Keyed Alike v/s Keyed Different Locks: Learn About The Pros And Cons Of Both

Key Takeaway

  • Keyed different locks require a unique key for each lock, whereas keyed alike locks use a single key to lock and unlock all locks.
  • Keyed alike locks offer the users convenience, but they do compromise a little on security.
  • Diagnosing the issue with malfunctioning locks becomes easier with keyed alike locks.

Locks were invented around 4000 years ago, and since then, they have come a long way. With locks becoming more compact, secure, and smart, it is prudent for a user to advance in order to adapt to modern technology. It wasn’t long ago that locks were locked and opened with large palm-sized keys, but now we enjoy the ease of being able to access all of our home’s locks with the same key using keyed-alike locks.

Keyed-alike locks have proven to be a game changer in making a user’s living simpler. They make it easier for homeowners to manage their keys and eliminate the need to fiddle with keys to lock or unlock their locks. While these locks are great at convenience, they do have their share of cons that make the user wonder whether they should upgrade their keyed different locks or not.

Understanding your confusion, I decided to write an elaborate post on keyed alike vs keyed different locks highlighting the pros and cons of both. At the end of the article, you should be able to weigh down their merits and demerits to decide which lock suits your needs the best.

What Does Keyed Different Mean?

Keyed different locks mean that each lock that you use opens with a unique key. This is because each lock has a different cylinder with pins arranged in a unique manner requiring the key grooves to be cut differently. This is how most traditional locks work.

When your locks are keyed differently, different locks will require different keys to open. For example, if the front door and garage door at your home are keyed differently, you would require two keys to unlock them. 

What Does Keyed Alike Mean?

Keyed-alike locks mean that a group of locks can be opened using the same key. The number of locks in a group can be two or more. This keying system reduces the number of keys needed to be maintained. For example, if the back door lock and window lock of your house are keyed alike, then you can unlock both locks using the same key.

It’s ideal for individuals who do not prefer carrying a bunch of keys or find them difficult to manage. Having your locks keyed alike is very helpful if you want to access all your door locks with a single key.

In most cases, the prerequisite to key the locks alike is that all the locks in the group should be of the same brand. For example, you can key all your Schlage locks alike, but you cannot key a Schlage lock with a Kwikset lock the same. Locks can be keyed alike by rekeying them. 

Pros And Cons Of Keyed Alike And Keyed Different Locks

Pros And Cons Of Keyed Alike And Keyed Different Locks

Though opening multiple locks with the same key is highly convenient and offers some great advantages, keyed-alike locks do have their own set of disadvantages. In this section of the article, we will elaborate on a few pros and cons of keyed alike locks.

Pros And Cons Of Keyed Alike And Keyed Different Locks

Pros Of Keyed Alike Locks

1. Keyed Alike Locks Are More Convenient Than Keyed Different Locks 

Who wants to come back home and start fiddling with the numerous keys in your keyring to find the key for your garage and then repeat the practice to open your front door? One way is labeling the keys for different locks, but when technology has advanced to keyed-alike locks, why cause yourself the hassle?

Keyed-alike locks are easier to manage as you do not need to carry a heavy bunch of keys. Since keyed-alike locks can be unlocked with a single key, you can simply stash one key in your pocket, and you are good to go. 

Keyed different locks, on the other hand, require you to carry a specific key for each lock which can be quite cumbersome if you find managing too many keys hard.

2. Keyed Alike Locks Save Time 

Keeping track of numerous keys can save you a lot of time as you are no longer fiddling with and managing the keys. Even if you lose the key, you can save a lot of time while getting a new key because you don’t have to do the process with 20 different keys. Just one key replacement and you can access all the locks of the group. 

Keyed different locks can be time-consuming not only while opening and locking but also in unfortunate incidents like losing your key bunch.

3. Faults In Keyed Alike Locks Are Easy To Diagnose 

The fact that a single key may open all keyed-alike locks makes it easy to identify problems with these locks. If the key is unable to open more than one lock, there may be a problem with the key. However, if numerous locks unlock and lock properly, but a single lock has problems, you can assume that the problem is with the lock.

