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With every month that passes by, smart home automation becomes more awesome. It might have been little more than a gimmick just a few years ago, but now people are really transforming their homes with cool new products and innovations.
At the very least, home automation can help you improve home energy efficiency, but another area where it really shines is in making your home a safer place. And while security cameras and motion sensors are great, neither has more of a wow-factor than an electronic door lock.
Pros & Cons of Smart Home Locks
Why would anyone want to get a smart home lock that can be controlled remotely with a smartphone? At first glance, the entire concept screams of gimmickry, doesn’t it? What possible benefit could an “advanced” door lock offer that a “dumb” door lock can’t?
The main benefit is convenience. Imagine being able to walk up to your door and have it automatically unlock as you approach it — and automatically lock itself when you walk away from it. No more fumbling with keys. No more accidentally forgetting to lock.
Imagine being able to grant temporary access to certain people. Maybe you want your babysitter to only have access between 1 PM and 7 PM on Tuesdays, and no access on any other day. A smart door lock can be programmed to do that and you won’t have to juggle extra keys.
Most smart locks also keep logs of when they’ve been accessed, which you can use to discern who entered or left your house and when. (This could be useful for parents who have teenagers on a curfew, for example.)
But isn’t it unsafe and unsecure? Not any worse than a normal door lock, if you think about it. Sure, an electronic door lock could be smashed up — but if someone’s going to do that, they could just as easily smash up a normal door lock as well.
Can’t smart home locks be hacked? Yes, anything that’s connected to a network always has the potential to be hacked, but anyone who wants to enter your house is more likely to smash it up than learn what it takes to hack it. Plus, electronic security holes can often be patched.
That is to say, smart door locks will rarely be worse than normal door locks, but they will often be better because of all the extra features and convenience they offer. Not to mention the fact that these are one of the most affordable smart home upgrades you can make.
One of the downsides to Apple’s HomeKit is that it isn’t compatible with many devices, but that’s starting to change. In fact, here’s one device that’s built specifically for HomeKit: the Sense Deadbolt by Schlage, which is one of the best entry-level smart locks out right now.
The Sense lock can respond to commands given to Siri through Apple Watches, iPhones, iPads, and iPods — and it can be locked or unlocked remotely, but only if it’s within 40 feet of an Apple TV. Set up and programming is easy. All you need is the free Schlage Sense mobile app.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a proximity unlock. (Siri commands are as close as you’ll get to that.) It can hold up to 30 access codes at a time, and comes with a built-in alarm that goes off when it detects a potential door attack.
If you want to stay outside of Apple’s ecosystem but still want to use a Schlage smart lock, then you can try this one instead: the Connect Deadbolt by Schlage. Instead of using HomeKit, it’s based on the Z-Wave protocol, which is supported by many smart home hubs.
The Z-Wave support allows you to manage the lock remotely, and you can also connect it with a Z-Wave-compatible hub for automated security (such as triggering the lock with a motion sensor or an IFTTT event).
The Connect lock also comes with a built-in alarm that can alert you when it detects three levels of door activity: contact, tampering, or forced entry. Unfortunately, like the Sense lock, this one lacks a proximity unlock.
Yale Locks & Hardware is an old player in the locking business, and their latest smart home offerings show that they aren’t playing around. The Yale Real Living Deadbolt is easy to install but strong enough to give you peace of mind.
It’s based on the Z-Wave protocol, so you can lock or unlock it remotely using a Z-Wave-compatible smart hub. Unfortunately, there’s no proximity unlock, but it does have Auto Relock and One Touch Lock features that make it sufficiently hands-free.
It can hold up to 250 user key codes, and also has a Privacy Mode that locks out ALL user key codes for a period of time. By default, it even comes in three languages: English, Spanish, and French.
4. Kwikset Kevo
The Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock is really nice if you want one that’s subtle and discreet. After all, a futuristic touchscreen — like the ones in the smart locks above — might draw undue attention your way, whereas the Kevo lock just looks like an ordinary lock.
It has a promixity unlock: as long as you have your smartphone on you, you can just touch it and it will lock or unlock. Or you can use the physical key that it comes with. And if you’re within Bluetooth range, you can trigger the lock remotely from your smartphone.
You can also give out unlimited guest eKeys, which expire after 24 hours. You also get notifications when the Kevo is locked or unlocked, when eKeys are sent out, and when eKeys are accepted. Furthermore, the Kevo lock logs everyone who locks and unlocks.
Perhaps the most popular smart home lock on the market, the August Smart Lock was the first to popularize the concept. It wasn’t very good when it first launched, but after a year or so of firmware improvements, it’s easily worth the money — and it’s quite affordable, which is nice.
The August lock has a proximity sensor that unlocks as you arrive and locks as you leave. It’s also somewhat discreet, though not as much as the Kevo lock. Guest access can be given out, and each guest key can last however long you want it to last.
User access is managed through your smartphone (both Android and iOS are supported), invites are sent out to phone numbers, and you can view a running log of everyone who accessed the lock.
Will You Get a Smart Home Lock?
If you ever feel like doubting the potential of a smart home, check out these amazing videos that will change your mind. And if an electronic door lock isn’t enough to impress you, consider pairing it with a smart doorbell. Smart products shine when combined like that.
And a smart home lock is one case where the features are worth the price tag.
Just be aware that there are security concerns to consider when incorporating smart products into your home. They might seem awesome at first, but they may come with a whole host of unanticipated problems that you may not want to deal with.
How do you feel about smart home locks? Which one is your favorite? Which ones have disappointed you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!