Smart Locks 101: Everything You Need to Know

Smart Lock

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I think there is nothing more frightening than realizing that you forgot to lock the front door, especially when you don’t have enough time to return and lock it. When the door is unlocked, even the most robust security system will become outdated. Coincidentally, most thieves enter the family in this way.

Fortunately, if you have a smart lock, you will never encounter this problem again, because it can be locked or unlocked remotely. Of course, smart locks are a fairly broad topic, and factors such as digital security, installation, and equipment costs need to be considered.

Smart home products have become a common sight for families around the world. From smart heating to lighting, from home appliances to security, smart gadgets have been seamlessly integrated into our daily life, bringing us ultimate convenience and control.

In recent years, the introduction of smart locks is one of the more popular products in the continuously growing smart home market. It allows you to control the front door lock through the smartphone, and the smart lock allows the homeowner to fully control their home safety remotely. Therefore, if you are interested in knowing whether the smart lock is suitable for you, please check our smart lock expert guide to understand the available options and their different advantages.

1. What is the Smart Lock?

A remote access and control function is built into the intelligent door lock, allowing remote access and control over your front door. Whether used with smartphone applications, key cards, key tags, or remote keys, smart door locks essentially eliminate the need for physical “keys”, making it easier to lock and unlock the front door. Some designs can also be equipped with touchpads that require key codes to be entered.

Since many of us have to work outside and no one lives in our spare time, it is a great benefit to be able to control your home remotely. Whether it is to let trusted family members enter the home when on holiday or to visit technicians remotely when in the office, installing smart door locks has many convenient benefits.

The intuitive function of the smart lock makes it a convenient supplement, making daily life more convenient, and at the same time, it can completely control your family’s safety. Smart locks can enable Bluetooth, which means that they can only be controlled within a certain range, or have a Wi-Fi connection to allow remote control. No matter which smart door lock option is suitable for you, it is recommended that you choose the style with an activity log so that you can monitor the access of people entering and leaving your home.

With the latest development of such technology, the intelligent door lock can also be built with a series of other key functions. For example, these include door sensor technology, which can show users whether their doors are closed safely, and the connection with smart brands (including leading voice assistants) to easily control your front door.

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

2. What are the advantages of smart locks?

The smart door lock has a wide range of advantages, making it a popular supplement to the global smart home. Of course, many people are still uncertain about whether smart door locks are a good investment for them. The main benefits of knowing them, however, are well worth knowing.

1) Smart but simple

As we have emphasized, adding smart locks to your home is a good way to make your front door security easier and more convenient. Although they are often called “smart” locks, they are designed to make your home safer.

They allow homeowners to easily and safely allow anyone who needs to enter their home when they are out, which is much easier than giving them a spare key and collecting it when they come back. This simplicity is revolutionary, which can save you time and provide you with the greatest flexibility in how to protect your home.

2) Tailored for you

From the key card to the key chain, and of course your smartphone – the smart door lock allows you to choose the best way to open the door and configure the locking system suitable for you.

For example, children who do not have smartphones can put a key ring on the key ring to safely enter the home after school. What if they lose? It doesn’t matter, because it can be easily removed from your system to ensure final protection when it falls into the wrong hands. Being able to choose the best entry accessories is a major advantage that other traditional door lock systems can never provide.

3) Fashion design

The door lock is not the most fashionable accessory in your home, but the smart lock introduces a modern substitute, in which style is the forefront of its design. There are many choices in the market today. You can choose smart door locks that are suitable for your home’s aesthetics – whether modern, traditional or colorful.

From the modern white tone used for monochrome homes to the brass finish used for classic properties, there is always a finish that can achieve the appearance you want. There are also a series of options suitable for different door types, whether UPVC, composite material or wood design, so there is always a perfect product that is most suitable for your door.

4) Security

Moreover, the most important thing is to choose high-quality smart locks, especially those of trustworthy brands, which means that their locks will provide a high-security level comparable to traditional locks.

A special way that a smart lock can even improve your security is that it eliminates the need for spare keys. These items are often lost, accidentally kept by previous owners, or even stolen, which means that they may fall into the wrong hands. As the smart lock has no physical key, this immediately eliminates this concern. You can grant and revoke keys at the touch of a button, giving you complete control over who can access your home.

When considering the purchase of smart locks, it is very important to recognize the brand you purchase, because it will have a huge impact on the security of your door. Choosing a trustworthy brand means that you have the experience required for the security smart lock mechanism, so you can rest assured that your door is protected by experts.

