Save on Pinterest

All About Smart Door Locks: Keyless Entry, Bluetooth, and More

You and your family may never have to worry about getting locked out of the house again. 'Smart' door locks-especially dead bolts-have gotten so clever that you don't even have to remember to carry a key with you anymore (although we recommend it).

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

1 / 11
Are Smart Locks Safe?Family Handyman

Are Smart Locks Safe?

Any device connected to the Internet is a potential target for hackers. Smart locks are no exception. In a worst-case scenario, a high-tech crook could unlock your keyless locks. We weren't able to find any reports of smart-lock crime, but the potential exists. Learn about finger-scan entry locks, too.

2 / 11
Keyless Entry

Keyless Entry

This is basically what makes a smart door lock 'smart.' Thanks to electronic keypads, key cards and fobs, fingerprint scanners and smartphone technology, frantically fishing in your pocket for a house key while holding an armload of groceries can be a thing of the past. Some smart locks will even allow you to open a door via a smartphone app when you're away from home, so you can let in anyone who needs access. Check out these 14 gadgets that turn your home into a smart house.

Photo: SCHLAGE

3 / 11
Motorized Throw BoltsSCHLAGE

Motorized Throw Bolts

Some smart dead bolts have a motor inside to move the throw bolt through the strike plate. If you have to pull your door closed tight with one hand to compress the weather stripping while locking it with the other, a smart lock with this feature may not work well for you.

4 / 11
Alerts and Activity LogsSCHLAGE

Alerts and Activity Logs

Thanks to smartphones and apps that work with your smart lock via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it's possible to see who's coming and going at your house. Some will also tell you when you need to replace the batteries and allow you to send virtual keys to other people.

5 / 11
A Variety of Styles and FinishesSchlage

A Variety of Styles and Finishes

If you're worried that a new smart lock won't match the rest of your door's hardware, worry not. You'll find a variety of colors and metallic finishes to match most existing door hardware.

6 / 11
Backup KeysSAMSUNG

Backup Keys

Because technology doesn't always work, and batteries eventually die, most smart door locksets and dead bolts come with keys that let you unlock them. We highly recommend carrying one of these keys with you or keeping one in a safe hiding place outside, just in case! Spy these clever hiding places, including good spots to hide a key, if you prefer a conventional key setup.

7 / 11
Unlocks with Your FingerprintFamily Handyman

Unlocks with Your Fingerprint

If you like being on the cutting edge of technology, then the Samsung Fingerprint Digital Door Lock ($420) could be what you're looking for. This lockset is loaded with high-tech features—most notably a fingerprint scanner. In fact, it'll register and recognize up to 100 fingerprints. You can also enable the lockset's 'double authentication mode' setting, which strengthens security by requiring both a password and a fingerprint to unlock. The lock can also be operated using an RFID (radio frequency identification) card, key fob or metal backup key. It also has a built-in alarm that goes off if a burglar breaks in. (These are the 21 things a burglar won't tell you.) Note: The installation manual recommends keeping wet hands and water away from the lockset, so install it only on doors that have protective overhangs. It's also a full-mortise lockset, which calls for some advanced carpentry skills to install it. For more info, visit samsungdigitallife.com.

8 / 11
Motorize your Existing Dead BoltFamily Handyman

Motorize your Existing Dead Bolt

The August Smart Lock ($200 at august.com) is a great choice if you don't want to change how the outside of your door looks. That's because it works with your existing dead bolt hardware.

Available in four colors, this ingenious smart lock replaces your dead bolt's interior thumb-latch and uses Bluetooth technology to turn your smartphone into a wireless key, which activates a motorized throw bolt that unlocks as you approach the door and locks when you leave.

It keeps an activity log of who's coming and going, which you can view on your smartphone using an app. The app also lets you control the lock remotely with an August Connect accessory ($79). You can create virtual keys for other users, and use your existing dead bolt keys as backups. The manual is well illustrated and easy to understand, making installation simple on most existing dead bolts. Runs on four "AA" batteries.

See what home tech products are coming out soon.

9 / 11
Opens with the Touch of a FingerKwikset

Opens with the Touch of a Finger

Even though it's not a fingerprint scanner, the Bluetooth-enabled Kwikset Kevo ($200) makes it possible to use your finger as a key. Your smartphone alerts this dead bolt when you're near the door and activates a motorized throw bolt after you touch the lock with your finger. If you don't have your smartphone with you, use the included Bluetooth fob (additional fobs are sold separately) or one of the included traditional backup keys. Or, if you prefer, the lock's SmartKey feature allows you to rekey the lock to an existing key. You can also send virtual 'e-keys' to other people to grant them access. A free smartphone app lets you keep track of comings and goings. The Kevo also integrates with an existing Nest thermostat. Each time you come and go, you'll get a notification on your smartphone allowing you to adjust the temperature within the Kevo app. The Kwikset Kevo comes in three finishes and runs on four 'AA' batteries. For more info, go to kwikset.com/kevo.

10 / 11
Simple Lock, Sophisticated FeaturesFamily Handyman

Simple Lock, Sophisticated Features

Schlage has offered keypad dead bolts for a few years, but it has new ones now with a few extra bells and whistles—like the Schlage Connect Camelot ($150 to $230) shown here.

It has a touch-sensitive keypad and will store up to 30 codes. It also has a motorized throw bolt that locks and unlocks when you enter your code, and a built-in alarm that sounds if somebody tampers with the lock or breaks in. It's compatible with Z-Wave home automation and comes in several finishes. You can also use a regular key as an emergency backup. Runs on four 'AA' batteries. Learn how to upgrade to keyless door locks.

11 / 11
Call in Reinforcements!Family Handyman

Call in Reinforcements!

While smart door locks add brains, sometimes what you really need is more brawn. An electronic dead bolt isn't worth much if your front door is easy to kick in. Regardless of what door lock you choose, consider beefing up your door and jamb with reinforcement hardware. It only takes about an hour to install and costs $20 to $110, depending on your specific needs.

Reinforce the Door

Slide a reinforcement plate (see photo above left) ($10 to $25 at home centers) onto your door and reinstall your dead bolt and latch. Then secure the plate to the door with the included screws.

Reinforce the Jamb

Install a reinforcement plate like the Strike Master II on your door's jamb ($90 at asafehome.net). Start by extending the dead bolt slightly and close the door. Now take a pencil and mark the location of the bolt's center on the edge of the doorjamb (see photo above right). Do the same thing for the center of the latch. Extend the pencil marks to the doorstop. Line up the center of the latch alignment hole on the reinforcement plate with the centerline mark on the doorstop and slide the plate into place. Predrill holes and run the supplied screws almost all the way into the jamb with your drill. Stop before they're seated or you'll bow the door frame.