One of the fastest-growing trends in both home security and in the smart home market is installing a smart lock. These locks make it easier to unlock and lock your doors providing a level of convenience that is attractive to a variety of demographics.
Because of this, many people (maybe yourself included?) are curious about how smart locks truly work and what the benefits are.
Do All Smart Locks Require a Hub?
Do smart locks require a hub? No. Smart locks do not require a hub; they are capable of working as locks and still having features without a hub. Despite this, adding a hub to your smart lock is going to increase the ability to use various features making it more versatile for use in providing safety for your home.
With that in mind, and maybe your mind at ease, there are different features available with different smart locks, and adding a hub to the mix may be the best way to achieve your desired result.
Smart locks provide a level of convenience that users report to be a valued investment in their homes. Further, this innovative device increases your level of safety and security which is likely to decrease anxiety by providing a level of control like never before.
How a Smart Lock Works
Smart locks are usually deadbolt-style locks that use electromechanical functions to perform their tasks. The unlocking and locking mechanism can be triggered through different devices, often smartphones, using an encrypted key to prove ownership or authorization.
Smart locks are heavily used by people with rental properties but are becoming more popular among regular homeowners as well. Having a smart lock allows you more freedom for yourself as well as friends and family.
Smart locks are a great option to use for rental stays in which the host might not be available to unlock the door upon the guests’ arrival (such as short-term stay homes). This style of lock is also ideal for anyone who frequently asks themselves, “Did I remember to lock my door?”
With a smart lock, you never have to worry or ask this question again. You can simply check your smart device application to verify if the smart lock is bolted or unbolted providing you with control over your home’s security even if you are not there.
What about having a key?
All locks have keys; however, smart locks do not always have traditional keys. The primary key for a smart lock is usually an app that can be downloaded for your smartphone or other smart devices (such as a tablet, iPad, etc.).
Often times, you will have the option of a numeric pin pad in order to provide access when the phone or app is unavailable. This will be secured to the door in which the lock is placed, so you never need to worry about a dead smartphone inhibiting your ability to lock your door.
This numeric pin pad code can be securely set or reset by following the instructions that come with your specific device.
On top of both of these features, many smart locks do have a single key that can work in case the electricity features in the lock have a failure.
This feature not only provides a “just in case” alternative to your smart lock but can also provide versatility in case you decide to turn off the “smart” features of your lock for any reason.
What Are the Benefits of Installing a Smart Lock?
Benefits can fit into different categories depending on the specific lock you choose and whether or not you decide to connect a hub. I will list some of the top benefits and make a note of where a hub would be required.
1. No more keys
This is usually the top reason that people desire the change and encompasses many instances for use.
Not carrying around keys can be a pretty tantalizing situation, as they are prone to get lost and costing us money. If you are looking to downgrade your keychain, a smart lock is the way to go.
Not having keys also adds a level of convenience which you might not even realize can benefit you. Imagine you are carrying a large set of groceries. Instead of rummaging through your pockets or purse to find your house key, simply enter the 4- to 6-digit pin and you will be permitted a more convenient entrance.
Perhaps you enjoy a breezy stroll or going for a jog. With a smart lock, you will not have to worry about which clothes to wear that best hold your key, and your key will not be jabbing you in your pocket during your run.
2. Many modes of entrance
Although a smartphone app is usually the primary means of unlocking the door, these locks are often installed with a keypad, a lock, and less commonly voice-control. This variety of options leaves you no doubt that you will lose your key.
Through a variety of entrance options, you can also use whatever works best for you and your family’s needs.
If you have small children who can remember a 4- to 6-digit code but would otherwise lose a key, they might enjoy the convenience (and you might enjoy the security) of using the keypad option upon arrival to your home.
3. Allow others to enter
Whether it’s having a friend over, family coming to assist you, or you need someone to run in and turn off the stove quick – a smart lock allows you to give away a “spare key” in a sense to anyone who needs it. This is beneficial when planned or in case of an emergency.
This function is particularly useful for rental or short-stay property owners who know they will not be at the property upon the renter or guests’ arrival.
The host or landlord can also maintain easy access to the home without having to keep track of a set of keys providing convenience in case of maintenance repairs, cleaning work, or more.
4. Remember to lock up (hub needed)
Often, people struggle with anxious thoughts surrounded by the security of their homes. Knowing that you can check your home’s security status at any point can increase feelings of comfort and control, thus decreasing anxious thoughts and tendencies.
Feeling in control of one’s self and one’s security is a leading factor in decreasing anxiety.
Many of the smart lock phone apps have notification settings reminding you to lock up when you forget.
The smart lock is always looking out for your safety and attempting to remind you when it thinks you may be vulnerable. No notification, but you think you forgot to lock the door? Just check the app for it.
5. Control from afar (hub required)
Hand-in-hand with the previously listed benefit, not only can you receive a notification to alert you that your house may not be locked, but you can also lock or unlock the door from anywhere (with unlimited range or distance).
If you want to let someone in but do not want them to have a passcode, you can just unlock it for them as they arrive.
Having control from afar may permit you to have the comfort of knowing your home is locked if you are on an extended vacation, for example. Imagine a “Home Alone” scenario, except instead of forgetting “Kevin” you forgot to lock the door.
No need to rush home from your family’s Christmas vacation to Paris- just select the “lock” option on the application paired with your smart lock.
With all of these benefits to upgrading your lock to a smart lock, it is safe to say that the benefits outweigh any of the negative consequences.
