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What are smart door locks? How they can improve home security?

Posted: July 11, 2017

Smart door locks can be a great way to add an extra layer of security into your home. These smart home devices allow you to receive notifications about visitors and grant entry to those you select. When integrated with your security system, smart door locks can be instrumental in your home automation project.

Smart door locks are one of the easiest ways to integrate smart home devices into your house. These smart home products vary from a basic touchpad which allows you to open your door with a code, all the way to smartphone-connected locks that will unlock as you approach the door, sound an alarm if a shock sensor is triggered, and notify you of visitors via mobile app.

Finally, it seems science fiction movies are no longer predicting the future, but manifesting in the present. The vision of the smart home is not some unattainable reality only for the wealthy. Now, that kind of automation can be found in average homes. Okay, you may not find ordinary houses brimming with smart home devices, being completely run by touchpad or voice control. But, it is no longer uncommon to find elements of home automation, such as smart door locks, in normal households.

benefits smart door locks

Benefits of smart door locks

Smart door locks are handy pieces of equipment to add to your smart house. The main advantages behind these smart home devices are

  • The ability to control your locks when you are away from your home
  • Controlling who enters your home by granting access with personal codes or digital keys

Depending on the model you choose, you might find that your smart door lock offers more features. For example, some of the more advanced versions of this smart home device can integrate with your current home security system, allowing you to operate the lock via voice control and check in via mobile device.

what you need to know

What you need to know before choosing a smart door lock

Before you brave the (what seems like) infinite selection of smart door locks, take a moment to evaluate your needs. You can make your life significantly simpler by narrowing your sights onto what you want out of your smart home device. When choosing a smart door lock, you have a few things to consider.

  • Do you want to completely replace your existing lock? Some smart locks are specifically designed to fit over your existing door lock, while others require installing all new hardware.
  • Will you want to integrate your lock into third-party apps or technology? Some smart home products are already programmed to work with other technology, like Alexa or even the Ring doorbell. Most are designed to work with specific technology, such as Apple’s HomeKit or Google Assistant.
  • How sophisticated do you need your smart door lock to be? Smart locks vary from basic equipment that requires a code to voice-activated gadgets complete with remote locking ability and programming capabilities for different visitors. You will want to evaluate the level of sophistication before you start shopping.
  • Do you have restrictions on your options? You might have existing technology that integrates with everything in your house. In this case, it’s a good idea to choose a smart hone device that is compatible with your existing home automation setup.

Knowing how you plan to use your smart home device will make your decision easier. As with most things related to smart homes, you might feel overwhelmed by choices. Once you know the answers to the questions above, it’s time to see what fits. Let’s take a look at some of your options.

smart door lock options

Smart door lock options

There is a large selection of smart door locks. These range significantly in price and features. Most locks come with a mobile app of some variety that allows the user to lock and unlock doors with ease. Here are the main players in the smart lock market.

  • Kwikset Kevo: This lock was the first available smart lock. The Kevo lock is a touch-to-open smart home device. You only need to have your smartphone on you and a simple touch will grant you entrance to your home. If you’d rather not replace any hardware, the Kevo Convert allows you to use your existing deadbolt. Simply add the Convert and your old deadbolt becomes smart. You can lock, unlock, and provide digital eKeys for visitors all with your current deadbolt. For an upgrade fee, you can use Kevo Plus which gives you remote access and notifications from your Kevo lock. Kevo products also integrate with Nest thermostat and Amazon’s Alexa. A new Kwikset Kevo currently sells for $229.
  • August: August’s version of the Smart Lock can be controlled using any of the leading technologies in smart home products. It can be controlled using Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, and Google Assistant. The hardware attaches to the inside of your door, allowing you to keep your existing deadbolt on the outside. The August Smart Lock is hands-free. As long as you have your smartphone handy, it unlocks as you approach and locks behind you after you have crossed the threshold. Using the accompanying app, you can lock and unlock your door, assign individual keys to users, and keep track of who is coming and going. Take it to the next level with the August Doorbell Camera to see who is visiting. A new August Smart Lock will run around $200.
  • Schlage: Schlage offers a wide variety of options for smart locks. These include locks that offer a touchpad, some that are connected to your smartphone, and others that simply have a keypad for code input. The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt works with Apple HomeKit and connects via Bluetooth. This lock has the capability of integrating with a home security system and assigning personal codes. It even comes equipped with shock sensors to detect break-ins. The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt with Alarm can hold up to 30 codes and has built-in alarms which will sound to notify homeowners when locks are tampered with. The Keypad Deadbolt is a simpler version of the smart lock, allowing for keyless entry and equipped with a three-year battery life. It also allows for up to 19 user codes. Depending on the model you choose and the level of connectivity, you can pay upwards of $300, but can purchase more basic versions for around $100.
    Feeling overwhelmed? Schlage offers a product selector tool to help you choose the lock that is right for your home.
  • Lockitron: Lockitron offers a more economical smart home device which simply fits over your existing deadbolt. For $99, you can get a lock that provides keyless access to your home. This lock is also compatible with iOS and Android. Lockitron also provides an app called Bridge that enables use other operating systems. You can lock and unlock from a mobile device and assign keys to visitors. It runs on AA batteries and has a shorter life than others, but it will notify you via email when your batteries run low.

Here’s a helpful chart offered by PCmag that provides a chart to compare features for some of the more popular smart door locks. 

Installation tips for smart door locks

Most of the popular smart door locks on the market are easy to install. Installation will vary depending on the model and brand you choose. However, most are designed to be installed with a screwdriver and can be mounted without any wiring, Often, the manufacturer’s website includes simple installation instructions. If you prefer a step-by-step guide, simply search YouTube for your model and brand to find a how-to video.

The average homeowner can handle smart door lock installation without professional services. However, if you simply don’t want to hassle, you can search for smart lock installation services in your favorite web browser to find a local installation service.

Tired of worrying about lost keys and making sure the kids get home okay. Regardless of the brand you choose, a smart lock can simplify your life and improve your home security.