Electronic locks, such as a Bluetooth lock, a WiFi door lock, an RFID lock, or a fingerprint-activated lock, are on nearly every new home and many old ones, and for good reasons.
Think about it. You arrive home with grocery bags strewn over your arms. Suddenly, you can’t find your keys. You know they’re in your purse or your pocket, but your ice cream is melting, and the dog is scratching from inside. Wouldn’t it be easier to use an app on your phone or a swipe of your finger to unlock your door? A wifi door lock would allow you to do that.
Why Your Home Might Need a New Lock
If you’ve lived in your home for a while, the odds are that you’ve given your keys out to a contractor or two throughout the years. Maybe your lock sticks a little, or perhaps it’s just time for your front door to enter the 21st century. If you are in the market for new locks, a wifi door lock offers some flexibility and security you won’t find with an analog lock. There are some drawbacks, though.
Is an Electronic Lock Safe?
If you’re tech-savvy, an electronic lock offers so much more than just another toy. If, for example, you need to grant access to a cleaning person or a contractor, you can program your system to allow them in when you need them, but lock them out when you don’t.
For the most part, though, the benefits of electronic locks have more to do with convenience than extra security. If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, they might not be for you. If you get tired of fumbling for your keys, or if you want to control who has access to your home, though, here is everything you want to know about electronic door locks.
Differences Between Various Electronic Locks
Here are a few ways the various electronic locks differ.
Electronic locks come in several different varieties. The earliest versions used keypads, which you can still find online and in your local home improvement stores. The keypad technology has advanced a bit, though. Many now use touchscreen panels instead of buttons and have additional security to ensure burglars can’t figure out the code. One advantage of keypad locks is that you can assign codes to individual users, and remove the code when that user no longer needs access.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) locks
If you use a keycard to enter your office, or if you’ve stayed in a relatively modern hotel, you’re already familiar with RFID locks. As the name implies, RFID locks use radio frequency to disengage your locks. With many, the key fob doesn’t even have to touch the lock, so if it’s at the bottom of your purse, you can still enter your home.
WiFi and Bluetooth door lock
WiFi and Bluetooth door locks are similar to RFID locks, in that the locks can sense your presence through your smartphone. In most cases, you can lock and unlock through an app on your phone. With Bluetooth locks, you’ll need to be within your home’s vicinity. With WiFi, you can lock or unlock anytime you have your smartphone or your computer.
Biometric door locks
Chances are, you already use biometric technology on your smartphone. Biometrics allow you to swipe your fingerprint to unlock your door. Access can be set up and revoked at any time, so you have control over who can enter your home.
Z-Wave door locks
Z-Wave is a smart home alternative to Bluetooth and WiFi. With Z-Wave, all of your smart home devices, including locks, alarms, light and appliance controls, etc., are connected to each other, rather than them linking to a central WiFi hub like a router. While Z-Wave isn’t exactly hacking proof, it is considered “the safest, most secure ecosystem of smart devices on the global market.” In other words, since Z-Wave omits the login procedures of Bluetooth and WiFi, this makes your wifi door lock more difficult to hack.
Best Electronic Door Locks
When shopping for an electronic door lock, or smart lock, you need to ask yourself what’s important for you. Smart locks are more expensive than analog key locks, but you can find some as low as $100 per lock. If you want features like tamper alarm, voice commands, and email notifications, expect to pay between $200 and $300 per lock. Many locks use multiple technologies, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and Z-Wave. Some also include RFID chips and biometric technology. All should offer a good old-fashioned key slot as a backup.
Best keypad door lock
If you’re looking for a lock that does it all, look no further than the Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt. Not only does it lock your door, the Schlage lock includes an alarm in case an unauthorized person tries to access your home.
The average cost for the lock is around $200, but you can buy it on Amazon for $161.95, with free shipping from Amazon Prime. The Schlage lock is voice activated with Amazon’s Alexa. It stores up to 30 user codes at a time, and you can add and remove them as you need. The wifi door lock even comes with a built-in alarm, which comes with three settings. Its Z-Wave technology allows locking and unlocking it with your smartphone. The matte finish helps eliminate fingerprints, which helps keep burglars from guessing what your code might be.
