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What’s the Difference Between Single Cylinder vs Double Cylinder Locks?

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In 2017 alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million burglaries across the United States. Of those, approximately 67.2 percent were aimed at residential properties. The remaining 32.8 percent were directed towards commercial properties.

With so many robberies every year, home security is one of the greatest priorities of homeowners across the nation. One of your first (and easiest) defenses against break-ins is your home’s door locks.

The two most common types of locks are single cylinder vs. double cylinder. Continue reading to find out the primary differences between these two. Also, learn what other door lock options are available for your home.

How Do Single Cylinder Locks Work?

single cylinder lock can be used on either a door handle or a deadbolt. These types of locks are operated with a key on one side. The other side is operated with a thumb-turn style lever.

How Do Double Cylinder Locks Work?

A double cylinder lock can also be used on either the door handle or deadbolt. These types of locks need a key on both sides of the door. You need a key to lock or unlock the door on the inside as well as on the outside.

Single Cylinder vs. Double Cylinder Locks

The primary difference between single cylinder vs. double cylinder locks is the number of cylinders. The number of cylinders inside a lock translates to the number of keyed entries on the door.

A single cylinder has a keyed entry on one side, while a double cylinder has keyed entries on both sides. This difference has one primary trade-off. A single cylinder offers more convenience, while a double cylinder offers enhanced security.

A single cylinder lock is more common than a double. The door locks you have on your home’s exterior entries are likely single cylinder locks.

Each type of lock has its own set of benefits and disadvantages. The pros and cons of single cylinder vs. double cylinder locks are discussed in detail below.

Pros and Cons of Single Cylinder Locks

The benefits of single cylinder locks boil down to convenience and cost. These locks are cheaper to install, as well as buy. They’re also much more convenient for the homeowner to use from the inside.

In the event of an emergency, it’ll be easy for people inside to exit the building. They only need to turn the lever and open the door to leave.

The most common type of emergency where people need to leave quickly is fires. You may also need to exit your home quickly in the event of:

  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • structural cave-ins
  • tornadoes (if accessing external underground shelter)

Unfortunately, this same easy-access convenience has a downside. Single cylinder locks are much easier for burglars to get past.

If a single cylinder lock is located near a window, a potential robber can simply break the glass. Then, all they need to do is reach through the window and unlock the door from the inside.

To reiterate, the benefits of single cylinder locks include:

  • The lock itself is cheaper to buy
  • Professional installation of the lock generally costs less
  • More convenient to use from inside
  • Safer in the event of an emergency, like a fire

The disadvantages of a single cylinder lock include:

  • Generally easier to break into
  • Offers less protection for your home

The affordability and convenience make it obvious why single-cylinder locks are the most common type seen in homes. But what are the pros and cons of double cylinder locks? When might they be an appropriate alternative?

Pros and Cons of Double Cylinder Locks

The biggest benefit to double cylinder locks is increased security. If a robber managed to break a nearby window, they’d be unable to unlock the door from the inside without a key. The extra difficulty could potentially stop them from entering your home at all.

Needing a key to unlock the inside of your home has a big downside. In the event of an emergency like a fire, not having the key on hand could prevent you from leaving. An inability to escape quickly could lead to injury or death.

This downside can be remedied, however. Placing a key for your interior locks on a nail near the door allows you to leave in an emergency. Taking this precaution will still prevent a robber from entering if the key is out of reach of the windows.

Another downside to double cylinder locks is they’re more expensive to buy and install. Since two locks need to be installed, you can expect to pay up to twice as much for installation. The added security may well be worth the extra costs in some cases.

To sum it up, the pros of double cylinder locks include:

  • Greater security against robbers
  • Generally enhances your home security

The cons of double cylinder locks include:

  • The locks themselves are more expensive to buy
  • Installation of these locks generally costs more
  • More difficult to escape in an emergency, like a fire

Although double and single cylinder locks are the most common choices, there are other options available. We’ll take a quick look at these other options below.

Other Lock Types

Single cylinder vs. double cylinder door locks are the most common options, but they aren’t the only ones. Below we look at two other options you could choose for your home door locks.

Key-Less Electronic Locks

An increasingly popular option is key-less electronic locks. These locks come in two options. You can choose models that are totally key-less or ones that have an option to use a key or a passcode.

Key-less electronic locks use custom locking codes to activate the cylinders inside. With this type, you don’t have to worry about losing your keys. You can still access your home with the assigned code.

Some key-less electronic locks are integrated with home security systems. These locks usually come with your home security kit or can be wired into the system manually. If someone tries to breach the lock without either a code or a key, the alarm system will be triggered.

