Padlocks come in many shapes and sizes each with their own properties to increase security, make them more convenient to use or protect them from the weather. Here we explain their merits and what makes them ideal for different situations.
May we help you choose the right PADLOCK
for your needs?
What are the different types of Padlocks?
Padlocks are the only type of lock that is typically not permanently attached to anything else. They are free standing and portable, and are one of the most easily recognizable types of lock. Padlocks usually consist of a solid body, a locking mechanism and a shackle. They are available in several different types of sizes, materials and styles for different applications, but the basic design and operation is the same.
Padlocks allow for locking of gates, fences, chains, and other products through the use of a locking device with a movable shackle. Based on its locking device, they come in two main categories: combination and keyed.
Combination locks have one or more number dials that open the lock when the correct combination is entered. There is no need to carry keys around, or duplicates for other people's access. Nevertheless they are easy to crack and are among the most likely type of lock to be vandalized.
Combination padlocks should not be used for anything other than low level security applications, and the three tumbler combination lock should in particular not be considered for anything requiring more than the very lowest level of security.
Key-based padlocks require a key to be opened. Some varieties of these padlocks can be rekeyed, and others cannot. Keep in mind that if it cannot be rekeyed and you loose the key, your lock will be permanently locked unless you are able to pick it or cut the shackle.
Padlock Material Choices
If you want your lock to serve you as long as possible, it is important to pay attention to the materials of which its parts are made. It’s hard to say for sure what materials are the most reliable, since all materials have certain advantages and disadvantages:
Aluminum Body. The lightest models of locks, that do not rust, but due to the fact that the metal is soft, are not strong enough. Generally used in light security situations. The aluminum bodies are often anodized in different colors, allowing color coding of lock systems.
Laminated Steel. A laminated padlock is one in which its body is layered various pieces of metal. This metal is essentially stacked on top of each other in layers to provide a toughness that’s not easily cracked and cannot easily be tampered with.
Cast Iron. These are affordable and sufficiently robust models, but when the temperature changes, cast iron can become brittle, and when used with certain situations can quickly corrode.
Brass. More durable than aluminum but not as tamper-resistant as heavier steel padlocks. However, they do hold up to the elements and are often used as an inexpensive, weather-resistant light security.
Solid Steel / Case Hardened Steel. Very durable, cut-resistant materials. Commonly used in higher security applications and are often chrome- or zinc-plated to help resist corrosion.
Stainless Steel. Very durable locks and generally hold up to the elements better than solid steel.
You should evaluate your needs and the particular types of doors or gates in order to get the right padlock type for you. Below is an overview of some of the most common types of padlocks.
This is a standard model, represented by the lock body, a hidden locking mechanism and a semicircular shackle, which can be removed completely or only from one side. The shackle or shank is the U-shaped bar that loops round from, and back into, the padlock body. This is the most exposed part of the padlock and more susceptible to be attacked with a crowbar or simply to cut the shackle.
Extended Open Shackle
These are not strictly a unique design but simply a traditionally shaped padlock with an extended shackle (the U-Shaped bar). By extending the shackle does make the padlock more convenient by increasing the locking area and as a result they prove highly popular. However, since the shackle is the weakest point of the padlock, increasing its size inevitably reduces the security rating allowing bolt cutters and saws more room to maneuver.
This means that the shackle is guarded in some way, making it more difficult to attack with a saw or bolt cutters. Usually the body of the padlock raise up the sides of the shackle to make it far harder for bolt cutters to cut the padlock.
Straight Shackle (Shutter Padlock)
This lock uses a single post rather than a U-shaped shackle that it is partially hidden in the body and the eyelets, which makes it very reliable. Typically used to secure roller shutters fitted to shop fronts. Also they are often used to secure shipping containers and large warehouse doors because of their high security nature and ease of fitment. They are also popular for use on parking posts, motorcycle security chains, etc .
The Discus, Circular or Round Shackle Padlock
As the name suggests this style of padlock has a curved shackle that goes right the way around its circumference. The padlock body itself is not solid, contrary to the traditional padlock design.
The circular shackle is enclosed in two opposing metal cases to form the disc. The keyway is then situated directly in the center of the lock. Since the shackle is not spring loaded, damage to the keyway barrel by force or drilling will not open the padlock and it will stay disabled and locked. It is for this reason that they remain a highly popular choice.
Note also that disc padlocks we’re initially designed to be used directly in conjunction with a hasp & staple. By doing these the already restricted shackle is completely covered, making it highly difficult to be sawn, cut, hammered or bolt cropped.
