What is Keyed Alike? What does Keyed Alike mean?
Keyed Alike simply means that all of the locks can be unlocked using the same key. In a keyed alike system, all of the locks in that system can be opened using the same key. Keyed Alike is often abbreviated as KA, especially when referring to padlocks.
Before we go any further, here are a few definition that will be necessary to your full understanding:
What are the benefits of Keyed Alike?
Because Keyed Alike offers the option to use the same key to open multiple locks, the greatest benefit to be gained with a keyed alike system is the convenience of one key. No longer will you have to deal with key ring bulk like a High School Custodian and search for the correct key at every lock, nor will you have to use cleverly colored key head covers to identify which key goes to which lock; with a keyed alike system, all you will need is the one key to open all of your locks.
Same Key Convenience also eliminates the time wasted searching for keys and allows you to rest easy with the knowledge that all of your physical security devices are doing their job and only allowing your key access.
Another benefit to a keyed alike system is that more locks can be added to your system. You can purchase locks Keyed Alike to your Key Number knowing that the key you already have will work with all of the new locks you are procuring. In certain cases, rekeyable locks and rekeyable padlocks can also be rekeyed to match your existing key that you are using with your keyed alike system.
It's also very easy and inexpensive to or order duplicate and/or replacement keys because you only have the one key number, based on the one key blank to get the one cut key to work with all of the locks in your keyed alike system. Otherwise, you might have to order any number of keys from any number of different key blanks. Honestly, that would be a hassle that no one should have to deal with, especially you.
What is required for Locks and Padlock to be Keyed Alike?
There are a few specific, and simple, requirements that will need to be met in order for your locks and padlocks to be keyed alike and match your key. The Cylinder and the Keyway must be identical. If the Keyway doesn't match, there is no way your key is even going to go into the lock. The Cylinder must not only be the same type of cylinder, but it must also have the same number of Discs, Pins, or Wafers each aligned to match the existing bitting specified by your key number so that your key will be able to function properly in the lock. A Cut Key for a 4-Pin Tumbler Cylinder will not work on a 5-Pin Tumbler Cylinder. Oftentimes key numbers are associated with a specific Cylinder and Keyway, it is always a good idea to ask a Padlock Professional any questions you may have to ensure that you are ordering the proper locks to match your key.
What are the weaknesses of a Keyed Alike Systems?
Before we get to that, let us be clear here that physical security devices are not always foolproof. Their main purpose is to deterring theft, but sometimes, even the strongest lock in the world cannot stop crime. Padlock vulnerability is one of the few times in life where the phrase, "you get what you pay for", is applicable. If you are securing equipment with significant value, do not be a bargain hunter and go cheap with your locks and padlocks. The price of a lock or padlock generally reflects the level of security that it shall provide.
With a Keyed Alike System, Key Holder Responsibility will be the greatest concern. If a key goes missing, that means that there is the real possibility that someone else will have access to all of the locks in your Keyed Alike System. Ultimately, all of the locks in your system will need to be rekeyed or replaced.
What if I have trouble remembering my Key Number?
The Master Lock Company LLC offers a free app that allows you to safety save your passwords, or key numbers. This is a very handy tool for those who are responsible for managing many Keyed Alike Padlock Systems because it will allow you to save the Key Numbers for each of your Keyed Alike Systems. https://www.masterlockvault.com