Battery powered locks for the keyless


Away with the manual deadbolt.

[Not a sponsored post]

Ever imagined a world without physical keys? It’s technically possible with battery operated locks that accept pin code, RFID card and fingerprint entry. It’s been on my mind for some years, but delayed the installation due to cost.

Fast forward some years later, the prices of such locks have generally gone down, with some going for as low as $100+ without installation on online shopping sites. I decided to go with a local retailer and installer to put my mind at ease, and leave Qoo10 behind this time round.

What were my considerations?

Firstly, price. I wasn’t going to part with $1K just to replace locks. Not that this point in time. Price will determine what kind of features you get with the lock though. To save some, you can buy from lesser known shops. I got this lock from Interlock.

Secondly, complexity. As my fire-rated door is more than 10 years old, it is not going to make much sense overhauling the locks completely. I wanted a simpler solution which doesn’t involve much drilling and tearing out of old locks.

Thirdly, brand. While I didn’t need a top of the range model, I didn’t want an unbranded, unreliable one. A reputable-in-the-market system with some form of warranty would make more sense.

The world calls this a digital lock. I call it a glorified battery operated lock for the lazy.

This particular assembled-in-Korea model from Gateman (Yale’s the parent company according to the installer) costs $368, a good hundred bucks cheaper than its sibling that reads fingerprints and over a couple of hundred moolahs cheaper than the Yale equivalent.

The Gateman A20 is quite a looker. Sleek front plate with a fierce looking locking rear mechanism that locks with confidence and is supposedly more secure with the added ‘claws’. The A20 accepts up to 20 RFID cards or tags (reads my tags a little slowly, imo) and allows you to set a security pin code that allows you access if you were to forget your cards or tags. Installed within 30 mins; only one drill hole needed to mount the front plate and connect it to the rear locking mechanism.

Like all battery powered equipment, the A20 is susceptible to battery leaks. The installer advised me to change the 4 AAs every six to seven months, even though they may last nine to 12 months. And it’s best to use dry cells, if not, alkaline ones.

While I have one less key in my pouch, the A20 doesn’t relieve me of all my keys. I still need keys to unlock my home’s first layer of defence – the old school wrought iron gate – and my letter box.

Installing a battery operated lock on a gate like mine isn’t smart imo, if you are looking for a secure solution. Essentially, your gate will only be as secure as the old-school lock used to secure a metal box that covers the battery operated lock. The locked metal box is meant to keep ‘malicious’ fingers off the unlock button at the back of the lock. No issue with wooden doors, as there is no easy way for someone to press the unlock button from outside.

Here are a couple of photos:


Front plate – a looker


The Claws

Would I recommend you the A20? Yes, if you just want a no-frills lock. No, if you only want to unlock your door using your fingerprint. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $100 more.


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