Electronic locks are the kinds of locks where number sequences are used to operate the lock and gain access to door or entry-way it is in place to restrict. The sequence of numbers – or occasionally symbols – can be entered by way of a single spinning dial, several dials with the numbers inscribed on each or high-tech electronic variants. Combination locks vary enormously from simple mechanical locks to enormously complex and largely unbreakable safe-quality locks.
Incredibly, the history of the combination lock dates back as far as Roman times, from which tombs have been uncovered displaying the use of primitive examples. Rather a standard lock, archaeologists noted the use of a series of dials uses to gain or bar access. The invention of the modern combination lock is credited to Joseph Loch, who in 1878 designed and built locks for Tiffany’s in New York.
Multi-Dial Combination locks:
Probably the simplest and most common form of combination lock is the multi-dial variant – often the type used for bike locks and other minor security tools. These are the locks that have a number of dials with the symbols or letters engraved or embossed onto them, while the dials themselves have notches cut below the surface. The locking pin has a series of “teeth” which come into contact with the dials and prevent movement, while aligning the notches by entering the correct sequence of numbers allows the lock to be opened.
While an excellent choice for lesser security needs, these types of combination lock are considered to be the least secure – particularly if very low quality products are purchased. In the case of substandard products it is often possible to work out the correct combination in seconds simply by feeling for the resistance of the pin as the dials are turned one by one. This is precisely why those looking to use an affordable multi-dial combination lock are always urged to buy them only from the most reputable supplier on the market.
Single-Dial Combination Locks:
Single-dial combination locks are the types usually found fitted to safes or to certain types of padlock . These locks work by way of a series of parallel discs which are aligned by the used rotating the dial clockwise to the first number in the sequences, then anti-clockwise to the second, back clockwise to the third and so on for as many digits as the combination contains. They also work in most cases with similar notches being cut into the discs to allow opening, though unlike multi-dial locks are generally much more difficult to break by the amateur.
It again comes down to the quality of the products sourced and how well it has been fitted in the first place. In the case of sub-par combination locks with single dials, the lock itself will often allow a certain amount of “give” in terms of its accuracy. This means that while the combination may be set to 20 – 10 – 20, it will quite happily open if 18 – 12 – 21 was to be entered. At the very upper end of the market however, even so much as a fractional percentage over or under will invalidate the attempted entry and bar access.
As the dials on these kinds of lock will often reach up to around 60 – rather than the one-to-ten – of multi dial locks, the possibilities for combinations are infinitely higher. These tend to be the locks of choice for higher-security matters including the securing of safes, vaults and valuables.
Another highly popular type of combination lock used for both standard doors and safes alike is the keypad variant – mechanical or electronic. In the case of the mechanical keypad combination lock, these have been around since the 1930s and have been refined and developed considerably from their original incarnations. The beauty of the mechanical type is not only the simplicity of their operation or the way in which their security is exceptional, but also the way in which the combination can be regularly changed in minutes without the need for professional assistance. These make the ideal locks to be used for workplaces where the combination can be given to all staff members, though changed in a hurry if the code’s secrecy were to be compromised
Electronic combination locks on the other hand are some of the very safest in the world if developed and fitted by elite providers, proving extremely difficult to break or compromise. The possibilities for combinations and codes are practically endless and are therefore largely impossible to guess. However, poor quality electronic combination locks present a number of potential security problems in their own right – ranging from electronic faults to the way in which excessive wear of certain keys on the keypad highlight the numbers used to gain access
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