Some users complain that the battery life is deceptively short, but others say the solution is making sure that the lock is correctly aligned with the holes and that there’s room for expansion from heat. Some also claim that the lock doesn’t work in highly humid areas, but one solution seems to be to leave the battery cover off, so the humidity can escape.
Best RFID door lock
Amazon users almost unanimously love the Fuers Electronic Keyless Deadbolt Door Lock. It’s the type of lock you find in hotels.
RFID technology seems rather quaint in comparison to today’s smart locks, but many people like the fact that the Fuers lock is not tied to the internet. At about $130.00 per lock, It’s less pricey than most smart locks, but the downside is that you still need to use a keycard or a key, which means you’ll still fumble through pockets and purses. One benefit to a card, though, at least as opposed to a key, is that you can deactivate cards if they are lost.
Best WiFi door lock
Most smart locks use a variety of technologies, but when it comes to a WiFi door lock, one stands out. The Schlage Sense Smart deadbolt ranks far above its competitors.
This wifi door lock easily pairs with any smartphone. You can assign up to 30 access codes. If you don’t have access to your phone, you can punch your code into the keypad or use your key. One of the reasons the Schlage keypad lock so highly is its construction. It has a commercial Grade 1 rated single cylinder deadbolt. An optional security plate can reinforce it, plus there is an alarm in case anyone tampers with your lock.
The biggest con to the Schlage Sense Smart is the price. Each lock is over $200, and the WiFi adapter is an additional $70.00.
Best Bluetooth door lock
Experts and Amazon users disagree on Bluetooth options. Several electronic review sites, such as PC Magazine and the smart home site, Safewise, love the technology behind Kwikset’s Kevo Smart Lock. Experts note that it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices. They appreciate that you can grant full temporary or permanent access through eKeys. There is a lost phone option which allows the system administrator to disable the lost phone from being able to activate the locks.
Kwikset’s Kivo has a clean, simple design that looks like any other deadbolt. This could appeal to some homeowners who don’t like the bigger, bulkier locks that other manufacturers offer.
One con to the Kevo lock is that it’s expensive, but Amazon sells it for around $150.00, as opposed to the usual $229.00 list price. For a one-time $99 fee, you can purchase remote locking and unlocking.
Amazon users aren’t as sold on the Kevo. Many say that while it’s easy to install, the system is unreliable.
Best biometric door lock
The HARFO HL90 Fingerprint Touchscreen Keyless Door Lock is an excellent compromise for those who aren’t comfortable with their lock being tied to the internet but still want keyless (and cardless) convenience.
The lock will scan and record up to 300 fingerprints, which you can deactivate as needed. The system also comes with three key cards. It is battery powered, and the manufacturer says the battery life is over a year. Even if the battery dies, you have a hidden key option. At $145.99, this lock is one of the more affordable on the market.
Best Z-Wave keyless door lock
The best Z-Wave and the best overall lock is the August Smart Lock Pro, 3rd generation. At $279 per lock, August’s lock is among the most expensive, but if money isn’t an impediment, it’s worth it. The August lock offers multiple technologies: Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Wifi. Most say it’s easy to install. It works with several remote assistants, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. You can even connect the lock to a doorbell camera for extra security.
As for ease, the August Smart Lock can’t be beaten. It automatically locks behind you and unlocks as it knows you’re approaching. On top of the $279 price tag, most users purchase the $79 Connect bridge that connects the wifi door lock to your wireless network. The biggest complaint about the August Smart Lock Pro seems to be the quality of customer service. Fortunately, most users don’t seem to need customer service.
The Bottom Line
No one needs a wifi door lock. However, for many, the conveniences far outweigh the potential downsides. All of the locks we’ve mentioned come with built-in fail-safe systems. In other words, if the electronic components go awry, you can still use a key to access your home.
While the cost of new locks can add up, you’ll never have to rekey your locks again. You can simply reprogram your system. If you are skeptical of technology, or if you have a hard time programming the clock on your microwave, smart locks may not be for you. If, however, you sometimes worry that you haven’t locked the door, or if you want to see if your teenager made it home after school, a smart lock, with Bluetooth, WiFi, or Z-Wave, is an ideal solution.
For a compromise, choose an RFID system or a biometric system. They aren’t quite as high-tech as the smart locks, and therefore less likely to get hacked, but they offer some of the same conveniences.
Featured Image: CC0, by Kalhh, via Pixabay