Everyday the locksmith is inundated with sales pitches on how they must offer electronic security devices and how obsolete the mechanical locks are. A lot of this comes from the manufacture reps or distributors looking to earn their sales commissions while forcing new products into the market.
There is no doubt that electronic security hardware offers great features and benefits, but they also bring a wide range of problems. If someone where to ask just how to define these devices the single word would be convenience. So when in comparison to a mechanical lock definition we come up with words such as reliable, or durable, simple, or proven. All very different then electronic security.
Think of it in terms of a 2x4 piece of lumber. Placed across a door properly and that door is as secure as an electromagnet. In fact it can be proven that the mag lock has even damaged doors over time, rendering them vulnerable to defeat and bypass. Another example is a digital push button lock (PBL) that relies on AA batteries, it offers multiple users and changing user codes quickly is convenient. A mechanical push button lock on the other hand requires no power, and no batteries, they only offer a single user code, and they may take longer to change a combination. Which PBL would you like to have when an EMF Pulse, real or fictional knocks out all energy or in times of crisis when there are no batteries available or electrical power? The mechanical lock will still be operating!
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In reality both the electronic and mechanical locks work, so when you hear someone trying to convince you that opting for a mechanical lock is a bad choice, it would not be on the grounds of security as much as convenient features which you may not need anyway. Electronics have their place, but not alone at the top of the pile. So are they better than mechanical locks?
Speaking of piles, I write this blog entry after seeing a pile of banged up, failed and otherwise useless electronic security components tossed in the corner of a local lock shop and had to ask what happens to this stuff? At least the mechanical security devices can be cannibalize for repair parts and even rebuild units, but not the electronics unless you are versed in circuit board rework, trace repair, pad repair and who knows what else. I once stumbled up a company that actually offer this service, but is the cost worth it? Is it practical?
If a locksmith wants to be a solder sucker, maker or hacker and can make money doing it, I say all the more power to them because they would have a lot to work with. So for now, the locksmith just keeps them in an e-waste pile called stuff or simply junk.
How do you recycle or re-purpose used electronic gear and products?
Tom Lynch, CRL