Have you ever had the uneasy feeling you didn’t lock the door when you left for work? Adding a smart lock gives a sense of security and enables other automations.
As with all smart devices, smart locks speak a variety of protocols (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave and Zigbee). Knowing how you intend to interact with the smart lock—close range or remotely—will help you choose the right one. Z-Wave, Zigbee and Bluetooth are all close-range protocols, and Wi-Fi is for remote accessibility.
For close range, Bluetooth is the way to go. It works when your phone is within range of your lock, usually about 30 ft. Don’t want to fumble with your groceries and keys in the rain? You can unlock the door before you get out of the car.
A number pad is an inexpensive close-range option. You can operate your lock with your smartphone or the number pad, and set temporary key codes for guests or a dog walker when you’re away.
Most smart locks—even those with number pads and Bluetooth capability—have remote access capability. But you’ll need a Wi-Fi signal, your smartphone, an app and possibly a gateway/bridge, which is a device on your home network that allows communication with a smart device that’s not on the home network. You can lock the door, get notified when family get home, or even unlock the door for a package delivery—from anywhere.
Zigbee- and Z-Wave–compatible locks require a smart hub because smartphones don’t speak these protocols natively. Samsung SmartThings and Wink are the front-runners in the smart home space and are compatible with many smart locks. Zigbee and Z-Wave allow easy communication between multiple devices by creating a mesh network. With Zigbee, all the devices need to be within 60 ft. of each other. With Z-Wave, the range increases to about 300 ft.
Locks come in two main configurations: dead bolt replacements and dead bolt retrofits. Dead bolt retrofits attach to your existing dead bolt and automate its movement.
Adding a smart lock to your setup not only provides added security but also unlocks some cool options if you integrate it with other smart devices. You can:
- Automatically have your lights turn on when the door is unlocked.
- Automatically lock your door when you leave or unlock as you approach.
- Trigger a certain playlist to play on your smart speaker whenever you arrive home.
- Turn on your A/C when you arrive home for the day.
- Log every lock/unlock action to a Google spreadsheet.
- Activate a security camera when you leave for the day.
- Lock your door using Alexa or Google Home.