(Hidden Shackle, Puck Lock)
The most reliable form of padlocks. The locking part is completely hidden in the body. Because of their design, these units are difficult to attack and over recent years, as well as being used on warehouse doors, etc, they have also become very popular for use on vans and other vehicles where they are used to secure opening double doors. Typically, they are designed to be used with a special matching security hasp.
These lock uses a single post or pin instead of the U-shaped shackle. They are mostly used on vending machines, utility valve equipment, meters and wherever a less accessible shackle is desired.
Removable adjustable shackle provides maximum application flexibility and ensures snug fit to the locked item. Perfect for use on lawn mowers, gas grills and bikes.
Weatherproof & Weather Resistant
Although regular locks will work outside for a period of time, they tend to rust or corrode over time to a point where they can no longer be opened with the key or combination sequence. However, they are perfectly suitable for outdoor use and many high-quality padlocks use non-corrosive internal mechanisms.
Generally we would recommend standard padlocks with hardened shackles for general outdoor use. The shackle may discolor over time but rest assured that you’re padlock is stronger and this corrosion will not affect the function. However, if you plan on leaving your padlock for extend periods of time unused, by the sea, on a boat, underwater or in other extreme environments then the marine grade padlocks would be best.
Fully Weatherproof Padlocks use 100% stainless and non-corrosive materials. They are also know as Marine Padlocks and suitable for saline and other extreme environments.
Weather Resistant Padocks have either a shroud to protect the lock from the elements or are constructed from weather-resistant materials such as stainless steel or bronze.
Remember that even a marine grade padlock is susceptible to grit, sand and dirt. For these some padlocks are encased within a plastic jacket and a guarded keyway. They are usually marine grade also and make an ideal option for padlocks which are exposed to both moisture, salt or other solid elements.
The typical padlock comes with two keys(Keyed Different). However, if you are going to buy more than one padlock you should know that there are different keying options available to fit your particular needs. The most common keying options are:
Keyed Alike. All the keys open all the locks in a set of padlocks. Every key and every padlock is exactly the same.
Master Keyed. Each individual padlock is keyed-different with the addition of a single master key that can open all the locks in a set. The keys that come with each lock can only open that one lock, but an additional master key will open all the locks in the set. The master key and the master-keyed padlocks must be ordered at the same time.
Rekeyable. The cylinder in rekeyable padlocks can be removed in order to change its combination or to replace the original cylinder with a new one, restoring security quickly and economically. This is ideal for situations where keys are lost or stolen.
Interchangeable Core. These padlocks provide an instant security solution because they do not require disassembly to remove the core (cylinder). A control key fits into the padlock just like the user key, but unlocks the interchangeable core retaining mechanism to allow the removal and replacement of the core (cylinder).
High Security Padlocks
The main goal of all high security locks is not to be undefeatable, but instead to make defeat too expensive or time consuming to be feasible. They use certain designs or characteristics that improve their ability to resist manipulation and forced entry for a given amount of time.
Key Duplication Control
Lockpicking, Decoding, Impressioning and Key Bumping Resistance.
Destructive / Force Entry Resistant - strong materials and designs that make them resistant to destructive entry techniques.
No bike lock is unbreakable. If a thief really wants to steal your bike, with the right tools and enough time, he can and he will. A bike lock just buys you time. And the better the lock, the more time you get.
There are three main types of locks for this job: Cable Locks, U-Locks and Chain Locks. Generally speaking, the thicker the lock, the better it will resist the various tools a thief might use to attack it. For instance, top of their list of favorite tools are bolt cutters.
Bolt cutters are able to cut through most cable locks. On their own, they may be suitable for low-crime areas. Elsewhere, they are a good choice to use in combination with a U-lock to secure easily removed parts (e.g., seat).
Hasps & Chains
The quality, strength, and reliability of these devices directly relate to the level of protection provided.
Check to see if the door or opening can be opened from the side opposite the lock, an example - remove the hinge pins or plates from the door.
Cover the screws or bolts attaching the hasp to the door or opening. Most hasps are designed to cover these if properly installed.
Securing the hasp securely on the door or opening to prevent easy removal. Hasps bolted through the door are the best. You should avoid short wood screws in the hasp that can be easily pried out.
If using a chain or cable to secure a gate, make sure it cannot be easily lifted off either the gatepost or the gate itself. Again remember the hinges on the other end of the gate!
Use a hasp, chain, or cable that can provide the same level security as your lock.