Smart keyless automatic door locks have skyrocketed in popularity recently due to their ability to provide a convenient security experience, by doing away with the traditional key. Welcome to the next generation of protection for your family and loved ones.
Home security is a top priority for homeowners. Traditional locks and keys have been the standard for centuries if not millenniums. Even in modern times, they still come with the same old problems. Lost and stolen keys are not only a huge inconvenience, but also poses a huge security threat to your home. Not to mention the cost and effort of having to replace locks add up to one massive headache. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue with smart keyless automatic door locks.
Access to a keyless lock is often granted by some kind of authentication, such as a PIN number, a smartphone app, or biometric identification.
Benefits of Keyless Automatic Door Locks
With keyless automatic door locks, there is no need to worry about losing, misplacing, or having your key stolen. Instead of needing a key, users may enter their house or place of business with the help of a PIN number or using a smartphone app. Some even have biometric unlock using your fingerprint, while some locks are similar to ones you see in the hotel where you can tap a keycard to unlock.
The security provided by keyless automatic door locks is superior to that of conventional keyed locks since they are significantly more difficult to pick or tamper with. Further, most keyless automatic door locks include burglar alarms that go off if the lock is ever tampered with.
Some of the more modern locks don’t even have key holes at all. This might be a deal breaker for some and it something you need to consider when making your buying decision.
One of the more cooler looking ones is this one by Lockly, which cleverly changes the order of the digits on the display pad every time you try to input your code. This way thieves will be less likely to be able to memorize your code by the position of the numbers on your standard 9-digit number pad.
Beyond the digital pin, it also has a biometric fingerprint sensor, and of course you can use your smart phone to unlock as well. You can check out the Lockly Secure Pro Wi-Fi Smart automatic door lock here.
Users have a greater say over who has access to their homes with keyless automatic door locks. Users have the freedom to set up several access codes for other persons (such as family members, housekeepers, or service providers) and to withdraw access to those codes at any moment. And with certain keyless automatic door locks, owners can keep track of who enters and leaves their property, as well as the times they entered and left.
One of the most intuitive, user-friendly interfaces we’ve seen in the Schlage Encode system. The settings menu are very easy to navigate and most of the options are self-explanatory.
You have access to user codes as well as notifications to when a specific user code was entered. There are temporary guest codes you can create as well if you are expecting company for a short period of time. The guest codes can be set to expire by a certain date/time.
Notable Issues with Keyless Automatic Door Locks
Electronic door locks that don’t need keys are powered by electricity. Users may be unable to access their property if the power goes off or the batteries die. Additionally, electrical gadgets may fail, leaving individuals locked out of their property if the lock fails.
Of course, the vast majority of manufacturers took this into consideration in their designs, so most automatic door locks have built in fail safes in order to prevent this from happening. Many times, the system will warn you in advanced long before the battery in the system should deplete.
Systems like the Nest x Yale door lock has way to use a 9-volt battery as a “jump-start” to allow you to get into your home if (for some reason) you completely ignored the warnings on the app, and didn’t change the battery in your system.
This makes the Nest x Yale automatic smart lock a great contender if you are considering this upgrade and you have anxiety about ever being locked out.
Keyless automatic door locks, particularly ones that rely on biometric verification like fingerprint or face recognition, may be quite a bit more costly than conventional keyed locks. Keyless automatic door locks, which need expert installation, might also be more expensive.
Considering a standard keyed door lock from a reputable brand such as Schlage, Baldwin, or even Kwikset runs $15-$40, spending double, triple, or even up to 10x that amount can be a tough pill to swallow.
Categories of Smart Keyless Automatic Door Locks
These days, most keyless automatic door locks work with a personal identification number (PIN) in order to unlock the lock. PIN code locks may be configured to lock automatically after a certain period or after being used, and they can be designed to allow multiple users.
Some older style digital locks are not “smart” and don’t have accompanying apps. These locks must be programmed from the number pad itself and can involve complex master codes pre-built by the manufacturer. We do NOT recommend these as they can pose a potential risk factor if someone were to get their hands on that master key.
For us, the top contenders in this category are the Schlage Encode and the Nest x Yale automatic smart lock systems.
Biometric Automatic Door Locks
Fingerprint or face recognition technology is used in biometric locks. They’re quite reliable, and can take the place of a PIN unlock. Fingerprint and facial recognition can be much faster as well, so rather than having to enter a multi-digit key every time you need to unlock you door, you can simply place your finger on the scanner and voila!
These locks tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum due to the amount of technology that’s packed into them, but you’ll need to determine for yourself if all this technology is worth the extra money.