Single-Sided Deadbolts

The second option is a single-sided deadbolt. These locks don’t penetrate through your door. The exterior side of the door will be smooth and show nothing, not even a handle.

The interior of the door will feature a deadbolt that operates with a thumb-turn style lever. The best part about these door locks is that it’s nearly impossible for someone to break in from the outside. The downside is that you can’t access the entry on the outside, either.

Single-sided deadbolts aren’t often seen in homes. The exception is they’re sometimes seen on basement entries. Usually, you’ll see this lock option on commercial properties.

In commercial properties, it’s common to have a single-sided deadbolt on one entrance. The other entrance will generally be equipped with a commercial-grade deadbolt.

Tips for Choosing the Right Door Lock for Your Home

With several options available, it can be hard determining which door lock is right for your home. Many people forget they can choose different lock types for different doors. Using a combination of lock types on your home (or business) is usually the most efficient method.

So, which doors need which locks? Below we’ve outlined the most common reasons or places you’ll want to install each door lock. We’ve included all four options listed above to help you make the best decision.

Single Cylinder Door Locks

Single cylinder door locks are the most common choice for home access points. You might want to install these locks:

  • On main entry points without a nearby window (or glass in the door itself)
  • On interior doors where you need extra security (your office or storage room, for example)
  • On the doors of sheds or other outbuildings

In the situations listed above, a single cylinder door lock is usually the best choice. You can always choose added security if preferred.

Double Cylinder Door Locks

Double cylinder door locks are less convenient than their single cylinder counterparts. There are a few situations where you’ll want to use these in your home instead. These include:

  • On any entry point located near a window (or on doors with glass)
  • On doors leading to the outside which aren’t often used (like a back or side door)
  • On doors leading to the outside from a bedroom (including leading to upstairs balconies)

The situations above are just a few ideas of when it’s best to have extra security on your door locks.

Key-less Entry Locks

Some people prefer to use key-less entry locks because of the convenience. Generally, they’re difficult to break into unless you have the access code. Some key-less entries are also hooked up to home monitoring systems.

You might want to use key-less entry locks:

  • On one or two main entry points so you can access the home if your keys are lost
  • If you’re prone to regularly losing your keys
  • On smart homes with security system integration

Key-less entry locks are especially useful when integrated with your home security system. If the wrong code is entered or if someone tries to pry open the door, the alarm system will go off.

Single-Sided Deadbolts

Single-sided deadbolts aren’t often used in residential applications. They’re seen more often in commercial settings. A few places you might want to use these types of locks in your home include:

  • On basement doors
  • On interior/exterior access points that are rarely (or never) used

There are a few common examples where you might want to use single-sided deadbolts. But what if you still can’t choose a type of door lock?

What If I Still Can’t Choose the Right Door Lock?

If you’re still unsure which type of door lock is right for you, contact a professional locksmith. These lock experts offer services that go far beyond picking your locks.

A locksmith can help you decide which lock is best for your door. They may be able to offer suggestions over the phone. Other times, they can come out to your home for an assessment.

During an assessment, the locksmith might look at the door itself and the area around it. They’ll also ask questions about your overall home security.

Based on what they learn, the locksmith will suggest what lock type best fits your needs. They might even be able to offer recommendations on the best lock brands within your budget.

During an in-person or over-the-phone assessment, you can schedule a time for the locksmith to install the locks. They might even be ready to install the chosen lock during their physical assessment. This will depend on several factors, such as whether they have the correct lock on hand.

It’s highly advisable to have your new door locks installed by a professional. Find out why in the following section.

Why You Need Professional Door Lock Installation

It can be tempting to install your chosen door lock yourself, but it’s highly inadvisable. Your door locks are one of your most important home security features. If they aren’t installed properly, it can be easy for potential robbers to break into your home.

A locksmith has the tools, experience, and knowledge necessary to install your door lock correctly. Proper installation helps protect your home as efficiently as possible. Knowing your door locks are installed properly will help you sleep better at night.

Do You Need Professional Lock Installation?

A single cylinder lock has a keyed entry on one side, while a double cylinder lock has keyed entries on both sides. Homeowners can also choose from key-less electronic locks and single-sided deadlocks. If you aren’t sure which type of lock is best, a professional locksmith can help you make the right choice.

Do you have more questions about the difference between single cylinder vs. double cylinder door locks? Or, do you need professional lock installation?

Contact us today. One of our knowledgeable associates would be more than happy to answer your questions or schedule you an appointment.

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