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

3. Is the smart door lock worth it?

As a result, the question arises, “Are intelligent door locks really worth the money?”. Choosing the right front door lock requires you to consider your lifestyle and the need for convenience. If you spend most of your time at home, although smart door locks are still a good choice, they are a perfect choice for homeowners who live a busy lifestyle outside the home.

From granting virtual keys to remotely locking and unlocking your front door, if you want to strengthen family security and create your own smart home, investing in smart locks has many advantages. We suggest that we study the smart lock series on the market and accurately understand what you are looking for in the product – whether it is a fashionable finish, higher security, or a specific opening mechanism.

You need to have a clear idea of what kind of smart lock you need. A friend of mine works in pins, which is a very niche market. As a leading manufacturer of pins in China, he has achieved great success. It specializes in the production of enamel pins, medals, band charms, challenge coins, and more. We provide one-stop service from design, production, and shipping.

4. Who should obtain the smart lock?

Is the smart lock suitable for you? In a perfect world, the answer is yes, because anyone can benefit from the convenience of smart locks, but in fact, it is more meaningful for some people than others.

1) Homeowner

If you are the owner who is willing to replace the existing door bolt, the smart lock is absolutely suitable for you. This is especially true if you have family members or roommates, or even visitors who need to enter your home when it is empty.

With the smart lock, you will be able to provide a temporary password for the guests, so that they can open your door in your absence, or leave the key in a place where it is easy to fall into the wrong hands. The smart lock is also very suitable for online delivery because you can let the delivery clerk enter remotely to avoid too common porch piracy.

2) Renter

Although renters can certainly benefit from smart locks, things will become more complicated when it comes to deposits. For renters, you may want to find a wireless smart lock without replacing the existing door bolt. Either way, we recommend that you consult your landlord before installing the smart lock. When you are doing this, you can also check the security system that is most suitable for renters.

5. Which doors should be protected?

Obviously, any door that allows you to enter your house on the ground from the outside should be fixed with smart locks or other locks. But different kinds of doors are matched with different kinds of locks, and no two kinds of doors are born equal.

1) Front door

If you want to use the smart lock to protect a door, please start from your front door or any door on the floor of your home that leads to the outside.

2) Bedroom

If you and your roommate may not be comfortable (we have all been there), you may also be interested in installing a smart lock for your bedroom door. However, most bedroom doors do not have door bolts, which may limit the number of smart locks you must choose.

3) Sliding door

The sliding glass doors on the floor of your home should also be fixed, but again, they are more difficult than ordinary doors. Having said that, there are some smart locks specially designed for sliding glass doors on the market, such as the option of AutoSlide.

4) Garage door

Garage doors are another area. You need to dig more to find effective smart locks. We recommend measuring the thickness of the door in advance, but many deadlocks can be used.

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

6. Types of smart lock

The following are some of the most common types:

1) Deadbolt

As we said before, most smart locks will replace your existing deadbolt. Door bolts can come in different forms. They can be keyboards with knobs, levers, or handles, depending on your personal preferences.

2) Lever type

Compared with the ordinary spherical door handle, the lock with a cylindrical lever is easier to enter.

3) Keyboard and combination

Whether it is a door-bolt type or a lever type, the smart lock with a keyboard will let you enter the password every time you want to enter the home or temporarily let guests enter.

4) Fob-enabled

Some people prefer to use the key chain or label on the smart lock. They don’t need to enter the password, just brush the key chain on the lock. However, this is not much different from using keys, but it is slightly more convenient.

5) Biometric identification

Some smart locks allow users to unlock using biometric technologies such as fingerprints, and you can share them with others digitally. Because everyone has a unique fingerprint, this method is one of the safest methods.

7. Characteristics

Now that you have determined the basic parameters of the smart lock, the fun can really begin. Select the color, style, geofencing, and other advanced functions.

1) Color

Smart locks are usually available in many colors, such as gray, bronze, gold, and black. You may want a product that integrates into your front door and is not too conspicuous, because you don’t want to attract people’s attention to your smart lock.

2) Style

Smart locks also have a variety of styles, from modern to classic. Similarly, we suggest you find something that looks natural with other parts of your home and is not very noticeable in the street.

3) Temperature range

Unless your smart lock is installed inside the door latch or your front door is inside, you need a smart lock that can withstand the temperature of your community throughout the year. Many have a large temperature range, so this should not be a big problem, even if you live in extreme weather.

