Smart locks used to only be something found in science fiction or futuristic movie – the kind that identify you visually, or unlock when you are near. Well, the future is here now, and with the range of technology now available, there is a whole gamut of different types of smart locks available.
We look at the reasons for one, the different types and technology used and the interface for your next connected smart lock.
No longer just someone’s pet project or crowdfunding exercise through platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo; smart locks have gone mainstream with offerings from Yale, Kwikset, Schlage, Ultraloq, August and Nuki each with its own set of features. This makes choosing the right smart lock for your home quite a nightmare. That’s why we are here to help.
Why Do You Need One
Different smart locks offer different functionalities, here is a list of all the functionalities one can take advantage of. When choosing the right smart lock, be sure to check the specification for the features you are after. Not all smart locks are built the same. So here are your reasons to have one:
- To do away with keys, no more fumbling for key and no keys to carry, use keyless entry instead
- To lock or unlock your door remotely over the Internet
- To assign temporary virtual keys or pint to repairmen, pet sitter, neighbour, carer revoking when not needed
- To quickly and easily share virtual keys with close friends and family without fear of them losing it
- Schedule when a virtual key or pin can be used e.g. during the day only or from certain date range
- Get alerts and track who is entering the house based on assigned virtual key or pin
To automatically locks the door after a grace period
- No need to cut multiple copies of physical keys and leave them lying around
- Interface with voice activated assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit via Siri.
- Compatible with existing smart home kit such as SmartThings and Apple Homekit
- Never forget to lock the door at night
- With other smart home devices, create personalised recipes using IFTTT
- Some app lets you clone virtual keys or access if there are more than one lock
- Short term rental, home swap or AirBnB operators can manage guest access to their homes easily
- Homeowner letting their property never have to replace lock when changing tenants, simply revoke the virtual key or change the code.
- Full Deadbolt Setup – requires removal of existing lock. As most smart locks follow standard fittings, it is likely that it will sit in place of the old hardware without much alterations.
- Retrofit to use existing keyed cylinder and deadbolt – the smart lock is mounted over existing deadbolt hardware and works by physically turning the key to lock or unlock e.g. August Smart Lock, Kwikset Kevo Convert.
- Bluetooth: no hub required, short range, up to 40 feet or more depending on model (Bluetooth Low Energy), can be standalone, no Internet connection necessary, better battery life up to 1 year, companion app offered. Smart locks offering Bluetooth interface; Schlage, Yale, Ultraloq, August, Kwikset. On some model, hub is require to interface with home WiFi and for Internet connectivity.
- Z-Wave: requires a Z-Wave hub that will interface with the home router and connects to the Internet, long range, up to 120 feet or more, best battery life, companion app or works through Z-Wave hub app even those from third party like Samsung’s SmartThings and Wink Hub.
- Apple HomeKit: uses Apple’s approved end-to-end encryption for security. Use companion app on iOS and Apple TV to control, monitor, check history, remotely lock and unlock the door including the use of Siri voice commands.
- WiFi: requires a home router and connection to the Internet. Sometimes a hub is required to acts as a bridge between Bluetooth and WiFi like in the case of August Connect and Kwikset Kevo Plus.
- Combination of Bluetooth and WiFi or Bluetooth and Z-Wave for more flexibility
Most smart locks require a smartphone and app to unlock either with proximity or a manual button on the app. Others offer a touchscreen key pad for security pin code. More advanced smart lock includes fingerprint scanner. Some smart lock also offer the old school physical key to overwrite or unlock the door. It is quite common to have smart locks that use a combination of several interfaces for ease of use and peace of mind.
- Completely touch free – using Bluetooth proximity, with Bluetooth and app enabled on your mobile, simply approach the door and it will unlock automatically e.g. August opt-in auto-unlock enabled.
- Touchscreen key pad – set different key codes for different users, some with up to 250 codes e.g. Yale, Schlage, Ultraloq, Kwikset
- Fingerprint scanner – remembers up to 95 fingerprints and works quickly in under 0.5 seconds
- App to unlock – use the ‘knock’ to unlock function in the app
- Physical Backup Key – manually overwrite the lock with a physical key
- Combination of Bluetooth, Fingerprint Scanner, Touchscreen Key Pad, App and Physical Key.
