What are smart door locks? A Beginner’s Guide!
Convenience, security, and ease; that’s where smart locks come in.
Imagine you are bone-weary, trying to escape the rain and holding a heavy bag of groceries. All you can think of is a hot shower and some R&R.
Reality then hits you in the form of a locked door. Where exactly did you keep the key?
As you fumble in your bag balancing the groceries at uncomfortable angles, you can’t help imagining that there has to be a better way to do this.
Well, there is.
The solution to your problem is quite simple – a smart lock!
What are smart locks?
A smart lock is a digital solution to your security worries.
It can replace the traditional lock-and-key system with one based on wireless or biometric authentication instead.
When considering convenience and accessibility, it is a safer alternative than leaving a spare key with a neighbor or under a potted plant.
As with other gadgets, smart locks come with a host of features. From simple camera to 3D face recognition, video recording, and fingerprint access to multi-unlocking options, the features are endless and depend on your preferences, budget, and the specific lock.
You even can use smart locks for specific rooms you don’t want others to access, like your home office or bedroom. Personally, I think it’s best for first timers to try it out indoors before trusting them with their entire property.
What are the requirements?
The most obvious would be to have a reasonably sturdy door with an internal lock and key system. The old draw-the-bolt-and-then-lock-the-door system won’t do here.
After all, the smart lock basically will slide in place to replace the old mechanism or can complement the existing lock system, based on your preference and level of paranoia.
Most smart locks can easily replace your traditional locking system, depending on their design. Thus, it’s simply about removing the old one and replacing it with the new one if it’s a match!
But do remember, individual brands have different specifications. Furthermore, a smart lock in no way makes the door sturdier, it only deals with the locking mechanism.
Thus, if you are taking the trouble to upgrade to a new system, ensure that the door is in good shape too. Also, since the lock would need to access the internet (though some have Bluetooth, fingerprint, and pin options too) you would require to have one WiFi router in range.
Are they easy to install?
There is no universal answer here. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube, indicating it can be DIYed.
However, the installation can be complicated as well, and since it’s about your home security, we recommend hiring a skilled locksmith or going through the user manual for instructions.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to first check the compatibility of the smart lock to your door before you buy it. Different brands have different requirements.
In some cases, the smart lock simply integrates with the existing deadbolt. Here, the present locking mechanism of your door should be working smoothly. If the lock jams, doesn’t close fully, or needs a push, the smart lock might not work properly.
On the other hand, some smart locks have everything of their own, and your existing lock needs to be removed completely.
Also, the thickness of the door will matter as well as the present cut. If this sounds a lot like guesswork, the best bet will be a skilled locksmith.
Dying batteries, lost WiFi connectivity, etc.
Like your phone, most smart locks have indicators that let homeowners know when the battery is beginning to run out. This, in theory, will allow you ample time to make the replacement.
But let’s say you missed it completely. In that case, it depends on the specific locks. Some have a backup key that you can use just like you would do in the case of traditional locks.
A few locks, like some from Philips, Lockly, etc., have provisions to connect them to a power bank or a small external battery for emergency operation.
For loss of internet connectivity, you can always operate the lock through the keypad or manually. Once in, you can troubleshoot and check what is wrong with the lock or the Wi-Fi settings.
A luxury or a need?
A smart lock is like any other home gadget or appliance. Whether you need it or can’t live without it solely depends upon you!
Here is a checklist, if you end up ticking more a few options maybe you should consider switching over to a smart lock:
- Do you sometimes forget to lock your door (it might sound silly, but it happens to even the best of us)? If yes, the auto-lock feature in most smart locks can be a boon here.
- Do you often lose your house keys or misplace them? Or do other members use them too? Having multiple key sets, and lost keys is a security threat.
- Do you leave town often and require lending a key to a friend or relative for a quick check-up?
- Do you want to track who enters and leaves your house and when?
- Are they particular rooms you want to restrict access to without the hassle of keeping the keys safe?
The above are just a few reasons to switch over. If you already have a smart home and are tech-savvy, you might simply want to go for a smart lock just for convenience.
However, whatever brand you do eventually go for, be meticulous in checking their security ratings, durability, battery life, and security. Your safety is ultimately in your hands.
Any issues to look out for
Smart locks are technological devices. Like any piece of technology, they too have their hangups.
Due to technical glitches, it is possible that the smart lock may fail to install or open on your mobile device. Or due to a glitch, you might not receive notification or warning messages. Also, the screen or lock may become unresponsive at times. There could be connectivity issues or delayed responses as well.
There are smart locks that allow you to use your keys aside from features like pin codes. Thus, if you do not want to be completely dependent on the smart component, consider choosing one with an additional mode of access, like a physical key.
A smart lock definitely is a smart solution. It does make your home more accessible. However, with these pros come cons as well. Proceed with an informed decision and be cautious in your choice of lock.
If you are uncertain about using one directly on your front door, you could try the system internally first. If you find it suits you, then you can proceed to the front door. Also, for better home security, consider having a security system in place. This would be ideal when paired with a smart lock.
Joy R Bhamre
Joy R Bhamre always knew she was born to write. Her passion for reading and writing can only be eclipsed by her love for the latest technology. She is an author with over 12 years of writing experience varying from digital to academic. Her fiction novel “Apocalypse” is a page turner featuring Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness and his one chance at redemption. When not glued to her computer or smartphone, she loves muddying her hands with organic and hydroponic gardening to make this world a greener place.