With increased accessibility and control, you are able to perform significantly more tasks to ensure both safety and convenience for anyone entering your home.
Are Smart Locks Safe?
Overall, a smart lock is a much safer alternative to a traditional lock. There are usually multiple modes of entering that are significantly more difficult to hack than picking a traditional lock.
Further, the smart lock typically has a deadbolt lock as its main function meaning that your door will have a more structured and reinforced structure providing security than a simple doorknob lock.
On top of this, the codes of a smart lock can be changed, so if there ever is a worry that someone knows your key-code, you have the possibility of changing the code at a moment’s notice without having to wait on a lock replacement.
The top safety benefit to smart locks is no more lost keys. You never have to worry if a key is lost because there is no more physical key to lose through regular use (even though there is likely one for backup use).
No more offering your friend or family member a key for their stay. If you are renting a property or hosting a bed and breakfast type stay, there is no more getting the locks rekeyed or worrying if there was a copy made.
Smart locks eliminate the largest safety issues among normal locks and increase the owner’s ability to “rekey” their own house any time.
Finally, smart locks provide safety at an unlimited range. While traditional locks are only able to be checked in person, smart locks can be checked from any time and any place.
A smart lock owner can always have peace of mind in his or her secured home while this may not always be the case for a traditional lock owner.
Downsides and Security Risks to Getting a Smart Lock
While smart locks do eliminate the most common safety issues with traditional locks, there are still a couple of security issues with smart locks to be aware of. These usually include a connectivity issue, which is the danger of any newer technology.
Here are some of the most common (though still rare) safety issues to be aware of.
Hacking into a smart lock
While it is difficult to do, a smart lock is still susceptible to being hacked, especially if it is connected via WiFi. You will want to ensure that your WiFi connection is safe before connecting any smart lock to it.
Although this form of hacking into a smart lock is a possibility, it is a difficult thing to do – much more difficult than picking a normal lock. It is likely that the sheer level of difficulty of hacking this type of lock would deter an unwanted intruder.
Power outage/WiFi goes out
When you rely on an app to do your unlocking, power outages or WiFi dysconnectivity can be detrimental to your smart lock. Luckily, many smart locks have a pin pad that is not dependent on the house’s WiFi connectivity or power source.
If, for some reason, your lock is out of power and the WiFi is out, this is when having a smart lock with a master key can be useful. Overall, most smart locks are equipped to deal with this by having backup batteries and a pin pad.
Even with these possible issues, a smart lock is still much safer than a traditional lock.
Your chance of a WiFi and power outage on the lock or being hacked via WiFi by someone skilled enough to get through the lock security, is much, much lower than the chance of having a lost or stolen set of keys.
Is the Smart Hub a Good Idea to Pair with a Smart Lock?
While the smart lock is a perfectly functioning lock without the hub, the hub adds a new level of control that is greatly beneficial to the user.
Without the hub you will not be able to control from afar, nor know if you forgot to lock the door. While these are not primary functions of a normal lock or even a smart lock, they can increase your home safety and your peace of mind tenfold as previously discussed.
It is definitely a good idea to purchase a hub if you are going to invest in a smart lock. This will help you to maximize the value and receive the most optimal benefits of the smart lock device itself.
What is a smart lock hub?
The hub is the piece of technology that connects your smart lock to the rest of your network of smart devices.
The hub allows more features on your smart lock and allows you to control them from anywhere. Without the hub, your smart lock is just a fancier-looking, glorified deadbolt.
With a smart lock hub, you will be able to use apps (connected to your smart device, such as a smartphone, that you regularly keep with you) in order to check the status of your home security.
You will be able to lock or unlock your home with the convenience of a button/key-code from afar rather than having to be next to the keypad or at your home to do so.
Do smart locks word with Alexa/Google/Siri?
Smart locks, like all smart home devices, are continuing to become more and more advanced and versatile.
In the last couple of years, smart locks have begun to gain the ability to connect to your other smart devices, such as the Amazon Echo or the Google Homepod – although most still do not have this ability.
I would expect this to become a standard feature in smart locks as this piece of technology continues to progress.
Can smart locks get glitchy?
Unfortunately, yes, smart locks can get glitchy. Sometimes smart locks have software issues and refuse to open in the ways in which they were created to open.
Although this happens, it is an increasingly rare occurrence as companies are becoming significantly better and more aware of creating and testing their software to prevent this issue.
The most notable cases of smart locks getting glitchy are when a company updates software and there happens to be a bug in the update.
The moral of this is that you should buy from a large, reliable company and make sure you sign up to know when updates are going to be pushed through for your smart lock device.
This will ensure your preparedness and awareness of any potential company software updates that could affect your device.
How much do Smart Locks cost?
Smart locks, similar to any other piece of technology, increase in price as they increase in features. Smart locks that simply have keypads will range between $60-$150.
However, if you would like for your smart lock to be able to be paired with other smart devices or applications, the devices will likely range closer to the $150-$300 range.
The overall cost of the smart lock should be considered as an investment to your home and your security options.
While smart locks are not necessary to provide the traditional lock security, they do add a level of security and convenience which cannot truly be calculated.
When running a cost-benefit analysis for this device, remember that it will likely be a one-time purchase that can eliminate the costs of lost keys, changing the locks on your home, and other unforeseeable costs of a traditional lock.
Finally, the investment in a smart lock will add significantly more value to your updated home as compared to the price tag.
Also read: What to do if a smart hub keeps updating