Last month, in Volume 1 of our 12 Months of Smart Home Improvements (AKA 12 Months to the Smartest Home on Your Block), we considered basic front door security (in the form of front door security cameras) as a great starting point to setting up a truly useful and effective smart home. In this month’s instalment, it’s all about taking your home security to the next level with the help of one of today’s incredible and convenient smart locks. As I see it, Safety and Security is not merely one of the 3 pillars of a smart home (Comfort and Convenience and Energy and Efficiency being the other two), it’s actually the most important pillar. After all, if one can’t feel safe in one’s own home, Comfort and Convenience is clearly out the window, and Energy and Efficiency is also likely of little concern. So join me today as I explore the importance of equipping your home with smart lock technology that fits your lifestyle, meets your security needs, and helps you sleep better at night. Let’s get started.
Step Two: Improving Your Security with Smart Locks
As we’ve now established, in the quest to develop the ideal smart home, safety and security are paramount. But, how and why can a smart lock help? And what smart lock brands and models should you consider? In the remainder of this instalment, we’ll attempt to answer these important questions. But the first question we want to ask is this:
Why Install a Smart Lock in Your Home?
Installing a smart lock in your home not only gives you greater control over access and entry into and out of your home, but it also provides considerable peace of mind under a variety of unique circumstances. Consider, for instance, that you’ve left your home in a rush and now can’t remember whether or not you locked your door. If you’re all the way across town on your way to work, it may not be convenient to turn around and go back home to check. Similarly, if you’re away on vacation and a package is arriving that you expected to receive before you left home, is it ideal for the package to be left on your doorstep for possibly days on end? In either of these scenarios, a smart lock has you covered. When you’re not sure whether or not you locked the door when you left home, simply jump onto your brand’s specialized app and lock the door remotely. Similarly, more and more smart locks are now allowing users to communicate directly with delivery couriers via built-in two-way communication systems. This way, many smart locks are now making it possible for you to allow the delivery person to briefly enter your home and drop off your packages, even when you’re half way around the world. Given just a little bit of thought, many other possibilities for convenience arise with the use of smart locks.
Key Features to Look For in an Effective Smart Lock
If you’re in the market for a brand new smart lock in 2018, here are just a few of the top smart lock features you should look for:
- App Based Control – Possibly the best reason of all to use smart products of any kind is the enormous amount of control you get by pairing it to your smart device.
- Remote Access – Thanks to the aforementioned App Based Control, now you can lock or unlock your door remotely—from practically anywhere.
- Connectivity Options – From Wi-Fi to Bluetooth to Z-Wave, today’s best smart locks give you a variety of connectivity options.
- Compatibility – If you use smart assistants such as Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, or one of the popular integration systems (HomeKit, Works with Nest, IFTTT), you can certainly find a modern smart lock offering full compatibility with your preferred system. Moreover, such systems bring options like voice control to the table.
- Geofencing – More and more smart locks today are incorporating geofencing technology into their systems. With this technology, your lock will automatically lock or unlock based on the proximity of your smart device. Thus, when you leave the house, if you forget to lock your door, it will lock all by itself once you get just a few feet away. Similarly, when you return to home and are walking toward your door, the lock will sense your presence and automatically unlock for you. This is particularly useful when you’re carrying heavy grocery bags!
- Virtual Keys – Feel like sharing a key with a friend, family member, your gardener, whoever? It’s pretty easy with a virtual key. And these keys can be revoked at any time… if your in-laws tick you off. Once again you can thank app based control for something that’s truly convenient!
- Touchpad Access – Many smart locks provide options like a numeric touchpad with which to enter your home via special combination codes. Others still give you the option of using old-fashioned rattly keys. Imagine that!
- Easy Installation – Many of today’s smart locks are easy to install. In some cases, all that’s required is a screwdriver and a little bit of time. If you’re interested in discovering which smart locks fully live up to this claim, one of our contributors (Matt Paligaru) has reviewed a number of these locks right here on the blog. Go ahead and check out a few of Matt’s reviews to see what he has to say regarding the installation of various models of smart locks. You can start with a review that just went up this week: A review of August’s new locks and doorbell cam pro. And be sure to watch Matt’s embedded videos to get the full installation scoop!
Popular Smart Lock Brands and Examples
One of today’s top smart lock brands is also one of today’s top lock makers in general. The Yale Lock Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1868, meaning they’ve got 150 years of expertise and experience in making some of the world’s most secure and durable locks. In recent years they’ve continued their innovative ways by giving us such smart locks as the Yale Assure Lock Push-Button Deadbolt with Bluetooth. With this lock, you’ll never again need keys; Instead, simply use your Bluetooth-enabled smart phone or the backlit push-button keypad to open your lock. These locks are easy to install, they allow you to share electronic keys with your family and friends via the Yale App, and they provide complete control over access to your home from anywhere in the world with Wi-Fi access. If safety, security, and convenience are important to you, Yale has done a great job of packaging all 3 together with its innovative line of Assure Locks.
Another excellent contributor in the smart lock realm is August—a home automation company with far less history than Yale (their founding was just in 2012), but that has since been acquired by the same parent company that owns Yale. This acquisition was largely due to August’s innovative developments with respect to Bluetooth controlled smart locks. More recently August has given us the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock Pro + Connect. This lock provides total peace of mind through features like keyless entry access for those you love or trust, key optional entry by attaching it to your existing deadbolt if you wish, numerous connectivity options (including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Z-Wave Plus), and easy DIY installation that takes mere minutes to complete. The Pro also offers voice control via smart assistants such as Google Assistant or Siri, and it even works with smart home services like Nest and homeKit, meaning you can lock or unlock your door (or check its current status) in a number of convenient ways. So if you’re not down with Yale, August is a great alternative.
Nest + Yale
In one of the most surprising announcements to come out of this year’s CES Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, we learned that super competitors Nest and Yale have teamed up to bring us an exciting new smart lock collaboration. We’re not exactly sure if/when this lock may be coming to Canada/Best Buy, but you can read all about it in my announcement article HERE. It’s a pretty exciting development that I suspect we’ll be seeing sooner rather than later.
If you’re trying to attain the smartest home on your block in 2018, one variety or another of smart lock is an absolute must. For more information on what’s currently available, follow this link to Best Buy’s Smart Locks & Smart Doorbells page and feast your eyes. Also, be sure to check back next month when we continue the 12 months of smart home improvements series with a look at smart lighting, plugs, and switches (our tentative topic). Until then, thanks for reading and be sure to let us know your own thoughts on the best way to achieve the ideal smart home in the discussion section below.