Keytek’s Top Three Smart Plug Picks!

Smart plugs are increasing in popularity as more and more of the population are making their homes a ‘smart home’. Smart plugs are an essential part of the transition as they allow you control over mundane devices easily through the use of your smart phone or voice, allowing for a level of control that creates a much easier way of life. Not only do these smart plugs allow simple turning on and off of products but many come with inter-product connect-ability that allows the option to create a bubble of smart devices. If you are looking to create a smart home system or add to your existing one, read ahead as we have chosen our top 3 smart plugs and have answered some of the most popular questions around smart plugs!

Hive Active Plug

£39.00 from Hive Home – Find it here! 

The Hive active plug, sitting nicely in the Hive smart product ecosystem, is a paramount aspect of the connectivity that Hive Home is known for offering more varied actions and uses than that of the usual smart plug. This plug boasts an extremely easy set-up from the start, even for non-technical minded people by the use of the Hive app. Through this app you can name each individual Hive Active plug in your home for easy control and identification which makes things very clear when you are trying to set up actions within the app.

Much like other smart plugs, using the app, you can turn objects on and off with the simple press of a button on your smart devices giving you a level of remote control many would never have otherwise. Should you want to fall asleep with a device on but don’t want it left on all night, simply go into the action tab and set for the plug to turn off at a certain time or after a set time period.

However, one of the most attractive features of this particular plug is the interconnect ability with other Hive Home products. Through the app you can set up continuity actions, where if one this happens, that will happen. For example, should you have a Hive Motion Sensor and a Hive Active plug that is linked to a lamp, you could set so that if motion is detected the smart plug will activate turning on the lamp. This is handy as you can set it for convenience, so coming home in the evening you don’t have to worry about trying to find a light in the dark, or this could be a safety measure to ward off intruders.

The only downside to this plug is that you will need a Hive Hub to fully benefit from all the features. We do suggest that if you already own Hive Home products that this plug is the one for you, and if you are looking into installing a complete home smart system then with connectivity that Hive offers, look no further. On the other hand, you may want to consider what your budget is and what benefits you are looking for before committing to this plug.

Ikea Trådfri Smart Plug Review

£9 from Ikea – Find it here!

Probably the biggest appeal of this plug is the price. At only £9 for an individual plug this is most definitely the most budget friendly option out there. Much like many other smart plugs out there you can control this one through the use of the Trådfri app, however an important aspect to bear in mind is that to fully utilize all possible features of this plug you must also purchase the Trådfri Gateway which will allow you to access the Trådfri app timing system to set timers for your smart plugs but this can only be done with a steering device.

This plug is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant through the use of a connected Gateway, so if you have already invested in another smart home system this Ikea product can fit seamlessly in creating a bigger smart home ecosystem of different brands. You can also get a range of different smart home products through Ikea, and if you purchase the accompanying gateway all of these smart home products can connect and allow you control through the Trådfri app.

However, one thing to note about this plug is that it could be considered basic compared to all of the other smart plugs on the market. It is being sold at a fantastic price and if you are looking for a very simplified smart plug then this is the one for you. On the other hand, there are many smart plugs that boast many features that this Trådfri smart plug does not. Features like energy monitoring, cost monitoring and total time on are features that are common amongst other smart plugs at a slightly higher price point.

Samsung SmartThings Outlet Review

£19.99 from Amazon – Find it here! 
At a startling low price for the features this tiny smart plug holds, many of the features of this plug are usually reserved for those at a higher price point. Not only does this plug hold all of the basic features that are expected of a smart product, such as remote control and timing settings, but also features like energy consumption monitoring and programmable actions. This means that with the use of other connected smart products you can not only monitor the energy consumption that you are using within your home but also set the smart plug to react to triggers from other devices. For example, should you have a compatible motion sensor then you can program the plug to react, meaning if motion is detected the plug could turn on a lamp. This makes a brilliant security feature but also great for making life that much easier.

Another great feature of this smart plug is the connectivity that it has with other smart products, not only does it work with the big names and connect to Alexa and Google Assistant (however does not support Apple HomeKit) but also can connect to various other third-party smart products through the use of the SmartThings Hub.

Unfortunately, like most other smart plugs, to fully utilize the features of this smart product you will need to purchase the accompanying SmartThings Hub. It is not essential to the use of the product but allows you to access all of the possible features of the product. Something to keep in mind is that if have other smart products or are looking to invest in different brands but want a connected system, the SmartThings Hub has been designed to try and incorporate as many third party devices as possible to create an overall connected ecosystem of smart devices.

