A smart door lock is an electromechanical locking device with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity for keyless operation. What’s more, smart locks can also feature fingerprint scanners allowing you to unlock your door with a tap of a finger. Since your fingerprint is the key for fingerprint-enabled smart locks, you don’t need a key to unlock your door.
Smart Door Lock Keyless Entry Options
You can easily upgrade your front door with a smart lock and prevent unauthorized entry into your home. Since smart locks guarantee secure keyless entry into your home, they minimize or eliminate the use of traditional keys. As a result, smart locks prevent break-ins with master keys. Smart locks can use these keyless entry options to secure your home:
Smart locks usually feature sleek touchscreen keypads for keyless entry with a passcode. Although you can find smart locks with button keypads, most smart locks today feature touchscreens for more convenient passcode entry.
Even more impressive, these locking devices feature backlit touchscreens for convenient passcode entry in lowlight conditions, such as in the evenings or at night. When unlocking your door, you will enter the passcode, and your smart lock will unlock the door.
Since a passcode is all you need to unlock a smart lock, you can share the passcode with guests or family members to enter your home without a traditional key. And the best part is that you can share the passcode via a smartphone app to let guests into your home even when you’re far away from your residence.
Usually, you will create a permanent passcode for keyless entry into your home. But you can also create temporary passcodes for guests or service professionals; these passcodes expire after some time for added security, meaning your guest will not be able to reuse them.
Besides creating temporary passcodes, smart locks allow you to create schedules to unlock your door at a specified period. Therefore, smart locks offer convenient keyless entry into homes while strengthening security.
Aside from a touchscreen with keypads for passcode entry, smart locks also connect to your Wi-Fi network for remote control via a mobile app. These smart locks usually have iOS or Android apps for controlling them from anywhere.
You will use the smart lock app to connect your smart lock to your Wi-Fi network. Also, the app controls your smart lock remotely. So that means you will first download the app and use it to set up your smart lock.
With your smart lock connected to your home network and your smartphone also connected to the internet, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere. And if you have a guest or family member waiting outside, you can allow them access to your home with the touch of an in-app button on your smartphone.
So, Wi-Fi connectivity works great to allow for remote control of your smart lock. But it also allows you to pair your smart lock with a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. You can then command your virtual assistant to unlock the door if your guest is waiting outside.
The voice assistant also allows you to check your smart lock status. If you’re looking for hands-free control of your smart lock, you should pair it with a voice assistant; this ensures you can unlock your door even when preparing food in the kitchen.
Bluetooth is another wireless protocol smart locks use to connect to your devices, especially your smartphone. This wireless connectivity works similarly to Wi-Fi connectivity, but it can also work differently.
After pairing your smart lock with your smartphone, the phone becomes your new key. The smart lock will auto-unlock when you approach your front door with your smartphone on you. Once your smartphone is within the Bluetooth connectivity range, it pairs with your smart lock, thus unlocking it without you lifting a finger.
Besides auto-unlocking your smart lock, Bluetooth connectivity also ensures the smart lock auto-locks when the front door closes behind you. And this secures your home even if you forget to lock your door.
Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to pair your smart lock with a smart speaker, and this ensures you can gain hands-free control over your smart lock. But the smart speaker will only communicate with the smart lock if these two smart home devices are within Bluetooth connectivity range. So, you want to keep your smart lock and the smart speaker close enough to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Bluetooth connectivity allows you to unlock your front door without doing anything; you only need to approach the door, which will auto-unlock. Therefore, it offers more convenience than passcodes.
Smart locks also feature fingerprint scanners with AI-powered algorithms to differentiate real fingerprints from doctored fingerprints, which can secure your home from potential break-ins even further.
Also, the fingerprint scanners identify your registered fingers in 0.3 seconds to shorten the waiting time significantly. The fingerprint scanners are also highly scratch resistant and don’t leave your prints behind. As a result, these scanners secure your data and remain fully functional over extended periods.
