Security / Tech

What you need to know about smart keys for your home

Smart keys and smart locks are digital home security systems that allow you to lock or unlock your door with a smart device, like your phone.

There is a huge range of smart home appliances and gadgets available, like smart locks and smart keys. These appliances connect to the internet to make your home smarter or more convenient — like by automatically adjusting temperature or monitoring for suspicious activity or manage your home environment.

Some are even designed to help you get into your house, even if you’ve lost your key. These smart lock systems allow you to lock or unlock your home from anywhere. They can also integrate with other smart home tools — like security cameras and smart home security systems — to make your home even more secure.

What Are Smart Locks and Smart Keys?

Smart keys and smart locks are digital home security systems that allow you to lock or unlock your door with a smart device, like your phone. 

These smart locks don’t replace the physical lock mechanism itself. Instead, they add a digital component that can connect to the internet and interface with the lock hardware. As a result, smart locks can be remotely locked or unlocked, re-key themselves or alert law enforcement when tampered with. 

Smart locks make it easier to lock and unlock your front door and provide security features that can keep your house safer. Because they connect to the internet, they can also communicate with other smart home systems, potentially helping to make your house more secure.

Benefits of Smart Locks

Smart locks offer a few different benefits over traditional locks.

Lost your key or left it at work? You can use your phone or other device to unlock your door and get inside without calling a locksmith. Forget to lock your door when you left home? You can set most smart locks to automatically lock themselves. You can also use your phone to remotely lock or unlock your  door.

These smart locks can also help if you need to let a friend, family member or guest into your home but can’t be there in person to unlock the door.

With a smart lock, you don’t have to duplicate keys. With the right smart key or lock system, you can just grant permissions to guests or housemates and they can use their phone to unlock the door. If you loan out a key, you don’t need to ask for it to be returned, you can simply change who has access. Some systems even support temporary guest codes so that you can offer access that expires when it’s no longer needed.

With some systems, you can even use the smart systems to re-key the physical lock without needing to disassemble the lock mechanism, preventing access by anyone who has an older copy of your home key.

Smart locks can also generate activity logs that show you exactly when your door has been locked or unlocked, letting you know who is coming or going.

The red x indicates an invalid code entered into the Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt. Smart Keys
Schlage is one of the company’s that makes smart locks.

How to Shop for a Smart Lock

There is a wide variety of smart locks out there. This means that you have options, but also that finding the perfect lock for your home can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for.

While you shop, consider the smart home systems that you already have in your home. If you have a smart home security system, for example, you’ll want to look for a lock that can communicate with it. If you don’t have a smart security system but plan on purchasing one, look for a lock that can work with your system of choice. You may also want to simply choose a proprietary smart lock. 

Many companies that design home security systems also manfuacture smart locks. These will typically be guaranteed to work with the company’s smart home security system.

Many smart lock systems are also compatible with smart home assistants. These locks will allow you to lock or unlock your door using these assistants. When shopping, remember to look out for devices that support smart home systems you already own. Most manufacturers will advertise which home assistants that smart locks are compatible within their product descriptions. You can also look for product round-ups that list smart locks that are compatible with specific home assistants.

While there are a few standard functions that almost all smart locks come with — like remote locking and unlocking — not every smart lock has the same features. Not all smart locks come with voice activation or a tamper alarm, for example. 

Because smart locks are also physical locks, you should consider the strength of the lock hardware. Some of these locks will resist digital attacks very well, but may not hold up against an attacker armed with a simple picking tool or screwdriver. While many of these locks can automatically alert both you and law enforcement if tampered with, it’s a good idea to shop for a lock that is strong enough to resist simple physical attacks.

You’ll also want to consider the kind of door you’re installing the smart lock in. Most smart locks are designed to replace locks in standard, single-bore doors. If you have an unusual door or set of doors that needs securing — like a double-bore door that has a deadbolt and lock, or a double door — you may need to shop for a specialized smart lock. Depending on the specific kind of door you have, there may also not be a compatible smart lock available.

Should also expect to pay much more than you would for a standard lock. The cheapest smart locks retail for around $100, while more expensive models can cost as much as $300 or beyond. Cheaper locks on average will have fewer features, may not integrate with smart home systems and will probably have weaker hardware than more expensive models.

What to Know About Smart Lock Systems

Smart locks, because they can be controlled by other devices and connect to smart home systems, make it more convenient to unlock your doors while also making your home more secure. If you plan on purchasing a smart lock, be sure to buy one that is compatible with your home and has the features you need. While smart locks can be a powerful addition to a smart home, not every smart lock will integrate with every smart home system.

What do you think of using a smart lock or smart keys? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

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