The 7 Best Key Lock Boxes
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in October of 2015. If you’re a homeowner who wants to provide access to tradespeople or let your kids come and go without fear of them losing a key, one of these lock boxes will do the trick. They're also ideal for vacation rentals, and for real estate agents showing vacant homes to potential buyers. Our selection includes reliable options ranging from classic combination dials to sophisticated electronic keypads. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 02, 2020:
We've significantly pared down our list after our research revealed that the most popular items in this category suffer from glaring and well-known security exploits. Most key boxes encode their combinations using either a series of rotating wheels or a number with spring-loaded buttons. Unfortunately, both styles can be cracked quite easily with techniques that can be picked up from a brief online tutorial. A quick search reveals dozens of videos showing users gaining access to lock boxes of this kind in under two minutes. They're not using specially designed lockpicks or conspicuous tools like bolt cutters, either; some techniques use a thin metal shim that can be fashioned from a discarded soda can, while others require no instruments whatsoever.
Given the ease with which such models can be defeated, we felt they're simply not worth the price. While they may add a tiny bit of extra work for someone looking to break in, they also advertise the fact that the building is likely unoccupied, and point out the location of a key. We removed a number of items from our list due to these weaknesses, including the Kingsley Guard-a-Key, the Vault Locks 3210, and the Kidde AccessPoint 001404. We left the Safego Portable on the list, since its large size and its resistance to water and sand give it some niche value as a lockable travel purse, but we downgraded it significantly.
Meanwhile, we raised the Kidde AccessPoint 001014 to the top of the list, since its single combination dial is actually much harder to crack, requiring a significant investment of time even for a seasoned locksmith. It's also quite durable, roomy enough to hold several keys at once, and available in two versions: a portable padlock-style shackle, and a wall-mounted option.
We did add a few new items, all of which use electronic keypads rather than mechanical buttons or tumblers. Since these don't rely on physical lock bars, they can't be decoded using the tension-based methods that render the older models so vulnerable. They also enable users to create temporary pass codes for guests, clients, or coworkers. The Igloohome Smart 3 is quite pricey, but offers the most flexibility in terms of remote access control, with an app that can generate unique, custom-duration PINs for different visitors. It also has a setting that lets you enter several random digits before your actual code, which prevents thieves from guessing your combination based on fingerprint smudges. The Populife IP65 lacks some of the smart features of the Igloohome but offers a few innovations of its own, including battery contact points on the outside of the device, which enable you to unlock it even if you accidentally let it run out of juice. The Master Lock 5440D has the fewest features of the electronic models we looked at, but also the lowest price, making it a decent option for those on a budget.
If you prefer to skip the hassle of physical keys altogether, we've also reviewed the top keypad locks, as well as options that can use biometric identification or mobile device recongition to manage access.
November 26, 2019:
With the advent of wireless keypads that let you access your home through the garage, there’s less of a need for key lock boxes than in previous years. However, the boxes are often still a convenient alternative for homeowners who are letting in tradespeople and for realtors who are showing a vacant house to potential buyers. You want one that’s as inconspicuous as possible, to help keep anyone with bad intentions from noticing your home’s key is hanging right on the front door. (Yes, they do actually sell bright yellow models.) Most of the options on our list feature neutral colors that should blend right in. They’re also hard to break into via cracking the code or prying the door open. They come in varying capacities, so make sure the one you select meets your needs.
Joining the selection today the AdirOffice Cabinet, which is a model well suited for an office or a hotel in which many keys need to be stored securely. This electronic option runs on batteries and features a handy buzzer and LED indicator lights. Its sturdy, continuous hinges and protective powder coating help ensure it’ll stand up to years of use.
Leaving the list is the Cocoweb HKPV-S Vault, amidst various reports from owners that it fails to open when the designated code is entered in.
