Smart home tech: Which smart locks are best for security?

It’s been a year now since we first compared Schlage to Kwikset, and we’ve gone on to test a number of different locks that were sent to us from various manufactures.

We documented our installation process and tested them out in real world environments for about six months, taking note of what worked well and any issues we had, like jamming. This week, we’ll be talking about the locks we tested — plus a few tips on keeping your home safe

Jason Williams, president of ASSA ABLOY’s Smart Residential Group that includes popular smart lock brands Yale Home and August, has provided top tips on how to keep your home safe.

1. Make front door access secure and convenient

A smart lock can give homeowners a peace of mind, security and convenience over home access. It also means no more hiding keys under the mat or worrying if you locked the door before you headed out.

All you have to do is simply control the lock, and monitor every entry and exit right from your phone. When considering a smart lock, there are several features to examine:

Retrofit vs. replacement

You first need to decide if you want a retrofit lock (only replaces existing deadbolt from the inside, which means you can keep your current keys!) or one that requires full deadbolt replacement.

For apartment dwellers and renters, retrofit locks like the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, (also consider Wyze Lock or Kwisket Convert) are perfect, as they give you all the perks of a smart lock while still allowing landlords or maintenance crews to enter with their existing keys.

If you own your home, it may be worth checking out a full replacement deadbolt with an integrated keypad. While these require a deadbolt replacement, keypad locks provide a minimalist solution with all the same great features. You can easily distribute temporary PIN codes or access for family, friends, guests and service providers.

Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi connectivity

If you would like to control your lock remotely (if you’re traveling or running a vacation rental property), then you should get a Wi-Fi-enabled lock or one that’s connected via a hub. This will allow you to unlock, lock, check the door status and be notified of any activity all from your phone, from anywhere in the world.

Wi-Fi connection will also let you integrate your lock with existing security systems, hosting platforms (e.g., Airbnb) and voice assistants. If you are only planning to operate the lock locally with your phone — such as from within your house, with an external keypad, or with auto-unlock upon arrival — then you can opt for Bluetooth only. 

From push buttons to touchpads and from oil-rubbed bronze to satin nickel, smart locks come in all shapes, sizes and finishes — so make sure it fits your overall home aesthetic. Design is important to lock makers too! 

2. Secure access inside your home

People typically think of outfitting only exterior doors with smart locks, but interior doors can be upgraded too. From basements and home offices to spare rooms for guests, interior smart locks like the Yale Assure Lever (which has a keypad) can provide extra security, convenience and privacy within the home. 

3. Keep an eye on everything — even while away

If you’re nervous about leaving your home unattended while away (either on a short or long-term trip), be sure to get a connected smart lock that offers an activity feed. You can see anytime a user locks or unlocks your door or when an entry code is created for a new user. You can also create a unique entry code for visitors or just monitor who’s coming and going.

4. Enable hands-free access

If you’re always juggling groceries or want to encourage a more contactless lifestyle this season, consider a smart lock that doesn’t require hands-on operation. For example, many smart locks have an auto-unlock feature that intuitively unlocks the door when you approach it, without you having to reach for your phone or keys.

You can also control them with your voice, integrating the lock with Amazon Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant, so you can lock, unlock (requires an extra PIN code) or check the lock status with simple vocal commands. 

5. Consider how to safeguard items and areas in and around your home

It’s not just doors that need to be secured! From alcohol cabinets to cleaning supplies, home office valuables to package deliveries, look for ways to protect items in and around the home as well.

The Yale Smart Cabinet Lock, for example, is designed for cabinets and drawers, and can help keep children and guests away from medicine, liquor and other sensitive items. It’s a small device (about the size of an AirPods case) that can turn any cabinet or drawer into a locker. It mounts on the inside, making it invisible from the outside.

The Yale Smart Delivery Box is an external, non-entry way to protect packages from theft and harsh weather — perfect for the influx of deliveries that may be arriving through the year. These also integrate with voice assistants for hands-free operation. 

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on YouTube or Facebook.

This content was originally published here.

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