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My new smart lock is a home security game-changer — here’s why

Why my new smart lock is a home security game-changer
(Image credit: Schlage)

A smart lock is the quintessential smart home device. It makes your space more secure, simpler to control and accessible from anywhere all at once. That’s why installing a smart lock in my own DIY smart home seemed like a no-brainer.

Except when I started planning my connected devices, my decision-making wasn’t as simple. In addition to my home’s front door, there are a pair of french doors on the main floor. My family and I use these doors daily to let our dog out, get to the deck and bring food back between our kitchen and grill. So is having smart locks on these two doors just as practical as having one on my front door?

Three smart locks sounded excessive, not to mention expensive. The best smart locks don’t come cheap: Both the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock and Kwikset Halo cost $249. 

While the Schlage Encode (the smart lock I wanted) can be found for less since it’s a few years old, three would run me up at least $600. 

For those following along, you’ll know I saved thousands taking the DIY route, cutting prices with an inexpensive smart thermostat and skipping on smart appliances. Security doesn’t seem like something I should be cheap about, though. Besides, the deadbolts on the french doors are absolutely due for replacement — a strong gust of wind blew them open recently. Luckily I was home, but it could be a major issue if it happens again when I’m not.

I figured I can’t be the only person who’s wondered if they need smart locks on all their home’s doors, not just their main entrance. Especially as the weather gets nicer and people might be spending more time in their backyards.

Should you buy a smart lock? These are the benefits 

If I installed three Schlage Encodes, all three of my doors would be connected to my home Wi-Fi without using a bridge, like some smart locks require. That means I could use my voice assistant (I choose Alexa over Google Assistant) to lock or unlock each door, plus integrate them into smart home routines.

An Encode can hold up to 100 entry codes, any of which can be assigned permanently to specific guests or used as one-time passes inside. It can operate as a conventional lock for my family members with physical keys, too. Yet I already know when we get home from the beach this summer, we’ll appreciate the ability to get inside without having to fish in sandy beach bags for our house keys. 

And if an unwelcome guest tries to tamper with our lock, a loud alarm will sound. I live in a condominium where neighbors are close enough to hear such commotion, so even if I’m away or unreachable someone is likely to alert authorities.

Schlage’s Wi-Fi-enabled devices are also compatible with my Brilliant Smart Home Control, a touchscreen panel that features physical dimmers for my home’s light fixtures and an interface for managing my additional smart home products. Either inside on the screen or away on the Brilliant app, I can control my Schlage Encode’s settings.

One smart lock is probably enough 

As intelligent and safety-centric as these features might be, having an Encode smart lock on all three of my doors still feels disproportionate to my home’s needs. That’s why I decided to get two non-smart deadbolt replacements from Schlage for $100 each. Aesthetically, these match well with the Encode and provide a discreet touchscreen for entry. They can’t connect to Alexa or Brilliant, so I’ll just need to be mindful of locking up when I leave. 

In most cases, one smart lock is all you’ll need to make your home safer and more automated. If you have a larger home, where your main-level doors are frequented yet far apart, you might want to consider additional smart locks.

Be sure to check out my guides to the best smart home devices (and best cheap smart home devices) for more gadget recommendations. Email me at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com or leave a comment below with anything you’d like to see me cover in the connected space — I might just address it in a future installment.