Smart Plug Frequently Asked Questions

What can a smart plug do?

Usually controlled by a smartphone app, you can use smart plugs to remotely control items in your home whilst also allowing for your energy use to be more eco-friendly. The use of smart plugs means you can turn a lamp off and on from your phone, ensure that you did turn your straighteners off when you leave the house and set your coffee to start brewing for when you wake up in the morning.

Are smart plugs dangerous?

Smart plugs pass the same safety testing and adhere to the guidelines that all other products that plug into the wall adhere to. The device should be safe as long as you use the product in the recommended ways and don’t overload the outlet.

Do smart plugs use electricity when off?

Most smart plugs will use a small amount of energy when in standby however in most cases it is only about 1 Watt. In actuality smart plugs can reduce energy consumption by up to 4%.

Do smart plugs need Wi-Fi?

Many smart plugs will work with a 2.4Ghz WiFi connection and can be used without the use of a hub.

Will a smart plug turn on a TV?

Smart plugs can be used with most electrical devices as long as it is in line with the power guidelines provided with each individual smart plug make and model.

Top 5 Baby Monitors

We’ve researched the best baby monitors on the market to give you peace of mind when your little bundle of joy arrives because you’ll probably not get any real peace for a long time!

 

Best All Rounder: Kodak Cherish C525 – £149.99

 

The Kodak Cherish C525 isn’t the cheapest on the market but it is the best value for money. Equipped with a 5-inch HD video display the picture quality and the infrared night vision is superb! The parent unit also displays the strength of the WiFi connectivity, the temperature and humidity levels in the nursery allowing you to adjust your baby’s room accordingly.

The camera can either stand alone on a surface or be mounted to the wall, it also allows the user to pan, tilt and zoom so that you always get the best view of your little one. The Kodak Cherish C525 stays on a low noise level until it detects movement and so the volume gets louder, allowing busy new parents that little bit more of well needed sleep. Furthermore, the audio is two-way and is able to play lullabies and white noise to try and soothe your baby back to sleep without having to jump up at every stir to re-settle them.

Security is also a factor that has been carefully considered as it has built-in secure cloud storage, meaning you can watch the videos of your tiny baby for years to come!

 

Best on a Budget: Motorola MBP481 – £69.99

 

The Motorola MBP481 is sleek in design, portable and budget friendly. It features a 2-inch colour display, infrared LED night vision and a digital zoom so you can take a peek without the risk of waking your sleeping baby. The built-in rechargeable batteries are designed to last up to 8 hours with the camera switched off) and the LED display lights up when it detects sound. The range of the Motorola MBP481 baby monitor reaches up to 300m, which should be substantial enough for the majority of family homes.

Mountable or stand alone, this monitor is simple and easy to use so is perfect for those who want the benefits of a video screen but the simplicity of an audio monitor.

Best Picture Quality: Arlo Baby – £140.00

 

Great quality and cute design is packed into the Arlo Baby monitor. What is different about this monitor compared to the others is that it doesn’t come equipped with a parent unit but if you’re tech-savvy then this is the baby monitor for you as the app syncs to your home assistant including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The Arlo Baby has the best picture quality on offer with clear 1080p HD video and advanced night vision. It also has the ability to stay connected to the monitor through the app from anywhere, which is great if you’re out for dinner and baby is home with a sitter. The Arlo also records and saves videos to your cloud automatically when it detects movement so you never miss a precious little moment.

Like the Kodak Cherish this monitor is equipped with two-way talk but takes a step further by allowing you to set up pre-recordings of your own voice or lullabies to play to your baby when they’re unsettled.

 

Best for Peace of Mind: Angelcare AC215 – £129.99

 

The Angelcare AC215 baby movement monitor with video will give all parents peace of mind as it comes with an under-the- mattress sensor pad which sets of an alarm if no movement has been detected by your baby for more than 20 seconds.

It also comes in a sophisticated design that mounts to the wall with an adjustable magnetic mount for easy set-up. The camera has zoom and panning abilities and the parent unit features a 3.5” screen, full LCD colour display and temperature control.

This unit is best for parents, who will sleep better with the knowledge that they will be woken by the alarm should there be a problem with their baby.

 

Best for Twins: Wisenet SEW 3048 – £99.99

 

Not one but two babies? You’ll definitely need eyes in the back of your head! That is why we recommend the Wisenet SEW 3048 baby monitor as it allows you to add additional cameras around your home. The malleable stand is uniquely designed so you can bend, straighten, wrap and attach the camera to almost any surface.

