I have to admit, when I first heard about electronic locks, they seemed like more of a headache than they were worth— I’m just more accustomed to a trusty, old-fashioned lock and key.
But considering that most of us are already attached to our phones (and it’s a lot easier to lose your key ring than it is to lose something with a ringer), the concept of a digital lock does make a good deal of sense. And as an added bonus, these locks are all a “universal fit” due to their tubular design. That means they’ll fit on every door — from the super old pre-war building doors on the Upper West Side to the newest fire-rated doors. They also work well on both in and outswinging doors!
After I learned the ins and outs of some of the most popular brands, I realized that there are at least a few smart locks that I can comfortably say are worth the investment. To help you decide between the many WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled “keyless” locks now on the market, I’ve put together a brief rundown of the types of smart locks I see most often and what they have to offer.
Kwikset is one of the biggest brands in locks, mostly thanks to its affordability. You’ll see more Kwikset locks in suburban America, as city dwellers tend to opt for more heavy-duty, expensive locks over economy brands. But the popularity of Kwikset makes the “keyless” Kevo one of the better known smart locks on the market.
The Kevo can be unlocked either with an included radio-frequency keyfob or by Bluetooth on your smartphone. Because your phone connects to the lock via Bluetooth, the lock actually detects your device when you’re nearby and can’t be accessed by anyone else who uses your WiFi network.
Despite its convenience, the Kevo isn’t without its faults. The manual “key override” is oddly difficult — when you put a physical key into the lock, you’re actually turning against the motor that locks and unlocks remotely. This means that unlocking your door with a physical key requires an unnecessary amount of force. This wouldn’t be my first choice for a front-door smart lock, and the price point doesn’t make the Kevo the most cost-effective option for interior locks.
August is the newcomer to the home security game, with a business built exclusively around technology-based locks. August locks share a lot of the same features as the Kwikset Kevo — namely Bluetooth accessibility —but they also integrate with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Nest, and more. With August locks, you can even ask Siri if your front door is unlocked!
In addition to the close-range Bluetooth, the August Connect lets you access your lock via WiFi and control it from any WiFi-connected device in your home. That being said, it’s a pretty pricey add-on, so I’d only recommend it to the super-connected user looking to make a serious investment in security.
One of the coolest features of August locks is that you can issue virtual keys to guests, and the app even lets you choose access schedules (if you wanted to let a babysitter in only on a certain day of the week, for example). It’s also the perfect choice for Airbnb hosts since it has rental property integrations for guests. Overall, August is the go-to choice for tech-savvy property owners.
Of all the locks I’ve listed here, the Schlage Sense is by far my favorite. This lock has the smoothest action of all the electronic locks out there, and I’ve rarely — if ever — run into any problems installing them. Schlage locks can be easily and effectively installed in both wooden and hollow metal doors. The Sense is also the most intuitive lock to program for users who are interested in simplicity over bells and whistles.
Though Schlage’s smart locks are restricted to Apple HomeKit and Bluetooth connectivity, the Sense has a simple keypad which can be relied upon in the event that your phone dies or you’re having issues connecting via Bluetooth. The keypad also works in conjunction with the iOs app to allow you to generate customized passcodes that allow temporary access (much like the August lock).
The only real drawback of the Schlage is that it can not be controlled remotely by Android users. But if you have an iPhone, the Schlage Sense would be my choice to bring your front door into the 21st century.