Top 8 Best Smart Locks
- Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt – Built-In Alarm, Works with Amazon Alexa via Wink
- Yale Assure Lock with Bluetooth and Z-Wave – Works with Amazon Alexa via SmartThings and Wink (YRD446ZW2619)
- Ultraloq UL3 BT Bluetooth Enabled Fingerprint & Touchscreen Keyless Smart Door Lock
- Yale Assure Lock Touchscreen Keypad with Z-Wave – Works with Amazon Alexa via SmartThings and Wink
- Kwikset Premis Touchscreen Keypad & Bluetooth Smart Lock, Works with Apple HomeKit
- August Smart Lock 2nd Generation – Works with Amazon Alexa – RETROFIT
- Kwikset Kevo Touch-to-Open Bluetooth Smart Lock, Works with Amazon Alexa via Kevo Plus
- Nuki Smart Lock and Bridge – Bluetooth door lock: Automatic door opener with Wi-Fi – RETROFIT
Let’s take a closer look.
Schlage Z-Wave Connect is a 4-pin based deadbolt with built-In Alarm, works with Amazon Alexa via Wink or Iris. Available in Aged Bronze, Bright Brass, Bright Chrome, Matte Black, Satin Chrome or Satin Nickel (shown below) finish and in Camelot (shown below) or Century style. The century style has a more modern look and squared edges.
- requires smart hub from Nexia Home Intelligence (previously Schlage LiNK) to bridge Z-Wave devices to the Internet for remote management so you can lock or unlock the door remotely via web or smartphone
- once connected via hub, you can use voice control over Alexa to control the lock
- the exterior touchscreen keypad stores up to 30 personalised user access codes and has a matte finish to protect against fingerprints
- it has built-in alarm with 3 alert settings; activity, tamper, or forced entry
- the exterior backup key based lock cylinder lets you open the lock manually when battery is completely flat. Thumb turn interior lets you open from inside easily.
- uses 4 AA batteries and works with Z-wave systems, check for compatibility.
Yale Assure Lock uses Bluetooth and Z-Wave to let you lock and unlock your door remotely and use voice control with Amazon Alexa via SmartThings and Wink hub. With Amazon Alexa, you can lock and check lock status only. It has a clean, totally key less design. Available in Satin Nickel (shown below), Polished Brass or Oil Rubbed Bronze finish.
The deadbolt smart lock has an exterior backlit and capacitive touch touchscreen keypad that does not wear off and interior thumb turn.
Use the companion app on iOS, Android or Samsung gear smartwatch
- to lock and unlock the door with Bluetooth on approach by rotating the smartphone 90 degrees
- to manage keys, sharing or delete digital keys. The app includes 5 digital keys.
- to manage users’ access schedule for each user and view access history
- to create up to 12 unique 4-8 digit pin codes, adjust lock features and personalise settings
- receive notifications on access
Z-wave also works with Wink, Alarm.com, Vera and Iris. Uses 4 AA batteries. In doing away with the back-up key, there is a battery contact at the bottom to power the lock with a 9V battery if the lock’s battery is flat.
Ultraloq UL3 BT is an indiegogo funded project and is the only smart lock in our list with fingerprint scanner. The Ultraloq also comes with Bluetooth and touchscreen but does not support Z-Wave so does not play well with other Smart Home systems. There is also a hidden backup key access should you get locked out. With the app, there is also a Knock to Open open. Collectively the smart lock offers 5 access options (fingerprint, code, smartphone, knock to open or key). It is also the only smart lock with a latch so it can be used to replaced the deadbolt.
- Advanced fingerprint identification offers access in 0.5 seconds
- Enrol up to 95 fingerprints with scratchproof, dustproof and waterproof sensor without needing a phone
- Anti-peep touchscreen keypad with OLED display
- Long battery life with Bluetooth LE, up to 1 year or 8000 times access
- Low battery alarm with 3 AA batteries
- Mechanical key for backup
- Ultraloq app unlocks the door via Bluetooth, manage users, view access logs or clone users to another Ultraloq.
- Knock to Open (iOS) or Shake to Open (Android) on smartphones with Ultraloq app
Here is a Yale Assure Lock with back-up key lock. It works with Amazon Alexa via SmartThings and Wink.Available in Satin Nickel (shown below), Polished Brass or Oil Rubbed Bronze finish.
- The lock has a touchscreen keypad and backup key exterior and a thumb turn interior.
- unlocks with 4-8 digit pin using backlit, touchscreen keypad, with a physical key or with smart home app i.e. SmartThings. The later requires SmartThings hub.
- use voice control with Amazon Alexa also with Wink or SmartThing hub (all sold separately)
- create up to 25 pin codes or 250 unique pin codes with a controller module to share with family and friends
- Use with Z-Wave system such as SmartThings or Wink to access more features or as a standalone lock.
