Hardwired Keypads
Pros: simple to install and program
Cons: institutional appearance
Price: $100 to $900
Shown: Trilogy Alarm Lock (Image #3). Includes an "ambush" feature: If an intruder forces you to open the door, punching in the regular code plus two extra digits notifies a security service.

These battery-operated, stand-alone devices are the most popular and secure of the keyless locks. They don't require any wiring or complicated installation; the keypad on the outside of a door is part of the handleset. To unlock the door, you punch in a code number (typically four to six digits), which releases the lever or knob. Most models have dozens of separate user codes, and some high-end models have timers so you can control the hours during which a code will work.

In general, push-button handlesets are always locked on the outside and always unlocked on the inside. (Models that lock automatically on the inside are unsuitable for homes.) Most give an illuminated warning when the batteries are getting low, usually after about two years. The battery-free Powerlever 1550 from Kaba ($625) is the exception to this rule: Pumping its handle generates enough power to fire the relay that frees the latch.

The big drawback of push-button handlesets is their institutional appearance; they look glaringly out of place on the front doors of most homes. Still, you might not mind one on a back door or mudroom entry.

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