Unlocking a smart lock with a fingerprint takes less time than a passcode. So, it’s more convenient. But it’s not comparable to Bluetooth connectivity (as this keyless entry option is unbeatable in convenience). However, fingerprint scanning remains secure and more convenient than passcode entry. The drawback here can be if you want to allow guests or service professionals to enter, where a passcode might be more useful.
Even though fingerprint scanners offer convenient keyless entry into your home, your smart lock might not identify greasy fingers. So, you want to keep your registered fingerprint clean and sweat-free. The scanner works similarly to a smartphone fingerprint scanner.
Are Smart Locks Battery-Powered?
Yes, smart locks are usually battery-powered. Since smart locks are electromechanical locking devices, they comprise electronic components that control the mechanical components that lock and unlock your door.
But the electronic components require electricity to function. So, that means smart locks require electrical energy to grant you keyless entry to your home. And this electricity comes from battery power.
Smart locks use two types of batteries: dry and lithium-ion batteries. After fitting your preferred smart lock with the correct batteries, it will use the battery power to operate its wireless chips, backlit touchscreen, and motor that locks and unlocks your door.
Dry batteries are the common electrical energy source for smart locks. Smart locks use these batteries in 3 arrangements:
Single Group AA Batteries
As its name suggests, this group comprises 4 AA dry batteries. Usually, this group provides stable electricity for 6 – 12 months. But this period varies from one smart lock brand to another, with 12 months being the maximum period after which you will replace your batteries.
Dual Group AA Batteries
Smart locks using dry batteries in this arrangement have two battery groups, each containing 4 AA batteries. The second group provides backup power when the first group runs out of charge. Therefore, this dry battery arrangement supplies power for an extended period reaching 12 – 20 months.
A Single Group Of 8 AAA Batteries
Although rare, some smart locks use 8 AA batteries to function. Usually, these batteries provide power for increased torque. The limited smart locks with this dry battery arrangement usually do not additionally contain lithium batteries.
Smart locks could also rely on an external motor consuming more power to drive the mortise. Even if you fit 8 AA batteries to such smart locks, they will consume more power, and your batteries won’t last 5 months.
So that leaves you with lithium batteries as the only reliable power source. What’s more impressive is that these batteries boast a high-charge capacity of 3000 mAh to power smart locks for unmatched periods. But these more powerful batteries pose an explosion risk common with mobile phone batteries.
Can A Smart Lock Also Monitor the Front Door Space?
In addition to Wi-Fi connectivity, smart locks can also feature HD cameras to record everything in front of your door. So, that means smart locks have a microSD card slot to store the recorded video. Also, you can view live video via the smart lock app on your smartphone since your smart lock connects to Wi-Fi.
But some smart locks only allow you to see the live video with no option of recording. And if you want to record what the HD camera sees, you will subscribe to a plan allowing you to store and retrieve data.
The microSD cards usually have limited space and can’t store an entire day’s video. So, smart locks usually feature motion sensors to record video on the microSD only if they pick up movements. Also, you will receive alerts if someone is in your front yard.
You will usually receive in-app notifications with an option to view what your camera sees. And if you have a family member waiting outside, you can unlock the door remotely. Also, you can share a passcode to allow them access to your home with no traditional key.
Usually, smart door lock and video doorbell combos have video recording capability. So, you want to be specific in your search if you’re also looking to see everything along with securing your door. Smart lock and video doorbell combos will be your best smart home devices.
Can You Use Keyless Entry Options When Battery Power Runs Low?
You can still gain keyless entry to your home even when your smart lock battery power runs low. That’s because smart locks usually feature a micro-USB port for connecting them with an external battery, usually a power bank. As a result, your smart lock will restore all its keyless entry functions, allowing you to enter a passcode or scan your registered fingerprint.
Also, your smart lock will detect your smartphone to auto-unlock the front door. So, even if your batteries run low, you can still gain keyless entry to your home. You only have to connect a power bank to your smart lock via the micro-USB port.
