Smart Digital Door Locks
Many consumers are hesitant about smart digital door locks. They may wonder if the lock is secure, and they might also worry about what happens if their smartphone battery dies or the internet connection fails.
Some models like the Schlage Connect work with a variety of home hubs, making them compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. These are ideal for those who want to control their door from anywhere and track when family members or guests are coming and going.
The best smart digital door locks let you create a number of temporary “keys” that can unlock the door. This feature is especially useful if you have a dog walker, cleaning service, repairman or any other person who needs to get in but doesn’t need your keys. You can set access limitations such as days and times to ensure these “keys” only work when you need them to.
Some smart locks also allow you to unlock the door with a code entered into a keypad, which is handy if you don’t want to install any new hardware. Others have a standard keyhole as an alternative, which is helpful if you don’t have a smartphone or your smart lock loses power.
Some models connect to voice-activated systems like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. They use this connection to let you control the lock from your phone, tablet or smart speaker. This is a great feature for anyone who wants to be able to open their door with a simple voice command, but it can be vulnerable to hacking. If you’re worried about that, check to see the model’s ANSI grade rating to see how well it can resist physical attempts at lockpicking or bumping. This is one of the most important factors in determining how secure your smart digital door lock is.
Some smart lock models come with built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to control them directly from your home network. Others use Bluetooth or Z-Wave technology to connect to a hub or bridge that then communicates with your home WiFi.
A smart lock can also let you share limited-access digital “keys” with smart digital door lock family members, house guests, dog walkers, cleaners and more. This allows you to send them a link over standard messaging apps that gives them access for a certain timeframe. You can then monitor who comes and goes from your home, and delete the key if necessary.
Another important feature to look for is integration with other smart-home devices. The best smart locks work with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s HomeKit, which means you can control them with voice commands and integrate them into your automation routines. For example, if you say “Siri, goodnight,” you can have the app automatically turn off your lights and lock the door.
Some smart lock manufacturers build the smart components into the interior of the lock, replacing the mechanical parts and blending in with your existing deadbolt. This approach is favored by many consumers, as it doesn’t require a new lock body or additional hardware to install the technology. It’s worth noting that this type of lock may drain batteries more quickly than a model with built-in Wi-Fi, since it must use its own wireless connection to communicate with the smart-home hub.
Geofencing uses GPS services to track the location of a device or person and can be used for a variety of purposes, from tracking vehicle movements to letting parents know when their kids leave a safe area. It’s also commonly used in advertising, letting potential customers get text messages or special offers when they enter the invisible fence around a restaurant or store.
In smart locks, geofencing can be used to automatically lock the door when you leave your smart digital door lock home and unlock it when you return. Several of the locks we tested—including the Nest x Yale, Kwikset Halo Touch and Schlage Sense and Encode—feature this functionality.
You can set up these geofences in the Settings app by tapping on ‘Smart Lock Settings,’ then choosing ‘Geofencing’ and toggling it on. Then, you can use the map to draw a circle around your home that will act as an invisible boundary. You can also create a separate geofence for your work address or other locations you frequently visit. These geofences will be monitored by the app and can be modified or deleted at any time. You can also manage policies for each geo-fence, granting or denying access to devices that enter them.
Some smart locks don’t work with a smartphone app or smart home hubs at all, instead relying on a wireless communication technology like Bluetooth. Bluetooth-only models require a separate app for mobile access and have a shorter range than other types of smart locks. Others use a Wi-Fi connection that’s more reliable but can drain the battery quicker than other kinds of smart locks.
Those with Z-Wave or Zigbee connections typically have a longer range than Wi-Fi models and can communicate with a smart home hub. This type of connectivity also avoids competition for bandwidth on a home’s existing Wi-Fi network and can help prevent device interference.
Smart locks that connect with a smart doorbell camera can let you see who’s at your front door, and they can unlock remotely for delivery drivers or house guests without needing to give them a code. Some models can even automatically send an alert to your phone if someone tries to break into the house or tamper with the lock.
This model from Schlage has a strong ANSI Grade 1 security rating and is easy to set up. It also works with a variety of smart home hubs and assistants, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Its keypad has a fingerprint sensor and physical buttons for code entry that are easier to use in inclement weather than touchscreen controls.