In this category, we recommend the Lockly Secure Pro and potentially the Sifely or GeekTale products.
Home Key Compatible Automatic Door Locks
This may be a very niche category as it specifically pertains to Apple Home Kit and using your iPhone itself (without having to open up an app) to unlock the smart lock.
This can be very useful and convenient and probably one of the fastest and safest ways to unlock your door since your phone has it’s own built-in security so you will only be able to unlock the door, if the your phone is also unlocked by you.
No one will be able to unlock your door just because they have your phone.
The only lock available as of writing this article that we’re aware of is the Level series of smart locks.
Automatic Smart Locks that Work with Existing Hardware
This may be very important if you are looking to keep the exterior looking the same as it is, but yet still make your lock into a smart one. These types of automatic door locks install onto the pre-existing hardware from inside the house, yet still give the same convenience of app unlock without losing your ability to use your key as well.
This may be a great compromise for those who want the convenience of having a smart lock, but without giving up the ability to enter the home using a traditional key.
In this category we have contenders from SwitchBot and Wyze, both pretty well known companies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can Smart Automated Door Locks Be Hacked?
The short answer? Yes, if hackers can hack into multi-billion dollar organizations, there’s no doubt that they can also hack into smart locks if given the proper tools, enough time, and the right motivation. And that brings us the root of this question that will hopefully give you a peace of mind and relieve the pressure of having to think about this question.
What motive would someone have to want to hack your lock?
Chances are you are just NOT going to be targeted by any talented hacking group, dying to break into your home and empty its contents. For your every day consumer, these electronic smart locks are comparatively harder to crack than the traditional keyed locks that we’re already using. These traditional locks can be picked quite easily by any skilled locksmith, so if it’s hacking you’re worries about, you may want to consider redirecting those concerns.
What’s the Difference Between a Smart Lock and an Electronic Lock?
This is question that is easily overlooked, but the answer is quite simple. An electronic lock is a lock with moving parts physically controlled by an electrical source (typically a battery). A smart lock is a type of electronic lock that employs software that allows you to control the lock. Smart locks are always electronic locks, but not all electronic locks are smart!
What the heck is Zigbee, Z-Wave and all this Smart Home Protocol Jargon?
In short, there are 4 mainstream consumer technologies when it comes to home automation. These are communication protocols that computers use to talk to each other. You are most likely already familiar with other protocols that machines use to “communicate” with each other – Bluetooth & Wi-Fi. Ironically, those are also protocols that smart home devices use. Smart automatic door locks are no different, they can also use one of these 4 main communication protocols, so make sure you do your own research on which technology is suitable for you.
We’ll summarize the technologies quickly below:
- Zigbee: This protocol is designed specifically for low-power, low-bandwidth devices and is often used in smart lighting systems and other home automation applications. It’s a mesh network protocol, meaning that devices can communicate with each other directly, rather than relying on a central hub.
- Z-Wave: Like Zigbee, Z-Wave is a low-power, low-bandwidth protocol, but it operates on a different frequency band. It’s also a mesh network protocol and is often used in home security systems and smart locks.
- Wi-Fi: This protocol is used in most homes for internet connectivity, and many smart home devices can also connect to Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi is a high-bandwidth protocol, meaning it can handle large amounts of data quickly. However, it can also be a power-hungry protocol, which is why it’s not always ideal for low-power devices.
- Bluetooth: This protocol is designed for short-range communication between devices, typically within about 30 feet. It’s commonly used in smart speakers, headphones, and other personal devices. Bluetooth is relatively low-power and easy to use, but it’s not ideal for devices that need to communicate over longer distances.
Overall, the choice of protocol will depend on the specific needs of your smart home system. Zigbee and Z-Wave are good options for low-power, low-bandwidth devices, while Wi-Fi is ideal for high-bandwidth devices like cameras and streaming devices. Bluetooth is best suited for personal devices and short-range communication.
It’s easy to see why keyless automatic door locks have become so popular; they’re more convenient, safer, and easier to regulate than conventional locks that need a physical key. On the other hand, they have a few drawbacks, such a reliability and price.
So are smart automatic door locks worth it?
Well, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, and that isn’t the goal of this article either. The decision really boils down to you, and your needs. What’s important to you? Factors such as the authentication mechanism, communication protocol, the desired degree of protection, how well it will play with other devices in your home, and ultimately, your budget all come into play when picking a smart keyless automatic door lock.
We hope our article was able to help you narrow down some of your options. As technology changes, there is no doubt that there will be even more high tech options that may even address all the shortcomings and forever eliminate the need for us to every carry a key. Time to embrace the future!
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