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Upgrading Traditional Locks to Keyless Entry Systems

Traditional locks are great for niche security purposes like securing important documents in a drawer, safe, or locked compartment. However, when it comes to the flow of people, keyless entry systems reign supreme!

Keyless entry systems are also a type of lock; however, they are usually used at entry and exit points to monitor and control the flow of people. These locks use a digital or analogue (keypad) interface and a server that stores, processes, and verifies information from the interface.

On the other hand, traditional locks have been around for centuries and provide go-to security for people who want to secure certain areas or personal possessions.

These locks can be found on gates, closets, and drawers. Traditional locks were also once famous for locking refrigerators before manufacturers started making built-in locks – of course, these locks are falling out of favour for more modernised locking systems, like keyless entry systems.

In this guide, we will investigate each type of lock, and how you can upgrade traditional locks to keyless entry systems.


Traditional locks are universally recognised due to their ubiquitous nature and iconic look. They are the cheapest security systems in the market and are ideal for people who want to quickly secure their personal belongings. These locks are also ideal for locking gates and other entry/exit points in a premises.

Did you know, traditional locks have been in use for over 6000 years?

The earliest lock designs date to the ruins of Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria. These primitive locks were later developed into the Egyptian wooden pin lock, which consisted of a bolt, door fixture or attachment, and key.

After years of iteration and thanks to upgrades in metallurgy and design, we were able to perfect the traditional lock – and that design remains popular even today.

There are several types of traditional locks. Let’s go over a few:

Knob locks

Knob locks are mostly found in residential properties and are used as a secondary line of protection in combination with other locking mechanisms such as deadbolts.


Padlocks are detachable locks and one of the most common types of door locks in the world. They are highly versatile and are frequently used to secure personal belongings like safes, closets, doors, gates, and even bicycles.

Padlocks are available in two forms: keyed or combination. Keyed locks are more popular for doors while combination locks are great for securing private possessions.


Deadbolts, also known as deadlocks, are another classic door lock and are stronger than a regular spring latch. These locks are exclusively manually operated by the turning of a key or thumb-turn and are available in three different variants: single, double, and lockable thumb-turn.

Lever handle locks

Lever handle locks provide more protection than knob locks and are much easier to use. They are more accessible, even for the elderly, disabled, and handicapped individuals, and have a large lever that is pushed down to open the door.

Cam locks

Cam locks offer a decent amount of protection and are best used for cabinets, drawers, mailboxes, and as an added protection for main doors. They offer an incredible number of choices with different lengths and tailpieces or “cams”, along with functional specifications.

Multi-point locks

Multi-point locks are heavy-duty locking mechanisms that provide reliable security by bolting the door at multiple points with the turn of a single key.

More bolts mean more security since intruders will have more than one lock to bypass. They are comprehensive systems and may include locks, keys, handles, and keeps, and are often found on modern residential doors such as composite, solid core wood, and UPVC models.

Rim or Mortice locks

Rim and Mortice locks provide a high level of security and are usually found on commercial doors, entry glass doors, and apartment doors.

While both have similar security advantages, they differ in their design and the way they are installed. Regardless of the choice, both rim and mortice locks provide superior security and protection as compared to other door locks.

Euro profile cylinders

Euro profile cylinders are incredibly popular in the UK and various other parts of the world due to their sleek design and high performance security-wise. They run through the door and use a single screw to hold themself in place and are available in distinctive styles that include single and double-cylinder varieties.


Keyless entry systems are the modern take on traditional locks. These locks use a hybrid of technology and simple lock designs to create a versatile and highly secure locking mechanism. These locks are frequently found in the commercial world and can be used for not only controlling the flow of people but to also monitor footfall and the attendance of employees/visitors.

These systems are often used in tandem with an external server that holds data about the lock and its authentication profile. For example, every time someone interfaces with the lock by entering a code or scanning their thumb, the system logs the user ID, the time, and the date of the entry.


Instead of using a physical and traditional key, keyless entry systems use various authentication methods like codes, biometrics, or RFID.

To unlock, someone must present the appropriate authentication using the interface of the lock. The system verifies these credentials and, if they are authorised, approves them and the door is unlocked. Simultaneously, the entry is also logged in the system. If the user credentials do not match, then the door remains locked, and the denial is also logged in the system.

These locks require electricity, an internet connection (ideally), and the required wiring and electrical components.

Here are the primary types of keyless entry systems:

Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Discretionary access control (DAC) is ideal for residential users because this system gives the user full control through a “super admin” access code instead of a third-party company managing the system.

Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

Mandatory access controls (MAC) assign admin privileges to one user who needs to authenticate the system to assign roles. Both business owners as well as residential owners benefit from this, especially those who sublet their property and want to monitor/manage the flow of people.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-based access control (RBAC) is the go-to system for business owners who want to maximise security and restrict access to a property. These systems assign privileges according to the roles of the users in an organisation with C-level executives having most of the privileges.

RBAC systems are also great for some homeowners who use their property for commercial purposes like renting out, subletting, or for Airbnb.


