A digital key safe called the eSafe on an external wall

Finding a digital key safe that ticks all the right boxes can be a tough challenge. When searching the market, buyers are presented with many options – smart key safe, digital key lock box, smart key vault - the list goes on. Whatever the name, these products will all serve the same primary purpose – to store keys. Where they vary however, is the features on offer. As the UK’s leading access solution experts, we explore what buyers should be looking out for when choosing an electronic key safe.

Does the digital key safe consider convenience?

Almost every digital key box will share a few essential convenience features. For example, each variety of digital key safe box has a storage section for the keys, as you would expect. Yet, certain models may lack the space to store the number, size and shape of keys required. Limited room can also make removing and returning keys tricky. A key safe with a large internal area allows multiple keys to be stored, with enough space for car fobs and access cards, as well as traditional keys of any size or shape. 

Some models may have internal hooks to hang keys on. These make removing and returning the keys less fiddly, as well as lowering the risk of them falling out when the key safe is opened.

Another useful feature of some, but not all devices is an auto-lock function. This ensures the vault cannot be accidently left unlocked, eliminating the worry of whether the key safe is locked after use.

Extra features like a larger storage area, internal hooks and auto-lock function can take a digital lock box from clumsy to convenient.

How smart is the smart functionality?

Smart functionality is a term used more frequently with the rise of technology and all things digital – think smart TV’s, smart speakers, even smart toilets! But what exactly does it mean in relation to an electronic key box? Simply put, it's the ability to control the key box through smart technology, most commonly a compatible smartphone app. The usability and limitations of digital key box apps will vary, so it’s always a good idea to research how to use the app to find out what it can and can’t do.

Most electronic key safe boxes open with one touch via the companion app – a very handy feature. How the key box and app connect to each other is worth considering, with the primary methods being via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Bluetooth is often considered more reliable than Wi-Fi, as it won't need internet connection. This is ideal for a digital key safe for outdoor use that may be in a poor signal area. A Wi-Fi key safe could also be at higher risk of attack from hackers than a Bluetooth key safe.

Certain apps will only allow management of one key safe, whereas others will accept multiple devices. Those wanting more than one device at their property or across a few locations will want to ensure the app supports this.

Other common functions of companion apps include one-off code generation, intelligent linkage to door lock alarms, and usage logs. This will keep track of when the key safe has been used and by whom.

Some apps may receive improvement updates but choosing a key safe with a companion app that has features and functions to suit your needs is always a smart idea.

Is the digital key safe a durable device?

When it comes to electronic lock boxes, choosing a product that is built to last and simple to operate should be a no-brainer. Key boxes are made from a variety of materials, most usually a form of metal. An external digital key safe needs to be able to withstand the elements, especially if housing electrical components. A resistant metal such as zinc alloy can handle all types of weather and hold up well against rust and corrosion.

As with any electronic product, battery life should also be a consideration before purchasing a digital key box. Constantly replacing batteries can be costly, so any features that preserve battery life are worth looking for. Bluetooth Low Energy technology (BLE) is a smart feature that puts the key box into ‘sleep mode’ if inactive for a set period. Some companion apps can also send notifications when battery is low.

It’s also crucial that any electronic key safe has a method to open the key box if power is down. The ability to jump-start the device with power from a source like a USB-C power bank will allow time for keys to be retrieved and batteries replaced.

Are you getting the best of both worlds?

Operating a Bluetooth key box via an app is useful, but what if you don’t have access to your smartphone, or someone less tech savvy is using it? A good quality digital key box needs to function as well as a traditional mechanical key box when used ‘offline’.  Features such as light-up buttons and audio chimes that activate when the device is locked and unlocked can be beneficial to non-digital users.

A device that utilises smart functionality, whilst still maintaining the convenience and durability of a traditional mechanical key box will offer something to everyone looking to easily store and access keys.

Who should I buy from?

Being the UK’s leading access management experts, we of course have a digital key storage solution available. Explore the features of our electronic key safe box, the eSafe, and discover how it perfectly combines convenience with durability, and smart functionality with mechanical reliability – all serviced by Key Safe’s UK-based sales and customer support teams.