The uncomfortable truth is that most locks aren’t as secure as we would like to believe. Anyone who has lived in an apartment, mobile home, or poorly constructed cabin knows precisely how delicate some locks can be.
Because of this, many concerned homeowners have started taking to more technologically savvy ways to keep their houses safe.
One of the best ways to keep your home protected is with competent biometric or smart locks. In this article, we are going to cover a few of the better smart locks that can be placed on top or alongside your existing deadbolt.
Whether you want something cheaper, more minimal, or technologically unbelievable – we are going to cover a wide net of great products.
What To Look For in a Smart Lock
If you are just beginning to get into the hobby of home security, this will help you narrow down what to look for in a smart lock.
If you are already familiar with smart locks and their features, you can comfortably skip this. Smart locks come in several different forms, so depending on what you plan to put them on, your needs could vary.
Bluetooth, Z-Wave, & WiFi
If your lock cannot be reached through a form of wireless communication, it is likely not that intelligent of a lock. The problem is, all three of these different communication options work – they also vary wildly in terms of positives and negatives.
Let’s start off with the one most of us will be familiar with, Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is going to shine in its limited battery usage and suffer when it comes to wireless range. While it can outlast a Wi-fi lock for a considerably longer time, if you have a convoluted home layout the lock may not be able to interact with your phone. This is another benefit, several Bluetooth locks have various features attached to a mobile application.
Wi-Fi locks are going to drain the battery at an accelerated rate, though offer a wide range of accommodations (usually) and have greater range. These locks have options that Bluetooth locks can’t however, such as the ability to unlock your home remotely or give other people their own individual passwords. This is likely the more advanced option, though you will be replacing batteries more often.
The last option is called Z-Wave which will almost always come with a separate device to bridge the gap from your Z-wave lock to the router. This is a very popular style of a home network that you will surely see a lot of when shopping for home security devices. While it is slower than Zigbee, it gives a much-improved range of 100 feet.
A competing version of this is known as Zigbee. While this is not as common as Z-wave has become, it is still used enough to warrant some attention. It essentially is a faster connection that has a far more limited range. If you are going to use a product that utilizes Zigbee, be aware that it has a range of roughly 35 feet.
Both Zigbee and Z-Wave demand very little when it comes to battery, which often makes them preferable to Wi-Fi for consumers.
Types of Locks
This might sound confusing since technically these are all smart locks. Though how you choose to unlock your door is entirely up to you nowadays.
You can unlock your door remotely, utilize a deadbolt, use a keypad, stick to a house key or even utilize a biometric scanner. While all of these are relatively self-explanatory, you should decide which will benefit you the most and what your situation requires.
Some devices even offer the ability to unlock the door as soon you enter its proximity.
It’s also important to remember that even though the idea of a smart lock suggests more security, this is sometimes not the case. Make sure the product you get is reviewed to be reliable, sturdy, and long-lasting.
You should also be careful about buying something with a myriad of different options to unlock the door. More options make it more convenient to unlock the door for you and anyone else that may have an interest in entering your home.
Top Smart Locks (That Work With Deadbolts)
All of the following locks are easily able to be used with your current deadbolt. These retrofit smart locks are not listed in any order of importance and will vastly differ from one to the other.
To offer some more insight, we will be judging these locks on how inconspicuous they are, price, features, security, and overall quality. Because of this, some locks may feel a bit lacking in qualities you desire, though this is to offer a wider variety of choices.
Anyone looking for a retrofitted lock has surely heard of the Level Bolt Smart lock, which is easily one of the most minimal smart locks on the market today.
There was a Frenchman back in the day who attempted to make the French adopt potatoes in a more meaningful way. This was an impossible task until one day he decided to grow them behind locked gates and placed guards on both ends. Within days, people were stealing potatoes from inside the gates while the guards pretended not to notice.
If you give the appearance of having something valuable, less honest people will naturally want to take it.
The best way to combat this if you are concerned about clever burglars is to minimize the appearance of home security. The Level Bolt is one of the most unremarkable-looking locks on the market today, which can prove very useful for keeping a home safe.
This lock can be unlocked with voice, phone, or key (a keypad can be ordered separately). You can also send people virtual keys as well as create events that allow group unlocks.