This monitor also features two-way communication so you can soothe your babies back to sleep without having to leave the warmth of your own bed as well as soothing lullabies to help them drift off. You can rest easy in knowing your babies will be comfortable in their sleep as it has live temperature feedback with customisable alerts so you can create the perfect environment for them.

 

 

https://angelcarebaby.com/uk_en/angelcare-ac-215-baby-movement-monitor-with-video
https://www.expertreviews.co.uk/baby-monitors/1405242/best-baby-monitors-the-best-baby-monitors-from-tommee-tippee-motorola-tomy-and-1
https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/baby-monitors/article/top-baby-monitors
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/best-baby-monitors

How Does a Burglar Choose a House

With over 422,000 burglars in England and Wales in 2018 to 2019, it is no surprise that people are worried about their home security. But what makes someone’s home a target? 

There are many things that could possibly be making your home a target and cause a burglar to pick your home, so when evaluating your home security try and get into the mindset of a burglar to pick out any weak points in your home. To help you better secure your home we have created our guide to what might be making your home a target.

 

  • You Have Left your House Unsecured

Open windows and doors are easy access for a burglar and make it all too easy for them to grab and go without attracting attention. In a survey conducted by Somfy, it was found that on average 1 in 4 adults never lock their front door when they leave their home, despite 1 in 5 of the same adults experiencing a burglary!

You should always lock your doors and windows when you leave the house to ensure that it is less of an easy target to burglars. It is also strongly recommended that you lock your doors and windows when you are at home as to avoid someone trying to break in when you are home.

 

  • Dark and Covered Areas Outside your Home

Burglars will pick a target based on the belief they will have the lowest chance of getting caught, especially those that are opportunistic. One way they can scope out a property and remain unseen by others is in dark covered areas that surround your home. This might be a dimly lit back garden or unkempt and overgrown bushes and trees for which they can hide in. 

We strongly suggest that you install garden lights, preferably motion activated, to illuminate the dark areas around your home in the evening in order to deter anyone who might be creeping around. We also suggest that you keep your garden well groomed as to not provide any hiding areas for intruders.

 

  • Opportunistic Burglars Will Look Out for Anything of Value

Some burglaries are planned, whereas others are opportunity based. Should a person with ill intentions be walking past and see many valuables through your window it can prompt them to commit a burglary. A study by Safewise UK found that 47% of burglaries are spur of the moment and not planned beforehand, even though all burglars want to be in and out as fast as possible and if they can see what they would snatch from the window, it can look like easy picking to them. 

We suggest not leaving items of value in open spaces that are viable from a door or window and rather put them away in a secured part of your home. A good trick as well is to pull the blinds or the curtains closed as to limit visibility to anyone that should try to look in. 

 

  • It’s Obvious You are on Holiday

An empty house is very appealing to a burglar, it means they have a lower chance of getting caught or interrupted. Full postboxes, unkempt/dying plants and no lights in the house turning on are dead giveaways that you are not at home and have not been for a while.

We suggest asking a close friend or relative to check in on your home every couple of days to tidy up any post and water the plants, we also suggest that you invest in some light timers that can turn lights on and off automatically giving the impression that someone is home. Be cautious however as sometimes timed lights can be obvious to anyone staking your house, so it would be wise to get a few as to turn on and off different lights at different times. 

 

  • Issues Can Be Spotted in your Security

This might be broken lights, rusty alarm boxes or broken fences around your home that give the impression that your home is not well protected and is not well maintained. Alongside taking pride in the appearance of your home, a well kept and maintained home makes you a less appealing target to burglars as they can perceive your home to be higher risk and therefore not worth it. 

 

  • You Have Been a Previous Target and Haven’t Changed your Security

If you have been unfortunate to experience a burglary there is a chance that a burglar could come back. Burglar victims have more than a 1 in 4 chance that they will be burgled again, perhaps due to the confidence that the last burglary gave the burglar. If they were successful last time it would make sense they would believe they would be successful again, they know the layout, what’s in the house and how they can escape. 

A study by Home Secure found that 92% of people did not upgrade their alarm system after they had been successfully burgled, which leaves them open to a further attack. Although we suggest having a security system in place before anything happens, we cannot stress the importance of upgrading your security within your home after a break in. This will help to decrease the risk of future burglaries and help to protect your home. 