Can You Still Unlock Your Door with No Backup Power?
If your smart lock batteries run low on power and you have no power backup, you can still unlock your front door. Smart locks feature a backup mechanical key to override the keyless entry features. What’s more, some smart door locks even support mechanical code discs for unlocking your door when the battery power drains drastically. These entry options will save you from inconveniences when your smart lock batteries are dead.
The mechanical key might not be what you expect to unlock your door when batteries run flat, but it comes in handy. Therefore, smart door locks don’t lock you out if their batteries run low on power, and this makes them must-have smart home devices.
What Makes Smart Locks More Secure?
Smart locks are more secure than traditional locks since they usually require no traditional key to unlock your door. Usually, smart locks grant you keyless entry to your home with the use of a passcode. You can set the passcode to 4 – 8 digits.
If you want to make your smart door lock more secure, you want to set an 8-digit passcode since this is harder to guess. Aside from the passcode keyless entry, smart locks can also feature fingerprint scanners to detect your fingerprint in 0.3 seconds.
Smart locks feature computer chips and radio receivers that detect your smartphone if you’re within Bluetooth connectivity range. Even more impressive, smart door locks have encryption software to protect your stored data. So, this makes them virtually impossible to bypass.
Also, smart locks connect to your home Wi-Fi network to grant you remote control over them. To secure your smart lock from hackers, you want to set a complex Wi-Fi password and connect your smart lock to this network.
Generally, smart locks are more secure and protect your home from potential burglars. If you’re looking to add an extra layer of security, you’ll want to install smart door locks in all your doors.
Do Smart Locks Have Some Disadvantages?
One setback is the significantly high price. While smart locks are becoming more affordable, like other smart home devices, they still cost more than standard locks. Most smart locks cost $100. But you can also find a host of these smart home devices requiring you to pay anywhere between $200 – $300.
Aside from the high cost, smart locks also run out of charge after some time, and you will need to replace their batteries. Usually, they use dry batteries that last 6 – 12 months. When the battery power begins to plummet, your smart lock will sound a low battery warning alarm.
You will then replace your drained batteries with new batteries. But you can boost the battery power via a micro-USB port featured on these smart locks. The smart lock will then have enough power to resume its keyless entry functions to full capacity.
Installation is usually easy, but not everyone can handle it. The best solution is to call a professional to handle the installation work. However, if you love DIY projects, you might be able to install your new smart door lock on your own.
Also important to note is that most smart locks don’t work efficiently in extreme cold. But you can find a few incredible models that work in temperatures as low as -40°F. If you live in an area known to experience adverse cold, you want to look for the best smart door locks for cold weather to handle the extreme cold.
Smart locks have some drawbacks. But they still outperform standard locks, usually making them worthy investments to bolster your home security.
How Do Smart Locks Stand Against Brute Force?
Smart locks usually go under two tests before leaving the factory, so you can expect them to secure your front door after installation. These tests include:
This test involves taking a smart lock apart to examine its components for vulnerability. As a result of taking a smart lock apart, a tester will find vulnerable parts in the mechanics of the smart lock.
This test subjects smart locks to brute-force sledgehammering to test durability and security. Smart locks withstanding significant brute force have higher security grade ratings. Also, this test exposes smart locks to varying degrees of weather.
Usually, add-on smart locks don’t stand up to the force tests as well as smart locks with integrated deadbolts.
Smart door locks secure front doors and prevent break-ins significantly. Since they allow for keyless entry, they minimize the use of traditional keys, and this ensures you don’t lose a key only for someone to find it and make a copy.
Also, smart locks secure your data as they’re highly encrypted. You can conveniently control them from anywhere and use your voice assistant for hands-free control. While they are pricier than traditional locks, they are usually a worthy investment for most homeowners.
If you want to bolster your home security, consider adding smart locks to your front doors. Even better, install smart locks and video doorbell combos.