4) Automatic unlocking and locking

Some locks lock automatically when you leave home. Although this makes your workday morning easier, you may want to physically lock in the guarantee provided by your home.

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

5) Battery service life

Wireless smart locks require a long battery life. In this industry, smart locks should last six months to one year.

6) Door-to-door compatibility

One of the biggest advantages of smart locks is that they allow delivery to your door, rather than leaving your precious package on the porch. Unfortunately, according to our package theft survey, the increase in online shopping will only lead to more package theft, which affected 25 million families in the United States. In response, some companies allow door-to-door delivery.

For example, Amazon Key 4 combines the Schlag smart lock with the Ring video doorbell, so that users can receive a reminder when the package arrives and let the delivery clerk enter their home, whether through the ordinary door, garage, gate, or car if they like.

7) Emergency power supply

If we lose power, we will feel silly because we cannot access our homes because of the internet or power failure. Sometimes smart things seem stupid. Therefore, we recommend that you use a smart lock with some form of standby power supply. This may be a mobile phone, a landline phone, or a backup battery. Just make sure it doesn’t rely entirely on WiFi or home power.

8) Geofencing

Your mobile phone has been tracking your location, so why not make good use of it? Some locks allow us to connect their applications with the GPS of our mobile phone, so that they will unlock when we close, and they will lock when we leave. This is very convenient, but some people may prefer to skip this function because it may cause the door to be unlocked prematurely and endanger the safety of your home.

9) Access log

Do you want to know who went in and out of your home, like the lobby of a five-star hotel? Users can track lock activity throughout the day with many smart lock applications that provide access logs. Therefore, you will know whether your child will go home directly to do his homework after school or linger in the park for an hour.

10) Tamper alert

If someone tries to break your alarm, be sure to receive the alarm immediately, so look for a smart lock with a built-in tamper alarm.

11) Key replacement

Some people prefer to replace the lock rather than replace it completely, which basically means replacing it so that the old key cannot be used. Some smart locks are as easy to change keys. Although most people won’t worry about re-entering the password, if someone in your life has a house key that you don’t want to use again, it is much easier to re-enter the password than to use a new door bolt from scratch.

12) Mobile application

Finally, each smart lock has its own mobile application, and you will use it to remotely control the lock, obtain its activity notification, and set up geofencing, and intelligent platform integration. Please make sure it has a good score in Apple or Google Play store before purchasing!

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

8. What is the expense of a smart lock?

Of course, like any purchase, the cost of smart locks will also affect your purchase decision. Generally, the price of smart locks is about $115, but there are also cheaper options.

Generally speaking, we haven’t seen that the price of smart locks exceeds $130, so we will use this as the upper limit when shopping. Of course, if you plan to hire professionals, please do not forget the installation costs!

9. What is the compatibility requirement of a smart lock

Well, you have decided that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. You are ready to buy a smart lock until you fall down (or at least fall asleep on your laptop). But unlike many other Internet of Things devices, smart locks need to be considered before purchase.

The smart lock you choose should be compatible with your door and other parts of your smart home since different types of doors require different smart locks.

1) Lock setting

The first decision you need to make is to retain or replace the existing door bolt. Some options are modified, which means that you can keep the lock tongue, which is the ideal choice for tenants, provided that you obtain the consent of the landlord. However, most smart locks are designed to completely replace your deadlock, which requires more effort during installation.

2) Hub

The hub may be required for some smart locks to connect to the Internet, whether through the router or through the Z-Wave or ZigBee protocol built into the hub. To proceed to the next point, it is important to find a smart lock that is compatible with your Z-Wave or ZigBee router.

3) Control protocol

The control protocol is the way or language for the smart lock to communicate with the Internet, so as to communicate with your mobile application. Since the collapse of the Tower of Babel, many languages have emerged, which also apply to control protocols.

4) Wi-Fi

Because most people have installed Wi-Fi in their homes, using smart locks will be a simple choice, without hubs. However, if there is a problem with your Internet, you may encounter some problems when controlling the smart lock through the application.

5) Wave

Z-Wave is a low-power wireless technology. What is its biggest advantage in the United States, especially 42 Mhz? Z-Wave won’t interfere with Wi-Fi, so your smart lock won’t slow down the Netflix program you’ve been reveling in all week.

6) Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a mesh technology, and many people have used it for Bluetooth trackers, AirPods, smart speakers, and other devices. It does not need a hub, which is of course beneficial.

