Lock Options for Kiosks and Displays

4 minutes
Cheryl Lesniak

Lock Options for Kiosks and Displays

4 minutes
Cheryl Lesniak

There are many different types of locks on the market, both mechanical and electronic. But when it comes to point of purchase displays and kiosks, your manufacturer will recommend some over others, depending on the needs of your program.

In this article, we take a closer look at the two most common types of locks used for retail displays and kiosks.

Mechanical Locks

A mechanical lock is a type of lock that is manually opened and typically falls into one of two categories: flat key and tube key. The two are similar in many ways. Both are tumbler locks, meaning they operate using pins that need to be moved to specific places before the lock will release.

Both mechanical locks can have multiple locking points on a single door, giving a higher level of security. For example, when a cam lock, which is a type of mechanical lock that can use either a flat or tube key, is turned, it pulls on rods or cables at the top and bottom of the door to release. This moves the locking points away from the lock.

Flat key locks are the more commonly used option of the two. These locks are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and provide low level basic security. On displays and kiosks, these locks are often used to lock away printers, electronics, or displayed merchandise.

While more expensive, tube key locks provide slightly more security than flat keys and require a separate set of lock picking tools to break in. It’s also harder to keep the needed constant tension on the interior lock pins when trying to force entry, due to the pins running horizontally instead of vertically.

And because tube key locks are less common than flat key locks, expertise in picking them is less widespread among amateur thieves. Knowledge of this fact alone can often act as a deterrent to potential burglars, who might opt for an easier target upon spotting the lock.

By no means are flat and tube key locks the only mechanical locks on the market, but they are the most used for retail displays and kiosks purposes, thus, the most important ones to be acquainted with when considering security for your program.

Electronic Locks

The physical locking mechanisms within electronic locks are largely the same as mechanical locks. The main difference lies in the form of acquiring entry as well as the increased security. Like mechanical locks, electronic locks come in a wide range of levels as well as costs.

Most electronic locks use either touch keypads or fobs to permit entry, however, they can also be programed to be activated manually through a PC or remotely using the same system settings.

Like mechanical locks, they can have multiple locking points to provide a higher level of security. Electronic locks also have the advantage of being able to provide full access to users. For example, one code or signal can open multiple entry points at once. Alternatively, they can limit access to individual areas at a time.

Electric locks can also provide tracking which offers an additional level of protection. The system can monitor which user has recently unlocked the kiosk or display.

For instance, if a display is opened remotely, it’s possible to trace the signal back to the device or user login that was used to do so. These locks can also be programmed with different access codes for individual users and can keep track of who opened the kiosk or display simply based on which code was entered.

These additional features are particularly helpful for securing more vulnerable items, such as computers that store user information, the contents of cash kiosks, and expensive high-end merchandise.


Kiosks and displays that require security will either use mechanical or electrical locks as their first line of defense. In some cases, flat key or tube key mechanical locks might do the trick, while electronic locks with tracking capabilities may be required in other instances.

Choosing the right lock for your kiosk or display is largely going to depend on what’s being stored behind it. Your kiosk or display manufacturer will be able to guide you through options, make suggestions, and ultimately help you to make the best choice for you and your security needs.

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