Locker Lock Buying Guide

What Lock Do You Need For Your Lockers?

Key, Padlock, Combination, Digital, Smart Card or Coin Operated?

Whether you are buying lockers for your office of 20 employees or a police station of 200 officers, there aren’t many lockers that can do without a lock. When the question “What lock do you need for your lockers” arises, you are inundated with thousands of options.

Whatever type of locker you’re after, from a basic single tier model to a laptop charging transparent door work of locker art, there are several big decisions to make so you don’t buy the wrong locking system for your lockers.

We’re here to guide you through those decisions and help you pick the lock that is best suited to you.


What Type of Lock Do I Need for My Lockers?

The different types of locker locks

There are 7 main types of locker locks to choose from: 

Key Locks for Lockers

flush handle locker key lock black

Ideal if you are on a budget and don’t have large staffing requirements.

Pros

  • Easy and intuitive design: everyone knows how a key works
  • There is variety within simplicity. Key locks can range from a simple numbered key with master key access, through to double-sided teeth, non-masterable high security keys.
  • Cheap to replace if damaged.
  • Replacement keys can often be sourced cheaply from local lock smiths.
  • Some locker key locks include barrel exchange systems which allow for easy swapover of barrels in the case of lost or stolen keys.

Cons

  • Keys are small and easy to lose.
  • Cheap barrels are easy to bypass by a determined thief.
  • Forgotten or lost keys require secondary keys to be administered, or at the very least a master key on hand by a staff member. This can lead to unanticipated staffing costs.
  • Waiting on replacement keys can leave a locker unusable for a period of time.
  • Keys are cumbersome to issue to patrons, for example in a gym or leisure centre, where admin may not be available at all times in an emergency.

Before buying, consider how many staff or patrons will be using the lockers. If you are buying 50 or more doors, the risk of a lost key grows. If you’re budget does not allow for another option, be sure to check that a master key is available for purchase and check the price of replacement keys. Forewarned is forearmed.

Provision for Padlock / Latch Locks

locker latch lock silver finish

Allows for user-provided padlocking and can be an affordable way to reduce key management by admin or caretaker employee.

Pros

  • Easy and intuitive design: everyone knows how a padlock works.
  • If the user is bringing their own padlock, they will be responsible for lost or stolen keys, reducing business liability on the matter.
  • Padlocks can be hired or sold by the business, reducing the overall cost of the lockers.

Cons

  • You must keep bolt cutters on site. Even if you opt to buy a latch lock with key override, the key will only allow you access to the locker. It will not help you remove the locked padlock.
  • Can be unsightly if the lockers are in a public space. By having every user choosing their own padlock, a public bank of lockers will have low aesthetic appeal.

Padlocks are a great way to minimise the cost of replacement keys but still require some administration when users lose keys but need immediate access to their lockers, e.g. for keys or wallets.

Mechanical Combination Locks for Lockers

X306 Combination Lock Key Override Silver

Combination Locks on your lockers are a handy way to eliminate the need for keys in your locker room while allowing for secure access by patrons.

Pros

  • Allows for a keyless locker room
  • Environmental way to improve public access, as no batteries are required.
  • Decent combination locks have emergency override key access in the case of a forgotten code.
  • Many combination locks are “user changeable” allowing users to set new codes as they please for improved security.
  • Saves on replacement keys or padlocks.

Cons

  • Users can still forget their codes and may need staff assistance. This makes combination locks less than ideal for for 24 hour gyms or other venues where users have access when staff assistance is not available.
  • If the combination lock does not have the scramble feature, nearby snoops can see the code on an open locker door while its in use.

Mechanical combination locks will take your lockers into a higher realm of functionality and user-satisfaction. For any locker room with more than 20-30 doors, they are worth consideration.

Digital Locks for Lockers

Horizon digital combination locker lock black with red indicator

A fantastic keyless locking option, with high tech solutions allowing for both shared use or single user mode and more.

Pros

  • Eliminates keys and makes your lockers more user friendly.
  • Some digital locker locks have automatic unlock timers, or even real time clocks, forcing shared environments to be fully available to all users at times you choose.
  • Some digital locks have double-entry of codes, preventing accidental mis-entry and lockouts.
  • Most digital locker locks have batteries that allow for thousands of uses.
  • Huge range of customisation available, making your locker room truly function the way you need it to.