 

  • Your Garden is Easily Accessed

The garden is normally a preferred spot for burglars as they can enter the house unseen and it is less risky. If you have weak garden security it could provide easy access to burglars to scope out your house and gain entry. 

We recommend installing high fences and secure gate locks to secure your garden. Find out more about how you can secure your garden through our Ultimate Security Guide (Link).

 

  • You Have No Security at All

Unfortunately having more than just locks on your doors are needed for security. A report found that 77% of people with just a basic security system are not burgled, and reports from former burglars have said they would seriously re-consider targeting a house with a security system in place. Not only does it make your home a high risk target, but provides peace of mind to you to know that your home is more secure. 

We recommend having high security locks fitted to your doors and windows and investing in some form of smart home security product, whether that be cameras, alarms or motion lighting every little helps. 

 

To find out more about British Standard Locks, click here.

To find out more about internal security cameras, click here.

To find out more about external security cameras, click here.

To find out more about securing your home, click here.

 

Burglary Statistics*

  • 422,000 burglaries were reported between 2018 and 2019 in England and Wales
  • There is a 15% decline in burglaries in 2018 and 2019 from the previous reporting year.
  • 47% of burglaries are ‘spur of the moment’.
  • Someone is home in an estimated 28% of burglaries. 
  • Only 14 arrests in 100 burglaries are made.

 

Repeat Burglaries

  • There is a 1 in 4 chance that a victim of burglary will be burgled again.
  • 1 in 6 burglary victims have been burgled three times or more.
  • 65% of people who have been burgled more than once experience it in the same house.

 

Security Statistics*

  • 1 in 4 people never lock their front door when they leave their home.
  • 4% of people never lock anything when they go out. 
  • 83% of people said they would call the police if they witnessed a neighbourhood burglary. 
  • 58% of people have adopted Smart Home products
    • 40% adopting outdoor lighting
    • 25% adopted smart cameras
    • 19% adopted smart alarms
    • 15% adopted smart locks
    • 53% of people who adopted smart product said they felt safer

 

Area Statistics*

London

  • 33% of people never lock their front door when they go out.
  • 48% of people don’t lock their back door.
  • The risk of being burgled in London is Double the UK national average.
  • Only 60% of people living in Greater London said they feel safe.
  • Only 63% of people living in the City of London said they feel safe. 

 

South

  • 83% of people lock their doors when they leave the house.
  • Only 1% of people said they would not take any action if they witnessed a break-in. 
  • 80% of people living in the South West said that they felt safe. 
  • 79% of people living in Bristol said that they felt safe.
  • 84% of people living in Plymouth said that they felt safe. 

 

North

  • 6% of people said they would not do anything if they witnessed a break-in. 
  • Only 58% of people who lived in Liverpool said that they feel safe.
  • Only 64% of people living in Manchester said that they feel safe. 
  • Overall 68% (2 in 3) living in the North East said that they felt safe.

 

Further Reading: 

What to do if Someone Breaks into Your Home

How to Restore Your Home Security After a Break In

*All statistics are from a small group representative of the population.

 

https://www.homesecureshop.co.uk/blogs/news/do-burglars-strike-twice#:~:text=Burglars%20thrive%20on%20opportunity%20and,to%20the%20same%20house%20twice.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/956906/burglaries-in-england-and-wales/#:~:text=Number%20of%20burglary%20offences%20in%20England%20and%20Wales%202002%2D2019&text=In%202018%2F19%20there%20were,with%20the%20previous%20reporting%20year.

https://www.safestyle-windows.co.uk/ask-an-expert/home-security/shocking-uk-facts-and-statistics-about-burglary/

https://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/household/empting-fate-one-in-four-admit-to-leaving-their-door-unlocked.html#:~:text=The%20research%20%E2%80%93%20carried%20out%20among,been%20burgled%20more%20than%20once.

House Robbery Markings

Have you ever seen a strange marking on the side of your house or nearby such as on the curb or on your bin? In recent times there has been much speculation about these signs and symbols being marked by burglars as to which homes to target, wittily dubbed the ‘da pinchi code’.

But is this something to be wary of, what do these signs mean and what should you do if you are worried about being burgled? Read through our blog to answer these questions and more!

 

What are house robbery markings?

House robbery markings or burglar signs are simple line drawings and shapes that are supposedly code for whether or not the house is worth targeting. As well as indicating to other thieves in their ring these shapes reflect the type of people who live in the house, marking them as vulnerable, easy targets such as a single occupant household or elderly occupants.

