If you’re thinking about upgrading your home security, smart door locks make the apparent starting point. Also known as electronic door locks help provide convenience, some safety, and they're fun to use. Now, you can use term smart door locks and electronic door locks interchangeable, as we will do throughout this article.
We’ll lead off by making it clear that the core purpose of smart locks is making things easier for you and a bit safer to an extent. There are safety benefits like remote access to your property and doors automatically locking behind you, but smart locks are mainly about convenience.
Don’t underestimate what the convenience of a keyless lock can mean, though. Whether your hands are full of groceries or you frequently lose your keys, electronic locks allow you to enter your house without breaking your stride.
If you’re at all reluctant to invest in a smart door lock due to safety concerns, don’t do it. You should be getting an upgrade in terms of security, so it’s no use if you’ll end up worrying about someone gaining entry. However, what might help you keep your peace of mind is knowing you can disable codes to ensure people you don’t want to come in, don’t.
If you need to let someone in when you're away from home regularly or you frequently arrive home with a baby in one hand, and shopping bags in the other, smart locks are a super-convenient way to make your life much more comfortable. You'll also enjoy the peace of mind of receiving alerts notifying you of any entries to your property triggering the tamper alarm. Make sure the kids are home from school and that they can get in even if they often used to lose their keys.
For the ultimate in convenience along with a handy additional layer of security, it might be time to treat yourself to a smart lock whether for your home or business. There's no right or wrong answer to getting a smart lock, but if you take the factors above into consideration, you should easily find one tailored to your specific needs.
A smart lock is merely an electronic lock that uses Bluetooth, WiFi or Z-Wave communication protocols to interact with other devices in your smart home.
You use either an app on your smartphone or a dedicated fob. As you approach the door, it will unlock for you saving you from fumbling for your key or, even worse, finding you left your keys at work.
The nature of these smart door locks allows them to relay messages to heating systems, so the wireless thermostat goes on standby as you head out the door or remote lighting, so you enter a nicely-lit house rather than stumbling into a dark hallway.
Some smart home door locks allow you to work around your existing deadbolt while others call for a replacement.
Smart locks like those from August fit over the hardware in place meaning you can achieve connectivity without the expense of a total deadbolt replacement while also keeping your keys as a back-up.
Most electronic door locks, though, require a replacement deadbolt. You'll need little more than a screwdriver and 30 minutes, but there are a couple of factors to consider when carrying out the work.
Take a snapshot of your existing locking hardware then you can always switch back to how things were if you run into problems with your smart door lock.
It's also wise to double-check for compatibility before purchase. If you need to push or pull your door too hard for smooth bolt operation, it might not be ideal for a smart lock. Make sure the door is thick enough to cope with the lock, too.
Download the app for the lock you're considering since you'll get detailed instructions about fitting and compatibility.
If you're a homeowner, any changing and making the switch to the electronic door locks are down to you.
When you're renting a property, you should contact your landlord before upgrading your locks. Get permission in writing to protect yourself when it comes time to move out.
Type of Lock
While you can get keyed electronic locks, the majority of these automated systems are now keyless. Keyless smart locks fall into three broad categories:
- Touchscreen: Touchscreen smart locks ID your fingerprints much like a biometric reader. You can use a backup code in the event of any system malfunction.
- Keypad: With push-button keyboards, you need to enter a numeric code to gain access.
- Smart Phone Access: The bulk of the best smart locks now come with a sensor so you can unlock your day in-app on your phone.
On many commercial buildings, you'll see fob-enabled smart locks you can unlock without using a smartphone. A single fob will typically open and close all locks on that system simplifying things for you.
Other Types of Smart Locks
You can also find smart padlocks which are as tough as regular padlocks but also Bluetooth-enabled. Use an app to grant either permanent or temporary access to visitors without the expense of a dedicated smart lock.
For your smart lock to communicate with other smart home devices including your cell phone, it needs to harness 1 of 3 standard communication protocols: Bluetooth,
WiFi and Z-Wave
One of the primary advantages of Bluetooth with keyless locks is the way it's much more economical on battery life than WiFi. If you use your smart lock under normal conditions with a reasonable number of entries and exits, batteries should last one year with Bluetooth.
Another key benefit is the way Bluetooth locks integrate seamlessly with your smartphone without calling for any third-party hub. If your smart home ambitions are limited to keyless entry, and you don't need a hub for any other devices, Bluetooth makes an intelligent choice.
The downside of Bluetooth as a communication protocol is minimal range. While you might think at best get a reach of 300 feet, in reality, it's often much less. You'll need to think about how you configure and what impact this has on the range.
Many electronic locks now have WiFi connectivity as an optional extra. With the August range of locks, the modestly priced August Connect acts to bridge the connection between your August lock and your home WiFi network. Just plug in the device, and you can control the lock remotely from anywhere you're online.
With Z-Wave compatible smart locks, you'll need to buy a hub which then translates the signal received from your lock so your router can interpret that signal and interact with it.
