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Today you must have, at the front door of your house, a common lock that perfectly serves your purpose of blocking or unblocking preventing the entry of unwanted guests. And that’s enough. However, if you are tired of leaving your keys hidden under the rug like everyone else, or if you don’t want to have a bunch of keys scattered among a lot of people, the solution may be in a smart door lock system.
Will a smart door lock system increase my home security?
A smart lock is one of those popular and cool gadgets for the home, does not necessarily make your home safer, but it will certainly help you out as it allows you to maintain better and easier control.
Making your home safer is something you can’t delegate only to your front door lock, it has also something to do with the behavior of people that lives in your house, including yourself. But smart door locks can give a precious help changing bad behaviors so it is also included on the list of security gadgets for the home.
In that list we may include some other great smart devices like a wireless door ring bell with camera and surveillance Wi-Fi cameras. In this article we shall remain in our main subject about smart door lock systems. See also Smart home security system, great smarthome gadgets.
With a smart lock, you can lock and unlock the door from anywhere and hand the keys over to family, friends, employees, babysitters or anyone else you need to enter your home when you are not around.
On the other hand, a door equipped with a smart lock also allows you to use an old regular key to open it, most smart locks include this option, particularly useful if you are afraid of being closed outside the door if something goes badly with the new technology.
The functionality of opening the door with a conventional key is also useful if you need to give the key to someone, especially for older people, who are not used to new technologies such as smartphones.
Of course, if you are using only a conventional key you will not have the convenience of a door that opens itself in front of you especially when they come with their hands full of bags full of purchases when they get home.
And when you lie down on the bed, if you want to confirm that you have locked the front door you will no longer need to put on your robe just to check it out.
With just a few taps on your smartphone, you can not only check if the door is locked, but also activate the lock if it is not already locked.
However, smart locks are not all the same.
Smart door lock system variations:
There are options with or without a key, options with connectivity via Bluetooth, WI-FI or even with other wireless communication protocols such as ZigBee or Z-Wave. There are locks that use your fingerprint or others that have a keyboard for you to enter a PIN code. And there are smart locks that fit the existing lock or locks that completely replace your current lock.
Finding the right smart lock for you can be tricky if you are not aware of smart home technology.
Next we will see what you need to know to choose the smart lock that best suits your home profile and some of the options available.
Should you maintain or replace the existing lock with a new smart lock?
Some of the smart locks allow you to attach to the conventional lock and this way you can keep the lock that you already have on your door. They are usually described as options for modernization and can be an excellent option for those who do not want to change conventional keys.
The Kwikset Kevo Convert, August Smart Lock and Sesame Smart Lock models were specifically designed to secure over the existing lock. Any of these work with many brands / models of conventional locks, all with prices around $ 150 but often with interesting discounts on Amazon. To check the compatibility lists we leave below a list of compatible brands with each of the recommendations and the respective manufacturer’s link where you can confirm in more detail:
Kiwikset Kevo Convert claims to be compatible with Kwikset, Weiser, Baldwin Prestige, Baldwin Reserve, Baldwin Estate and Schlage. Follow this link about Kiwikset kevo convert compatibility.
August Smart Lock is compatible with a number of brands such as Emtek, Yale, Arrow Hardware, Ashley Norton, Baldwin, Callan, Defiant, Delaney, EZ Set, Hager, Kwikset, Schlage, Stanley and many more. Check the list on the August compatibility page to see if your lock is included, note that despite having the compatible brand, some models may be excluded.
The Sesame Smart Lock model also claims to be compatible with a wide variety of locks from various brands distributed all over the world, confirm here the compatibility of yours on the Candy House compatibility web page.
You can attach any of these 3 smart locks to your current deadbolt and you can thus maintain the security you already have at your door by adding a layer of connectivity and automation on top of it.
On the other hand, this also means that you can keep the same physical keys that you currently use.
With the smart retrofit locks you can add automation and connectivity to your home door in a simple way and without having to completely replace your locking system.
Then we have the version to completely replace the existing lock.
Most of the popular smart locks follow this approach, including the Kwikset Kevo, Yale Assure SL Touchscreen Deadbolt and Schlage Sense Bluetooth Deadbolt.
These types of smart door lock can also be easily installed by you who like to do it yourself but they will need a little more effort and time to install.
If this is your option, you will certainly have many more options as most locks are entire lock replacements.
Like the upgrade versions described above, you only need a screwdriver and about 20 minutes. But first confirm that your door is compatible with the smart lock before making your purchase.
Note that a new lock with physical keys probably implies that you should prepare copies for the people who live in your home, unless you choose a smart door lock system without keys, so that they will not be held out of doors right after installation.
