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How Do Master Keys Work? Advantages and Disadvantages of Master Keys

While no security measure is completely flawless and effective, adding extra layers of protection to a residential or commercial property is likely to help keep potential burglars away. Among a plethora of other solutions including CCTV security systems, window locks, motion sensors, or smart locks, installing a master key system on the premises is also a good preemptive measure.

Until a few years ago, master key systems were almost exclusively associated with commercial properties. Today, a growing number of residential homeowners are considering the benefits of installing such a system on their property. If you count among them and you would like to know how the answer to the question “How do master keys work?” and what are the main master key pros and cons, read on.

How Does a Master Key System Work?

Master key systems use a predefined key plan that allows certain keys to open a number of pre-defined doors.This way, homeowners or managers of commercial buildings space managers gain better control over their properties while saving money on installing different locks on all the doors. The same system enables users to get instant access to any room whenever needed, adding even more convenience to the experience. master key system

A master key, therefore, works by opening all doors and all locks within a given property. These keys are normally held by certain caretakers when it comes to office spaces where the same key that is used to manage access to the main entrance is also used to lock and unlock the filing cabinets in the office.

Does the Master Key System Really Work?

The rule of thumb for the same key to work with a variety of different locks is for these locks to have the same type of cylinder inside them. Since master key and lock systems are not universal key systems, it is highly advisable to rely on expert locksmith technicians when considering the installation of such a system.

This way, you will make sure that the locks are correctly installed and fitted into the doors, the keys are fully functional and highly reliable, and there are real pros who can quickly answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Additionally, deciding whether such a system would best suit your needs is an important decision that comes with numerous pro and con arguments. An experienced and educated locksmith technician could provide you with the right information you need to make a choice.

For real estate managers of apartment complexes or other businesses, keys are crucial for a number of reasons ranging from the need to eliminate the use of a large number of keys to preventing some employees or occupants to access restricted areas based on their positions in the organizations.

Is a Master Key Secure?

Since these master key systems rely on a single key, one might ask the question “are master keys secure?” in the context of a potential intruder copying a key for an existing master locking system. Master keys rely on patented restricted keyways which enable them to stop any unauthorized attempt to copy them. Restricted keyways cannot be sold on the market and they also cannot be copied at regular hardware stores. To copy a master key, one must obtain official authorization from the key provider.

Another reason why master keys are considered secure is the fact that feature key serialization. This refers to the fact that all the keys part of a restricted key control program have a unique serial number used to identify and track individual keys for a certain system. The serial numbers can also be utilized to track a certain key to its keys individual holders and to offer additional information regarding the key and the exact parts of your master system it can access. With the help of advanced key-tracking software based on cloud technology, master key owners can track their keys nonstop.

Master Key VS Keyed Alike

Both master key systems and keyed alike systems cut the number of keys needed on a key ring while providing large levels of convenience. At the same time, keyed alike systems are comprised of lock sets that can be opened with the same key. All the locks part of a keyed count an equal number of pins and the same locking elements. Basically, they are copies of one another so they can only be opened by a single key or one of its copies.

By comparison, master keyed systems refer to sets of locks that can be opened using the dedicated master key as well as their own key. Sets of master keyed locks are called a system. Its locks can be opened with more than just one key. The same systems also feature hierarchical arrangements and they include additional sub-master keys along with master keys controlled by a grand master or a great grand master key.

Master Key Pros and Cons

Master key systems have a variety of advantages and a small number of cons. Here are the most important of them that we think you should know:

Advantages of Master Keys

  • Enhanced convenience. Instead of using a unique key for each door and thus increase the number of keys on the keyring, a master key lets users rely on a single master key for all the locks on their residential or commercial property. This will allow them to get inside fast and hassle-free using just one tool.

  • Time-saving solutions during emergencies. In case of a time-sensitive emergency that requires immediate access to a room, these keys allow users to rapidly access certain areas and save precious time looking for the right key.

  • Better management for family or business keys. Master key systems let users enjoy better key management and control over the property by tracking all keys and their rightful owners 24 hours a day. Businesses can simply the procedure of granting access based on employees’ levels.

Disadvantages of Master Keys

  • There are limits to the number of locks a certain master key is able to open. Depending on the type of system that the master key is built around, a maximum number between 1,000 to 4,000 locks could be made available.

  • In the event of a lost master key, the higher its level, the higher the associated security risk. Besides the inconvenience of having to replace the key and re-key the locks to render the old key useless, the process is also an expensive one.

  • When employees move up the designation ladder, their access keys must be upgraded If you want to allow a certain individual access to a specific area on the property which was previously restricted to them, you will have to take the time out to physically swap the keys.

Get in touch with us for additional information or practical help with designing a master key system and implementing it for your residential home or commercial space.