The Pros and Cons of a Smart Front Door Lock
Unlike traditional locks, smart locks typically have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to control them remotely from an app, view entry and exit logs, and connect with smart home hubs such as Amazon Echo, Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit.
The best smart locks work with or replace the single-cylinder deadbolt found in many homes. Some also have a keypad for coded entry in case you forget your phone or run out of batteries.
Having a smart lock that connects to your home Wi-Fi enables you to see entry and exit logs in real time, remotely lock or unlock, and integrate the device with other smart home devices. Ideally, the lock should work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant as well so you can ask your voice assistant to do things like lock the door or check if it’s locked.
A good smart lock should also be nANSI and BHMA certified to ensure that it can hold up against a lot of abuse and is not easy for a burglar to defeat. Our testers look at all of these factors, and we also test the device’s battery life and how smart front door lock well it works with other smart home devices to make sure they can be used in a variety of situations.
Most of the locks we tested use Bluetooth, which uses very little power, so the batteries last a long time (usually a year). We also look at whether a smart lock requires an external hub or is compatible with the smart home platforms you already have.
The August WiFi Smart, the August Pro + Connect and the Wyze lock mount directly onto your existing deadbolt, so they don’t require a separate hub to work. But they don’t have a built-in Wi-Fi connection, so you’ll need to use the included plug to connect to your router and create a bridge to your smart home system.
Smart locks can have multiple keyless entry options, including proximity unlocking from your smartphone, remote locking and unlocking with an app, custom code numbers for guests, voice command recognition and fingerprint or touch-lock access. The best smart locks are also compatible with home assistants and smart home hubs to allow you to integrate them into a wider ecosystem, letting you lock your door from the same device you use to control other smart devices in your home, like turning on lights and setting your thermostat.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity are both important features to consider, but the type of wireless technology you choose will affect battery life. Low-energy radio waves, such as Z-Wave and Zigbee, draw less power than WiFi, which may help to extend battery life. You may also find that some models are built with dual-band WiFi to avoid competing with other devices on your network for bandwidth.
Look for a smart lock with an ANSI/BHMA certification to ensure that the lock is sturdy and secure. Some locks have alternate ways to get in if you forget your phone or don’t have WiFi, like external posts to which you can connect a 9-volt battery, or retain a traditional key cylinder for backup. Other models, such as the Array by Hampton, have solar-powered battery backup and can connect to your smart home hub for additional integration.
Smart locks eliminate the need for keys and offer more convenience than traditional deadbolts. They’re great for letting repairmen, houseguests, and dog walkers in without needing a key or code to open the door. A growing number of models also have advanced features, including touchpad controls, fingerprint scanners, and built-in sensors that let you know if the door is left ajar.
Many smart locks use biometrics connectivity to make it easier for homeowners to lock and unlock the door from a distance using their smartphone. The technology uses innate body measurements like fingerprint, facial or iris smart front door lock recognition that can’t be stolen or lost to authenticate identity. These systems are already used to unlock mobile devices, log into bank accounts and access self-service kiosks.
Most smart locks offer wireless connectivity, allowing users to lock and unlock with their smartphone or a remote keypad. They can also be controlled with voice commands or touch sensitivity. Some offer multiple keyless entry options, such as proximity unlocking that works with Bluetooth and can be set up to recognize specific users, and coded lock that allows you to create, revoke or limit guest access.
When paired with a doorbell camera, most smart locks can record a video of visitors when the homeowner presses the button on their phone to answer the doorbell. These videos are important in preserving evidence to present to law enforcement if someone tries to break into your home.
A smart lock will be sitting right on your home’s exterior, so the design matters. Some locks go out of their way to show off their gadgety features with light-up touchscreens, while others do their best to blend in and look like a regular lock, from the outside at least. Both approaches have their pros and cons.
Some smart locks, such as the Kwikset SmartCode Electronic Deadbolt, don’t even require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. Instead, it adds a 10-button numeric keypad to a standard deadbolt and allows you to give codes to house or pet sitters, contractors or guests without giving them extra physical keys. It’s the simplest replacement lock we tested and an excellent option for those who don’t care about connectivity, apps or voice control.
Other smart locks, such as the Yale Lock that pairs with the Nest app, are a bit more ostentatious. Its large, all-black front panel takes up more space on your door than the more invisible lock designs we tested. But we liked that the back of the lock slides up to reveal a traditional keyhole backup. The lock also has a solid feel to it and the thumb turn is smooth to turn and easy to grasp. Unlike some other smart locks, this model doesn’t have a display screen but relies on push notifications from the app.