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How Door Locks Are Tested

door installationWhile brutality and torture go against our beliefs, we actually expect and demand brute force when it comes to testing high security door locks. Wouldn’t you agree?

The truth is that when consumers get high security locks that have been tested, they expect that all the necessary steps have been taken and the products are certified for their resistance. And this true. The American National Standards Institute, its equivalent National Standard of Canada, the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association, the UL – all play their part. Yet things are a tad more complicated than that. So, let’s put things in some order. Shall we?

Understanding door locks testing

The ultimate goal of testing door locks is to see their performance. To examine how they react under force. The force entry methods are plenty and include anything from kicking-in and bumping to drilling and picking. And so, focus on anti-drilling, anti-bumping, anti-kicking and so forth tests is given to main entrance locks.

And here is where things get a bit more complicated.

First of all, not all door locks are the same. One cannot test a cylinder lock and a mortise lock and judge them by the same standards simply because they are different types of locks.

The well-known ANSI/BHMA standards separate locks into three categories based on their tests. Grade 1 is the highest level followed by Grade 2 which is the intermediate level and finally Grade 3 which is the lowest level – the best, the better, the good.

While such ratings show the performance of the door locks, they also point a direction. What do I mean by that? Yes, Grade 3 door locks are rated as just good. But then again, it depends on how you want to use them, the application, the security risk.

And there’s another parameter here. Two locks may both be certified as Grade 1 products but this doesn’t mean that they were assessed by exactly the same criteria. Testing a panic bar, a door closer, and a deadbolt is different.

The common door lock test methods

  • Impact
  • Force
  • Deadbolt torque
  • Bolt durability
  • Tension loading

Let’s see it from another angle. They test by using all possible force entry methods X times or until the product fails. That’s true especially for Grade 1 products, while the requirements for Grade 2 and 3 products are not as strict.

What’s interesting (and a relief to know) is that products already certified are randomly audited to ensure they continue to meet the expected standards.

Repetition makes a difference

lock installation Now the X times they test products, particularly Grade 1 door locks, is what makes the difference. Although the repeated tests change between Grades and depends on the type of the lock, we are talking about thousands, millions when it comes to Grade 1 and Grade 2. And this is what makes the difference. It’s the repetition of testing with all force entry methods that shows the resistance, durability and longevity of a certain product.

The even better news?

With new technology and a strong persistence to fight crime, the products get better. Some often exceed the expectations of those who test since some products keep going and keep resisting long after the standard cycle test is completed. An example mentioned by ANSI/BHMA is a test done on a door closer. While the standard cycle test was 2 million times, the door closer was tested 10 million times without failing.

Also, apart from the official institutions that test door locks, there are extra tests done by independent parties. And so, when we buy certified door locks, when we also make sure the door closer or lock installation is properly done, we can sleep well at night.

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