There are several smart locks to choose from, but not all are created equal. Here’s what you should know about the different types of smart locks and which ones to consider when buying.
Complete replacement or conversion kits
The main thing you need to decide when buying a smart lock is whether you want a complete replacement smart lock or just a retrofit kit. The first replaces your entire deadbolt, and the second simply replaces the inside with a twist of your thumb, leaving the existing deadbolt and outside alone.
It’s really just a matter of preference, but you get different features with one or the other. For example, most full replacements give you a nice keyboard or some unique way to unlock the door from the outside (like touching the lock to unlock the door with the Kwikset Kevo), but conversion kits leave the outside of your deadbolt the same. So on the outside you still have an existing dead tug, but you have the added benefit of being able to unlock it with your phone and the like.
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Conversion kits tend to be cheaper as well, as all they include is a thumb-turn mechanism with the circuitry needed to provide the smart features and mechanisms to control the lock. Whereas, the complete replacement includes a brand new deadbolt mechanism which increases the cost.
However, you’ll have fewer options when it comes to conversion kits as most smart locks on the market are full replacements, but the few options you have are pretty decent — the August Smart Lock is a popular option, as is Kevo. convert. from Quickset.
Wireless connection type
Most smart locks either connect to your network using Z-Wave or ZigBee via a SmartHome hub, or via Wi-Fi via a companion Smart Lock hub, which can be purchased separately.
Again, there are pros and cons here. Both of the two smart conversion locks discussed above connect directly to your phone via Bluetooth out of the box, which means your phone has to be nearby to control the lock «remotely» — you’ll need to get the appropriate hubs (August and Kwikset). each offers his own) to add to remote control via the Internet. The same goes for locks like the flagship Kevo and Schlage Sense. Otherwise, you can only control and manage the lock when your phone is within Bluetooth range.
However, the majority of smart locks use Z-Wave. It is a reliable standard that has a good range and consumes very little power, making it great for applications like this. The only downside is that you need some sort of SmartHome hub like SmartThings or Wink to control and manage the lock from your phone at all. Otherwise, it acts like a regular lock.
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The good news is that you have many options to choose from if you choose to go with Z-Wave. Schlage releases the Connect model in several forms, as does Kwikset with their SmartCode line. Yale also has an Assure smart lock, which also has a ZigBee flavor.
Keyboard or no keyboard?
Smart locks (or any other locks) fall into two categories: those that have a keypad and those that don’t.
If you’re planning on using the smart lock to its full potential, you don’t technically need a keypad as you’ll be using your phone’s proximity instead to determine when your door should lock and open. This way you never have to even touch your smart lock in the first place.
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However, if you still want to manually unlock from time to time, or maybe you just want to quickly create and share a keycode with a friend without them having to download the appropriate app first, a keypad can be a great addition to a smart lock. And luckily, you don’t have to pay extra for such a feature.
The previously mentioned Schlage Connect is a nice Z-Wave smart lock that comes with a nice keyboard. All Kwikset SmartCode lines come with a variety of keyboard designs. August Smart Lock — although just a conversion kit — can also be used with a keyboard sold separately as an accessory of sorts, and if you’re a Nest user they have their own smart lock made by Yale that has a keyboard and integrates nicely with all your Nest products.
So which smart lock should you buy?
There really isn’t one smart lock that stands above everything else as it really comes down to what you want from a smart lock. However, here are some guidelines based on some common scenarios.
If you need a keyboard: Schlage Connect or Kwikset SmartCode 916, both require a SmartHome hub for remote control.
If you are using Nest products: you need Nest x Yale Lock because it can work with Nest Secure. However, this requires Nest Connect or Nest Secure signaling.
If you want automatic or easy unlock: August auto lock can automatically open your door when you are in close proximity. Kwikset Kevo is also good, but you have to just touch the lock to unlock it first.
If you want the cheapest smart lock: The conversion kit is the best. The August Smart Lock and Kwikset Kevo Convert cost less than $150.
Again, keep in mind that all of these smart locks must be connected to some sort of hub, whether it’s a regular hub house or a proprietary bridge from a smart lock company.