Smart Home Locks

 
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All those times when you get to your front door, only to find that your keys are not there? It's frustrating. You might be able to get into and out of your house with a smart lock.

 

These smart devices can be used to open your doors remotely from your phone or to unlock them when you are close to your front door. Although smart locks may not make your home more secure, they allow you to control your home and increase efficiency.

 

They will ensure that you do not have to leave your house to search for keys. Smart locks can lock and unlock doors anywhere and give digital keys to family members, caregivers, or anyone who frequently visits your home.

 

While you can still use an old key to unlock a smart-lock-equipped door (or most doors), don't forget about the convenience and ease of connectivity. This is especially true when your hands are full of grocery bags, tiny children, or other things that make it difficult to find your keys.

 

Even if you don't know if the door has been locked, you don't have to crawl into bed to find out. You can just pull out your phone and check the lock status.

Some smart locks have different features. There are various options:

  • Bluetooth options.

  • Keyless options.

  • Locks that use your fingerprint.

  • Locks that fit on existing deadbolts and complete deadbolt replacement lock options.

It can be confusing if you're not aware of smart home tech. Let's take a look at the smart locks available today and what you should know before purchasing one.

Do you want to keep your deadbolt or replace it?

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You can keep your deadbolt with smart locks. They are commonly called "retrofit" options. They can be great for renters and anyone not looking to change keys.

 

Models like the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, ULTRALOQ U-Bolt Pro Bluetooth Fingerprint Smart Lock and Hornbill Smart Lock Deadbolt can be clamped over your existing deadbolt hardware. They can be used with most standard deadbolt brands. August's compatibility ranges between Arrow Hardware and Baldwin to Defiant Kwikset Schlage and many others.

 

Retrofits allow you to keep the hardware that protects your door but adds an extra layer of connectivity. This means that you can keep your physical keys. Retrofit smart locks are the easiest way to add connectivity and control to your door without changing your whole deadbolt system.

 

Another option is to completely replace the deadbolt. Most smart locks follow this method, including the Kwikset Kevo Convert Smart Lock and the Yale Assure Lock, SL Key-Free Touchscreen Deadbolt. There is even an invisible smart lock called level lock, which replaces deadbolts and lets you keep existing hardware.

 

Although these locks will require more effort and time to install, it is still possible for novice DIYers. This route will give you a wider range of options, as many locks are complete deadbolt replacements.

 

The retrofit versions are similar in that you only need a drill and 20 minutes. Be sure to check that your door is compatible with smart-lock before purchasing it.

 

Another tip: Take note of your existing setup before installing the smart lock. A new deadbolt might mean a new set of keys (unless you select a keyless model) so that your loved ones can have a copy.

Selecting a protocol: Bluetooth, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi

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The smart lock must be able to communicate with your smart home and with your phone. Most smart locks can communicate using one of three communication protocols: Bluetooth, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi.

Each item has pros and cons so be sure to learn the differences before buying.

Bluetooth

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Bluetooth is a very common smart-lock protocol. It doesn't drain battery life nearly as quickly as Wi-Fi. You can't plug your deadbolt into Bluetooth, and it is not likely that you will remember to change your batteries on a door lock. Bluetooth can make your lock last up to one year.

 

Bluetooth's downside is its limited range. You can only use it for 300 feet at best. It could be much shorter depending on where you live. You can control your lock at home with Bluetooth, but if you move too far away from your home you will lose the connection.

 

Bluetooth locks can connect to your smartphone or tablet directly. Because your phone speaks the language, it doesn't need a hub device to translate. It's great if you don't have any smart-home dreams.

 

But hubs give you the ability to control multiple devices from one app.

Some integrations are still possible with Bluetooth-only smart lock, however. For example, the August lock comes with an opt-in automatic-unlock feature. It is linked to your phone's Bluetooth.

 

Exit your home and lock your front door. When you return to your house within Bluetooth range, your front deadbolt should unlock.

