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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.


    Shopping Guide for Best Smart Locks

    Standing on your doorstep with four bags of groceries on one arm while you dig through your purse or pockets to find your keys makes you think: there must be an easier way get into your home. Well, there is! Smart locks are the next generation of convenient security. They allow you to enter your home without a key, and sometimes without doing anything more than standing within proximity of your front door.

    While smart locks are no safer than a regular lock, they do give you more control over security, and, at the very least, keep you from standing in front of the door in the rain with groceries hanging from your elbow. New smart lock designs and features are coming out all the time. Staying up with technology and trends can be exhausting. That’s where we come in.

    At BestReviews, we provide you with the honest, unbiased reviews you need to make an informed shopping decision. We consult experts, search through consumer reviews, and test products so you don’t have to. We don’t accept free samples from manufacturers, which means our analysis is fair and unbiased. We’ve provided a shopping guide with information on the different types of smart locks, as well as the available features so you can find the right smart lock for your home. Don’t forget to check our top five smart lock picks as a starting place for your search.

    Smart locks come in many different finishes and styles. Their versatile appearance means you should be able to find one that accentuates your home.

    Types of Smart Locks

    Smart locks come in different styles and designs, but they are defined by the type of communication protocol they use. The right one for you will depend on how you want to use the smart lock, and which communication protocol you may already use in your home. There are three communication protocol types and some smart locks can use more than one.

    Types

    Bluetooth

    Smart locks that are Bluetooth enabled require your phone to be within 40 to 300 feet of the smart lock to activate it. Bluetooth smart locks have excellent battery life of a year or more. Some Bluetooth smart locks will automatically unlock the door when you are detected, which means you don’t even need to take your phone out of your pocket. Some locks are Bluetooth-only, while others can connect to an app that can be accessed over WiFi.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you’re completely replacing your door locks with a smart lock, look for one with the handle on the correct side. Some have handles that can be used on either the right or left but others can only be used on one side or the other.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    Types

    Z-Wave

    Z-Wave smart locks don’t use a mobile app. Instead, they use a Z-Wave hub, which connects the Z-Wave signal to a router. From there, you can control the smart lock from anywhere with WiFi. The connection range is about 120 feet, but the signal can bounce up to four times, relaying through other Z-Wave devices in your home. You can integrate a Z-Wave smart lock with other Z-wave devices in your home, such as light controls or home security systems. If the smart lock will be the only device using the Z-Wave compatible hub, you may be happier with a smart lock that uses Bluetooth or WiFi that doesn’t require the extra equipment.

    Types

    WiFi

    Some smart locks can automatically connect to WiFi while others require an extra device, smaller than a Z-Wave compatible hub, to connect to the internet. Once connected to the router, you can access your smart lock from anywhere with WiFi access.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Your home WiFi should be encrypted using two modes of verification to prevent someone from hacking into and accessing your smart locks. Make your passwords and codes strong.

    Features to Consider

    Considerations

    Installation

    Depending on the type of smart lock you purchase, the installation may be easier than or at least similar to replacing a normal door lock. You’ll need to decide if you want to retrofit your deadbolt or replace your entire door lock system.

    • Retrofit: Smart locks that retrofit your current door lock use the existing cylinder and deadbolt hardware by attaching to the inside of your door. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to get the lock working.

    • Replace: Other smart lock designs require you to completely remove and replace your old lock. That includes the deadbolt and strike plate. However, smart locks use the same standards and pre-drilled holes as a standard lock, so installation shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    For those who love having house guests, there are smart locks that allow you to create a customized temporary code. Once your guests leave, you can deactivate the code.

    Considerations

    App Control

    Most smart locks offer a mobile app that allows you to control the lock with the push of a button. Apps vary greatly in what they offer, but features to watch for and consider should include:

    • Control of the smart lock through your desktop or laptop.

    • Adding permanent users.

    • Adding temporary users.

    • Establishing an access schedule for certain days and times.

    Considerations

    Voice Command

    Voice commands make entering your home about as simple and easy as it can get. You don’t even need to get out your phone; just utter the right phrase within a detectable distance of your front door, and it automatically unlocks.