Works with Apple HomeKit
- Manual locking and unlocking using App via Bluetooth
- Manage custom codes for each user when within Bluetooth range for One-Time, Limited or Anytime access
- Connect to Apple TV and use iOS app on iPhone or iPad to check door status, monitor who is coming and going and lock or unlock the door remotely
- Up to 30 access codes, assigning different codes for different users allows for user tracking on app
- Set one-time, limited or anytime codes with allowed access schedule
- Alarm sounds after three incorrect consecutive code attempts
- Auto-Lock can be set to automatically lock the door after 30 seconds
- Use Master Code to stop users from adding or changing existing codes
- SecureScreen supports random codes before entering the personal code to make it safer and at the same time prevent fingerprint and code detection.
6. August Smart Lock 2nd Generation – RETROFIT
Works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant when used with August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge and Amazon Alexa, Apple TV or Google Home devices. August Smart Lock currently in its second generation is a retrofit lock that goes over the interior of the deadbolt and mechanically turn the existing lock to lock or unlock. This is a preferred choice if you do not want the hassle of removing your existing deadbolt. It would mean that the August Smart Lock needs to fit and work with existing locks.
- Control your door with your smartphone via Bluetooth LE and app (iOS or Android)
- Automatically locks your door as you leave and auto-unlocks as you approach.
- Keep your existing deadbolt. Installs in minutes on the inside of your door.
- Grant or restrict access to visitors anytime with virtual keys
- Voice Control – Lock your door using Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or the Google Assistant (Voice control with Alexa and the Assistant requires August Connect)
- Track who is coming and going with a 24/7 activity log on your smartphone.
- 4 AA batteries with App showing when batteries need replacing.
Use Siri on the iPhone or iPad to check lock status, lock and unlock the door via Apple HomeKit. There are also other accessories you might consider that works with the August Smart Lock.
New 3rd generation devices now available, see bottom of post.
The single cylinder Bluetooth enabled deadbolt works with Amazon Alexa via Kevo Plus. The Kwikset smart lock has a standard deadbolt exterior with backup key access and interior thumb turn lock. Use the companion app on a smartphone to unlock the door over Bluetooth. The second generation lock works with Alexa for voice controls but will need the Kevo Plus Hub sold separately.
- Unlock and unlock by loading and configuring the app over Bluetooth, then touch to open or use traditional key included or Fob (sold separately).
- App offers free ekeys that you can manage, share, receive notifications and monitor lock history
- voice commands with Alexa and optional Kevo Plus hub
- remotely control the lock and monitor access using Kevo app with Kevo Plus Hub
- 4 AA batteries
Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Ring Doorbell, Skybell, Nest Learning Thermostat, select Honeywell Thermostats, Android Wear and IFTTT.
8. Nuki Smart Lock and Bridge – RETROFIT
Bluetooth door lock with Wi-Fi via bridge. Nuki is a european start up with Smart Lock for
- Smart access: Lock or unlock your door with a single tap – either on your smartphone app (iPhone and Android) or through a connected smartwatch
- Auto unlock without touching the phone, the lock recognises the phone and you come home
- Access permissions: manage access permissions for your family, friends, craftsmen or baby-sitter – on a permanent, recurring or on a one-time basis
- Security: complete recording of activity log and full control of all lock actions
- Independent power supply with 4 standard AA-batteries
- Use Nuki Bridge for Internet connection and remote access
- Optional Nuki Bluetooth Fob for children
Bluetooth door lock with WiFi. Pro version supports Apple HomeKit and Z-Wave Plus
We finish with the latest additions to the August Smart Lock family; the Smart Lock Pro 3rd Generation and Smart Lock. While the Smart Lock Pro has all the bells and whistles, the Smart Lock is the low-cost edition without Apple HomeKit and Siri as well as Z-Wave Plus Support. For Alexa, Google Home or remote lock, it will need the August Connect WiFi Bridge. The Pro already includes August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge to connect the Smart Lock to the local router for Internet connectivity and remote control.
Use your smartphone to lock and unlock your door from your doorstep, browse a log of users coming and going, check if the door is closed and locked and offer keyless entry for family and friends. The smart lock can also be set to lock as you leave or unlock as you arrive. As it works with existing locks and keys, you don’t need to dismantle your door, just add the smart lock over existing deadbolt. The Pro version, in addition to the standard version lets you instantly track who is coming and going, lock and unlock your door remotely and works with Amazon Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Z-Wave Plus.
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
Amazon Echo & Alexa
Google Home & Assistant
Remotely control your lock
August Smart Lock
Wi-Fi ready (with optional WiFi Bridge)
August Smart Lock with HomeKit
Wi-Fi ready (with optional WiFi Bridge)
For August Smart Lock and August Smart Lock with HomeKit, add the optional August Connect WiFi Bridge or August Doorbell Cam Pro for the following support:
- Amazon Echo and Alexa
- Google Home and Assistant
- Remotely control your lock
NOTE: August products are retro fit smart locks that work with deadbolts only, see image below.