 

‘Da pinchi code’

The da pinchi code is the name that has been used across social media sites and news stories over the last few years that have claimed to crack the code on burglar markings! The meanings behind the markings are deemed to mean things such as ‘vulnerable occupant’, ‘alarmed house’ and ‘wealthy’.

Recently, there have been new news stories related to the ‘da pinchi code’ which rules out these findings as being burglar code based on police research, instead the meanings of the markings being much more innocent. Check out our image below to see the markings, their supposed meaning and the true meaning behind them.

 

infographic house markings

 

What do burglars use to mark houses?

Chalk is the main material burglars use as it is easily removed and not as noticeable as materials such as spray paint. As well as chalk, burglars mark houses with almost anything they can, it may be a small blob of paint or a piece of string tied around a lamppost!

There was also a stint in 2018 mainly found in Dublin where burglars would place clear tape over the keyholes on the exterior access doors. If the tape is left intact the next day or following they would know the house is currently vacant!

As well as markings, burglars also may disguise themselves as door to door salesmen; this is what we call distraction burglary. They may also post fake Locksmith contact details through your door for example, always do your research before calling trades people to ensure they are legitimate! If you are in need of a trustworthy Locksmith, contact us here!

 

Where are these burglar signs usually located?

The burglar markings are usually left on the property itself but can also be found nearby such as on the bin, pavement, the curb, a lamppost etc.

 

How do robbers pick a house?

Burglars who leave signs on houses or nearby have usually already scoped out the neighbourhood and indicated which house/s is the least risk to burgle. Planned burglaries in these cases more often than not will have had the house watched for a few days to discover who lives in the house and to understand the occupant’s daily schedule, whether they have up to date home security and whether there is anything of value inside the home. Find out further on in this blog how to prevent attracting burglars to your home!

 

How do you know if your house has been marked? What should I do if my house has burglar chalk signs?

So you may have noticed a strange marking on the perimeter of your home or nearby? First of all take a photo of the suspected burglar sign, make a detailed note of its location, when you first noticed it and then wash it away as best as you can.

Next, we recommend that you contact your local council to ensure the markings weren’t left by their employees doing work along the street.

Following on, if not left there by the council contact the police using the non-emergency number, 101. They may advise you to keep an eye on and record suspicious activity in your neighbourhood, including strangers frequently walking up and down the road and looking or photographing yours or your neighbours homes! Talking to your neighbours about this can also indicate whether they have noticed anything strange and you can ask them to keep an eye out moving forward.

Finally, it is strongly recommended that you upgrade your home security to be on the safe side, continue on to see our suggestions.

 

Myth busters

Although you should always be wary of any strange markings that have appeared on your home, over the last couple of years some police forces have found that in actual fact these markings are harmless! Their investigations often conclude that these markings have been used by utility firms and broadband companies to plan upcoming works.

 

How to protect your home against burglars

Here are a few quick tips that you can apply today to secure your home from burglars.

  • Close and lock your windows and doors when leaving your home always, no matter how long or how far you will be gone.

 

  • Don’t leave valuables insight of any windows.

 

 

 

  • If you haven’t already, create or join your neighbourhood watch.

 

Upgrade your home security knowledge with Keytek®

We are dedicated to helping you keep your home secure here at Keytek® which is why we are continually updating our security content on our website. If you were interested in this blog we recommend that you take a look at our Home Security Guide here where we break down home security into sections such as your front door, garden gate, outdoor lights and more.

Already check out our Home Security Guide? Take a look at our blog page here; we aim to upload a new blog for our readers weekly!

 

https://www.abus.com/uk/Guide/Preconceptions-and-myths/Thieves-code
https://www.alarmnewengland.com/blog/how-to-tell-if-burglars-are-casing-your-home
https://www.blakefire-security.co.uk/blog/how-do-burglars-choose-a-house-to-break-into
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7405940/secret-burglar-signs-home-robbed/

Are Key Safe’s, Safe?

Do you have a key safe or considering buying one? Key safes are popular amongst the vulnerable who struggle to come to the door when a family member or carer knock the door and so are extremely useful in having a spare key numerous people can access without the need to cut dozens of spare keys that could get lost and end up in the wrong hands.

But how safe are key safes? Take a read through our blog below to discover how to keep your key safe secure!

 

What is a Key Safe, how does a Key Safe work?

A key safe is a strong and durable metal box secured to the wall outside of your home in which to keep your house keys stored safely inside and only accessible with a personal combination code.

