Fingerprint Locks – Are They Worth It?

The other day we looked at the “bump key” threat and the higher security locks you can buy to combat the problem. But what if you wanted to take your home security to the next level? To stop the determined professional thief? Are the new biometric fingerprint locks the answer? Hmmmm …

KwikSet SmartScan, as profiled on The Arizona Republic

Certainly they offer certain practical advantages over conventional locks. Firstly, you shouldn’t be able to lose your key because it’s, like, um, permanently attached to your hand.

They’re also programmable, allowing you to control access your home by different people at different times of the day; the ordinary lock is “all or nothing”. I can see how a fingerprint lock could have prevented this incident where a troubled bathroom remodeling contractor used the housekey given to him to vandalize a vacationing customer’s home, doing more than $200,000 in damage.

But how well do they work? As with anything, it depends on the quality and manufacturer. This first in-depth review I came across on The Gadgeteer was not positive; missing or sketchy instructions, installation issues, and fingerprint registration issues were a problem. Basically the testers found it too unreliable to use day to day.

On the other hand, the reviews on the sites selling these products are generally very positive and sound like they come from real customers … but don’t offer much of an in-depth assessment. Epinions had some reviews but only on 1 brand / model which always makes me wonder …

The bottom line with fingerprint locks, more so than other locks, is that “you get what you pay for”. If you choose a better quality (i.e. $$$) fingerprint lock, you will get better and more reliable performance.

So they work. Good. But are they more secure, in and of themselves? Are they really burglar proof?

Manufacturers say yes. But the MythBusters say no. Watch and learn people.

Watch on YouTube if doesn’t load below.

So it seems that if someone can get your fingerprint, they can also get into your house.
And where could they get one of those? Um, the scan pad maybe? To be fair, swiping fingerprints requires some skill but the “determined professional thief” should have no problem there …

The takeaway from all this is that if you need a fingerprint lock, the reason probably has more to do with the other features – the convenience, the programmability – and not just security alone. As with any home security measure, it needs to be used in conjunction with other secondary measures. “Bumping” a lock isn’t going to work out for an intruder if you’ve also got an alarm system. The same applies here.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 23rd, 2007 at 10:40 am and is filed under Home Improvement, Home Security, Security. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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