It will provide an up-to-date activity log through the corresponding app. It is compatible with Ring products as well as Siri and/or Apple Homekit.
While it won’t provide a retina scanner and holographic projections, this device is as smart as any minimal lock has a right to be. It currently is sitting at the retail price of less than $200. Installation is reportedly fairly straightforward and requires no more than a screwdriver and the Level Bolt smart lock.
The August Wi-fi smart lock is often hailed as the best deadbolt-compatible smart lock on the market. Whether that is true remains to be seen and won’t be answered by myself, though they do have an impressive group of products.
While it was hard to pin down their best product, the Wi-Fi Smart Lock simply has too much to offer to not get a spot in this list.
The August Wi-Fi smart lock is compatible with Apple Homekit (Siri), Samsung Smarthings, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
One of the more interesting features this product offers is two-factor authentication or requiring a person to use two different ways to identify themselves before it unlocks. The lock has built-in Wifi, so you can use it directly from your phone regardless of where you or the nearest router is. This allows for Remote Access, Auto-lock/Unlock, Gifting keys to friends, and the included activity log.
When it comes to unlocking your door, August believes variety is the spice of home security. You can give access to friends and family through scheduled or gifted virtual keys, giving you complete control over who has access to your house and when.
You can unlock the device via your voice, fingerprint, smartphone, proximity, or Apple Watch. You can also check if your door is open, closed, locked, or unlocked through the app. Finally, you have a battery indicator through the app that lets you know when you need to order a replacement battery.
While the name certainly doesn’t roll off the tongue, this is one of the more affordable products you will find on the market. While it sits at a retail price of nearly $150 (hold off on the pitchforks) it is often massively discounted, especially closer to the holidays.
At the time this article is written, it currently is at a far more reasonable sub-$70 price.
It is discrete and will only need to be installed on the interior of your door, offers remote access (with a separate Kwikset hub) along with auto-lock/unlock, and you can also give friends and family virtual keys.
This product is compatible with Alexa, Ring, Skybell, Nest, and more. The installation by all accounts is a long-lasting headache for most customers and is a good segue to my next point.
This product has questionable reviews at best.
While several websites feature this Kwikset smart lock and list off all the incredible features it has, they often fail to mention many of its shortcomings – of which there are several.
The first is that numerous people have reportedly gotten products that were broken or repackaged straight out of the box. While Kwikset has a very active customer service team, I strongly recommend getting a warranty prior to purchasing. Additionally, the battery is reportedly very weak.
This device does have strong points — it has a minimal design, a good list of features, and a solid price when discounted. But this comes with a few notable downsides.
While it still remains on the list because of its many options at a discounted cost, it is (in the opinion of the author) the weakest product on this list. Take ibuprofen prior to installation.
Yale has been in business since 1840 — it’s fair to assume they may be doing something right. This one may be slightly pushing the idea of “working with” your existing deadbolt, though you can install it directly on top of it.
You don’t need a key, nor will you be able to use one. This device works solely off of its backlit keypad, which you can use to give access codes to friends and family. Additionally, it will (optionally) auto-lock and unlock as you leave and return from your home.
The biggest downsides to this device are the higher price tag (which is nearly $300 at MSRP) and relatively vague installation. While reviews remain pretty kind to the device itself (which seems fairly reliable) the installation process seems convoluted and the instructions unclear. While this might seem like the norm for any of us who have tried to set up tech products, it is still very frustrating.
The Yale Assure Smart Lock is compatible with Wink, Ring, Samsung Smartthings, and Alexa.
The Assure lock has a 9V Battery port you can use to prevent getting locked out from a deadlock. To do this, all you need to do is hold the 9V battery to the port and enter your combination. With the often sketchy battery lives of some of these locks, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remote access is possible if you find a Z-Wave-compatible smart home system.
While we can’t quite order an automated home defense system quite yet, we can still keep our possessions and loved ones safe simply and efficiently. The days of keeping a key under the hollow rock are long over — you now have multiple ways to access your home and a number of different tasteful designs to choose from.
This article may have featured some of the more elite options for this specific type of smart lock, but there are still several out there if none of these fits your fancy.
Should you decide you want more options in your home security, brands like August, Kwikset, Yale, Schlage, and Ultraloq have additional choices. If you want more details about these locks, check out any of the several articles we have going into more detail about them!