Cons

  • Batteries need to be changed, and therefore the cost should be factored in over time.
  • Being electronic, warranties are often 1 or 2 years compared to the 5 year, 10 year or lifetime warranty of the lockers themselves.
  • Some specific features such as water proof IP rating, real time clock or Bluetooth connectivity can significantly increase the cost per unit.

Digital lockers create a great aesthetic in any locker room and maximise the functionality of the space. They really make your patrons or staff enjoy their locker. Our suggestion is to ensure your lock has a manual key override, in the case of a total lock failure.

RFID Locks / Smartcard Locks

RFID-MIFARE-3783-Digital-Smartcard-Locker-Lock-Silver

A high tech keyless lock with potential for integration with existing smart card technology like student cards or staff access cards.

Pros

  • Cards and keyfobs are more user-friendly and convenient. Instant door access creates a positive experience for users.
  • Many systems use Mifare or HID which are European and US standards, making system integration with existing access cards possible.
  • If you do have an existing access card system and the lock you want is not on the same frequency, many lock manufacturers have stick-on tabs for user cards, making them accessible to both frequencies.
  • Huge range of customisation available, along with audit trails, wireless connectivity, and other features.

Cons

  • Because this technology relatively new, it remains prohibitively expensive.
  • The best value tends to be for clients who have an existing smart card access system, however smart card locker locks do work well in standalone environments.
  • Unless you buy the hardwired option, locks will still require a button press to wake them up, before swiping the card. This prevents batteries from dying within a week.

Coin Locks for Lockers

coin return lock black lowe and fletcher

Coin locks have two types. These are Coin Return locks and Coin Deposit Locks. This allows them to be used to generate some income from the lockers and are generally seen in shared environments.

Pros

  • Function autonomously, with users only receiving a key when they insert a $1 or $2 coin.
  • Can be used to generate income for the locker owner.
  • Encourage the user to return the key in order to receive their money back (in the case of coin return locks).

Cons

  • Users can take a key for the price of a $1 or $2 coin, and reserve a locker indefinitely, preventing further income or patron usage.
  • The low value of coins make this lock more of an honour system. They work well in jails as visitors leaving will immediately want their belongings back and have no reason to reserve a locker.
  • Because coin locks are designed for public access, one design element is that the key will not lock until a coin is placed in the coin receptable. Doors with loose hinges will inevitably open when unlocked, causing potention OH&S issues and look unattractive.

Coin Locks on lockers have their place. If you have a relatively closed environment where users have no benefit to keeping a key indefinitely, this may be a good option for your locker room.

Hardwired Locks for Lockers

Hardwired locker locks range from digital pin code, to smart card locks, where the benefits are enhanced by not being restricted by battery life. Bluetooth connectivity, networking and a central command hub with dedicated software create a seamless and integrative locker system for users and owners.

Pros

  • Complete range of options and customisation for any office, university, hospital, bank or even defence force requirement.
  • Great user experience.
  • Audit trails and remote control access are standard offerings in this niche.
  • Full integration with existing access card or student cards is available.
  • Ongoing support and maintenance packages are available.
  • No batteries means smart card locks are instant access as there is no requirement to conserve battery life. Wireless connectivity can also be always on for local network access.

Cons

  • Expensive. Depending on the size of the locker installation and complexity of your requirements, expect to pay tens or hundreds of thousands.
  • Ongoing monthly support and maintenance fees may be unavoidable, as many locks are controlled by proprietary software offsite.
  • It can be hard to preempt your exact requirements, which can result in needing changes to the setup as you go.

While expensive, hardwired locker locks feature the highest level of customisation and accessibility for users. If you have the budget for it, the large upfront costs may save money in the long run if you are catering to a large enough user base.


Need Help?

Whatever your locker room needs or user-base, there is a locking option that will work for you. If you need help picking the right locking solution for your next locker purchase, contact our friendly and experienced team at enquiries@hitechlockers.com today.

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