A smart lock is a solution to virtually any of these problems. Depending on the model, you can unlock or lock with a toggle in the smartphone app. Enable auto-unlock to unlock the door when your phone gets within a certain number of feet, use a voice command, enter a passcode, scan your fingerprint. Guests can also be sent a temporary code or timed temporary access.
What can it do besides locking and unlocking?
Think of it as two-factor authentication for your door: Just as Gmail sends you a notification when it sees a login attempt from an unfamiliar device. A smart lock sends notifications if someone tries to unlock the door or if someone is trying to guess the code or force entry.
Switching from the traditional lock and key to a smart lock can be freeing for folks aging in place. Smart locks are lifesavers if a key is lost. Cross one thing off the “to do” list by locking doors every night at a certain time. Voice integration allows the lock to be controlled with a simple command rather than getting out of bed after one is all comfy. Caregivers or relatives having their own code is much more practical than handing out multiple spare keys.
Which should I choose?
- Retrofit versus deadbolt replacement: Retrofit locks add connectivity to your current deadbolt. Let you keep the keys you were already using, and operate through your phone, with auto-unlock, or with voice commands. Full deadbolt replacements are a bit more heavy-duty and open possibilities for keypads and fingerprint sensors. They require some more handiwork and require you to use new keys.
- Keyless locks: Though the whole point is to not carry keys on your person all the time. It’s still nice to have backup if the WiFi, power, or lock’s batteries crap out. Some smart locks can be jumpstarted with a nine-volt battery instead of a key. Which might be nice if you’re worried about the lock being picked.
- Smart home compatibility: Are you an Echo, Google, HomeKit, or SmartThings household? Some smart locks are particularly well integrated with certain smart home systems, and it’s always nice to have everything in the same loop.
- WiFi adapter versus built-in WiFi: A WiFi connection is needed to be able to access your smart lock from your phone when you’re not home. Most purchases will come with a separate hub to connect the lock to your home’s network. Others have WiFi already built in. Without WiFi, you’ll only be able to use the app when you’re in Bluetooth range.