Schlage Locks: Setting the Industry Standard

Residential and Commercial Security

What is the Difference Between European and American Locks?

Americans who are more familiar with a typical cylinder lock might find a trip to a European hotel interesting.  While they function on similar principles, the preferred lock style in Europe has some subtle differences from a standard North American single or double-cylinder door lock.

For a number of years Europeans have favored multi-point door locks over their single and double-style American cousins.   One reason that they haven’t gained the favor of Americans (yet) is because they are somewhat fussy compared to European style multi-point locks.  They are so named because they latch at three points instead of one or two.

Naturally, this makes European style locks more difficult to install.  But, a good rule of thumb when it comes to locks: the harder it is to install, the more security it will provide.  This is true of the multi-point lock.  They are extremely difficult to pick or to try to tamper with (i.e. kicking the door in.)  Think of it as a would-be criminal having to pick or break three locks instead of one.

European style multi-point door locks offer a solution to one problem of aesthetics vs. security: Doors which are taller and/or wider than standard size doors are harder to secure.  In order to ensure that these kinds of doors are tamper and burglar resistant, often several separate locks must be installed in the door.  Using a multi-point lock means that one lock is often enough.  Not only does it keep a larger door more secure, it’s also better for the overall stability and long-term wear of the door.

Due to the design of this type of lock, an extra motion is required to engage or disengage the lock.  It involves first lifting a lever.  This movement engages the outer two points of the lock.  Only after this step can the bolt be thrown.  In essence, it adds an extra step to the process, which North Americans tend to balk at.

However, because multi-point locks offer so much more in the way of security, they are beginning to gain ground in the American lock market.  American multi point locks are frequently designed differently from European ones to eliminate some of the inconvenience Americans associate with European locks.  They are manufactured in styles which have automatic or semi-automatic locking systems, leaving only one motion necessary to engage the lock.

Another difference between European and American locks is the thumb-turn.  A standard North American style lock has a thumb-turn located above the lever.  The thumb-turn is rotated 90 degrees to activate the lock.  In a European lock, the thumb-turn is below the lever and must be rotated a full 360 degrees, making it impossible to tell at a glance whether the door is locked or not (another feature that Americans find annoying.)

Multi-point locks are worth considering if you have a bigger-than-standard door, or just like the idea of extra security.  North Americans who prefer the European version can find them through specialty commercial hardware or lock distributors, or over the Internet directly from Europe; expect to pay a little more if this is the case.

For more information visit the Home Security Guru.


March 25, 2009 - Posted by | Commercial and Residential Security, FYI | , , ,

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