Smart locks are all the rage on the market at the moment. They’re very fashionable, they look like something out of Star Trek, Star Wars (or Dune? haven’t seen it yet), but fashion is not always functional, to put it mildly. So it’s very smart of you (no pun intended) to weight the pros and cons of a smart lock before giving it a shot. It’s true, there are both advantages and disadvantages.
I’ll give you my stance on smart locks immediately: I find them to be useful, convenient, and pretty sexy (and I don’t use that word lightly!). I’ve installed two August Smart Locks from Amazon at home – one for the front and one for the back door.
HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean that YOU actually need smart locks. I have a big family and two rascally kids so it’s more convenient to have them memorize their entry codes than having to worry if they’ll lose their keys.
Having said all that, I encourage you to read the following list of pros and cons before making a purchasing decision:
1. Track who and when used the lock
If you want to have full control over who and when entered or exited through a door installing a smart lock is no-brainer. Because you can place multiple entry codes and give every person a unique one, you will have full knowledge of this by checking its usage history. This can come in handy in case of any accident, theft and similar circumstances.
2. Convenient for businesses and rental properties
Instead of giving your tenants or guests a new key or re-sharing the same one, you can simply give a unique code every time. This will save you time and prevent any confusion in case of theft or incidents, since you’ll know who was responsible.
The same is true if you have a business and are dealing with employees. Installing a smart lock is a simple way to keep everyone accountable.
3. No more looking for the keys
Having to search for keys through your pockets or purse can be very annoying. Not to mention that keys can go missing and you can remain locked outside of your own home or business. With a smart lock you can wave keys goodbye.
Key locks can be lock-picked, and burglars are often prepared to do exactly that. But a smart lock can’t be lockpicked. It’s true that it can be hacked in special circumstances, but let’s face it: most of the petty thieves that perform break-ins into regular houses and apartments are not that bright or technologically savvy.
5. Remote lock access
What if you’re expecting guests but you’re running late? Instead of having them wait in the freezing cold and getting rightfully angry, unlock the door with your phone app and allow them to cozy up till you get home.
Remote access can also come in handy if you’re expecting a valuable delivery from Amazon or another store. Instead of having them dump the package on the porch where anyone can snatch it, you could allow the delivery man to leave it inside. Of course, in that case I recommend also having a security camera to monitor the door and make sure that he doesn’t stay in there for too long..
1. Not as durable as regular locks
This isn’t always the case, but as a general rule more complex devices tend to be less durable. Why? Because there are so many small integral components that disintegrate over time. A regular lock usually has a guarantee of 5 years, smart locks 2-3 years.
That’s not to say that either option will be useless after a couple of years. Obviously any lock, regular or smart can last a very long time if used normally. But the difference in manufacturer’s guarantee length is indicative that the predicted life-span of smart locks is shorter.
However, has that stopped you from replacing the durable Nokia 3310 for a sophisticated smart phone? Probably not.
2. Dependent on batteries
Yes, newer smart locks depend on batteries. This is actually great from a security standpoint because the lock won’t be impacted by electric power shortages. However, it also means that regular battery replacement is necessary.
So how long does a smart lock battery last?
Smart locks that use Bluetooth or Z-Wave can last 1-2 years without needing new batteries, while locks that connect directly to WiFi only last 1-3 months. Lithium batteries can be purchased in order to extend the battery life of a smart lock.
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Multiply these numbers by two if you’re using lithium-ion batteries instead of alkaline batteries.
3. Features may require app and WiFi connection
Features such as remote (un)lock access require a WiFi connection and an app that can be installed on the phone. If you’re not tech savvy this could pose a problem. But for someone who is up-to-date on technology and has a basic smart phone it shouldn’t pose any difficulty.
4. Dangers of hacking
The WiFi and app are the main security weak points of a smart lock and crafty hackers can exploit this vulnerability to block the signal so that the door remains unlocked. However, this isn’t very common and can be prevented by making sure that the door is locked.
App hacking is even less likely. What is more likely is that someone steals your phone and uses it to unlock the door and enter. But that’s the danger that comes with a basic key as well. Furthermore, you’d probably notice that your phone’s gone missing way sooner than your key.
5. Costs more than regular locks
Smart locks are more expensive, that’s a simple fact. The technology that goes into making one requires programming, more manufacturing effort and expensive material.
So is a smart lock worth it? It depends!
You didn’t want to hear that, did you? But I have to be honest with you: whether you should get a smart lock or not depends on you and your requirements.
After weighing these pros and cons are you still interested in having a high functioning smart lock or does it seem like too much of a hassle?
That’s the big question. If you don’t have a large household or a rental property perhaps you genuinely don’t need one. On the other hand, if you need to keep track of entry and exits from a certain area or provide keys to new faces all the time, it can be a real time saver and security improvement to a home, rental property or business.
As far as my recommendations, I can confidently recommend the smart locks that I’m using at home (August Smart Lock). I’ve also had the pleasure to inspect the Samsung Digital Door Lock which is even better, both in terms of features and appearance. I’m kind of said that I didn’t get it instead of the August because it looks so damn fine, but it’s too late (for now). Susie, if you’re reading this, there’s a birthday gift wish in there somewhere!
All jokes aside, I hope this bit of information will help you find the right lock for your needs.