7) ZigBee

ZigBee is another mesh network used by Internet of Things devices. To compare it with Z-Wave, please read our head-to-head comments on Z-Wave and ZigBee.

8) Third-party integration

If you have used a voice assistant or Internet of Things device at home, you want to ensure that your smart lock can be installed as easily as a sock in a drawer.

9) Security system integration

It is particularly important to use your smart lock with your current security system so that you can lock it when the system is deployed, and vice versa.

10) Voice assistant

You also need to ensure that your smart lock can be used with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, depending on the voice assistant you have set up at home. This will allow hands-free commands, which are particularly useful for smart locks. For example, using our lock, we can let Alexa lock our front door without leaving the sofa. Note: For obvious reasons, most smart locks do not allow you to unlock them using voice commands. If they do this, you will probably have to say a voice PIN to enter.

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

10. What is the cost of installing a smart lock?

Unless you purchase a part of a professional installation system from a security company, you may have to install the lock yourself. If you want to replace the door latch, this may be very difficult, but there are many online resources that provide step-by-step instructions. If this is still too difficult, it may be worthwhile to hire a third-party installer, but again, it will cost at least another $100. However, in general, it is best to consider the installation plan before purchasing the smart lock.

11. How do we test the smart lock?

We tested the smart lock in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York City. On the fifth day, 90000 packages were stolen there (yes, you didn’t read the number wrong). Of course, we will install smart locks by ourselves. For those who like DIY, if they want to set them by themselves, the process is very difficult. Then we will see how locks work with their applications, and pay attention to user-friendliness, latency, connectivity, and other functions.

We will also test all advanced functions of the lock, such as geofencing and voice commands, to ensure that they work properly. We also conducted a lot of market research to understand how the price of smart locks compares with the price of other products in the market (considering their functions). To sum up, we have tested each smart lock for about a year, and then wrote about them in our articles or videos.

12. Smart lock security and privacy

We acknowledge that smart locks have a bad reputation for their digital security problems, and these concerns are not unfounded. In fact, any Internet of Things device can be invaded by hackers, which is one of the advantages of ordinary phase-locking over intelligent locks. Even large enterprises like hotels have encountered the problem of hackers. The researchers of F-Secure found that many large chain hotels use the intelligent lock system, and attackers can use the system to enter the guest’s rooms. This is terrible, especially if you have children in the room.

But we are not trying to create fear. Although you cannot 100% prevent hackers from intruding, you can take some measures to reduce the possibility of its occurrence, so as to ensure that your home is safe and free of hidden dangers.

1)Software updates

Software updates are like the tuning of your car, but they are for your Internet of Things devices. Each software update has additional security features, so be sure to execute the update immediately after receiving the notification.

2) Two-factor or multi-factor authentication

The most common way for people to crack Internet of Things devices such as smart locks is to obtain user names and passwords through phishing (via email or phone), and then log in as their identities. Yes, it’s that simple. However, if you add two-factor or multi-factor authentication to your account (if available), even if your credentials are correct, potential hackers will not be able to enter.

Two-factor authentication requires them to enter the password sent to their mobile device, while multi-factor authentication involves face or fingerprint identification. result? No more unauthorized access. Instead, you will have full control of your smart Lock online account.

3) Strong password

It is easy to use your address as a password, but it is also obvious and easy to crack. Instead, use a strong and long password that you haven’t used anywhere else. If necessary, you can use the password manager to remember it.

4) Encryption

Find an application that encrypts smart lock data through AES, which can be 128 bits or 256 bits (although 256 bits are preferred).

5) Security router

Finally, if your smart lock depends on WiFi, connect it to a secure router. If it is a separate router dedicated to your Internet of Things device, you can add points.

13. What type of technology does the smart lock use?

The following will be introduced in detail:

1) Wireless internet access

The smart lock uses Wi-Fi to operate according to your instructions on when to open and close. They work closely with supporting applications. Many smart locks today are also connected to various smart home systems, such as Google, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. It is very convenient to connect your smart lock to the digital assistant.

Although almost every family has Wi-Fi and is very convenient, smart locks that support Wi-Fi often need to replace the battery more frequently. Depending on the frequency of your remote access lock, you may need to replace the battery every few months. It is a good idea to read the recent comments on smart locks to understand how long the battery can be used.

2) Z wave

Similar to Bluetooth, Z-Wave uses low-energy radio signals. The signals tend to be better and stronger because it uses strong encryption. If you prefer to use Z-Wave smart lock, you may also need some kind of hub to create a connection to your Wi-Fi network (yes, you still need Wi-Fi). One of the reasons why some people like Z-Wave is that it does not occupy Wi-Fi bandwidth unnecessarily, and the interference from other smart home devices is often less.

