Smart Locks are relatively new and they continue to grow in popularity in homes across the nation. In fact, it’s already a billion dollar industry. If you are unsure of ways a smart lock is more beneficial than a traditional lock and key, this article discusses the benefits.
Why Use Smart Locks? Smart Locks offer many benefits over traditional locks. These include not having to use a physical key, unlocking the door remotely, and integrating with home automation. There are smart lock options that still allow you to use your key when needed.
While you may not need a smart lock (as is true with most technology we use these days), it sure does add convenience and a high level of control over access to your home. Smart locks have also revamped home security, adding many customizable features to give you even more control. Here are 10 benefits you can get when you install a smart lock on your house.
Smart Lock Benefits
Easy & Fast to Install
If you have never changed any old lock before, it may feel like an intimidating process. If you’ve done it once, your an expert and know how easy a process it is.
Installing a smart lock is a simple installation process that can often be done by using only a screwdriver. Once you have found the screwdriver, installation can take between 15-30 minutes, depending on how familiar you are with how locks work. That installation time also includes the time it takes to remove the current lock installed on the door.
Even if you are not familiar at all with deadbolts, it’s a fairly simple process that even a beginner DIY’er could complete. Just follow the instructions provided, or hop on YouTube. Here’s a video from Schlage that demonstrates how easy installing a smart lock can be.
No Keys? No Problem! Never be locked out of your house again. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about digging around in your purse, or trying to reach in a pocket when your hands are full.
Choose How You Interact With The Lock: Touch, Keypad, Key, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Voice
In fact, there are multiple options you could setup to allow for a keyless entry. Those options include biometric readings, using your phone, using your voice (if you are inside), or setting up a key code you type in on the lock itself.
Let’s take a closer look at those keyless options.
For biometrics, thats a fancy way of saying fingerprint recognition. I haven’t seen any that scan your eyes (at least for residential uses). The fingerprint readers work a lot like the readers you might find on a smartphone. During setup, you scan your fingers a few times, and then you are all set.
There are a few ways a smartphone can be used to control a smart lock. Those options will use either Bluetooth or NFC. With NFC, you typically open up the app and then hold your phone up to the lock and it will unlock the door. Locks that use Bluetooth may be proximity controlled, so that the door unlocks as you approach and locks as you walk away. There are also smart locks that you can control with touch, when it detects your phone’s Bluetooth.
The last two options I mentioned are probably the ones that people are most familiar with. You can use a voice assistant to control the lock, and then their are locks with number pads on them where you can type in a code to unlock it.
Of course, there is always the physical key you could use if all else fails. There are even smart locks that allow you to keep your original kets, so you don’t have to replace anything.
This is completely a superficial reason, but people say looks matter. You have lots of options when it comes to smart locks. You can go from modern, techy look, all the way to not even being able to tell its a smart lock.
So, what impression do you want to make? Do you want to impress guests when they show up at your door, or perhaps choose an option that leaves no exterior physical evidence of being a smart lock? That might be a good option if security is a concern for you.
Grant Remote Access
Remember those codes I mentioned earlier? Here is a great way to use them. You can setup multiple key codes that you can give to different people. One for yourself, one for your kids, close friends, and whoever else may need one. Perhaps a maid, or a repairman that needs to stop by while you are not at home.
Your not stuck with using a code though. If someone drops by unexpectedly, you can unlock the door from an app. There are also locks that work with Amazon Key, a service offered by Amazon that allows its delivery drivers to leave packages inside your house. If you ever had a problem with porch pirates, this was made for you!
Another concept where remote access could be useful is wen you have a rental property with a high turn over rate, something like a lake rental or other vacation resort. You have the ability to change codes with every guest, and you can change that access in an instant.
Alerts Based On Current Activity
Speaking of codes, you can setup your lock and phone to give you alerts when a certain code is used, or even when the lock is unlocked. Get notified right away once that package is delivered in your house, or know that your child made it home safely after school. You can set it up to notify you between certain hours, or however you want. You’re in control!
On top of that, some smart locks are capable of identifying when they are being tampered with. Get notified right away if someone is trying to break in through your front door. There is also an option to take it a step further and have police and/or your home security company notified automatically. This is really useful if you’re on vacation or somewhere you might not have cell phone access. One less thing to worry about.
I keep going back to those key codes, but they really are a great feature of smart locks. They are a great way to limit access. Access can be given by day of the week, or even between certain hours of the day. This can be done for every key code as well. People will only have access to your home only during the hours and days you approve.