The range is restricted with Z-Wave, so the connection is only suitable for just over 100 feet. If the lock is not at least that near to the hub, you can use up to 4 extender devices to boost the signal out to 500 feet and beyond. You'll need to consider the layout of your home so you can budget for accessories if you're choosing Z-Wave.
With some Z-Wave locks, you access the lock interface in-app with your hub rather than needing a dedicated app.
Unless you plan to run multiple devices in your smart home beyond the entry and exit system, the expense of a Z-Wave capable smart lock is probably not worth it.
While a Z-Wave electronic lock involves the additional expense of a hub, you'll also get the ability to communicate with other devices in your connected home. Having the hub sets up small but valuable processes like the lights activating as the door unlocks.
Since digital butlers are integral to the modern connected home, many smart locks let you interact using your favorite voice assistant.
Locking and unlocking are restricted and also requires a passcode due to security concerns.
Alexa: Amazon's famous virtual assistant Alexa was first used with the August Smart Lock. Partnerships are now in place with most other leading lock manufacturers, so it's getting easier than ever before to find a smart lock that lets you check in on the status and lock your doors using Alexa. Since unlocking doors using voice activation still raises security suspicions, Alexa can't help you out here.
Siri: August, Schlage and Kwikset locks work alongside Apple's HomeKit so you can use Siri to interact with your smart lock.
Google Assistant: August electronic locks are compatible with Google Assistant while Google owns nest so you won't be left out if this is your preferred digital assistant.
Although there are many variables with electronic locks, they all perform the same basic function of giving you remote access your home.
The majority of smart locks have keypads. This means if you don't have your app open, you can punch in a code, and you're in without needing a large bunch of keys.
Many smart locks, while permitting coded or in-app access, also let you use your key when required. Others eliminate keys. Only you know what makes the best sense for you.
Enhanced functionality varies from brand to brand. From auto-unlocking to detecting whether your door is open or closed, smart locks are getting smarter all the time.
With some locks, you'll be able to arrange access codes that work only at certain times of the day. You'll also be able to set codes to expire after a certain time, ideal if you rent out your property on Airbnb.
Battery life depends on the number of entries, the type of batteries and even the weather. The colder it is, the quicker the batteries will die.
You should expect to replace the batteries once a year or so allowing for perhaps 15 entries a day.
Many keyless locks now feature some jumpstart nodes as a back-up so you can get enough power to open up your doors if the battery lets you down.
If you're buying a smart lock for a new build, this is a non-issue.
When you're aiming to switch your old locks for keyless alternatives, make sure they fit on both sides of the door, so you don't end up needing to swap the side on which your door opens.
Yale are a security stalwart and Nest need no introduction in the world of home automation. Now bundled back into parent company Google and rebranded as Google Nest, how does this Nest x Yale collaboration stand up today?
Choose from 3 colorways (bronze, brass and nickel) to match your lock with your entryway. The keyless deadbolt comes with the mounting hardware so you can get going straight out the box.
Once up and running, you’ll be able to access your door using the app on your phone. To unlock your door, you’ll need to punch in a code. To lock up, you’ll just need to tap your phone. For remote access, you will need the Nest Guard or Nest Connect bridge.
You’ll also enjoy reports sent to your cell phone keeping you alert to anyone entering or leaving your home. Stay fully aware of what’s going on even if you’re away from home.
Automatic locking means you won’t end up worrying about whether you locked up as you’re on the way to the airport.
You can also rest easy knowing the deadbolt itself is secure and tamper-proof. If anyone does try to mess around with the unit, you’ll get a notification whipped over to your phone. When the batteries begin running low, you’ll also be alerted in-app.
If you’re looking for a smart lock that’s easy to install, equally easy to use and built to give you years of faithful service, this Nest x Yale makes a wise choice. Make sure you factor the price of Nest Guard or Nest Connect into the equation when you’re budgeting and check out Nest x Yale today!
- Bringing together the best of Yale security and Nest smarts in one powerful package
- Create passcodes to expire when you choose, ideal for Airbnb rentals
- Streamline access to your home by eliminating keys from the equation
The entry-level August Smart Lock comes in very keenly priced although for optimum functionality you should invest in the Connect WiFi bridge.
With the gateway in place, you’ll benefit from August’s proprietary DoorSense. What does this mean, though? Well, you’ll be able to check from a distance whether your door is open or locked. Your door will also lock automatically behind you saving you a job in the morning.
Since this smart lock slides over your existing deadbolt, you can keep your keys. We’re sure you won’t to be opening and closing your door the traditional way, though. Grant guests access codes and use your smart phone to open and close up yourself.
Stay informed about when your kids get home, too. You can monitor an activity feed in-app and you’ll also get alerts pinged to your phone when the door is unlocked. Finish up your afternoon with a clear conscience knowing your children are safe and sound.
You’ll enjoy Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity just like with Smart Lock Pro but you won’t get HomeKit compatibility and you won’t have Z-Wave Plus, either.
As with all retrofit smart locks, the August makes a nice solution for renters not in the position to start making structural changes.
