Considering a Smart Door Lock?

Tod Caflisch
6 min readApr 4

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April 4, 2023

I got a call recently from our daughter asking me what’s the best smart door lock for her home. That was kind of like asking me what kind of car she should buy. As you can imagine, there are a lot of options and all accomplish the basic task of locking your door but there are many ways of going about that and a plethora of other options to consider.

Smart door locks aren’t one of your more mainstream smart home products but they’re an incredible upgrade over the old way of doing things. We can thank the hospitality industry in a lot of ways that they are ‘smart’ at all. The hospitality industry pushed locks into the digital age primarily due to the fact that people lose keys and they’re expensive to replace. It’s been this way for a while now as I travel frequently for work and can’t remember the last time I had a physical key for a hotel room. Like many hotel guests. I’ve accepted key cards and smartphone-based access solutions as the primary means of getting into my room. The electronic solution is just so much simpler though I will admit it’s annoying when the key cards don’t work. Pro Tip: Don’t throw your hotel key card in the same pocket with your phone.

The biggest benefit of electronic entry systems however is that they are highly configurable. Digital locks can be changed on demand and the property owner has an electronic record of when each door was opened. In the case of smart home locks, different keys can be generated for the same lock, so a homeowner can tell when each member of the family entered or when the housekeeper arrived.

So what did I tell my daughter? As the smart lock world is still a fairly immature space, there are many products on the market that haven’t been fully vetted across the multitude of use cases. Even top products can fail when dealing with old or stiff deadbolts, doors that don’t shut well, or environments where non-standard fixtures are in use. The bottom line is that it’s tough to declare that any product is universally perfect for every home. That said, she and I talked about the key considerations to take into account to help her narrow down the options for her home.

An important detail to consider first: Some ‘smart locks’ don’t work with a smartphone app or any smart home networking hubs at all. These are the ones that are really just electronic locks that use a code instead of a key to open up. One step up from that, you find Bluetooth-only locks. These work with a smartphone app, but can’t be monitored remotely or via a smart home system. These are great if all you’re looking to do is get rid of your keys. But definitely not what you want if you want to make your doors a true part of your home network.

Maybe you have and antique doorknob on a vintage Victorian you don’t want to replace with a modern looking alternative. many smart lock products don’t require you to replace all your existing hardware. Instead, they are installed on the inside of the door only, replacing only the interior part of the deadbolt. This gives you the option to continue to use a standard key from the outside or open the lock via a smartphone app.

If you have an existing hub like the Wink August Hub 2, Samsung SmartThings or HomePod, you’ll want to ensure that the smart lock you choose is compatible with those. Many smart locks support Bluetooth, so they work with your phone, but lack the technology needed to connect with your home network. Some Bluetooth locks, like the Yale Assure system and the August Smart Lock, offer a radio module as an add-on to connect to your home network. If you’re using a smart home hub like Samsung SmartThings or the Wink Hub, look for a smart lock that supports Z-Wave or ZigBee instead.

You may also want to consider alternative entry methods in case you can’t find your phone. How do you get in the house without it? This is where a physical key or a numeric keypad can really save the day. What do you do if the batteries inside the lock die? Some locks allow for emergency power to be applied should that happen. Yale’s Real Living lock features external posts that you can connect a 9-volt battery to, giving you enough charge to get the door open. Other models retain the traditional key cylinder for backup.

One of the biggest aspects of smart home technology in general for me is the ability to automate activities. If you’re forgetful about manually locking the door when you leave home, there’s a lock for you! Locks that employ geofencing systems automatically locks the door when it detects your phone has left the vicinity and can be set to automatically open up when it detects you’ve returned. Additionally, you can set routines to lock the door at night when you go to bed.

Another great feature that many smart locks have is to let you set up temporary key codes for houseguests. These can easily be deleted after they’ve left or no longer need access. Smarter systems even let you set time restrictions around when each access code can be used.

Hopefully this has helped in getting a better handle on the capabilities and integration options regarding smart door locks. For some other options to consider, check out my recent article ‘Get Your Lock On!

As you can see, lots of options to consider here. A major consideration may be where you currently are in your smart home journey. If you’re just starting out you may be satisfied with one of the more basic models. On the other end of the scale you may already be using a high-end model. I’d love to hear your feedback if you already have a smart door lock integrated into your smart home. Is it one of the models I covered here? If not, which did you opt for and why? How do you like it? How easy was it to install? Would you do anything different?

Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails what you think. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’

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In full disclosure, I’m not an affiliate marketer with links to any online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn nothing from the retailer. The links are strictly a convenience for my readers.

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Tod Caflisch

Smart Home technology visionary with passion for out of the box solutions for home technology integrations, focusing on efficiency, safety and sustainability.