There are a couple options on having your smart lock activate automatically.
The first option is to have it lock after being left unlocked for a certain amount of time. I find this option is useful when I have company over. I always enter my house through the garage, so I may forget to check the front door after they leave. That’s not a problem with a smart lock. If you do set this feature up, just make sure you have a way to get back in the house in case you just stepped outside for a few minutes, and then it locks.
The second option is auto-locking based on geofencing. This is a fancy way of saying that the door will lock once you get too far away, and unlock when you get close enough. When you cross a certain perimeter, known as the fence, the door will either lock, or unlock based on which side of the fence you are on. It’s also possible to have two different distances setup. One for when you are coming towards home, and one for when you are departing.
Home Automation Based on Who Entered
There are multiple ways for the smart lock to know who entered the house. Either by the key code use, or the phones bluetooth, the smart lock can be programmed to work with your smart home and perform certain functions based on who arrived or departed.
It can be a simple or as complex as you want. A common option is having the entry way light turn on if its after dark and someone has unlocked the door. If you like the lights throughout your house to be a certain brightness and color, you can program that to instantly happen when you unlock the door, and not change when someone else unlocks the door. It’s also nice to have everything turn off when you leave the house.
There are also some smart home systems where the smart lock integrates with the smart video doorbell and security cameras. When someone tries to enter your home, you can record video of who that person is. There is also the option to start recording interior video when a certain access code is entered. For example, if you want to keep an eye on a repair man, or make sure that the delivery person only dropped off a package and noting else.
Smart Lock Concerns
I’ve highlighted many of the benefits of a smart lock, but I haven’t addressed any of the concerns. There are good handful of concerns about using a smart lock. Here are a few big ones.
Not Necessarily Safer
Smart locks offer a lot in terms of convenience, but they are not necessarily safer than a traditional door lock. They add extra security concerns because they are often internet connected devices.
Take extra caution when using off-brand smart locks, as researchers have shown that they don’t always properly protect your password. A password should be encrypted before being transmitted to and from a device, but some of these off-brands sere sending plain text passwords. That means a hacker could read that wireless signal and see your password with no extra effort needed.
Make sure you keep the software updated on the smart lock, and keep the app updated on your smart phone. Also, deter hackers by changing your password often.
Smart locks require batteries, and those batteries don’t last all that long. Depending on the type of lock, you can expect to be changing a battery about once a year. So what happens if you don’t change the battery in time before it dies?
Are you now locked out of your house? It’s always good to have a back-up option in case this happens. This is one of the reasons I think it is still a good idea to have a traditional lock that you can use to gain access to your house when needed. The best option is to just make sure to replace the battery when you get that annoying low-battery notice on your phone.
We all know the pain of losing or breaking our smartphone, and this will only add to that pain. Similar to the battery dying on the smart lock, what if you lose your digital “key”? What if your phone’s battery is dead? As long as the smart lock has a key code you can punch in you will be okay, but not all smart locks have this option. As I recommended before, have a contingency plan for these types of situations.
Smart locks may not be for everyone, but I hope highlighting the benefits and concerns of them have helped you see how they may fit into your life.As with all smart home products, you should weight the benefits against the risks, and measure your risk-tolerance to the security concerns. Keep in mind, that the manufacturers of these smart locks are constantly working out issues and making updates.
Smart locks are a relatively new technology, so if you don’t like what you see in the current generations of devices, take a look again in a year or so after the next generation has been released. There will no doubt be many upgrades and improvements. Also, prices will probably fall and the current generation will be offered at a discount once the next gen has been released.
In the end, it comes down to adding convenience without giving up security. Getting into your house will be easy, and a burden you didn’t realize you had will be lifted. Ultimately, which lock to install on your front door is a decision only you can make. There is no right or wrong answer. (Except installing an off-brand smart lock. That is the wrong answer.)
Do Smart Locks Need Power?
Smart Locks do need power in order to operate. Bluetooth and Z-Wave controlled smart locks have an average battery life of over a year. WiFi controlled smart locks have an average battery life of 1-3 months. Battery life also depends on how often the lock is used.
Can Smart Locks Be Hacked?
Smart Locks can be hacked, just like any other internet connected device. Keeping the software on the smart lock itself and the app updated on your phone, as well as regularly changing your password can help prevent the smart lock from being hacked.