Smart locks are not perfect. They’re expensive, they’re probably easier to hack than pick and there is that rather large question mark about what happens when they crash – because you just know they will. In fact, have a bit of a think about whether you want to give up on your good, old fashioned keys at all. This will help.
Still with us? Good, now that we’ve ditched those losers that don’t believe in the future, let’s take a look at the best smart locks around right now and why these are the few that you need to consider.
The Kwikset Kevo, made by Unikey, is pretty much the gold standard of smart locks for the time being. It doesn’t necessarily have the best features at the most favourable price point but it’s reliable because it’s been around long enough for most of the bugs to have been ironed out already. The only bad news is that it’s only available in North America.
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One of the big pluses, though, is that you can self-install it which keeps the cost down to a fairly reasonable $220. It also has a rather nifty touch to unlock feature which means that you don’t even need to pull your phone out of your pocket to open the door thanks to Bluetooth proximity sensing.
Like all the best smart locks, you can grant eKeys to guests and tradesmen and such, although there is a cost for that service if you want anything more complex than a 24 hour free pass. The fact that it looks fairly normal from the outside is a definite bonus and it comes with a keyhole as well just in case there’s any luddites in the family. Throw in some interesting tie-ins with Nest and you’ve got yourself something that looks a lot like a winner.
Yale Keyless Connected
A name you can trust is a very good thing when it comes to something as delicate as home security, and that’s very much the play with the Yale Keyless Connected. Not only is it key-free, it’s also (if you want it to be) free of smartphones too, which might even make it a little safer still.
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Instead of using the app, you can opt to open this smart lock either with a key fob / card, or with a pin code. You can change your code any time you need and give out different combinations for temporary access too. It also happens to be alarmed which should give any code-crackers a bit of a fright.
The Bolt is the second generation product from Lockitron which should add a certain peace of mind that the company has learned from any first mistakes that it may have made. It works wirelessly with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, meaning that you get all the low-power of the proximity opening experience, plus the ability to remote unlock your house for anyone that decides to surprise you at an ill-advised time.
The really big sells, for us, with Lockitron are that it’s by far and away the cheapest on the list and it’s very easy to add and remove guest access as you need through the app. On top of that, it looks pretty good and it’s got one of the best developer communities out there behind it with out-of-the-box support from Android, Google Glass, Pebble and, of course, iOS.
Lockitron is much easier to install than most smart locks because it’s a more like-for-like lock replacement that requires no calibration and, thanks its KeyMatch feature, you won’t even need to change keys as well.
Something of the Rolls Royce of smart locks, the Mul-T-Lock ENTR’s most eye-catching feature is that it’s biometric. Yep, the future is here; your door will open by fingerprint ID. Do we need to write any more? Well, probably given that that extra little bit of wizardry comes in at a bonus $200. Instead, you could go for the standard PIN pad at $100 but where’s the fun in that?
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You get all the mod-cons with ENTR such as access using a smartphone as well as a fob plus you can dole out temporary access using your app or a PIN code as required. Best of all, it’s probably the most solid of all locks with its three-barrel multi-lock technology as the name suggests. It’s too hardcore to work on some of the plastic doors out there but you’re fine with anything made from wood or metal.
Sure, this one ain’t cheap once you’ve upgraded your way to full biometrics but it’s invisible from the outside and super-smooth to use; maybe the smartest smart lock of the lot.
A bit different this one as it’s obviously not designed to go on your front door. Instead, this Kickstarter success story is a connected padlock that could be just what you need for a side gate or shed.
Made with zinc, steel, and a boron hardened shackle for an attractive, water resistant and highly durable solution, the Noke uses Bluetooth to sync up with your smartphone, meaning no fumbling about for keys with your cold, wet hands. It’s weather proof and you can even give contacts temporary access to open up whatever it is guarding.
Standards are an awkward thing when it comes to smart home installation and the reason it’s well worth considering Danalock is because that’s something that this company has thought about beyond all the others. A Danish product – which in itself adds a certain cachet, if not the promise of good design – it comes in SKUs to fit all kinds of European and North American doors along with the wireless standards to match. There’s Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the Z-Wave smart home type depending on your poison.
Installation is said to be easy – although comparisons could be drawn between the man who fits his own lock and the one who defends himself in court – it’s really quite cheap and there’s all the activity logging, remote access and temporary eKey control that you would need; all without having to pay any kind of service. Well worth your consideration.
RemoteLock Deadbolt 500i
RemoteLock’s Wi-Fi smart lock options give you both that keypad PIN entry plus mobile phone access in one. On the surface, that’s not hugely different to some of the others on this list but what’s really impressive is the level of granular control you get with those temporary keys.
Those eKeys come in the form of a generated code for the keypad and they’re so specific that you can issue one for your cleaner, for example, that only works between 10am and 2pm on a Tuesday. Or you can grant an access combination that only works for a single entry which might be good for a tradesmen – provided that they don’t need to go back out to their van for some tools, of course.
Again, the other bonus here is that the product has been out and in working use for quite some time, so this is definitely not a beta test. And, again, the annoyance is that you’ll need to pay $0.99 each month for the connected service. Boo.
Sesame is a tricky one. It’s everything that’s right and wrong with smart locks all at the same time. Right: it’s seriously easy to install; easier than all the others, says Sesame. Wrong: it offers far too many kinds of funky access methods to make you feel comfortable.
But, there are two things about Sesame that make it just impossible to leave out. The first is that, apparently, it fits any deadbolt-style lock in the world. And the second? Well, the second is that you can set it so that a secret knock on your door will automatically let you in. Yeah, it’s a gimmick, but tell us it’s not bringing a smile to your face.
$99 ($149 for remote Wi-Fi control), candyhouse.co
Haven is a real stand-out amongst the smart locks and that’s exactly what its creators were trying to design. Not satisfied with the level of security that the deadbolt systems offer, it works by providing a barrier across the bottom of the door frame which makes it next to impossible to simply kick in.
There’s still most of that remote access and temporary key functionality thanks to the dual Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless operation but the feature that we, obviously, particularly like is that you can use all sorts of fitness tracker and smartwatch wearables to unlock it.
What’s more, because it doesn’t attach to your current door lock system, it’s far more universal. Check the products dimensions and recommended clearance on your floor with what you have at home, and away you go.
Did you think we weren’t going to mention August? Well, we nearly didn’t. The trouble with the poster-child of the Kickstarted smart lock world is that it’s a bit hit and miss. Not all of its promised features – such as the proximity auto-unlock – quite come off and even the simple Bluetooth locking and unlocking can be a bit slow. In fact, there’s plenty out there that have wondered why they bothered upgrading from their key system at all.
So, consider the August not so much as a best smart lock but more as one to look out for. There’s plenty of marketing behind it, it’s a big name and, hey, at least it’s out there learning from its mistakes. In a way that puts it ahead of those who’ve yet to make it to the shops. Should you buy one now? No. But, in the future, well, there’s every opportunity for August to smooth out the bumps.