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Smart locks are one of the best home security products of the last decade. Some of the best smart door locks fit over your regular manual door lock and some of them replace it, but instead of using a key to lock and unlock your door, you’ll use your smartphone or a special keyfob. Why would someone want such a thing? Well, for one thing, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere. Instead of standing outside fumbling with your keys in the cold or rain, you can sit in your car and unlock the door before you get out. Some even have automated door-unlocking features that sense when you’ve arrived home—the best smart lock for you will fit the functions you want.
Another selling point is the fact that you can double-check to make sure your door is locked at any time. Ever been in line at the grocery store and wondered if your teenager remembered to lock the door after leaving on a bike ride? Your phone can tell you…and fix it if the door is open. In addition, you can use the best smart locks to let people in and out of your house when you’re not home. If you’re at work, but need the services of a plumber or housekeeping service, or you’re running late and your child just got off the bus, you can unlock your door for them from wherever you are and lock it up again when you’re ready. And even better, they may even get you a reduced home insurance rate.
- Best compact: Level Touch Keyless Entry
- Best for ease of installation: August WiFi Smart Lock
- Best with an alarm: Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt
- Best with door handles included: Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt
- Best budget: Kwikset Halo WiFi Smart Lock
Best smart locks: Reviews and Recommendations
Best compact: Level Touch Keyless Entry
The nice part of this keyless-entry smart lock is that you can’t tell it’s a smart lock; it just looks like a normal deadbolt. But this simple-to-install device is powerful, with options for remote locking and unlocking, touch to lock/unlock, auto-lock/unlock, two included keys, and the ability to send links so guests can open the door. The smartphone app is easy to use and gives you full access to the features. There are five color options, so you’ll easily find a style that fits your home.
Best for ease of installation: August WiFi Smart Lock
August is one of the forerunners of smart-lock manufacturing, and this is now their fourth-generation model. The August WiFi Smart Lock’s auto-unlock feature still gets mixed reviews (it sometimes stops working unexpectedly), but it works reliably to lock and unlock from your phone, and to provide access to guests.
Best with an alarm: Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt
First things first, it’s imperative to mention you’ll need a Z-Wave hub (a mesh network for home automation) in order to use this Schlage smart lock; it doesn’t work on direct WiFi. The benefit to that is less interference and no competition with other devices on a WiFi network, so it should be more reliable. You can pair it with the Ring Alarm, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Iris, Nexia, and others, and the built-in alarm sounds when someone tries to force open the door or tamper with the lock.
Best with door handles included: Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt
The Schlage Encode Smart Wifi Deadbolt is a simple-to-use lock with no hub required and a touchscreen keypad that allows for one-touch locking. You can program it to auto-lock at your chosen interval after unlocking, and program up to 100 codes for guests. It includes a forced entry alarm and a keypad light to indicate when the battery is low, and it integrates with Amazon Alexa.
Best budget: Kwikset Halo WiFi Smart Lock
Remote lock and unlock from anywhere with WiFi access with this Kwikset Halo option, which can be programmed with up to 250 guest codes. It integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The Kwikset Halo notifies you each time your door lock is triggered and stores lock activity in the app, and you can also temporarily disable the Kwikset Halo keypad in secure mode.
How do the best smart locks work?
The best smart locks will function as intended, which is to make life easier. Keyless door locks work using WiFi: When you set up your lock, you’ll connect it to your home network by following the included directions, either directly connecting or through a hub. You should only need to connect it one time and the authentication stays in memory. Then your lock can “communicate” with you via your smartphone or a special keyfob designed for the lock. Many can also be integrated with your smart hub to communicate with Amazon Alexa devices or Google Assistant. It is important to note, however, that smart lock deadbolts run on batteries, and most will last for about six months before needing replacement.
Many smart locks also come with a keypad with numbers rather than a keyhole. Others allow you the ability to do both—just in case your batteries die or you have issues communicating with the smart lock, you can always go back to your tried-and-true physical key until you solve the problem. Still, others offer a fingerprint sensor in addition to a keypad. In any case, it’s always best to have more than one option just in case anything malfunctions—you don’t want to get stuck outside because your smart lock wasn’t smart enough!
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Simple guest access to your keyless door locks
Most keyless door locks will allow you to provide access to guests on a temporary or ongoing basis. Depending on the model, you may text a link to your guests that allows them to open and lock your door with their smartphones the same way you do, you may assign them a temporary code, or you may provide a password.
Smart locks get you the W: Who, What, When, Where, and maybe even Why
One of the coolest features of a smart lock deadbolt is that you can usually customize exactly how you want this guest access to work: You may allow each guest access to your keyless door locks indefinitely, or you may set up specific parameters (the code may expire in four hours, four weeks, or whatever time period you specify; it may be cyclic so that someone with a standing appointment—like a housekeeper—can access it every Monday morning but no other times; or it may be for one-time use). You may revoke access early if someone cancels, or remove someone’s code even if you had set it up originally for permanent access. And you can normally issue several guest codes at once.
Smart locks deliver convenience
The modern world is truly a marvelous place, full of innovations and conveniences. If you play to combine two of these things—namely smart locks and eCommerce—you may find yourself reveling in the ability to let Amazon deliver a package right inside your front door, with an entry alert/timestamp. That’s just one of the many pros for a smart lock.
Budget doesn’t mean you can budge it
Going for a budget smart lock doesn’t mean a less reliable deadbolt, just fewer bells, and whistles. As it’s a budget pick, don’t expect fingerprint sensors or a touchscreen, and be aware that may be more complaints about short battery life and buggy software.
Q: Which smart lock is best?
The best smart lock for you depends on your needs. August, Schlage, Kwikset, Yale, Level, Ultraloq—all these brands have highly rated smart locks, so it depends on your aesthetic preference, budget, and which features you’re looking for. If you have a hub, your options are different from those who are looking solely for a direct WiFi connection.
Q: Are smart locks safe?
Of course, home security needs to come first. They should make your home safer, not more at risk. And for that, it’s kind of a wash: Keys can compromise your safety if you lose them, if they’re stolen, if someone makes a copy when you lend them a key, etc. And, yes, they remove that risk—you can give someone a temporary code or link rather than handing over a key that can be copied and used indefinitely. The encryption used by smart locks is generally on par with banks, so it’s not like people can just wander by and use their phones to easily hack into your system. But there are caveats, as always.
One issue with keypad codes is that it’s possible on some models for the frequently used keys to wear down or become shiny, so it’s easier to guess a passcode by the worn numbers. But you can change your code at any time if this happens. The other issue is the rare malfunctioning of smart locks—for instance, an auto-unlock that randomly kicks in after you’ve already been home for an hour and had locked the door. But these are the exceptions to the rule.
Q: Are smart locks worth it?
Yes. They can make your life a lot more convenient. If you’ve ever stood out in the rain fumbling for your keys, or bent a key in the door, or rushed home to unlock the door because you were running late and a guest or worker was waiting for you, you’ll know the limitation and inconvenience of traditional locks. Only you can decide what monetary value to place on the convenience of a smart lock.
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The final word on selecting the best door locks for your home
The best smart door lock for you will make your life simpler because it will allow you to lock and unlock your door from anywhere, even if you’re stuck at work or at a doctor’s appointment and someone needs access to your home (or needs to leave and doesn’t have a key to lock up). It can give you peace of mind to know that your house is locked up, and it can save you from having to rekey your door in case of a breakup or end of a friendship. Technology has already moved forward in the few short years since they’ve been introduced, so look at all your smart-lock options to see how they have evolved and get more reliable.