 

Types of Key Safe

First and foremost you should only consider buying a key safe that has the police approved Secured by Design logo on them. These key safes have been put through their paces and have been approved to stand rigorous testing.

There are a few designs on the market, the most common being a 3 or 4 wheel combination key safe. Push button key safes are popular due to the ability to create a code from thousands of numerical options, and newer to the market due to the digital age you can now purchase digital key safes that operate through an app on a mobile phone.

 

 

How to Keep your Key Safe Secure

Where you install your key safe is highly important as this can help prevent a thief from targeting it. Follow the pointers below before installing your key safe and how to keep it continually as secure as can be:

  • Out of Sight: Ensure that you cannot see the key safe from the road to prevent chance burglars taking the risk to break into it. You can help conceal your key safe by hiding it behind a pipe, a window box or with a plant for example. It is also worth considering placing it somewhere you can see the safe from your home so that if someone were to try to break into it you would know about it.

 

  • Eye level: Ensure your key safe is not placed at eye level; this will help keep it hidden to those who should not know it is there.

 

 

  • Identifiable: Is the key safe easily identifiable? If so, why not try your hand at some DIY to fix a removable casing over the top of the key safe. You could try to blend this in with the other external boxes on your home such as the gas meter.

 

  • Door location: Following on from the above pointers, you should ensure that the key safe is well hidden and not located within easy sight of the door to prevent burglary.

 

  • Regularly change the code on your key safe to ensure that it cannot be guessed or remembered by those who should no longer know the code, e.g. moving into a home with a key safe installed.

 

 

Fitted Correctly

Remember, your key safe is only secure if it has been fitted correctly. Always check the manufacturers guide or call a professional to help if you need it.

 

Will a Key Safe Invalidate my Home Insurance?

We all know that your claim to your home insurance will become invalid if the intruder used a key to access your home which is why it is vital that you never leave a spare key under the mat or in a plant pot as these are the first places burglars look! But what about if an intruder gained access to your home using a key that was secured inside your key safe?

It is a bit of a grey area with key safes and home insurance, there could be a number of reasons as to why the burglar has access to the keys such as, was the key safe left open and unlocked and did the perpetrator have knowledge of the combination code? All these factors including the home insurance provider’s rules will have a part to play in whether a key safe will invalidate your home insurance.

We suggest that if spare keys are needed to access a vulnerable persons home for example than a key safe is the best way to go. Spare keys can get lost if multiples are cut and end up in the wrong hands and leaving a key under a rock is a big no, no. Please remember a key safe isn’t 100% secure and there is no way to currently 100% secure your home from burglars.

 

Keytek® Locksmiths

For more information on how to keep your home as secure as can be take a look at our other blogs on our website including: ‘How to be Insurance Compliant’ and ‘How not to Lose your Keys in 2020’.

 

https://www.homesecureshop.co.uk/blogs/news/should-i-have-an-outdoor-key-safe?_pos=1&_sid=c5c250dd3&_ss=r
https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/crime-prevention/key-safes
https://www.compareukquotes.com/insurance/home/what-can-invalidate-home-insurance

What is a Tubular Key? When is best to use them?

A tubular lock is also known as a radial lock, barrel key, Ace lock or a circle pin tumbler lock where there are a variety of pins (between 4-10), arranged in a circular pattern with the matching key in a tubular or cylindrical shape. It became popular in 1933 by the manufacturer Chicago Lock Company, and has since been widely used with commercial products, such as computers, bicycle locks, ATM’s, glass display cabinets in stores, vending machines and elevators. They are ideal for business owners who want to secure their valuables, but also for theft and vandalism prevention, public safety and protection against unauthorised entrance to buildings and machines. Tubular locks are a smaller version of a morticed lock and are very budget friendly, making them ideal for home and door use. The tubular lock uses a basic pin tumbler system but has a few differences, with the shape of the key being circular and open in the centre, with grooves cut into the outsides of the circular shape.

 

Slots

 

What is their background?

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, tubular locks were recommended as high security locks for apartments and houses. In the 1980s, this was challenged by advancements in lock manufacturers, as well as locksmiths becoming familiar with their certain weaknesses. This led to a decline in the consumer market for tubular locks and keys. However, manufacturers such as Ace, the Van Lock company and Illinois Lock company, continued to manufacture different variations of the tubular lock concept. Today, these are still challenging to lock pickers and burglars, and therefore are used in the gambling industry for slot machines.