Before starting the installation of the smart lock, even before disassembling the old lock, I suggest you take a picture of the lock to be easier to reverse if you encounter any unforeseen constraint that prevents you from completing the installation of the new smart lock.
What about connectivity for the new smart door lock system?
In most cases, the smart door lock system will connect directly to your phone via Bluetooth, but remember that if you choose a smart lock with other protocols (ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-fi, etc.) this protocol should allow the lock communicate with the rest of your smart home system.
Any of the protocols has pros and cons, from battery autonomy to the communication range or the need for additional devices, I will not say that one of the protocols is better than the other nor is the objective of this particular article, you must study the differences and try to make your choice according to the other settings already available in your home.
Bluetooth, Bluetooth is widely used in smart locks, because it doesn’t burn battery life as quickly as Wi-Fi.
If you forget to change the lock batteries when they run out, will you be unable to connect to it? If you use Bluetooth, the batteries in your lock are capable of withstanding a year or more.
But Bluetooth has a very limited range of only about 10 to 100 ft according to Bluetooth class and this is in the best scenario, as walls or other obstacles can attenuate the signal and therefore reduce the range.
He arrives to control his lock while he is at home, but he will lose the call as soon as he goes a little further after leaving the house.
But once it connects directly to your smartphone, you will not need additional devices (smart hubs) to make that connection unlike other protocols.
This is effectively an advantage if you have no intention of installing more smart devices in your home. A hub allows you to control multiple devices through a single application instead of using multiple applications to control the various devices. And the hub also allows you to configure automation routines for your smart home where you can use your door as one of the pieces of the puzzle.
There are also some specific features of locks that use only Bluetooth, such as August, which allows automatic locking or unlocking when your smartphone enters the Bluetooth range of the smart lock.
When you leave the house, the lock will automatically lock if your smartphone goes out of reach and will unlock again as soon as you establish contact again.
And if you need to control the lock remotely without being at home?
If you want to be able to control your lock remotely, to add or remove access codes, or open the door remotely for people to enter while you are away, the right choice will be a lock that uses the Z-Wave protocol, ZigBee or Wi-Fi. They will be able connect to your home network and the internet. If you use Wi-Fi, the lock will be connected directly to the same Wi-Fi router that you normally use to access the internet with your Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone when you are at home, but if you use one of the other two, ZigBee or Z-Wave , you will additionally need a hub to translate the communication and thus allow your lock to talk to the other devices.
Z-Wave or ZigBee, similar to Bluetooth, allow you to save battery life, reaching high autonomies of one year or more.
Some models of smart locks that use Z-Wave or ZigBee can be found in brands like Schlage, Yale, Poly-Control or others.
Z-Wave or ZigBee locks do not connect directly to your phone, unlike Bluetooth.
In this case, they need to connect to a hub compatible with the respective protocol. The hub will translate the lock’s Z-Wave or ZigBee signal into a language that the router understands.
Once this communication is established, you connect to it and control your lock from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Samsung’s SmartThings and Wink Hub are two examples of smart hubs that can communicate with smart devices using Z-Wave and / or ZigBee.
SmartThings, in particular, works with several blocks on these protocols from Kwikset and Yale, Schlage and Poly-Control.
It is also necessary to take into account the range of ZigBee communications, approximately 300 meters or Z-Wave, approximately 40 meters, which implies that the hub is within this range, however, in these protocols there are other devices that can be used as signal extenders and therefore extend coverage.
Some of the smart locks can also limit the features made available through the hub application, requiring the use of its own application to access all the features, as for example with the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt.
Once again, there isn’t a general best option on these. Personally I use ZigBee because I wanted unlimited remote control and, when I got it, I already got some light bulbs using that protocol with SmartThings hub and Amazon Echo with Alexa assistant. In your particular case, you must decide which of these options best fits your preferences when creating a smart home.
Some smart locks require aditional devices to get it working.
Z-Wave or ZigBee require the use of hubs to connect the devices, Wi-Fi can connect to the internet using the devices you already have at home but it sucks when it comes to battery life and Bluetooth has a limited range which it is an impediment when you want to control the lock remotely when you are away from home.
See also: Why do I need a smart hub?
There are also August Connect devices from August and Kwikset Kevo Plus from Kiwiset, a Bluetooth gateway that allows you to translate Bluetooth communication into Wi-Fi communication so that you can operate your smart door lock system remotely when you’re away from home. August sells these parts as an upgrade to their Bluetooth smart locks and in practice it turns out to be an additional device installed at home and another app on your phone. I only recommend this solution if you have already installed the lock of one of these manufacturers with bluetooth connectivity, otherwise, and if the remote control is important to you, solutions with Z-Wave or ZigBee will certainly be the most suitable.
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