Smart Door Locks: Our Buyers Guide
As smart home systems grow in popularity, so do smart door locks. Even if you have not explored any other smart home security devices, smart door locks can greatly improve the efficiency and convenience of getting into your home. They can even help improve your home’s security as some have built-in alarm functions.
With smart locks, the functionality of the device should be considered more important than the aesthetics. Some smart locks do come in multiple finishes so you can find one that matches your home, but you should always make sure you are getting the features you need the most before considering the colour.
There are numerous important features to look for in a smart lock, so if you are interested in purchasing one for your home then here is a helpful guide to the key features you should consider when making your decision.
When considering whether you want a smart door lock with or without a keypad it ultimately comes down to your personal preference and how you would like your smart lock to look.
A smart lock with a keypad allows you to enter in a code, usually 4 to 8 digits long, which will unlock your door. Keypads are still very popular as a smart lock feature as they are easy to use.
Some people worry about intruders being able to figure out the code of a smart door lock either by looking at the fingerprints on the touchscreen or by identifying worn out numbers on the button keypad. Smudge and fingerprint resistant touchscreens help ensure that intruders will not figure out the code by looking at the keypad so you do not have to worry about your security.
These are generally called “resistive” touchscreens. Opting for a resistive touchscreen keypad over a traditional button keypad will ensure that the numbers never wear down or rub off.
Smart locks will usually allow you to program multiple codes into their keypads so that you can assign and register unique codes to different people and be notified as to who is coming and going from your house.
With more basic smart locks you may only be able to program a few different codes, but you can still choose one to give to guests and can change them every now and then to ensure your security.
Smart door locks that are Bluetooth-enabled can automatically lock or unlock as you approach or move away from the door with your smartphone. This is a very easy and simple way of controlling your door.
You can enable or disable this proximity lock feature on the smart lock app if you frequently walk past your front door and do not want it to constantly lock and unlock itself. This is also useful if you are worried about it unlocking when you go to answer your door to any visitors.
Some Bluetooth-enabled smart locks will require you to tap your smartphone, or key fob, directly onto the lock in order to unlock it. Bluetooth-enabled smart locks will usually have a secondary mode of access as a backup just in case your battery dies or you lose your phone.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) smart door locks function with a key fob or key card. A key fob can usually be attached to your keys or a key card kept in your wallet.
Most smart locks with RFID will require you to tap your key fob or swipe your card in order to unlock. However, some are able to read your key fob or card from your pocket to save you time finding it and pulling it out of your pocket.
This feature is usually used at workplaces and offices as it is a practical solution when numerous people need to gain access to a building.
Biometric entry is when a smart lock uses a fingerprint scanner to open the lock. You program your fingerprint into the smart door lock in the same way that you would if you have a smartphone with this feature.
The scanner will identify your fingerprint and grant you access. Most smart locks allow you to program multiple fingerprints so that your family and friends can get access to your home as well.
Software Integration and App Connectivity
Most smart door locks are compatible with Wi-Fi connections as well as smart home networks (Z-Wave networks, Zigbee, SmartHome, Wink, Amazon Echo etc), and when connected give you access to their useful features. Smart locks that can connect to your Wifi are very useful for remote access purposes and long distance control.
They will also generally have their own app that they function with which allows you to remotely control the lock, as well as check the status of your door and keep up to date with who has entered or left your house.
Smartphone apps allow you to get more use out of your smart door lock and enjoy more helpful features even if you do not have a smart home network to connect it to.
Having locks on doors is an integral feature of any home as it increases the level of security of a house. Most smart door locks have been designed with a focus on convenience, efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. However, it is also important to consider what security features have been integrated into the smart lock as you will want your home to be as safe as possible.
Many smart locks have some sort of resistance to forced entry and tampering, and some are completely keyless so that there is no lock to pick. One important security feature of a smart door lock is that you can choose who has access to it. You can program your lock to only allow access to certain people.
Smart locks that use ANSI Grade 1 deadbolts provide the highest level of security for your home as they hold up very well during attempts of forced entry. Some smart locks are designed so that you choose what deadbolt you use while others come with their own. So it is very important to find out what type of deadbolt a smart lock uses before you make your decision.
A few smart locks, for example the Schlage Z-Wave Connect Deadbolt, have built-in alarm sirens for extra security. Any tampering with the lock will trigger the alarm to alert you to possible intruders as well as scare them off.
Smart door locks run on batteries as they require a constant source of power to keep them functioning. It is very important to consider how long a smart lock will run on its batteries so that you can estimate how long the time periods will be between battery changes or charges.
Many smart locks have a low battery indicator that will warn you when the battery is getting low so that you will know when to charge or change it. Some smart locks come with a backup battery slot, usually a 9V battery, just in case the battery does run out.
With so many smart locks to choose from, you will have to decide what features will suit you the most and what style of lock will fit your home’s style in order to make your decision.
Smart door locks provide you with an alternative to using a key to get into your home so you do not have to carry anything around with you or worry about how you are going to open your door if you lose your key.
It is very important to consider the features of a smart lock before making your decision so that you can be more informed and choose the right one to provide your home with the optimal security it needs.
The August smart locks are perfect for you if you do not want to replace your existing exterior locks, while the Yale, Schlage, or Ultraloq smart locks are great options with keypads and other access options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a smart door lock?
A smart door lock is a locking device that operates both mechanically and electronically in order to grant access to an authorized person. A smart lock will use features like Bluetooth, a keypad, biometric entry or RFID to lock or unlock.
Many smart locks can be controlled with a smartphone app for convenient and easy access so that you do not have to carry a key around.
Are smart locks safe?
Smart locks are just as safe as traditional locks. There are ways of getting around both types of locks whether it be breaking them off the door, picking the keyhole, hacking the network, or figuring out the code.
Many smart locks have ways to prevent such things from happening. Smart locks with keypads are often smudge and fingerprint resistant so you cannot see where your fingers have pressed.
Others have built-in sirens that go off when they are tampered with to scare off any intruders and alert you to the situation. Thus, some smart locks may be even safer than a traditional lock.
Can I still use a key?
If you still want the option of using a key to unlock and lock your door, then there are some smart locks that offer that feature.
For example, the August Smart Locks do not replace the exterior portion of your lock so you can keep your existing key and use it as a backup to open your door or use it if you simply prefer to use a key.
Other smart locks may replace your entire lock but still have an access option for a key. So if you would still like the option of using a key, you will just need to choose a smart lock that has that capability.
Can I keep my existing deadbolt?
Some smart locks, such as the August smart locks, allow you to keep your existing exterior lock, deadbolt, and key as they only require you to replace the interior portions of your lock.
So if you want a smart lock but do not want to alter the aesthetics of your front door, then make sure you look for a smart lock that does not require you to replace your entire existing lock.