Managing the functioning of keyed different locks is more complex as each time there is a fault with any of the locks, you need to make a complete diagnosis.

4. Keyed Alike Locks Save Money During Key Replacement

In case of incidents like losing your bunch of keys, it is far more economical to replace a single key than replace multiple keys for different locks. Hence having keyed-alike locks at your home can save you some money during key replacement. 

Even when you need a duplicate key, you need not shed a lot of money for keyed alike locks, which is not the case with keyed different locks. 

Cons Of Keyed Alike Locks

1. Keyed Alike Locks Compromise On Security

While keyed similar locks offer the simplicity of accessing several locks with the same key, they do compromise security. Anyone who is trying to break into your home does not need to mimic all your keys because a single key grants access to all the locks. In the event of losing your key, anyone who finds the key shall have access to all your locks. To avoid this, you will either have to rekey or replace all your locks, which can be quite tedious. 

To avoid this trade-off between security and convenience, one may invest in high-quality locks by named brands like Schlage, Kwikset, yale, etc., as they offer their users enhanced security.

2. Keyed Alike Locks Do Not Allow Access Control

While you may appreciate the ease of locking and unlocking all of your locks with the same key, keyed-alike locks do not allow users to manage access to their houses. You cannot give over the keys to your electrician to fix the garage door while you are out for work because all of the locks of your home utilize the same key. Even providing your neighbors the keys to your front gate to water the plants while you are away might be a security risk.

On the other hand, keyed different locks give the user complete control over the access to their home. You can provide and limit the access to an area as per your choice.

3. Only Lock From The Same Brand Can Be Keyed Alike

Keying alike the locks to your home is not an inexpensive affair, especially if the locks in your home are from different brands. As a matter of fact, you can only key locks from the same brand. For example, you can key-alike all the Schlage locks, and you can key-alike all the Kwikset locks, but you can not key alike a Schlage lock with a Kwikset lock. 

This means that if you decide to key-alike the locks of your home, but the locks are not from the same brand, you will first have to invest money in replacing some of your locks.

Keyed Alike vs Keyed Different Locks: Which Are Better?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends upon your specific preferences and needs. If you value convenience a lot or find it hard to manage multiple keys, keyed-alike locks are a great choice for you. For enhanced security, you must only invest in high-security key-alike locks.

On the other hand, if you need access control for your home, or are highly concerned about the safety of your palace, keyed different locks would suit you better.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. Is it possible to purchase a keyed alike lock for an existing key?

Answer – You will need your current key code to purchase a new keyed alike lock for an existing key. The information should be present in the user manual of your existing locks. The seller will then rekey your lock to the desired key code. But you must ensure buying the lock from the same brand as your existing lock to have it keyed alike.

Q2. How to get all locks keyed the same?

Answer – You can get all your locks keyed the same by rekeying them to the same code. In case you are purchasing new locks, you may ask the seller to rekey the locks to the same key to get them keyed alike.

Q3. Is it possible to key alike all locks?

Answer – No, you cannot key all locks alike, as only the locks that can be rekeyed can be keyed alike. Additionally, you can only key alike the locks from the same brand. If you have locks from different brands, you may not be able to key them alike.

Q4. Is the master key system the same as the keyed-alike locks?

Answer – The master key system is similar to keyed-alike locks as, like keyed locks, the master key system allows the user to use a single key to access multiple locks. However, unlike keyed-alike locks, the master key system gives users access control by allowing them to restrict the key in selected areas when required.

Final Words

Keyed alike and keyed different locks both have some advantages and disadvantages. While the former offers simplicity and convenience to your life, the latter offers better security and access control. You may choose the one for your home depending on your needs and preferences. 

The article must have helped you in weighing down the merits and demerits of both. I hope it guided you to make the decision easier for you. If you have more queries about keyed alike vs keyed different locks, write to me in the comment section. Also, share the information with your friends and family who might need this.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.