In this world where an increasing number of crimes marks insecurity over people, strengthening the security of your home and workplace is very important.
To ensure that the people you love and the things you work hard for are safe and secured, the use of smart locks are among the most popular options nowadays. Glowing reviews by tech magazines and companies leave few questions for the consumer.
Are smart locks worth it?
One common question is, are smart locks worth the investment? Overall, yes, smart locks have multiple advantages that are worth your investment. Despite having a relatively higher price than traditional deadbolts, smart locks are more convenient and they provide advanced security features that can keep your home safe.
Just because smart locks tend to be safer and more convenient, does not leave them without their flaws. Beyond their significantly higher price point, I have included a large list of pros and cons for purchasing this device. By the end of this article, you will know for sure whether or not a smart lock is worth your investment, and I am assuming you will agree that it is.
Why Are Smart Locks So Expensive?
At the end of the day, all advanced technology comes with larger price increases. Take a look, for instance, at the Apple iPhone. Each model that comes out has a significant (10% or more) increase over the last. Smart technology is no different.
While it is undeniable that smart locks are expensive solutions to secure establishments and homes, they come with many advanced features compared to a traditional lock system, thus making their worth soar.
Some of these features include: control from far away, changing the pin at any time, using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to unlock it, using an app to unlock it, and increased surveillance and security of your property.
On top of the cost of the technology, you may also need the help of a professional to install a smart lock in your home. Smart locks also require batteries to work, and you need to connect it to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth before you can access its full functionality.
All of these are increased costs overall in comparison to the traditional lock. It is also essential to know that fixing a malfunctioning smart lock may cost you more out-of-pocket as well.
Despite all the extra costs, for most people, spending more money on a reliable security device is worth it. Investing in the right smart lock is important to make sure that your payment is made on a profitable cause. Proceeding to the tips and guide we have below will help you choose the best smart lock for your home.
Pros and Cons of Smart Locks
Before I am truly able to tell you that a smart lock is a worthy investment for you, I want to share a list of advantages and disadvantages to owning a smart lock. I will try to outline all of the most popular and common reasons, as well as a few other factors that you may not have considered.
The Advantages of Smart Locks
1. Smart Locks Brings Convenience.
Despite smart locks’ boasts of higher safety and features, the top reason many people get one is for convenience. Smart Locks are specially developed to make life convenient. These devices have advanced features such as voice control, remote access, and scenes, among others.
Today, most smart locks integrate the functionality of different artificial intelligence (AI) like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. These programs can execute every command you give as long as they are in the range of what they can do.
For example, by saying, “Ok, Google, goodnight,” to a smart home device the lights in your room will switch to dim. So if you utilize smart locks, you can use one of these AI to lock your door only by a single command.
You can also remotely control a smart lock when it is Wi-Fi connected. But, it will require you to buy a portable, plug-in Wi-Fi hub to link your smart lock to your home network. After a successful installation, you can start using the device to lock and unlock the door in your house even if you are away.
With this functionality, you no longer need to worry about leaving your door unlocked during a business trip. Most smart locks provide an alert when you unintentionally left your door unlocked or open.
For more information on smart locks and hubs, see my article here.
2. With Smart Locks, No Need to Dump your Old Keys.
When purchasing a smart lock, you may still use your old keys. Some models of smart locks can be attached to the inner side of your door, which means, you can still use your existing bolts as well as your old keys. This will also allow you to save more time during the installation process.
3. It is a Stylish Way to Secure your Home.
Unlike what most people imagine, most smart locks can look like an ordinary lock. They do not need to be bulky and oddly shaped to provide stronger security and safety to a home.
If you take a closer look, smart locks look similar to a regular deadbolt. But once you experience its advanced features, you will be able to notice the huge difference between the two.
Some smart locks boast a one-tap unlock feature that provides ease for homeowners. Others come with a smartphone app that users can utilize to unlock and lock the device.
For those people who want a stylish way to secure their home, a smart lock with a traditional deadbolt lock and keypad is ideal. There is a wide selection of sleek, smart locks on the market today that you can choose from, and you can pick the best smart lock for your needs ranging from classic to modern in design.
4. Allow People to Enter even When You’re Away.
When you are at work, and you need to receive a delivery at home, you no longer need to rush home just to get the package. Most smart locks allow homeowners to watch who is knocking at their front door and let the delivery staff place the package inside.
You do not need to worry about security, though, because the door will not open without your permission. You can choose whether or not to open the door with the help of the camera that is included with many smart locks.
On top of this, when utilizing smart locks, you no longer have to hide spare keys in the most odd and uneasy to get to places anymore. This smart device utilizes digital keys instead, which you can share with others using the smart lock’s accompanying mobile application (or code).