If you’re looking to invest into August but you don’t have quite the budget for Smart Lock Pro, this base model still makes sense today. Add a layer of convenience and security to your connected home without digging too deep or sacrificing build quality.
Just like Smart Lock Pro, choose from a muted silver or dark gray to suit.
- Door will lock automatically behind you when you add in the Connect WiFi bridge
- Live activity feed in-app lets you stay abreast from afar
- Keep your lock and key as Smart Lock works with most existing hardware
August’s seminal smart lock comes with the Connect bridge in this iteration so you’ve got everything you need bundled.
Smart Lock Pro is pretty bulky and protrudes quite far. All you’ll need is a screwdriver to get started. Since this is a retrofit lock, you’ll still be free to use your keys making this ideal for households with children or elderly relatives perhaps not comfortable with smart tech. The fact you leave the existing hardware in place makes this a neat solution for renters.
We’re pretty sure you’ll be taking control in-app, though. The August app is easy to navigate and intuitive. It’s available on both iOS and Android as well as Apple Watch.
Your door will lock automatically when you leave and it’ll will also unlock when you come home, ideal if you’ve got your hands full of shopping. DoorSense keeps you alerted to the status of your door even if you’re not at home.
With both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, you’ll also be able to use Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. All you’ll need is the requisite smart speaker or smart display then bark commands at your virtual butler.
If you need someone else to access your home when you’re not around, August makes this easy for you. Create and send access codes with ease in-app. You’ll be able to grant access for a given time period making this ideal for service staff or incoming guests if you rent your property on Airbnb.
August Smart Lock Pro comes in silver or dark gray and remains one of the finest smart locks in a crowded segment of the market.
DoorSense keeps you alert if your door is unexpectedly unlocked
Use your favorite digital assistant for hands-free control
Works along with your existing single-cylinder deadbolt with installation taking literally minutes
Baldwin Hardware has been making locks since 1946 and they’ve moved with the times to embrace smart technology.
The first selling point of the Soho is the ease of installation. We appreciate not everyone wants to get involved with rewiring or calling an electrician. With the Soho, you won’t need to. With nothing but a screwdriver, you can install the deadbolt in minutes flat.
You won’t need a third-party home hub with this smart lock to enjoy remote access. You’ll be able to take charge at a distance in-app on your phone.
If you’re looking for broader integration with other smart devices, the Soho uses the Z-Wave protocol.
One area where the Soho is lacking concerns codes. You’ll only be able to store 2 codes which might be good for a small family, but larger households might find this restrictive. You’ll also be more limited if you want to create codes for dog walkers or babysitters since you only have a couple to play with.
You won’t find any problems entering the code in the dark since the keypad comes with a handy backlight. Punch in the code incorrectly more than twice and it will lock any potential intruder out.
You can program your deadbolt to lock automatically 30 seconds after unlocking. This is a small but valuable safety feature.
Remote access gives you the ability to check up on your kids and to make sure they’re home from school. You can arrange to receive a notification in-app when they get home and unlock the door.
Build quality is robust and you can choose from a range of finishes to match your décor.
Although the lock could use more code storage and enhanced functionality, the Baldwin Hardware Soho is a rugged and reliable smart lock that gets the job done with no frills. While it’s not particularly cheap, the entry system of your home is not an area to cut corners with.
Z-Wave connectivity allows for great interoperability with other smart devices in your home
No rewiring required and you’ll be up and running in minutes
Incorrect passcode lockout is a nice security touch
The Ultraloq UL3 is a modern classic and remains our favorite smart lock in a crowded vertical. What makes it so good, then?
Perhaps the leading selling point here is the versatility this lock provides. You’ll be able to access your door in exactly the way that suits.
The Ultraloq allows you to enter by:
Code entry on keypad
Knocking/shaking to open with cellphone
The advanced and precise fingerprint recognition works brilliantly for children and elderly relatives. They won’t end up losing their keys and they won’t need to remember a code, either. Ultraloq can store 95 unique fingerprints. The reader is waterproof, dustproof and scratchproof guaranteeing reliable entry at all times.
You’ll also be able to store 95 codes of 4 to 8 digits. The anti-peep technology baked in is a nice touch. This enables you to type in your code anywhere nestled within a string of numbers. Any passerby would find it practically impossible to determine your code from a distance.
Ultraloq gives you around a year of battery life under normal conditions. You won’t ever be locked out either since you can always use your physical key to unlock the door even if the battery is dead and you failed to make provision for this. Since this lock uses Bluetooth Low Energy, it will keep on going even if the power goes out.
Using this lock is as simple as putting your hand near the keypad and it will activate.
That is, unless you’ve decided to take control in-app. If you’ve got an iPhone, knock the phone 4 times to open your lock even if you haven’t got the app open. If you’re an Android user, just shake your handset to open.
For breadth of entry options, build quality and a seamless user experience, Ultraloq UL3 is a rock-solid choice.
Multiple methods of entry to suit large households with varying needs
Store 95 codes giving you fantastic flexibility
Hidden back-up key for your peace of mind