For anyone building a smart home, adding smart locks is an investment worth considering. Smart locks can add convenience, enhance security, and provide an easy way to share electronic keys. However, they connect to wireless networks, which brings a slew of potential connectivity issues.
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with smart locks. In theory, I love the benefits they offer. But as an early adopter of installing first-generation smart locks, I endured my share of difficulties getting them to work. Shaking off those bad experiences, I’m ready to give smart locks another try.
In this review I’m installing the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock (4th Generation). Unlike previous versions, this does not require a bridge to connect to Wi-Fi networks. I’m also installing the optional August Smart Keypad.
Together, I should have two keyless entry options into my front door. As a morning runner, I can leave my keys at home (thanks to the smart keypad), but will I get locked out? Let’s begin the review by looking at what’s included in the box.
Unboxing the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock and Keypad
The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is designed to replace the inside (thumb-turn) part of your existing deadbolt. The benefit of this is that you get to keep your existing keys for the exterior deadbolt.
In the box you’ll find the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, an optional faceplate, the DoorSense sensor, two CR123 batteries, lock adapters, and mounting hardware. The Smart Keypad comes with a double-sided tape template, two wall anchors, and two screws.
This is definitely a DIY install, and the only tool you’ll need is a Phillips screwdriver. Let’s get started with the install.
Installing the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock and Keypad
It’s important to prepare your existing deadbolt so it doesn’t move around during the install. I used the provided adhesive strip to tape the deadbolt to the outside door before removing the thumb-turn. I then prepared the mounting plate by putting the old screws from the thumb-turn through the adjustable screw-holes. The thumb-turn itself can be discarded, but you will need to use the machined screws, which are not included.
I then installed the mounting plate to the door. Note that the unit comes with an optional faceplate that can be used if the mounting plate does not cover the borehole. In my case, I did not have to use it. I then selected the appropriate adaptor from the kit to install onto the lock’s tailpiece. From there, I attached the smart lock and removed the battery tab to power the smart lock for the first time.
The next step was the app installation process. Thankfully, the app automatically updates the firmware during the initial install. It provides step-by-step instructions to install the DoorSense adapter and calibrate the lock. The final step is connecting to the Wi-Fi network and testing the strength to complete the setup.
Once the lock was set up, I followed the steps to install the August Smart Keypad and program pin codes for different family members. I installed the keypad to the outside wall using the double-sided template tape and screws. After successful entry with the app and keypad, the entire setup was complete. Overall, the entire setup process took about 10 minutes.
DoorSense with the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
One of the main selling points of smart locks is that you can remotely lock your door from anywhere. But what happens when you don’t know your door is unlocked? The addition of the DoorSense solves this problem.
DoorSense uses magnetic fields to determine if a door is open or closed. If the door is left ajar, I will receive an alert. In the August App, I can also enable instant auto-lock if my front door is left unlocked. I set the door to lock after one minute. I opened the door, closed it, and waited. After a minute, the door auto-locked. This is a cool feature when you see it work in action. Talk about peace-of-mind!
Using the August Smart Keypad
With the August App, I can open and close my door with my phone. It’s a nice feature, but I still have to take my phone out. The addition of the Smart Keypad has been a game-changer. I set a pin code that I enter to unlock the door. To lock, I simply have to press the single bottom button.
The Smart Keypad is super useful, and it can be installed almost anywhere around the front door. It’s amazing how it connects to the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock wirelessly. I programmed pin codes for different family members. I can now see who enters and locks the door with the Activity feed in the August App. It’s been great for morning runs because I can leave my keys at home.
In fact, the Smart Keypad is now something I use every day. I wouldn’t see much value in the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock without it. It’s by far the easiest method to get in and out. I don’t have to worry about carrying keys or my phone. My only issue is what happens if it loses connection.
As a backup, I installed a key box with a backup key onto the side of my house. This gives me peace of mind should the power go out or I lose Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi connectivity with the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
I did have some connection issues with the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock the day after setting it up. I was unable to connect to the lock from the app. I’ve noticed other devices in my home briefly lose their Internet connection. With over 25 devices connected to my mesh network, it might cause wireless network issues.
Regardless, this issue reminds me of the inherent risks involved in any device that connects to Wi-Fi. What happens if the Wi-Fi is down or the smart lock or keypad loses connection? In that sense, having a smart lock doesn’t replace house keys with your phone. It adds convenience, but it’s not fool-proof.
Being a smart home device, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control. Normally this is a feature I always connect with smart home products. However, for security reasons, I’m waiting on this a bit.
Another impressive integration is with the Airbnb App. As an Airbnb host with a smart home themed suite, this definitely caught my attention. But I’m hesitant to install it until I have some practice on my front door first. The last thing I want is guests having issues getting in. Still, this integration is perfect for Airbnb hosts like myself.
This is my second attempt with smart locks, and I learned a lot with this install. First, I noticed that the striker plate for my deadbolt was not properly fitted in the door frame. As such, the deadbolt required a lot of manual force to get it to turn. If you have any issues with your door opening or closing, fix that before installing a smart lock.
Second, before investing in a smart lock, it’s imperative that you have a strong, consistent Wi-Fi signal at home. If you have a large home, I recommend you upgrade to a mesh system. The August App will test your Wi-Fi signal strength, but ensure that it’s also stable and consistent. I’m going to upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 mesh system soon, so I hope that prevents any future wireless issues.
Third, I highly recommend getting the optional Smart Keypad. Trust me, that will be the one feature you will use the most. It’s worth every penny.
The only thing left unanswered is how long the batteries will last. That’s my final, deal-breaking concern with smart locks. With the repaired striker plate, the deadbolt goes in and out smoothly. I’m curious how long those two batteries will last moving that deadbolt multiple times a day.
In all, I think smart locks make a lot of sense for certain households. If this works consistently without issue, I will definitely install it in my Airbnb suite. For now, I’ll continue using it on my front door to see how reliable it is over time.
If you’re in the market for a smart lock, I highly recommend you consider the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock and Smart Keypad. Setup is easy, the app is intuitive, and August has a lot of experience with smart home technology. It’s a brand I trust, and I think you can too.