Types of smart locks to keep your home secure
If you’ve been using the old school method of hiding your door key in a fake rock or under a doormat, you might want to think twice. Thieves know how to find your hidden keys — and if you’ve got a spare or two laying around outside, you’re leaving yourself open to robberies.
Smart locks make it simple to lock and unlock your home without a key, and some even allow you to unlock your door remotely or program digital keys for people who need access to your home.
How do smart locks work?
Smart locks allow you to easily lock and unlock your home using more sophisticated technology than a lock and key. Most work with a smartphone app, and others use a physical keypad or scanner to unlock the door instead.
Smart locks make it quick and easy to give access to visitors, without having to leave a spare key around.
While most people use smart locks on their front doors, these locks can be used on almost any door into your home: your front door, garage door, or any other door inside or outside of your home.
Now let’s get into the technical stuff: Smart locks generally use one of three methods of communication to control your door: Bluetooth, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth smart locks are popular in large part because of how easy they are to use. Once the lock is programmed, the Bluetooth signal from your phone or tablet will automatically lock or unlock your door when your device is within a certain range. Bluetooth smart locks are handy if you’re within 300 feet or so of your door, but not when you need to lock or unlock your home remotely.
If you want to control your smart lock from a remote location, go with a Wi-Fi or Z-Wave smart lock instead. Both can be programmed remotely to change your door passcode, let people into your home or lock the door while you’re away.
While Wi-Fi smart locks connect directly to your phone, Z-Wave smart locks take a longer route by connecting to a smart hub. Z-Wave locks can integrate with your smart home devices; the downside is that they require an additional hub to talk to your Wi-Fi.
What type of smart locks can I buy?
While many smart locks offer features like remote access or door monitoring, not all of them will connect to your phone via an app. The options include:
Retrofit smart locks
Most smart locks will require you to completely replace your deadbolt with the new locking system, but some work with the locking system already in place. These retrofit locks allow you to keep the same key and deadbolt system.
Keyless smart locks
Keyless smart locks use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to control your locks without a physical key in hand. If you’re using a Bluetooth lock, the keyless smart lock can’t be controlled remotely and will only unlock or lock if you and your Bluetooth-enabled devices within a certain vicinity — usually about 300 feet or so from the physical smart lock. If you have a Wi-Fi smart lock, you can use your cellular or Wi-Fi connection to control your smart lock remotely.
Fingerprint and biometric smart locks
Want to unlock your home like you’re in a spy movie? That’s precisely what a fingerprint or biometric smart lock allows you to do. This type of easy-to-program smart lock works with Wi-Fi or Z-Wave technology to unlock your door using your fingerprint. You press your finger against a touchpad and the lock scans your fingerprint. If it recognizes you, your fingerprint will be converted into a numerical template that will unlock the door. Cool!
Keypad and touchpad smart locks
With keypad smart locks, you use a keypad to unlock and enter your home. You can set different passcodes for short-term guests or renters in a short-term rental situation, or you can change the “locks” via a password.
Fob-enabled smart locks
Less common are fob-enabled smart locks that use a device — like the key fob you use for your vehicle — to lock and unlock the door. Smart lock key fobs can often be programmed control multiple doors, and you simply press the key fob to unlock the door you need access to.