You can also set what times of the day a person can enter your abode. This feature is especially useful for transients who allow people to stay for a limited period. For example, if a person is only authorized to enter an establishment, room, or home from Monday to Friday, say, for instance, starting from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., provide a digital key that is set according to the time and date agreed. Families, on the other hand, can give unlimited access to every member using digital keys.
5. Smart Locks Provide Additional Home Security.
Traditional lock keys might be stolen, destroyed, misplaced, or forgotten. Smart locks, on the other hand, will not bring you these kinds of issues because they are connected to your network.
Smart lock users should always update their apps, secure their passwords, as well as utilize a PIN to unlock their doors using voice assistants. All of this will allow you to keep your home secure from morning to evening.
Another downside to physical keys is their ability to be duplicated. It is one of the ways for criminals to intrude your home. Having access to your home makes it easier for them to cause crime. For this reason, homeowners are gradually switching to smart locks to add another layer of security to their homes.
One of the best features of a smart lock is the ability to automatically lock after a given period of time. It can also lock the door when it detects that your phone has left the area. Setting a radius from your phone is a great way to ensure that your home is always locked when you are away.
Some smart lock models feature a design that completely removes a keyway. As a result, it would be impossible for burglars to intrude on your home by picking locks.
The Disadvantages Of Smart Locks
1. They (Usually) Requires Networks and Smart Phones.
Smart locks rely on smartphones and networks to work. They utilize Bluetooth technology and/or wireless internet connection, which means the security of your home and the safety of your family depends on these things.
It is also possible that you can get locked out of your own home if your smartphone is stolen and this is your only current means of entrance. The same is true if there is a power outage that may shut down your home’s Wi-Fi connection.
You have to come with a backup plan when using smart locks to avoid these possible downfalls since smart locks do not always allow remote unlocking if you are not connected to the network.
2. Smart Locks are Battery Operated.
Before installing a smart lock in your home, you have to understand that many require batteries to work. This means that smart locks will stop working when their battery dies. You should keep monitoring their batteries to know when to change them. Doing so will allow you to ensure that they do not run out of charge.
Many smart locks apps and the device themselves will have a monitor for battery power. You will be able to check that the battery is still good at any time, and many will send notifications to your phone when it is time to go about changing the battery.
3. Smart Locks can be Hackable.
According to Stuart Madnick, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, smart locks can get hacked most likely because of the careless actions of the owner (aka user error).
During the hacker convention called DEF CON in the year 2016, smart lock safety was addressed among presentations. Among the presenters included Merculite Security who tested around sixteen different smart locks that utilize Bluetooth technology to fully function.
The test showed that 75% of the smart locks arrive with security vulnerabilities that allow a hacker to breach them.
Some of the found vulnerabilities are the following:
- Replay attacks
- Plain text passwords
- Device spoofing
- Decompiling APK files
Since 2016, many of these smart locks have made leaps and bounds in security measures and are virtually unhackable. Most smart locks today requires a Wi-Fi connection for a stronger layer of security.
You can now find smart locks that allow users to lock and unlock remotely using Wi-Fi connection and provides alerts when someone knocks at your door.
But even with the help of Wi-Fi connection and updated software, some smart locks are still at risk of hacking. Sometimes your Wi-Fi network is the issue.
Once someone gets onto the Wi-Fi, the criminal may attempt to override the lock’s entry code. It helps if the smart lock you install can automatically send you and the police an alert when an unauthorized individual accessed your security lock.
Keep in mind that the hackability of the device also depends on the hacker’s own ability (and effort). Many criminals would prefer a traditional lock to pick than a smart device to hack.
What Features Should I Expect in My New Smart Lock?
As mentioned earlier, smart locks offer varying features that may or may not be suitable for you. To help you decide whether smart locks are worth the investment, here are some of the features that most smart locks have:
In the past years, traditional door locks only use a physical key as a method of authentication. But the problem with physical keys is that they are subjected to being misplaced, stolen, or left behind.
The improved authentication methods of smart locks today makes them a good investment for those people who want to strengthen the security of their home and protect their loved ones. Digital door locks provide a wide selection of authentication methods that are ideal for your varying needs.
Aside from multiple authentication methods, smart locks also integrate security tokens to provide another level of security. A security token is scanned, most commonly through a proximity card that is portable enough to fit in your wallet.
Other security tokens are in the form of codes passed and are accessed through smartphones. These codes may have a different level of accessibility, such as being effective only from Monday to Friday and so much more.
Other smart lock models arrive with numerical codes as a method of authentication. Usually, these locks are dubbed as digital keypad locks given that they integrate numeric keypad to allow the user to enter the numeric code or PIN.
Most smart locks that utilize PIN codes for authentication accept a combination of numbers that includes between four to twelve digits. These security locks also do not need physical keys to let users lock or unlock the door.
For most people, the use of biometrics for security can only be achieved through super expensive security systems. But nowadays, anyone will be able to use this technology for their homes and establishments by installing smart locks.
