As technology advances, more and more aspects of our homes are becoming “smart” – able to connect to the internet and be controlled remotely. One area in particular that has seen exciting innovation is locks and handles. Smart locks and handles provide a wealth of advantages that make them an increasingly popular choice for homes and businesses. In this article, we’ll explore what exactly smart locks and handles are, their many benefits, and some factors to consider when installing them.
What Are Smart Locks and Handles?
Smart locks and handles connect to the internet and can be monitored, controlled, and accessed through a smartphone app. Rather than using a traditional key, smart locks are unlocked through keypads, biometrics like fingerprints, or Bluetooth proximity from a smartphone. This allows for keyless entry and remote control of the lock. Bold smart locks are also a great option. Smart handles meanwhile go a step further by eliminating the need for a keypad or smartphone. They sense when an authorized user is present and unlock automatically.
One of the biggest appeals of smart locks and handles is the sheer convenience they offer. Fumbling for keys, coordinating key exchanges, and worrying about copying keys is a thing of the past. Instead, authorized users can come and go seamlessly thanks to:
- Keyless entry via smartphone, keypad, or biometrics
- Remote locking/unlocking abilities. You can control access from anywhere with an app
- Virtual keys allow grant access to others by sending a virtual key or access code without having to hand over a key physically
No more hiding keys under the mat or worrying about lost or stolen keys. Plus, you don’t have to rush home to let in guests or workers – send them a virtual key with an expiration date and time.
Simplified Access Management
Smart locks make it very simple to manage who has access to your home. Through the smartphone app, you can see audit trails of who has entered and when. Granting and revoking access takes just a few taps within the app. For businesses, this makes managing employee access a breeze as codes can be created for new hires and deactivated for departures or terminated employees. Consumers benefit from easy generation of codes for dog walkers, house cleaners, Airbnb guests, and anyone needing temporary access.
In addition to convenience, smart locks also provide enhanced security and monitoring capabilities. Traditional locks and keys have inherent weaknesses that make duplicating keys simple. With smart locks, every entry and exit can be tracked thanks to activity logs. Things like lock tampering, repeated failed attempts to unlock, and forced entry are also detectable. When using virtual keys instead of physical keys, there’s no concern over lost or stolen keys being used to gain entry.
Many smart locks also allow for the creation of temporary or single-use keys. This limits the chance of unwelcome guests gaining long-term unauthorized access to your home. Overall, the advanced technology used by smart locks delivers peace of mind through improved monitoring and access control.
Home Automation Synergies
Smart locks are a natural fit within the connected home ecosystem. They can integrate with home automation platforms, voice assistants, security systems and other smart devices. With compatible products, your smart lock becomes part of powerful automation such as:
- Locks engage automatically when the security system is armed
- Locks unlocking when your smartphone GPS shows you are approaching home
- Voice assistants locking doors on command
- Video doorbells automatically unlock door when recognizing approved faces
Smart locks seamlessly blend into complete home automation experiences for maximum convenience, security, and simplicity. You no longer need to fumble for your keys when juggling kids and groceries – just walk up and let your smart lock do the work!
Some smart lock models also contribute to energy efficiency. Locks with geofencing integration can engage ENERGY STAR-approved smart thermostats when occupants leave. The home’s temperature is automatically adjusted to an efficient setpoint to save energy until you return home. Similarly, smart locks can also trigger lighting automation routines when locking or unlocking to enhance security and further reduce energy waste.
Smart Lock Options
If you’re sold on the benefits of smart locks, the next step is choosing the right option for your situation. Smart locks come in a few main forms:
These replace the entire lock mechanism, including the internal components. Installation is moderately difficult as it requires removing the existing lock. Smart locks add keypads or touchscreens for unlocking. Popular models include those made by Schlage and Kwikset.
Smart Lock Cylinders
Smart lock cylinders replace just the cylinder portion of your deadbolt or door lock. They are easy retrofit solutions that don’t require removing the existing lock. Instead, the cylinder is quickly switched out for the smart lock cylinder. Lock operation stays the same otherwise. Major brands include Kevo and LockState.
Smart padlocks provide a flexible solution for securing gates, storage units, lockers, and other use cases. They connect to your phone for keyless Bluetooth unlocking and access management. Master Lock and Schlage make leading options.
Smart Door Handles
As mentioned earlier, smart door handles take keyless entry even further. Using proximity detection, they sense an authorized user’s presence and unlock it automatically. Installation is also simplified with minimal modifications to existing doors in most cases. Top products come from Level and Yale.
Video doorbells with smart locks take integration up a notch. When someone rings the video doorbell, you can not only see and talk to them but also unlock the door remotely right from the app. Consider smart doorbells with smart locks for maximum connectivity.
Factors to Consider
With many great smart lock options available, think through a few factors when making your selection:
- Compatibility: Ensure the lock will work with your existing door/lock type and integrate with your smart home ecosystem
- Power: Smart locks require battery power or hardwiring to function
- Connectivity: Check required connectivity like WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, etc.
- Access methods: Keypad, touchscreen, biometrics, smartphone, auto-unlocking?
- Security protocols: Review cybersecurity measures like data encryption
- Permissions: Does the app allow for easy creation of virtual keys and access levels?
- Weather resistance: Is the lock rated for exterior use and your climate?
Smart locks undoubtedly represent the future of access control for homes and businesses. With their unbeatable convenience, enhanced security, simplified access management and other advantages, smart locks are becoming a must-have for many consumers. By understanding the types of smart locks and weighing the factors for your needs, you can discover the ideal smart lock solution to kickstart your connected home. The key is no longer under the mat – it’s in your pocket and controlled from your smartphone!
Q: Are smart locks more secure than traditional locks?
A: Generally, yes – features like access logs, virtual keys, and tamper detection make smart locks more secure overall. However, any electronic device has potential cybersecurity risks that must be mitigated through data encryption and authentication protocols. Reputable smart lock brands undergo rigorous cybersecurity testing.
Q: Do smart locks require WiFi?
A: Most smart locks connect via WiFi and/or Bluetooth. However some models can function using a smart home hub or proprietary wireless network instead of WiFi, giving flexibility for installation areas with poor WiFi signals. Cellular connectivity is another emerging option.
Q: Can smart locks integrate with home automation systems?
A: Absolutely. Leading smart lock brands provide integration with popular platforms like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, and more. This allows your smart lock to be included in powerful automation and remote control.
Q: How difficult is the installation of smart locks?
A: Installation difficulty varies by lock type. Smart lock cylinders are the easiest, retrofitting inside the existing lock. Full smart lock replacement is moderately difficult. Smart locks for exterior doors are easiest to install during new construction. Many brands provide detailed installation instructions and videos.
Q: How long does the battery last on a smart lock?
A: Battery life depends on lock usage and quality of batteries. Top of the line smart locks boast 1-2 years of battery life. Using high quality batteries and enabling power saving modes maximizes lifespan between battery changes. Smart locks with hardwired power eliminate this concern.