Knowing the authentication methods for keyless entry systems is important because it can allow you to choose the best system when you want to upgrade from traditional locks to keyless locks.

Here are some of the most common types of interfacing/authentication methods for these systems:

Keypad Systems

Keypad systems work by entering a key on a physical number pad on the lock. To authenticate, you enter a code, and the system matches and verifies the credentials to unlock.

These systems use a PIN code and can sometimes also support alphanumeric codes; however, the latter is rarely used in the residential space.

These systems also offer versatility since you can either share your PIN code (not recommended) or ideally, create temporary or guest PIN codes to assign to different people who want to access your property.

Swipe Card Systems

These systems work in the same way as ATM cards once did. To authenticate, you swipe a physical card on the interface and the system authenticates using the stored information on the card.

Sometimes these systems can also require two-factor authentication where you would need to swipe and enter a code for maximum security.

RFID Systems

RFID readers are a type of proximity-based access systems that use near-field radio frequency identification technology. This technology can be found in Apple AirTags and phones.

To authenticate, the system automatically and passively scans for a signal nearby. When you stand next to the system or hold up your phone or RFID card, the system reads the information over the air and authenticates.

Biometric Systems

Biometric systems use tactile scanners to identify users through their unique physical features, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, or retina scans.

These systems are frequently used for ultra-high security premises that require strict authentication and control. You will usually find these systems in highly secure places inside companies or factories.

Biometric systems can also be used for residential properties and are great for people who don’t want to use any physical key. In this case, your thumb is your key! Keep in mind that due to the complexity of this system, they can be quite expensive than regular keypad or RFID keyless entry systems.

Smart Lock Systems

Smart locks use advanced algorithms and cloud computing to verify access. These systems are the perfect marriage between modern technology and traditional locks. Smart locks can be accessed via phone and provide detailed access reports.

These systems often work by connecting to the internet through a secure server provided by the manufacturer. This means that they can be accessed from anywhere so long as you have a stable internet connection. They are also often used for properties on Airbnb or subletters.


Now that we have discussed different types of traditional locks and keyless entry systems, let’s look at how you can upgrade your traditional locks.

Ideally, the first step is to opt for a professional security company like Calder Security to assess your premises.

Why is this important? Well, a professional security company can perform a security risk assessment and highlight the areas where you would need keyless entry systems.

Please keep in mind that due to the costs associated with keyless entry systems, it is advised that you use a combination of traditional and digital locks. Keyless entry systems are ideal for main entry and exit points.

To upgrade your primary locks, a professional installer would have to wire the premises and then install the keyless entry components in an easily accessible location near the door. For example, the lock can be mounted on the side of the door, or, if you are using a smart door handle, then the traditional handle will simply be replaced with the digital handle.

Again, we recommend that you seek professional help to know the right type of lock for your property. Furthermore, there are also costs associated with the installation.

For example, a keypad door lock might cost around £50-£100 per door, while a smart lock with multiple access methods and remote-control capabilities can cost between £150-£300​ per door.

Commercial systems can start at around £200 and can go up to £1,000 or more per door, depending on the complexity of the system and the integration of the system with other security hardware. We recommend that you work with the installation company so that you can share your requirements and expectations from the system.

Keyless entry systems are available in different forms, and each authenticates users differently. For example, thumb scanners or RFID scanners are great for elderly people who don’t want to deal with the hassle of entering a code every time they want to access a premises.

Additionally, when you opt for a professional installation company like Calder Security, a professional will carefully route the wiring needed for the system and provide a detailed maintenance schedule that will ensure that the system keeps running smoothly.

Keyless entry systems also require a power backup. In this case, a professional installer will route the power for the system using the main grid as well as a backup supply around your premises. Please keep in mind that these systems always require professional installation to cover all bases. While you can install the system on your own, the reliability of the system will remain questionable!


Calder Security provides a complete solution for keyless entry systems for homes and businesses which includes professional installation, maintenance, and repair services.

We’ve been working in the security industry since 1976 and partner with only the best brands. Our MLA-approved locksmiths can advise you on the best type of keyless entry system by helping you assess your security needs and requirements.

We are SSAIB-approved installers and offer all types of access control systems including intercoms, proximity fobs, access cards, and keypads. We also offer biometric systems that work with fingerprints or retina scans.

We conduct annual servicing to keep your system working well and give it a full check including checking the battery strength, power supply, and connections. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises further down the line.

Sometimes problems may occur with access control systems that can affect the locking mechanism, potentially compromising the security of your property.

Common issues include simple wear and tear or faults with the power supply or batteries, and to preserve the security of your property, you need to get the problems fixed ASAP.

We operate a 24-hour emergency service run by qualified security specialist engineers who understand keyless entry systems and can resolve issues efficiently and effectively.

Contact us here or call us at 0800 612 9799 for a quick consultation and more information on upgrading traditional locks to keyless entry systems.

Photo by Vadim Babenko on Unsplash