The first locks go back more than a thousand years, and while traditional lock-and-key systems have improved over time, the basic mechanism has not really changed: A piece of metal that only has the right shape, pushes pins in a lock in the correct position, so that the locking mechanism can swing. As a society, it has been difficult to replace a system that has functioned reasonably reliably for literally a millennium.
Is smart lock really better?
You can thank the hospitality industry for finally pushing the locks into the digital age. Hotels learned a long time ago that the keys are easily lost, expensive to replace, and easy to circumvent, as thieves can choose locks or just make copies of a key to allow unhindered future access. On the flip side, hotel guests have easily accepted key cards (and in some cases, smartphone-based solutions) as the primary means of entering the room. The electronic solution is just that much easier. Lost hotel key card? Replacing it is not so dangerous.
But the biggest advantage of electronic input systems is that they are highly configurable. Digital locks can be changed at a glance (that is why the old hotel key card in the wallet is not good for anything), and the property owner can generate an overview of when each door was opened. In a more advanced setting, different keys can be generated for the same lock, so a house can tell when each family member came in or when the housekeeper arrived. Whether you have a teenager who tends to break the curfew or just want to give temporary access to houseguests, service providers, or Airbnbers, smart locks are an incredible upgrade over the old way of doing things.
Ready to make the jump to smart lock technology? Here are our top choices of the market at the moment.
Best smart lock overall
Schlage Sense smart lock can't win any attractiveness or ease of installation, given to tight instructions that must be followed – but if you really want to secure your home with a smart lock and believe in That it actually works, this is the product to get.
What if you lost your phone? You can open the lock via an illuminated, smudgeproof numeric keypad or with a physical key. A new update made it possible to unlock the door with a voice command (you need to speak a PIN you have configured to complete the action). Schlage added the same function to the similar Schlage Connect.
A close runner-up to Schlage Sense is the very similar Kwikset Premis, which also offers a touch screen keyboard, keystroke and HomeKit compatibility. Even without an Apple TV, you can use Siri to tell Premis to open and close; all this is set up during the initial installation. The app is simple and streamlined, but it comes at the expense of more advanced features, such as geofencing and the ability to set individual access plans. The prize feels a touch less robust than the stiff Schlage, but if a less intrusive (and slightly more simplified) lock is more to your style, it is a no-brainer.
Best retrofit smart lock
Our clear favorite for retrofitting an existing deadbolt with a smart lock is the brand new August Smart Lock Pro. Like the original August Smart Lock, Pro is a stylish, post-modern piece of hardware – nestled in the smart lock slot – which not only looks impressive on your door, actually makes a terrible mass. (Nest has since collaborated with Yale to produce Nest x Yale Lock.)
The streamlined installation process is one of the simplest in this group, and unlike our runner-up, it becomes a real part of your smart home, integration with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Wink Hub and Samsung's SmartThings. In addition, the August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge is now included in the price of the lock, and another new feature-DoorSense informs you when the door is ajar.
Just throw away your old deadbolt and party Kevo Convert in place and voila! Your smart home lock is upgraded. Kevo Convert is not as easy to install as August Smart Lock, but it offers some upgrades in the form of a more familiar interior deadbolt design and many app-driven features, such as keys that expire after a preset time.
Unfortunately, Kevo Convert is just a Bluetooth affair, so it cannot be connected to a smart home network. Although a $ 100 additional movie called Kevo Plus, you can at least control the lock's status and open it when you're not at home. All in all, if your needs are easier (and your existing lock is compatible), Kevo Convert is an affordable way to get started with smart lock tech.
What to consider when shopping
How do you choose a smart lock? (No pun intended.) This is a young and wildly immature room, and many products on the market are still extremely tough around the edges. Even top products can iron when working with old or rigid dead bolts, non-closed doors, or environments where non-standard fixtures are in use. The bottom line is that it is difficult to declare that any product is universally perfect for any home. That said, there are some important considerations to consider to help you narrow down your shopping list.
How smart is that? An important warning to consider first: Some "smart locks" do not work with a smartphone app or any smart home network at all; They are really just electronic locks that use a code instead of a key to open up. One step up from that, you'll find only Bluetooth lock. These work with a smartphone app, but cannot be monitored remotely or via a smart home device. It's okay if you want to get rid of the keys in your pocket, but less impressive if you want to make entrance portals a real part of your home network.
Replace or retrofit? You are forgiven if you do not want to replace your antique vintage Victorian door knob with a metallic device that looks like it would be more at home to keep people out of a strip mall bank branch. A large number of smart lock products do not require you to replace any existing hardware. Instead, they are just installed inside the door, replacing only the inner part of the deadbolt. You can continue to use a standard key from the outside or open the lock via a smartphone app.
Smart home hub integration If you have an existing hub like Wink Hub 2, Samsung SmartThings or an Apple TV, you want to make sure your chosen smart lock is compatible from the start. Many smart locks support Bluetooth to work with the phone, but lack the technology needed to connect to the home network. Some Bluetooth locks, such as the Yale Assure system and the August Smart Lock, offer a radio module as an accessory to connect to your home network. If you use a smart home hub such as Samsung SmartThings or Wink Hub, you look for a lock that supports Z-Wave or ZigBee, instead.
Alternative input means Forgot your phone in the office? How do you get to the house? Physical key? Numeric keypad? Wait for your spouse to arrive? Myriad different approaches are available.
Power backup What to do if the batteries in the lock die – and you're stuck out? Some locks make it possible to use emergency power if this happens. Yale's Real Living locks have external posts that you can connect to a 9 volt battery, giving you enough juice to open the door. Other models retain the traditional key cylinder for backup.
Geofencing Poor to manually lock the door when traveling? A geofencing system automatically locks the door when it detects that the phone has left the neighborhood and can be inserted automatically when it finds you have returned home.
Guest Access Features Most smart locks allow you to create temporary keys for houseguests, which you can delete when they are home. Smarter systems allow you to set time limits yourself when each access code can be used.
Our Smart Lock Ratings