14. How to select the smart lock?

Most smart locks are direct substitutes for door latches, which means that installation is relatively simple. All models have built-in Wi-Fi and may be compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, Apple Home Kit, or the three. If you use Z-Wave, some locks will also be compatible with the smart home protocol.

When selecting a smart lock, you first want to find a lock that is compatible with any smart home system you have run. If you don’t have many smart devices in your home, you may need hubs, bridges, or other Wi-Fi-connected devices. Some locks will include bridging devices in the package, while others will rely on existing smart home interfaces. In some cases, this will be an Amazon Echo Show device, Google Nest hub, Apple HomePod or Apple TV.

Selection Guide to Smart Locks

15. What are the best smart locks?

Many smart locks are made by trustworthy companies, such as Schlag, Yale, and Kwikset, so you can rest assured that your home is safe. However, there are various brands in this field, especially those with lower prices, and they are produced by companies that you may have never heard of. Since you are actually granting open access to your home to a technology and hardware company, it is meaningful to use trustworthy brands and well-reviewed products. We have listed the best smart locks, so you don’t have to spend too much time looking for them.

16. Which smart lock is most suitable for renters?

Generally, tenants are not allowed to make too many changes to their houses. In particular, changing the lock of the landlord will inevitably affect your records. For renters, one of the simplest options is a lock, which does not change the deadlock structure or physical key that the landlord may have, but only allows remote access through the same lock.

17. How to install the smart lock?

There are two core types of smart locks. The first option is to completely replace your door latch device, including bolts, external locking surfaces, and internal levers. If you have a standard-size bolt on your door, the process is relatively simple. Many supporting applications of smart locks will guide you to complete them step by step.

The second option is to replace the internal thumb rod and plate to keep the existing door bolt and external surface intact. This method is ideal if all your locks use the same key and do not want to repeat the process. This type of lock is easier to install because it is only one aspect of the whole, and usually only a screwdriver is needed.

18. How to unlock the smart lock?

There are almost as many ways to unlock smart locks as brands. The following are the main options:

1) Keyboard or touchscreen

Some smart locks use a keyboard or touch screen to let you enter a numeric code. Although this may be convenient, it is well known that some thieves will study the keyboard to find fingerprint stains on the keys and use it to infer the password to gain access. Some locks like Weiser Premis will generate a random two-digit code in advance. You must click the code before entering the password to eliminate this possibility.

2) Biometric identification

Biometrics is actually just a fancy word, referring to the use of your biological elements to open the door. In this case, the most common household option is the fingerprint scanner embedded in the door lock, but there are also optical or eye-scanning locks (mainly commercial locks).

3) Smartphone/Remote control

The common way to unlock smart locks is to use smartphones. With the supporting application, you can lock or unlock your door from anywhere by clicking the virtual button on the screen. For example, if you want to temporarily allow someone to put a package in your door, and then lock it again after they leave and close the door, this method will be very convenient.

4) Geofencing

Geofences or markers use the precise location of the mobile phone to automatically lock or unlock your door when you enter or leave a small geographical area. This technology is usually set in the supporting application. If you forget to lock it, it will be very convenient.

5) Physical key

Some smart locks have emergency keys, and some have no keyhole at all, so they can’t be pried open.

6) Click to unlock

Some locks, such as Schlag Encode, allow you to use your phone as a key chain; Just put it close to the lock, and a digital handshake will be generated, and your lock will be opened. Of course, you need to unlock your phone safely first.

19. Can you use the smart lock on any door?

In most cases, the smart lock is relatively standard in size as the ordinary door handle and a door bolt. If you live in a newer house or have a newer door, your smart lock is likely to be easy to install. If you live in an old house or have an old door, you may find it difficult to fit in. For doors that are challenging to completely replace the door latch mechanism, you can consider using a smart lock kit that can be sleeved on the back of the existing door latch.

Intelligent and beautiful smart locks have been continuously improved over the years. The concept of integrated smart locks and visual doorbells is a popular new element of smart home technology.

20. Conclusion

During smart locks installation, it requires more research than other Internet of Things devices on the market, once installed and operating, they will make your life much easier. We like to use our app to unlock our door because it means that even if we leave the key in the office, we can still go home. This is much better than standing in the cold for two hours and waiting for the locksmith to charge us hundreds of dollars!

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