Which smart lock is best?
We want the best security possible in our homes and offices, but we also need to provide access for all kinds of people — from delivery drivers to coworkers. Smart locks are the solution, providing a range of personalized entry options. We’ve been reviewing hundreds of the latest models, so we can help you pick the right one. Our quick and comprehensive guide explains the features, and we’ve included a few recommendations. Our top choice, the Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot, comes from a trusted brand and combines a high-quality traditional aged-bronze look with extensive connectivity and control.
What to know before you buy a smart lock
Method of entry
Basic smart locks offer a keypad instead of a key, but they generally have a standard physical lock, too. They can often be upgraded for smartphone access, but it’s important to check exactly what you will receive for your money because extras can soon add up.
Though not common, some smart locks use biometrics, or fingerprint recognition, for the ultimate in personal identification.
Any model with a physical keyhole could be attacked by a burglar with a “bump” key, which is a device forced into the lock. In that sense, many smart locks offer greater convenience than ordinary types but not better security. The exception is keyless smart locks, which cannot be “bumped.”
Bluetooth is convenient because it doesn’t rely on an internet connection, just signal proximity. Your phone could be in your jacket or bag, and you will still be recognized. Using your smartphone, you can issue short-term codes for delivery or service personnel.
Wi-Fi dramatically extends capabilities. It gives you control from virtually anywhere and — depending on the app — allows you to monitor and log access and receive alerts when particular individuals arrive or if the lock has been tampered with. Exact services vary considerably, so you’ll want to think about it carefully before making your choice. While a long list of features looks attractive, they often make a considerable difference to price, and there’s no point paying for services you’ll never use.
Wi-Fi can also integrate your smart lock with your home hub. Z-Wave is a similar system, which doesn’t rely on internet access. Both can give you voice control; though, additional hardware will be required. Z-Wave is particularly useful in areas where internet service is poor, but do bear in mind that Wi-Fi and Z-Wave devices are not cross compatible.
What to look for in a quality smart lock
Auto-locking is a useful feature, so security is enabled after a certain pre-set period in case you forget.
Physical appearance is important if you want the lock to blend in with your existing color scheme. From traditional latches to sleek almost featureless models, there’s something to fit every style.
To avoid disappointment, be sure to check that the lock you’re considering actually fits the thickness of your door.
Many smart locks can be used externally or internally but not all. So that’s another point to check before ordering.
How much you can expect to spend on a smart lock
The most affordable smart locks are about $60-$90, but usually they only offer keypad entry. A wide choice of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi models with associated phone apps, and several with biometric access, fall between $100-$200. Premium decorative models can top $300.
Smart lock FAQ
Q. Will I be locked out if the battery in my smart lock runs flat?
A. No. Most smart locks come with a physical key as an emergency override. However, only the holder of that key can open the door. Any other users will be excluded until the battery is replaced. Other types can have a 9V battery attached, temporarily restoring full access.
Q. Are smart locks difficult to install?
A. Fitting the door hardware is usually straightforward; you’re just replacing what’s already there. Further steps may be required to link to Wi-Fi or home hubs like Alexa and Siri (depending on the functionality of the lock), but none of it is particularly complicated.
What are the best smart locks to buy?
Top smart lock
What you need to know: Exceptional build quality and security options from the market leader.
What you’ll love: Comprehensive features set includes key code and remote access, plus a full range of control and monitoring functions. Auto-locking. Works in areas with poor internet access. Certified ANSI Grade 1 for durability.
What you should consider: Expensive. Z-Wave is not compatible with Wi-Fi.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Top smart lock for the money
What you need to know: Stylish looks and high-security for those on a tight budget.
What you’ll love: Uses keypad with hidden code or Bluetooth proximity. Set and send access codes for individual time periods. Can’t be “bumped.” Auto-locking from five to 120 seconds. Easy installation.
What you should consider: App instructions could be clearer. Needs extra “gateway” unit for Wi-Fi.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Worth checking out
What you should know: Basic, but effective, low-cost option.
What you’ll love: Bluetooth provides hands-free access for whomever you choose. You specify the time period. Cannot be “bumped.” Can connect to home hubs (extra unit required).
What you should consider: Wi-Fi “bridge” is an expensive extra.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
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Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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