Key-Hiding Rock If you don’t require a box that actually locks closed, a creative alternative to a key lock box is a key-hiding rock. No one will guess that this inconspicuous object is anything more than part of your landscaping, although it contains a safety cavity for a key (with a rubber stopper), so you can get into your house in a pinch. It’s been handmade in Maine from locally sourced New England stones, with edges were rounded naturally by flowing water. uncommongoods.com
Keycafe This innovative service operates a network of electronic lockboxes housed in commercial businesses with late-night hours, letting renters drop off keys in a secure location for later pickup by visitors, who can navigate to the right spot using the mobile app. It offers real-time notifications when guests pick up and return their keys, and the option to require photo ID verification for added security. keycafe.com
On Simplifying Security And Access Control
When you want to easily let certain people into a facility but want to restrict the access of others, that can require an involved approach to security.
The ideal security plan does not make it harder to gain access to an office, shop, or residence, it simply makes it easier to regulate who gets inside and who is kept out. A safe and secure building has entrance ways that are clear of obstructions and clutter, providing easy access and that are easily visible from the street or the sidewalk. Exterior doors that are often used at night should feature illumination, whether from a light that is always on when the doors might be in use or from bright motion sensor activated lights that will remain on for several minutes after activation.
Video monitoring systems are a good idea for improved security, both because they add a layer of deterrent against trespass and because they can be used to identify and help prosecute anyone involved in criminal activity at a facility later. And of course a good alarm system is critical for proper security as well.
But outside of crime and trespass deterrence, allowing access presents its own set of issues. When you want to easily let certain people into a facility but want to restrict the access of others, that can require an involved approach to security. If you own or manage a large enough organization, it might make sense to simply hire employees who can monitor a door, directly or by video system, and either directly or remotely control the locks. For smaller businesses or for homes, such options are much less plausible.
If you want to permit access to certain individuals but keep your property generally locked and secure, the best approach is to use a solid key lock box located near the door to be accessed. That way you can grant access without the need for any active intervention, and you can always limit access either by changing the codes to your key lock box, or simply by removing the key from the box or even taking down the lock box itself altogether. Key lock boxes are an elegantly simple solution to the issues of access and security.
Choosing A Key Lock Box For Residential Use
There are two great reasons a home might need a key lock box near its door, and they start with the same letter: realtors and relatives. When you install a key lock box at your home, you make it easy for anyone allowed into the residence to get in, but you don't make it easier for anyone with dubious intent to gain access. While a key tucked under a door mat or flower pot may lead to a crime of convenience when uncovered by a half-hearted burglar, a good key lock box provides more than enough security to prevent any but a determined thief from getting into the home.
There are two great reasons a home might need a key lock box near its door, and they start with the same letter: realtors and relatives.
Key lock boxes are perfect for the latchkey kid who must let himself or herself inside after school (and who might otherwise lose their copy of the house key, which can complicate security for the entire residence) and so too are they perfect for houseguests or the house sitter who is looking after your residence while you and the family are away.
A key lock box can also permit housecleaners, dog walkers, or maintenance people into your home so that you don't have to miss work or change your plans to be there in person.
And then of course there is the realtor, who must always have quick and easy access to the homes he or she is representing. A key lock box means the realtor does not have to carry around keys to all the many houses they are managing, and it permits him or her to allow in prospective buyers at any time, or to share the key lock box's information with a colleague who might also want to show the house.
The Right Key Lock Box For Commercial Use
The ironic thing about many situations where a key lock box is warranted is that, in fact, many people need to have access to the locked facility. This can be the case at a retail shop, a factory or agricultural center's gate, or a school or daycare center outside its normal hours of operation. When you need to allow multiple people into a facility but have to restrict access to the general public, it might not be wise to simply create keys for everyone who needs to get in. It's too easy to lose a key, which then prohibits the person who needs access from getting in, and might also see a key falling into the wrong hands. It's also harder to recover a key from an employee or volunteer who has been asked to leave your organization.
By installing a key lock box that uses a digital code or an analog combination lock outside your facility, you can ensure that those who deserve ready access can gain it, and you can quickly and easily change the code as needed if someone with knowledge of the code is fired or otherwise becomes prohibited from easy access. It's simpler to tell your staff a new code than it is to retrieve all outstanding keys or to go about the process of changing the facility's locks and then reissuing brand new keys.
The modest investment in a key lock box might initially cost a bit more than making multiple copies of your organization's keys, but it can save you time, money, and frustration down the line when the process of changing who can get into your facilities is no more complex than changing a code or combination lock.