Find the ideal lock for every application
Most people can easily think of at least a few ways in which a good padlock would come in handy around the house. Preventing children from accessing your tool box, keeping valuable outdoor power equipment stored securely in your shed and locking up your bike are just a few applications for which padlocks can be used. Locks come in different configurations, ranging from a dial combination lock to high-security, laminated pin-tumbler locks. The one you choose will depend upon a number of factors. Locks with keys provide you with several different options, allowing you to use them in a number of different personal and professional capacities. Consider the following questions as you try to determine the best way to secure your valuables:
Construction, Types, Materials and Keys
In choosing a lock, you’ll want to consider three primary factors – where and how it’s being used, how secure you need it to be and whether or not it will be used indoors or outdoors. You’ll also have to decide between a keyed lock and a combination lock. Locks are made from a variety of materials including bronze, chrome, steel and aluminum, each of which is designed to provide strength, resist the effects of weather or both. When choosing a keyed lock, you’ll have a number of different options, ranging from “keyed alike” to a hierarchy system in which a master key can be used to access various subsets of locks.
Construction, Design and Weather Resistance: Different padlocks may look similar, but, in many cases, their internal mechanics differ. Most keyed locks feature a steel body that houses either a locking bolt or a series of pins. When the correct key is inserted, the locking bolt is moved, or each individual pin is depressed to the position required for the lock to open. Rotating combination locks, on the other hand, feature a series of discs that must be rotated to the proper position to allow access. Push-button combination locks have pegs that must be pushed in to gain entry. Regardless of which type you choose, the lock will have either an open or closed shackle. Open shackles feature a large space between the center of the shackle and the body of the lock. If you’re confronted with a situation where a normal padlock is too small to fit, look for one with a long shackle, which makes it easier to apply the lock in unusual circumstances.
Lock Types: Before you select a lock, you’ll need to figure out exactly how secure you need it to be. If you’re using it simply to lock the doors of a shed to keep the neighborhood children from hurting themselves with your tools, you’ll probably be fine using a warded lock or combination lock that can withstand heat, cold and precipitation. If, however, you’re placing valuables in a locker or some other public area to which many people have access, you’ll want to choose a heavy-duty professional lock with five or more pin tumblers. These locks are extremely difficult to cut through and even harder to pick. The following chart details several commonly available lock styles, their features and some points to consider for each:
|Lock Type||Features||Points to Consider|
|Laminated Pin Tumbler||
Keys: Keyed locks offer a number of features. If you’re using multiple locks in different places, you may soon find yourself overwhelmed with keys, and keeping track of which keys fit with which locks can be a daunting task. To prevent this problem, look for a series of keyed-alike locks. These locks can all be opened with the same key, making use more convenient and keeping your key chain a bit lighter. If you’re using a series of locks for professional applications, consider a set with a master key. With this system, workers can be given keys for the individual locks they need access to while supervisors can have a master key that opens all locks in their jurisdiction. A grand master key can be used to open all of the locks that different supervisors have access to.
Hardened-Steel Shackle: If you’re using your lock in a public place, look for one with a hardened-steel shackle to minimize the chances of someone being able to cut through it.
Protective Rubber Covers and Fitted Plastic Casings: Rubber covers keep both the lock and the surface of whatever it’s attached to safe from dents and scratches. Fitted plastic casings cover locks and help protect them against the elements to prolong life.
Non-Removable Key: Locks with a non-removable key feature don’t allow you to remove the key if the lock is still open, preventing you from walking away without securing the lock.
Waterproof: Locks installed outside benefit greatly from waterproofing, which not only prevents rusting but also helps prolong the life of the lock by keeping the internal mechanisms working smoothly. Waterproof locks are ideal for use on boats, trailers, gates and more.
Car Security: If you’re worried about car thieves, a good lock may be the answer. While a standard padlock won’t do much good when it comes to preventing theft, there are specially designed locks that go over steering wheels and lock them into place. The sight of one in your car can prove to be an effective deterrent to would-be thieves.
If you plan to lock up your bike when you get to the park, you’ll need a cable, chain or coil to connect it to a post or tree.