Biometrics is the best feature that a smart lock can have, providing a stronger and unique identification system. This technology includes any locking system like door locks that requires a unique physical characteristic of a person, such as an eye scan. It can also be through fingerprint, voice, or hand geometry to provide access.
Through sensors and scanners, smart locks that utilize biometrics will open the door automatically once it recognizes that you are among the individuals that have been granted access. The most advanced smart locks today integrate these kinds of authentication that offers the strongest level of security.
Another impressive feature of smart locks includes automatic locking. If you are among those individuals who hate to go through the hassle of manually locking your door before leaving your home, consider investing in smart locks with this feature.
Some models of smart locks offer automatic locking by detecting your smartphone, where the accompanying app is installed if it has left the area. Another is by checking if the door is closed correctly.
Multiple Access Solutions
For families, this feature is often considered to be the best reason to invest in a smart lock. If everyone is out for different reasons such as attending school, work, or vacation, then providing multiple access for every family member is necessary.
Also, if you wish to provide limited access to other people, this can be a handy solution. Providing a key to a friend, for example, can be more convenient this way. Some smart lock allows you to set it using its accompanying mobile application.
Using the app, you need to set a time frame that determines the time when your friend can have access using the unique code it generates afterward.
Smart locks also offer different methods of authentication that were mentioned earlier. These are to let you have a backup solution in case of losing your smartphone, misplacing your card, or any other reason you can think of.
For added security, most smart locks are compatible with alarm systems that alert when there is an unauthorized individual who attempts or is attempting to intrude. When smart locks are integrated into such systems, you can rest easy knowing that your family and properties are safe and secure.
Things To Consider Before Purchasing Your Smart Lock
To invest in the right smart lock, you have to consider many different factors. Doing so will help you to avoid spending money on the wrong device and allow you to make the most out of your investment.
Below I have outlined many of the preliminary things that should be taken into account when you find yourself in the market for a new smart lock.
Inspecting Your Door
Smart locks arrive with different benefits. On the other hand, most of these security devices have one thing in common, and that is, they will turn your deadbolt automatically. For this reason, you have to make sure that your door is suitable for the job.
Make sure that your door is well-aligned so the smart lock’s bolt can lock and unlock smoothly with its automatic operation. If not, this will cause your security lock to fail and malfunction. Another thing you should do is to check if the door jamb is suitable for the smart lock’s bolt.
Smart locks will try to extend the bolt entirely, so if the door jamb does not have enough depth, the motor of your smart lock may burn and damage your door.
If you have a large, fancy handle, your door may have holes in it that are not able to fit most smart locks. Be aware of this before purchasing a lock that will leave your door looking and working poorly.
Knowing that you can Install (or Afford Someone to Do So)
With the complications of both door compatibility, Wi-Fi, hubs, Bluetooth, and more – it can be a daunting task to consider installing a smart lock.
Thankfully, many companies and retailers offer this service to you. Do your due diligence as many locks have instructional videos and tutorials online to help you get the new system installed. If nothing else, have a plan as to who you can call (and how much they charge) in case you need to use a service to do this.
Smart Locks: How Do They Work?
For starters, smart locks are high-end door locks that do not require keys. These devices can let you unlock and lock your door without the need for a physical key.
You can control a smart lock using its accompanying mobile app that you can install on your smartphone. Most models of this security device today integrate a numeric keypad on the lock allowing users to utilize a unique PIN code.
Additionally, many smart locks need to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi. This will allow you to receive alerts and let you give a command of whether to lock or unlock the device. Some smart locks require you to either replace your entire lock system or install it over the existing lock of your home with just a few modifications.
Often, smart locks can be connected to a complete smart home. You can also link these devices to other smart gadgets like smart speakers and even in the security system of your home. However, you will want to connect smart locks to a smart home hub that allows all smart devices to communicate and work together.
Are Smart Locks Difficult to Install?
Not necessarily. Smart locks do have many features, such as the WiFi and hubs, that can make them difficult during setup. However, they are also well-equipped with a variety of video, paper, and online tutorials as to how to install them. Here are the simplified steps to installing a smart lock yourself:
- Remove the Old Lock. An obvious first step, you will need to remove the old lock and know exactly how your door is set up and sized. This will help you pick out and place a new smart lock.
- Center the Bolt. One of the most important steps is to make sure the deadbolt is centered. Unlike a human using a normal lock, smart locks will not be able to pull or push on the door in order to make it fit just right. Having a centered bolt is crucial to getting your smart lock functioning well.
- Install the Outdoor Assembly. After the bolt is centered, place the cover with the mechanism through it and fasten it to the door. This will hold everything together while you finish the screws on the inside.
- Set Up the Info. Now that it is physically installed, make sure to download the app or connect it to the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth as needed. It will likely also have a pin that comes with it. Use this to do the initial setup and then follow the steps for resetting the password to ensure a safe lock.