Tubular locks are also commonly found on doors and are most suited for new post-1950’s pre-drilled doors. They are one of the most common types of residential locks in the US and require your door to be drilled and prepared in different ways for installation. They were originally designed in order to prevent high manufacturing costs and labour-intensive preparation needed on doors. Tubular locks have an independent latch and independent deadbolt, so you can identify them though the independent face plate for each of these functions.

 

Door Keys

 

How do they work?

The key is circular and has a ring-shaped hole, with a metal cylinder surrounding it in the middle. The pins are pushed in horizontally to the lock; this compares to the standard pin and tumbler system where key pins are moved vertically. The notch on the key should correspond to fit the similarly shaped hole in the keyway of the door, and these will have to line up to allow insertion of the key. Once the key is fitted into the keyhole, the key pins are depressed to the correct depth.

 

What is their design?

The design is similar to the pin tumbler lock, the key has notches around each edge, these depress a pin inside the lock to a certain height, allowing the cylinder to turn. The key pins (red) and driver pins (blue) push towards the front of the lock, stopping the plug (yellow) from rotating round. Once the key is fitted correctly into the gaps between the key and driver pins; this will depress the key pins aligning them with the indentations and shear plane, separating the plug from its outer casing (green), and allowing the lock to turn.

 

Are they secure?

They are secure and good for emergencies, with a feature that allows quick access or exit in the case of an emergency. For tubular keys, this emergency mechanism is on the inside of the door, with a longer protective plate. However, they are also good for securing homes and doors, as a separate deadbolt can be added to the lock to secure the door. Tubular deadbolts have a hardened steel pin within the bolt, and this prevents people from drilling down on it. They are also available with a key in knob or lever function with or without an emergency system and can be great for storage areas or mechanical rooms where a deadbolt is not needed. They offer a high level of security and can be purchased for a good price, providing security for your home and doors.

 

Conclusion

Now that you understand the history and background of the tubular lock, and the basics of using one, you can appreciate why this lock is used widely in different industries. These locks are often considered safer and more resistant to picking than a standard lock, and therefore can be a good option for anyone who requires a higher level of security.

 

 

Best Anti-Snap Door Locks

What is Lock Snapping?

 

Lock snapping is a common method used by burglars to render a euro lock useless. This involves breaking or ‘snapping’ the cylinder, to expose the inner mechanism, which can then be manipulated to open the door. In some cases a burglar may even break the handles to get better access to the cylinder. It is becoming more and more common, as the amount of properties that now have an uPVC door with a Euro Lock installed has grown significantly.

You may not know that the cylinder is the most vulnerable part of your lock and when compromised it renders your multipoint lock points useless. Lock snapping is not difficult and even an inexperience intruder can manage it. All they need to do is apply the right amount of force to the right part of your cylinder and they can expose the mechanism.

The only way to secure your home from this type of break in is to install an ‘Anti-Snap’ lock. These locks have been designed to withstand a lock snapping attempt by breaking or ‘snapping’ in a certain place. Where point where the lock snaps does not allow access to the inner mechanism, meaning that cannot be tampered with. You will still have to have the lock replaced, but it may have stopped a burglar from gaining entry. We are going to take you through the different types of anti-snap locks, so you can learn what you need to take into consideration when buying an anti-snap lock.

 

1.     British Standard

 

A lock will on get a ‘British Standard’ kite mark, if it has been manufactured in accordance with the criteria set out by the relevant authorities.  A lot of insurance companies will often specify that a lock needs to be of British Standard to comply with their criteria. The British Standard stamp is widely regarded as a sign of high quality and means a lock can be trusted to be secure.

In regards to Anti-Snap locks the British Standard is the ‘TS007:2012’. A TS007 will protect your cylinder against many methods of attack, such as; drilling, picking, and bumping as well as lock snapping. If you see a kite marked lock, then it should protect your door from these types of attack. However we recommend that you stay updated with new and different ways to keep your home secure. While every TS007 is of a high quality, within the TS007 category there are 3 star ratings. You may want to look at the differences between these ratings to make sure you have the most secure lock that suits your budget.

 

2.     Sold Secure Diamond Standard

 

By looking out for an anti-snap lock with a ‘Sold Secure’ sign means that you will be purchasing a lock that has been rigorously tested by Sold Secure, a testing and certification house owned by the Master Locksmith Association.

SS312 Diamond Standard was started in 2010 and is being constantly updated and modified to guarantee that it can withstand newer developed methods of attack. It is tested for resistance to lock snapping amongst other methods of destruction.