Z-Wave

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Z-Wave smart locks can be purchased from companies like Poly-Control, Schlage, and others. Z-Wave smart locks do not connect to your phone like Bluetooth locks. They'll need to connect with a Z-Wave capable hub.

 

The hub will translate the Z-Wave signal of the lock into something your router can comprehend. After that, you'll have a way to connect with your lock anywhere.

 

Samsung's SmartThings is one example of Z-Wave control Hubs. The Wink hub is another. Smart things can be used with several Z-Wave locks that are not included in the Kwikset or Poly-Control range, including Schlage and Yale.

 

The maximum range for a Z-Wave connection is 120 feet. This means that the lock should be at least half the distance from the hub. Additional Z-Wave devices may extend the range by sending the signal further and repeating it from the hub. The maximum range is 600 feet. The Z-Wave signal may bounce up to four times.

 

This could leave you disappointed that your lock settings are not detailed and specific, or make you happy that you're not downloading another app with a different log-in. This is all about preference.

 

Z-Wave has one major restriction: it requires an additional hub in order to communicate with Wi-Fi. There are some positives. You can connect to third-party devices more easily than a standard Bluetooth lock. Z-Wave is not recommended for those who don't intend to use multiple devices with their lock.

Wi-Fi

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Wi-Fi is an optional option for some smart locks. The August Connect, priced at $79, plugs into an outlet and bridges the Bluetooth August lock to your Wi-Fi network. The same applies to the $100 Kwikset Kevo Plus. After you've connected these accessories, you can control your lock anywhere you have an Internet connection.

 

August launched smart locks with Wi-Fi in 2020. Kwikset, Schlage, and Kwikset have abandoned Wi-Fi Modules. If you're not set on a particular smart lock, I recommend that you fill up an outlet in your home with Wi-Fi modules. Built-in Wi-Fi will drain your batteries more quickly than Bluetooth, so be sure to have enough batteries.

 

Wi-Fi-enabled locks and unlocks your door remotely. You can also create new users or access code from anywhere. You can also view your lock's activity log and status. Wi-Fi allows you to connect your smart lock to the Internet, giving you access to more features such as integration with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

How would you like to interact with your locks?
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While there are obvious differences in smart locks' installation and wireless technology as well as integration with third-party products, they all accomplish the same thing: provide advanced remote control access to any space. However, there are still some nuances to how advanced smart control occurs.

 

Touchpads are available on most Schlage, Kwikset, or Yale locks, such as the Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt and Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolts. Are you not sure if your lock's app is available? Simply enter your secret code to unlock the door. Without a key, your door will open automatically.

 

Installing a smart lock does not mean you must give up your keys. While you may not have to use one of the coded or mobile-enabled entries as your preferred method, many smart locks will still allow you to use your key.

 

Others, like the Yale Assure SL Touchscreen Deadbolt, and the Kwikset Obsidian completely eliminate the keyway. You can easily lose your keys with smart locks such as those. There's also no risk of someone picking your lock.

 

August locks do not come with touchpads. However, they have many useful functions. You can use the auto-unlock feature to lock your doors without any need. August Smart Lock Pro, Wi-Fi Smart Locks, and Wi-Fi Smart Locks include DoorSense, which can detect if your door has been opened, closed, or unlocked.

How the smart lock hack works
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To unlock a smart lock, voice commands are required to enter a PIN. Z-Wave locks, which use short-range wireless communication standards, are an exception. Z-Wave can be used by smart home devices to connect to hubs connected to the Internet. We tested it with the SmartThings Hub.

 

You will need a Z-Wave account to reproduce this hack. IFTTT is an outlet that lets you create custom scenes and commands with smart connected devices. You'll need to connect the Z-Wave door lock to your Z-Wave hub. Then, sign in through IFTTT to your hub account. This will link the two services, unlocking all your automation options.

 

IFTTT recipes can be good. These automations can be used for sending notifications or logging actions in a table when a specific user locks and unlocks the door. You can add smart appliances and lights to turn on or off when you are at home.