Commercial Safe Locks: Mechanical vs Electronic Safe Locks

Chuck Williams

January 24, 2023

A close-up view of a digital safe lock crafted by a skilled locksmith. The lock features a numeric keypad with buttons numbered 0 to 9, along with additional function buttons: 'ON', 'CLEAR', and 'ENTER'. The handle and keypad are set in a metallic frame against a gray surface.

When choosing a safe lock to protect the valuables kept in the commercial premises, there are various factors to consider in order to choose the perfect safe for the premises. Deciding which type of safe lock the safe should have is a crucial part of this decision process.

Electronic combination locks and mechanical dial locks are the most common safe locks. Hence, you may be wondering: electronic safe locks vs. mechanical safe locks, which one is the best choice for your premises? And what differences do they have that make them the attractive option?

Both lock types are excellent choices in their own way and each are great for keeping your valuables safe. However, both locks also come with their own upsides and downsides and offer features that are more suitable for specific needs. Professional safe experts can provide consultation to assist with making an informed decision!


Electronic Locks

Electronic safe locks are operated through a code, which is input through a digital keypad. In addition, some keypads also facilitate a biometric reader to operate the lock through the fingerprint, retinal or facial recognition. This comes in handy for quickly opening the safe.

As the digital locks are powered by a battery, certain electronic safes come with an override key. It is a physical key which can overcome the electronic mechanisms in the case of the battery depletion, an electronic failure or even a forgotten combination code.

Mechanical Locks

Safes with mechanical combination locks are operated by turning the 3—wheel or 4—wheel dial to input the code. Spinning the dials can take a bit of time, which is not ideal in the case of an emergency.

In order to accommodate access in the case of the forgotten code, it may come with an override key as an alternative means to operate the lock. This physical key bypasses the combination mechanisms and unlocks the safe.


Both electronic locks and mechanical locks are operated through a code and may come with an override key for the alternative means of access. Inputting the code is generally faster on an electronic lock, especially with the biometric lock. Mechanical locks take up a bit more time.

Close up of a mechanical safe dial and a backup physical key

Extra Security Features

Electronic Locks

Electronic locks can come with a wide range of advanced security features that help keep the valuables within them safe and secure.

  • Anti—manipulation block: The safe lock gets temporarily disabled after a specified number of unsuccessful code entry attempts. The user can try again once that period of time has passed. This security precaution aids in preventing unauthorized individuals from attempting to guess the code.
  • Alarm connection: The lock can be connected to an alarm system. This way, a trigger through the lock can be sent to the alarm system to set it off. Additionally, it can be used as a duress alarm system. It entails setting up a code that triggers the alarm system once input. This comes useful in the case of a robber forcing someone to unlock the safe. The user can input the code to silently alert the appropriate authorities without further compromising their safety.
  • Dual code: The lock requires two different codes to be input in order to unlock. This adds an extra layer of security. Additionally, it can also be utilized by distributing to two employees and requiring them both to enter the code to open the safe in order to discourage internal theft attempts.
  • Time delay: When the code is entered, the safe will open after a set amount of time. A thief is likely to be doing their work in a limited time frame, so the wait can render their theft attempt futile.
  • Audit trails: The lock logs which code accessed it and when. This can help with tracking down who took something out of the safe and when they did so. It can also discourage someone from stealing the valuables.

All of these features make the electronic safe locks an excellent type of safe lock for commercial premises.

Mechanical Locks

Mechanical locks do not tend to offer any such extra security options.


Electronic locks can offer many advanced features which help keep the safe valuables secure from malicious hands. Dial locks, on the other hand, do not offer such advanced security perks.

A person inputting a code through an electronic safe keypad

Code Management

Electronic Locks

Electronic locks tend to have a flexible and user—friendly code management system. The user interface allows the users to easily change the combination any time.

The code flexibility can go even further. For example, a code can be used only once and then it will be automatically revoked, or the code can be accessible at only certain times. For example, the personnel can be given a code that works only during the work hours or a delivery person can be given a code to use only once.

It is also possible to set up a hierarchy system. A master code can be set up for an administrator, which can give the person with the role the access to create, change or delete the codes. The other codes, on the other hand, can be distributed to normal users who would not have the ability to make any kind of alterations to the code system.

Mechanical Locks

Mechanical lock combinations are unfortunately hard to be changed and may even require a locksmith’s assistance. Mechanical locks also accommodate only one code.


Electronic locks have a flexible and user—friendly code management system. It is easy to add or change the codes and restrict who has the access to do so. It is also possible to have multiple codes that help with facilitating access management with advanced settings.

Mechanical locks, on the other hand, can accommodate only one code which is often not user—friendly to be changed. You may need to call a locksmith to get the combination changed, which can be quite inconvenient especially if you have forgotten the combination code.


Electronic Locks

Due to the locks having an electronic system and wide range of features to offer, the price range of digital safe locks tends to be on the heftier side. This is not ideal, especially in the case of a tight budget.

Mechanical Locks

Mechanical locks tend to offer an affordable price range, which is perfect for a small budget.


Price is a crucial factor when it comes to drawing the comparison of electronic safe locks vs mechanical safe locks. While the price varies depending on the brand and model, the price range of mechanical safe locks is significantly cheaper than the electronic locks.

However, electronic locks come with a higher price tag for a good reason. They offer advanced functions that are not offered by mechanical safe locks.

A person holding a key in front of an electronic safe


Electronic Locks

As electronic locks are powered by batteries, the batteries must be changed regularly in order to keep the safes working reliably. It may be needed to change the batteries twice a year.

When the battery is low, the safe lock sends out the notification alerting of that. If that is neglected, then the electronic system would stop functioning and not let you access the safe. This can be troublesome if an override key does not have your back.

If the electronic safe lock comes with an override key, then this concern is alleviated.

Mechanical Locks

Mechanical locks do not require a battery to function.


Unlike electronic locks, dial locks require no batteries to power their functioning, which is convenient. Electronic locks, on the other hand, require a battery to power their electronic system.

The battery needs to be changed regularly to ensure the proper and reliable functioning of the safe. Override keys can be a useful alternative means to access the safe in the case of a battery failure.


Electronic Locks

Electronic locks are highly durable and reliable locks. However, their lifespan can be relatively short, especially with high volume of usage. They may require replacement within a decade.

Mechanical Locks

Mechanical locks offer a very sturdy and long—lasting durability. They can last over a decade without posing issues, making them an excellent long—term investment.


While electronic locks are sturdy, their lifespan tends to be shorter than mechanical locks. Mechanical locks generally last much longer with lesser issues in the run.

Electronic Safe Lock or Mechanical Safe Lock? Call Us for Dial or Digital Safe Sales and Delivery Service

There is no cookie—cutter answer to the electronic safe locks vs mechanical safe locks comparison. Both type of safe locks offer their own pros and cons.

Electronic safe locks offer many security functions like connecting to alarm system, blocking the lock after failed attempts, requiring two codes and time delay in opening. Additionally, they also offer more efficient control and management by allowing an easy and flexible system of codes which is user—friendly and logging the instances of safe being accessed.

Mechanical locks, on the other hand, are sturdy and reliable and last a long time. They come with an affordable price tag, making them an excellent and affordable long—term choice. However, they do not offer the high—end features offered by the electronic locks.

With that in mind, the choice varies on the needs. An expert can help you gauge which is your best choice. Our Faster Locksmith experts are there to help you make the right choice! Not only can we consult you with making the decision, we can also obtain and deliver the safe to your premises, as well as assist with installation and any maintenance or repairs needed in future!

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.