charged or batteries changed. No option for matching the rest of the trim. Not aesthetically pleasing. Used with tubular deadbolts, which are lower security than mortise locks.

  4. Smart Lock-Mortise : The only smart lock for custom mortise lock entry is in the works at Accurate Lock & Hardware. They are projecting the SM9159E SmartPhone Lock to be ready for market by end of Q2. Works the same as their electrified mortise lock, but with Bluetooth signal to unlock the lever/knob hub (no deadbolt). Flexibility to be powered by batteries or by traditional hard wired power supply. One difference is that a turn piece is optional to have ability to lock outside lever (but cannot be used to unlock it).

    PROS : Aesthetically pleasing because all the power/wires are hidden from sight. Accurate can still build the lock to lever or knob specification of choice, keeping the design consistent with the rest of the hardware. No need to run power through door/hinge/jamb unless that is desired. Keyed override optional.

    CONS : Batteries will need to be periodically replaced (unless using hard wired power supply). Cannot use fixed pulls. Must use active levers/knobs.

  5. MagLocks : Mag locks are more widely used for commercial applications, but there are some options that may make sense for the right residential application. Be careful with these specifications as they often build up a lot of heat and should not be installed in wood jambs. See Security Door Controls for options, or Assa Abloy’s website. This area could use further R&D for high-end residential application.