Make the Standalone Electronic Lock Connection

Jan. 2, 2017
Physical perimeter protection the first and most important step is in a successful security design requiring multiple layers of protection.

Ask any reliable, knowledgeable security professional what the first line of defense is in commercial, institutional, and residential spaces ‑ and he’ll tell you it’s “the locks on the exterior doors” as well as windows, although to a lesser degree.

“The first line of defense in almost any situation is the external doors and the lock hardware that we put on them. Although I and my employees deal mostly with fire protection and electronic security, we’re very much aware that the first line of defense in any facility is the perimeter of the building, which means the doors and windows,” says John Larkin, senior partner at Electronic Systems Consultants (ESC) in Ohio. “In fact, almost everything we do at ESC is in support of this premise. We work with local locksmiths that assist us when we need to assure the integrity and quality of our client’s locks and doors. This is especially critical when we work in high-security settings.”

The fact is: the key to a successful security design requires multiple layers of protection. Physical perimeter protection is the most important, especially with regard to physical access. Alarm systems are second, with interior barriers and inside motion detection next. The question\ is: Do we seek to hide the work we do to protect a client or do we use the overt approach?

Effective Security Requires Multiple Layers

Effective deterrence requires the use of several visible means of protection, such as the installation of a monitored security system, outdoor cameras, adequate outdoor lighting installed in strategic locations along the perimeter of the structure and quality steel and/or solid-wood doors, in addition to quality locks.

In fact, locks deemed adequate to a perceived threat are an integral part of a suite of products and services that act collectively to discourage a would-be thief from committing an intended crime. This includes specialty electronic locks such as, cylindrical, mortise, and auxiliary models that carry the appropriate ANSI/BHMA rating for the application.

Inside choke points can be used to your advantage, such as a quality lock installed on the cellar door. If the client has a security closet or room, consider a quality deadbolt lock as it will further discourage a would-be criminal.

Electronic locks are usually just as capable of meeting the same rating standards as mechanical ones and are even more uninviting to criminals because they cannot be bumped, picked, or drilled.

In this case, Grade 1, which is widely used in commercial applications, offers the most security. Grade 2, which can be used in commercial and residential, offers middle-of-the-road protection. And Grade 3 is the lowest in security and is commonly used in residential applications where there is not a discernible risk.

Transitioning From Mechanical to Electronic

There are powerful reasons why end users migrate to the electronic version of their once favorite mechanical locks. The fact is, as previously stated in the above paragraph, the electronic counterpart to yesterday’s mechanical locks offer the same protective qualities as traditional models while providing a number of distinct advantages.

The first noteworthy advantage is that they contain nearly the same mechanical elements within them and they carry the same ANSI/BHMA rating, which makes it easy to select the right model for the application. Electronic locks also contain many of the same locking security features as mechanical models, too, such as a “dead-latch” and “deadbolt” when using a mortise version.

Reason two for replacing mechanical locks with electronic models relates to ease and speed of operation using a unique PIN (personal identification number), card, or keyfob as opposed to carrying a bulky set of keys. And yet, some models come with a key in addition to a keypad, card reader, or keyfob. In some cases the key is used for programming while in other scenarios it also can be used for access by the owner or manager of the facility in question, like a master key.

Above all else, probably the most important benefit of all is the ability of this type of lock to provide access to multiple users (two to 1,000 or more). Security personnel no longer face the task of rekeying or mastering mechanical locks which takes time and costs money. Now, the job of adding and removing users is simplified and relatively quick and easy using a variety of methods depending on the lock in question.

Programming usually can be performed with the buttons on the keypad or a special hand-held programmer. One lock, manufactured by CodeLocks, uses a USB memory stick to load a PC or laptop with software. This same USB memory device also allows for the transference of programming and event data from lock to computer.

Some standalone electronic locks also allow for programming using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. This allows for the fast and relatively easy enrollment and elimination of system users.

Providing Security Functionality

Another reason why people like electronic locks is that some models provide basic security reporting. For example, in larger systems, a door-ajar feature makes it possible to detect when someone has propped a door open. After a specific period of time a local alarm will sound, summoning the attention of those responsible for the day-to-day operation of the facility. In this case, the programming will sound a loud alarm at the door. Where necessary, the alarm function can be extended to include a sounding device at one or more remote locations within the same building, campus, or somewhere else through the use of cellular or Internet technologies. 

Another optional feature that acts as a burglar alarm allows for the activation of an alarm when a door is opened without a valid PIN, card, or fob. A good example of this is where a door is forced open by an unauthorized individual using a pry-bar. Standalone models usually perform this at the door only, but some also have the ability to communicate with other security devices in the building using wireless means, such as Z-Wave, ZigBee, and other wireless technologies.

Some standalone electronic locks also have the option of networking with other electronic locks in the same location, even those installed in multiple buildings. The advantage of this type of access device is that it can be installed in standalone today and upgraded to network status tomorrow.

Some clients will install a single standalone electronic lock to try it for a period of time to see if they like it. When they decide that it works and that it’s a convenient way to access their home or office, many people will expand upgrade it to network status while replacing other existing mechanical locks with identical electronic locks. The advantage of networking them together is so they work through a single, common command and control system, which also simplifies programming and monitoring past events.

Possible Applications

Let’s talk about possible applications where electronic locks fill a specific need. A number of applications that come to mind include tool rooms, where an audit trail of those who come and go is kept; electrical closets, where the danger of high-voltage electrocution is significant; and IT (Information Technology) closets/rooms where the security of the network is extremely important.

Electric locks also are valuable in situations where there are many individuals who require access through one or more doors. An excellent example of this is an outdoor storage shed where maintenance technicians require ready access at any time of day and night. Some standalone electronic locks are so sophisticated that management can assign a range of times and days when authorized users are permitted to access a respective door.

Another popular use for standalone electronic locks is a single vendor door at the rear of a retail store. Using an electronic lock means you no longer have to pass out keys to everyone and his brother. The right people now have 24-hour access without risk of giving access to the wrong person. In the past, you would have charged additional to make this happen through master keying and perhaps you still can by providing a maintenance contract that includes periodic programming changes.

At first look, you may find the idea of selling electronic locks that eliminate the need for rekeying unthinkable, but not to worry. Many of your clients will call you when it comes time to enroll and remove users from the new electronic locks they purchased. As one opportunity is lost, others can be found in today’s high-tech world of electronic locks.
Many of the standalone electronic locks made today also will accommodate a means of communication between user smartphones and tablets and that of a stand-alone electronic lock. The technology responsible for this is called Near Field Communication (NFC). This technology allows communication up to four inches away and can be executed on site outside the door.

Sources of Standalone Electronic Locks

The following list provides that names and contact information for a variety of standalone electronic locks. First, we list the main company website, followed by a link direct to standalone products, and then the telephone numbers. For additional information, contact your local locksmith distributor or one of the manufacturers listed below.

Alarm Lock:,, 800-ALA-LOCK

Arrow:,,  800-839-3157

Best Access Systems:,,  317-849-2250

CodeLocks:,, 714 979 2900

Corbin-Russwin:,, 860-225-7411

Door King Inc:,, 800-826-7493

Dormakaba Group:,,, 800-523-8483

Kwikset Corp.:,,  800-327-LOCK

Marks USA:,, 800-526-0233

Master Lock:,,  800-464-2088


Sargent:,,  800-727-5477

Schlage: ,

SDC:,       800-413-8783

Stanley:,,  855-365-2407

Yale:,,  855-492-0505