If you’ve been using the old school method of hiding your door key in a fake rock or under a doormat, you might want to think twice. Thieves know how to find your hidden keys — and if you’ve got a spare or two laying around outside, you’re leaving yourself open to robberies.
Smart locks make it simple to lock and unlock your home without a key, and some even allow you to unlock your door remotely or program digital keys for people who need access to your home.
Smart locks are one of our favorite components to a smart home, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t know where to begin turning your home into a smart home? Tap or click here to check out our smart home starter kit.
Let’s take a look at how smart locks work and some of the best ones you can buy.
How do smart locks work?
Smart locks allow you to easily lock and unlock your home using more sophisticated technology than a lock and key. Most work with a smartphone app, and others use a physical keypad or scanner to unlock the door instead.
Smart locks make it quick and easy to give access to visitors, without having to leave a spare key around.
While most people use smart locks on their front doors, these locks can be used on almost any door into your home: your front door, garage door, or any other door inside or outside of your home.
Now let’s get into the technical stuff: Smart locks generally use one of three methods of communication to control your door: Bluetooth, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth smart locks are popular in large part because of how easy they are to use. Once the lock is programmed, the Bluetooth signal from your phone or tablet will automatically lock or unlock your door when your device is within a certain range. Bluetooth smart locks are handy if you’re within 300 feet or so of your door, but not when need to lock or unlock your home remotely.
If you want to control your smart lock from a remote location, go with a Wi-Fi or Z-Wave smart lock instead. Both can be programmed remotely to change your door passcode, let people into your home or lock the door while you’re away.
While Wi-Fi smart locks connect directly to your phone, Z-Wave smart locks take a longer route by connecting to a smart hub. Z-Wave locks can integrate with your smart home devices; the downside is that they require an additional hub to talk to your Wi-Fi.
What type of smart locks can I buy?
While many smart locks offer features like remote access or door monitoring, not all of them will connect to your phone via an app. The options include:
Retrofit smart locks: Most smart locks will require you to completely replace your deadbolt with the new locking system, but some work with the locking system already in place. These retrofit locks allow you to keep the same key and deadbolt system.
Keyless smart locks: Keyless smart locks use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to control your locks without a physical key in hand. If you’re using a Bluetooth lock, the keyless smart lock can’t be controlled remotely and will only unlock or lock if you and your Bluetooth-enabled devices within a certain vicinity — usually about 300 feet or so from the physical smart lock. If you have a Wi-Fi smart lock, you can use your cellular or Wi-Fi connection to control your smart lock remotely.
Fingerprint and biometric smart locks: Want to unlock your home like you’re in a spy movie? That’s precisely what a fingerprint or biometric smart lock allows you to do. This type of easy-to-program smart lock works with Wi-Fi or Z-Wave technology to unlock your door using your fingerprint. You press your finger against a touchpad and the lock scans your fingerprint. If it recognizes you, your fingerprint will be converted into a numerical template that will unlock the door. Cool!
Keypad and touchpad smart locks: With keypad smart locks, you use a keypad to unlock and enter your home. You can set different passcodes for short-term guests or renters in a short-term rental situation, or you can change the “locks” via a password.
Fob-enabled smart locks
Less common are fob-enabled smart locks that use a device — like the key fob you use for your vehicle — to lock and unlock the door. Smart lock key fobs can often be programmed control multiple doors, and you simply press the key fob to unlock the door you need access to.
The best smart locks to secure your home
Now that yo know what’s out there, here are five great options for your home.
1. August Smart Lock Pro + Connect Wi-Fi Bridge and Smart Keypad
The August Smart Lock Pro connects to your Wi-Fi so you can control and monitor your door from anywhere. Use your phone to lock and unlock your door, control keyless access or even keep track of who comes and goes. It integrates with Amazon smart speakers, so you can control your lock with Alexa, too.
As an added bonus, the August Smart Lock Pro is a retrofitting smart lock, which means you can keep your existing deadbolt and keys.
2. Schlage Connect
The Schlage Connect is a top of the smart lock that uses a touchpad and Z-Wave technology to connect and integrate with your other smart home devices. This smart lock system replaces your entire deadbolt, so the installation is a little more onerous than a retrofit smart lock.
The Schlage lock secures your home with keyless entry, integrates with your smart speaker, stores up to 30 access codes and senses if someone tries to tamper with the lock or apply force to the door.
3. Google Nest Yale Lock
If you use a Google Assistant to control your smart home, consider the Google Nest Yale Lock. It uses a touchpad entry system to lock and unlock the door and works in tandem with Google Assistant to check the status of your door or lock and unlock it from wherever you are.
You can set multiple passcodes to give friends or guests, and you can set up alerts whenever someone unlocks and locks the door. Plus, your Nest can sense when you’re away and will lock the door automatically when you’re gone.
4. eufy Security Smart Lock Touch
If you prefer a biometric smart lock, check out the eufy Security Smart Lock Touch. It uses fingerprint technology to recognize your fingerprint in just 0.3 seconds — and it will unlock your door in 1 second flat. This lock is weatherproof and capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. You’re not just limited to unlocking with a fingerprinter, either. You can use Bluetooth, an electronic keypad or a key as well.
The built-in sensor detects when your door is closed, and locks it automatically to keep your home secure. Note the eufy lock doesn’t connect via Wi-Fi or Z-Wave to allow for remote access, but you’ll still have plenty of other options for securing your home.
5. Kwikset Halo Wi-Fi Smart Lock
If you want to control your smart lock remotely but don’t want to invest in a hub, the Kwikset Halo Wi-Fi Smart Lock is a solid option. This touchpad smart lock connects directly to your home Wi-Fi network and smartphone to allow for remote control, but you won’t need to invest in any extra components.
It’s easy to re-key the lock or set up to 250 individual passcodes via the Kwikset app. This smart lock also sends activity notifications to the app on your phone so you can see who’s been coming and going.
Bonus: SimpliSafe Smart Lock
Full disclosure: SimpliSafe sponsors Kim’s national radio show. We’re mentioning its smart lock here because it’s a great product.
If safety and security are your main concerns, the SimpliSafe Smart Lock is our favorite option. This smart lock was built around securing your home, from the automatic timed door lock to the optional monitoring plan and notifications.
You can lock and unlock your door using the PIN pad, a key fob or your phone. You can also sync your SimpliSafe Smart Lock system with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and of course it integrates with SimpliSafe security systems.
It locks the door when you arm your system or automatically on a timer, and you don’t need a key or phone to do it.
And if someone is trying to enter your home and enters the wrong PIN five times, you’ll get a notification. After 15 attempts, the lock will automatically secure for 30 minutes to block access. If you opt for the monitoring plan, SimpliSafe will call you in these scenarios and dispatch the police if there’s a break-in.
Even better, SimpliSafe has no contracts. You can cancel or pause your account at any time. Visit SimpliSafeKim.com and get free overnight shipping on a security system.
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