You Shall (Not) Pass

The Best Smart Locks: Which Is Right For Your Home?


June 12, 2019 Tech By Photo by Yale Locks

Why buy a smart lock? Have you ever fumbled through your bag in the rain, trying to find your keys? Ever leave them at the office? Or have to instruct grandma how to jimmy open the kitchen window? A smart lock is a solution to all that. Just type in a keypad code on the smart lock or unlock the door via a smartphone app. It’s easy.

A smart lock not only saves you if you misplace your keys, but allows you to remove them from some interactions all together. Have a plant-sitter or dog walker? A smart lock will let you give them limited access to your home without meeting up or handing over a physical copy of your keys.
And thanks to time limits and other fine-tuned controls, you can ensure that permission expires and that way those same guests won’t be able to get back inside your home without your permission later down the road.

There are many different smart locks by a variety of reputable brands like August, Schlage, Yale and Kwikset. And while they look different, and have different features and price pointsa, virtually all smart locks work the same way: with the help of a battery, and a wireless connection, they lock and unlock. Bluetooth connections let you control your lock from short range (30 feet or so) and Wi-Fi lets you control it from anywhere through the internet and attach to virtual assistants at the cost of putting your lock on the broader internet.

A smart lock will take a little more installation than a plug-and-play smart lightbulb or speaker, so pull out the toolbox and make sure your lock of choice works with your virtual assistant of preference.

But are smart locks safe? The answer is “at least roughly as safe as a traditional lock.” As with any smart device, especially one that connects to the internet, it can be hacked, and as such you should buy from a reputable brand and keep your eye out for news about exploits that might require an update. But ultimately no lock, smart or otherwise, can keep out someone who is truly determined to get into your house. Hackers are a threat, but so is anyone with a crowbar or set of lock picks.

Best Budget: Kwikset Kevo

The good: This second-generation smart lock is the best for people who want something that’s easy to install and doesn’t take up a large real estate on their door. Also something cheap. A neat feature is that you just tap the Kevo with your finger to unlock the door, so long as the smartphone that it’s paired with is nearby. This works with locking the door, too. If you don’t have your smartphone with you, you can also buy a key FOB ($26) and attach it to your keychain.

Watch out for: You have to really like the “tap to unlock” feature of the Kevo. There’s no keypad so if you want to grant guests access, or set time periods for them to be allowed to get in your home, you have to send them an eKey (essentially a text). The Kevo only works with Alexa.

Key Specs:
Requires replacing deadbolt? Yes
Works with: Amazon Alexa

Best Overall: August Smart Lock Pro + Connect

The good: The August Smart Lock Pro is one of the easiest smart locks to install for the simple fact that it doesn’t replace the entire deadbolt already on your door (you do have to remove the back half of your current deadbolt, however). This also means that after installation you will still be able to use your current keys to lock and unlock your door. The Smart Lock Pro (obviously) works with August’s other smart home devices, like the August Doorbell Cam Pro ($200) or the August Smart Keypad ($60), as well as Nest’s line of smart home products, in case you want to build out your smart home system. It also works with all virtual assistants, including Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, as well as IFTTT.

Watch out for: You’ll want to purchase the Connect Wi-Fi Bridge ($65) , which is included in this bundle, so that you can control your door (lock or unlock) remotely. No smart keypad, although you can purchase the August Smart Keypad separately.

Key Specs:
Requires replacing deadbolt? No
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri (HomeKit), Nest, IFTTT

Works Best with Nest: Yale Deadbolt Lock

The good: This is the best smart lock for anybody committed to a Nest (and by extension, Google) smart home. Specifically, it works well if you have a Nest Secure alarm system. It elimates the need for a key altogether, as it’s designed to work with custom passcodes that you enter on the keypad. You can create unique passcodes for people in your family or those that you trust. You can also set it up so you get push notifications on your smartphone whenever someone unlocks and locks the door.

Watch out for: You’ll need to purchase an additional module, either the Nest Connect or a Nest Guard, to be able to remotely lock or unlock your door, otherwise your smartphone needs to be in Bluetooth range. Does not work with Alexa or Apple’s HomeKit.

Key Specs:
Requires replacing deadbolt? Yes
Works with: Google Assistant, Nest
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