    Some smart locks work with Siri or Alexa for voice control over your home locks.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    Considerations

    Activity Log

    Some smart locks include an activity log, providing a history of who entered and exited your home and when.

    Considerations

    Geofencing

    Geofencing allows you to set a perimeter around your house using the mobile app. The app then uses your phone’s location services to detect your location within the perimeter. You can set the smart lock to engage once you leave that perimeter, and disengage when you enter it again.

    Considerations

    Auto-Locking

    Auto-locking is similar to geofencing. After your door has been unlocked for a specified amount of time, the locks will automatically engage. This is a great feature for those who forget to lock the front door.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    You can program codes that only work on certain days at specific times. This works well for people dropping off packages, or for kids coming home from school.

    Considerations

    Push, Text, and Email Notifications

    Keep track of when and who enters your home in real time. Notifications can let you know when your kids get home from school, if the maid got in okay, or when your spouse arrived home from his or her business trip.

    Considerations

    Tamper Alarms

    Tamper alarms let you know if there is any kind of unauthorized entry.

    Considerations

    Biometrics

    Some smart locks use fingerprints instead of, and sometimes in addition to, a password, code, or key. Talk about individualized security!

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some smart locks work with a one-touch method. Once your phone gets within distance of Bluetooth, all you have to do is touch the lock to open the door.

    Considerations

    Keyless Touchpad

    Forgot your phone and can’t find your keys? No problem. A keyless touchpad lets you enter a code or password to unlock the door. Smart locks with biometric features let you use a fingerprint to disengage the lock.

    Considerations

    Integration

    Some smart locks can integrate with other smart home devices. This cooperation gives you the option of turning on lights when the door unlocks, or unlocking the door when the smoke alarm goes off. There are locks that can be paired with integrated doorbell cams, so you can see who is at the door before you unlock it. If integration is something that appeals to you, you’ll need to make sure all your devices are compatible with each other.

    Connecting third-party products to your smart lock can get complicated. If you want to connect all your devices, you need a hub that recognizes all the signals, and interprets them for your router. Check your hub’s compatibility with your smart lock before purchasing.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Price

    Price

    Inexpensive

    Basic smart locks that upgrade your current lock into a smart lock start at $100. A few work with systems like Amazon Alexa, but most are Bluetooth-only.

    Price

    Mid-Range

    In the $100 to $200 range, you’ll find both smart locks that convert traditional door locks and complete smart lock systems that replace your deadbolt. Most use a mobile app for quick access, and while some use a specific communication protocol, others are compatible with all three.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    You should always have some way to access your home with a manual key in case of a power outage or failure of the smart lock.

    Price

    Expensive

    Between $200 and $300 are smart locks that use biometric, mechanical key, user codes, and passwords for access. In this range are the smart locks with voice command features, email notifications, and tamper alarms.

    Price

    Premium

    At $300 and above, you’ll find smart locks that use biometrics, 4 to 12 digit number codes, and may use a two-way, push-pull latch system. Others may come as part of a home security system that includes a video camera that integrates with the smart lock.

    Smart locks can also come in padlock style. These open with the touch of a button and allow you to program permanent or temporary guests.

    FAQ

    Q. I have a spring-loaded door that closes automatically. Will that be a problem with a smart lock?

    A. The only problem you may run into is if you accidentally activate the lock before the door has closed. The lock will then hit the door jam when it closes. There are smart locks that will not lock if the door is open, to prevent this very thing from happening.Your other option would be a lock that doesn’t activate with touch, but uses a code or proximity detection.

    Q. What should I do if the battery on my smart lock dies and locks me out?

    A. First, you should regularly check the smart lock battery. However, almost all smart locks still allow you to use a mechanical key to open the door. Battery life varies,  depending greatly on the kind of communication protocol the smart lock uses. WiFi-enabled locks drain batteries faster, especially if they have lots of extra features like alarms, geofencing, and voice command. Bluetooth-only smart locks can run on the same batteries for a year or more, depending on usage.

    Q. What if I lose the physical key that comes with my smart lock?

    A. With most smart locks, you can simply call a locksmith. They can usually replace the key mechanism without harming the smart lock.

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