 

TS007 star rating explained

 

 1 Star rating –

For a cylinder to achieve this rating it is tested in the manner equivalent to the BS 3621:2007 and the minimum requirements of BS EN 1303:2005.

 2 Star rating –

For security hardware to receive a two star rating the protection offered by the hardware to the cylinder is tested in the manner equivalent to the PAS 24 test. In addition, where possible, the hardware’ durability and corrosion resistance are tested in accordance with the European handle standard EN 1906:2010.

3 Star rating –

For a cylinder to receive three stars, it must meet the requirements of the one star cylinder and also withstand an attack similar to the PAS 24 cylinder test without the benefit of any protective hardware.

 

 

3.     Yale Anti-Snap Locks

 

Yale is one of the most recognisable lock brands and any lock made by them can be trusted to be reliable. Yale does manufacture a range of anti-snap locks called the ‘AS Platinum Series Cylinder’.  On the Yale website they state;

Whereas previously Yale AS Series cylinders were approved by Sold Secure SS312 Diamond Standard, we have moved away from this standard and focused all our development activities on the latest British Kitemark standard TS007. Homeowners throughout the UK recognize the Kitemark logo as a symbol of product quality and performance. Yale KM, AS and AS Platinum Series cylinders are all approved to TS007.”

So if you have confidence in the British Standard Kite Mark or your insurance policy states that your locks should be British Standard, then a Yale lock is a good product to go for.

 

4.     ERA Invincible Locks

 

ERA is another recognisable name within the home security industry. The ERA have been manufacturing, designing and pushing innovation within the industry for over 175 years. They specialise in trusted window and door security as well as smart home solutions.

The ERA don’t use the Sold Standard or British Standard to give their locks a quality rating. They have a test centre that is accredited by UKAS which means they are approved to independently test to a ‘gold standard’ of PAS 24:2012 certification.

Their solution to the lock-snapping problem is to design a euro lock that has a unique shape. The ‘Invincible Cylinder’ reinforces the central fixing hole with 5 times more material than a standard euro cylinder. According to the ERA website the ‘Invincible Cylinder’ boasts many security features including;

  • Reinforced with five times more metal than a standard cylinder lock – it can‘t be snapped*
  • 6 hardened high security pins for the ultimate anti-pick, anti-drill and anti-bump resistance
  • Robust shape is a strong visual deterrent to would be thieves
  • Independently tested to meet the latest security standards: British Standard Kitemark (TS007), Sold Secure Diamond and the police‘s Secured By Design accreditation

The difference between the ERA locks and other anti-snap locks is that while traditionally anti-snap locks are manufactured to break in a certain place, ERA lock are manufactured to not break at all. Therefore giving euro locks ‘fighting chance’ against potential thieves. These means that even if someone does try to use the lock-snapping method to break in, you will not need a replacement. The ‘Invincible Cylinder’ is designed to withstand over 15 minutes of attack, meaning the idea is that if the burglar is not able to physically snap the lock quickly then they will just give up. Unlike the other anti-snap locks, you will not need a replacement if someone attempts to break in.

5.     Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+

 

Established over 40 years ago, Mul-T-Lock has been developing and manufacturing high security locking products for commercial, industrial and residential applications.

Their contribution to the anti-snap market is the Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+. It is the first cylinder on the market to achieve a three-star Kitemark accreditation without the need for a high security handle. The Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+ comes with a reinforced bar that advances the cylinders protection and resistance to lock snapping. It also features 2 grip deflectors, which makes it difficult for any tool to actually get a grip on the cylinder in the first place. It is also impossible to copy the keys, unless you have the code, so you don’t have to worry about people copying them. All Mul-T-Lock products comply with the highest international standards, such as; UL, CEN, VDS, SKG, CPC, A2P and ISO 9001/2000, ISO14001, SI 18001.

Picking a Anti-Snap Lock

 

So when it comes to picking an anti-snap lock, you need to look at the standards the euro cylinders adhere to. Whether it be British Standard or Sold Secure Diamond Standard, you need to check what standard your insurance provider requires you to have. For more information on lock types, click here.

 

References:
https://www.mul-t-lock.com/en-gb/site/mul-t-lock/about_mul-t-lock/company_profile/
https://www.erahomesecurity.com/mechanical-security/invincible-door-cylinder/
https://www.yale.co.uk/en/yale/couk/news/2013/articles/new-cylinder/
https://unitedlocksmith.net/blog/high-security-door-locks-how-to-choose-the-best-brand