If you're planning to go over the river and through the woods for a holiday gathering, it's worth installing one of the best smart locks on your door before you go. These devices control entry into your home, but more than that, can tell you from anywhere who's coming and going, and saves you from having to make and give out spare keys. For example, if you have someone to come and take care of your pets while you're gone, you can know when they go into your house.
A smart lock lets you create virtual keys and time-sensitive pass codes, so you control who can get into your house, and when — which makes them great for rental properties. It can also alert you whenever your door is locked and unlocked. And, smart locks can also connect to other smart home devices, so when you open your door, it can send a signal to turn on your smart lights and change your thermostat. And, if you link it to Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, you can ask those services to lock your door on your way out.
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What are the best smart locks?
Yale has upgraded its Z-Wave module for its Assure smart locks. The Z-Wave 700-series module will offer up to 20% longer battery life and 46% improvement in range. It also has the Z-Wave S2 security framework. The module will only be available initially when purchasing a new lock, but Yale will offer it separately, which should cost around $49.
Based on our testing, the best smart lock overall is the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock. The successor to the August Smart Lock Pro, the Wi-Fi Smart Lock is 45 percent smaller and has Wi-Fi built in, so you no longer need to install a separate device to connect the lock to your home network. The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock has all the same features as its predecessor: It's easy to install, easy to use, and supports all of the major smart home systems, such as Alexa and Google Assistant.
For those on a budget, the best smart lock is the August Smart Lock. It’s significantly cheaper than the Pro version, but has most of the same features, with the only major omission being Apple HomeKit support.
If you're looking for a smart lock that completely disappears, check out the Level Bolt, which fits completely inside your existing deadbolt. It works with both Alexa and Apple HomeKit, but requires a bridge to control it remotely.
Here are the best smart locks you can buy right now.
The best smart locks you can buy today
There wasn't much to improve on August's smart lock, but the company went ahead and tweaked its original to make it smaller and easier to use. The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is 45 percent smaller than the original, so it looks less bulbous on your door, and now has Wi-Fi built in, so you don't need to install the August Connect bridge to link your lock to your home network.
Everything we liked about the August Pro is here: A simple installation process, features such as DoorSense (which lets you know if your door has been left ajar), and interoperability with a huge range of other smart home systems, from Alexa to Google Assistant to Xfinity. And, the August Wi-Fi lets you use the keys from your existing deadbolt. That's why it won two 2021 Tom's Guide Awards for Smart Home, too.
Read our full August Wi-Fi Smart Lock review.
If you want to add some smarts to your home without spending too much, the August Smart Lock has most of the features you'll need, at a reasonable price. You can pick up this smart, full-featured lock for less than $100.
If you rent your home, the August Smart Lock is the best smart lock, as it’s very simple to install on top of an extant deadlock without replacing the cylinder or key. There’s no need to replace the cylinder; it will continue to work with your existing keys, keeping your landlord happy. And, when you move out, you can quickly and easily remove the lock and replace it with the old one, keeping your deposit safe.
Note that you will also need the August Connect module (about $60, sold separately) if you want to control and monitor the lock remotely. That module can handle multiple locks, so it’s a great low-cost pick for adding remote control to several doors at once. The only thing missing is support for Apple HomeKit.
Read our full August Smart Lock review.
If someone tries you tamper with your lock, a loud alarm is a good deterrent. The Schlage Encode is our pick for the best smart lock with an alarm, as it will blare out an earsplitting siren in the attempt of a break-in.
As well as being a great combination of a manual, keycode and remote-controlled lock, the Schlage Encode supports the Amazon Key service, which allows an Amazon delivery person to open the door when they arrive and place your packages inside the house. That feature makes them less likely to be stolen. Amazon Key does require a compatible security camera, which costs extra. The lock supports Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can integrate it with your Smart Home system easily, but there is no support for Apple's HomeKit.
Read our full Schlage Encode smart lock review.
The support for multiple smart home standards make the Yale Real Living Assure SL one of the best smart locks available. It works with Alexa, Google Home, HomeKit and SmartThings. That means you can control it from your smartphone, whether you have one of the best iPhones or best Android phones, or a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo, Google Nest Mini or Google Nest Hub Max.
The Assure SL is an attractive, well-designed lock that is easy to install. There is no manual key option, though: it’s a keycode, app or nothing. If the battery runs out, you can give it a temporary boost by touching a 9v battery to two contacts underneath the keypad.
Read our full Yale Assure SL review.
While smart locks make it easy to unlock and lock your door using a smartphone or keypad, sometimes you just want a plain old key. But, if you have a rental property, this can be an issue if you're worried that someone has made a bunch of copies.
That's why we like the Kwikset Halo; it has a rekeyable lock, which was dead simple to use. Plus, this lock connects directly to your Wi-Fi network, is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, and has some good theft-deterrent features built into its touchscreen. The Kwikset Halo is available in four finishes (Iron Black, Polished Chrome, Satin Nickel, and Venetian Bronze). You can also get it with a touchscreen or with a physical, backlit keypad; the latter is less expensive by about $50.
There's also the Kwikset Halo Touch ($249 at Amazon), which has a fingerprint reader in lieu of a keypad; it comes in two finishes and designs, and connects directly to your Wi-Fi. Stay tuned for our review.
Read our full Kwikset Halo review.
With the Lockly Secure Plus, the only key you’ll need is your finger; one touch to the fingerprint reader on the right side of the lock body opens the lock. You can also open the door by entering a code, and cleverly, the touchscreen keypad shifts the numbers around, so thieves can’t guess your code by looking at finger smudges.
Another unusual feature is that the Secure Plus is a lever lock; most smart locks are deadbolts. However, the Locky Secure Plus doesn’t support other smart home systems. For that, you'll need either a $70 Wi-Fi adapter, or to spring for the $299 Lockly Secure Pro, a separate model with built-in Wi-Fi that lets it connect to Alexa and Google Home.
Read our full Lockly Secure Plus review.
“Google, lock the front door.” If you are a Google or Nest household, you want a lock that speaks to the Google Assistant smart home system. The best smart lock that offers this feature is the Nest X Yale, a neatly designed lock that works very well with Google Assistant. We love the minimalist design of the Nest X Yale, though this is a touchpad-only design, so there's no physical key.
Locks from August and Schlage also support Google Assistant, but the Nest X Yale is the more elegant, all-in-one solution if you are invested in the Nest or Google Assistant systems. Alas, it does not work with Alexa or HomeKit.
Read our full Nest X Yale review.
The Kwisket Premis is one of the best smart locks for HomeKit users, as it easily integrates with Apple's smart home ecosystem. The Premis lets you enter your home using keys, a code, or via your smartphone. The low-profile keypad looks smart, but still offers a manual key option for the luddites in your house. And, it's available in a few styles and finishes.
HomeKit support means that you can control it through Siri or the Premis app, but you'll also need a HomeKit hub, such as the HomePod Mini or an Apple TV. The latter also allows you to create keycodes that provide limited access, such as allowing the dog walker in during the day, but not at night. However, there is no support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant nor Google Home, though, so you can’t check the lock from your Amazon Echo.
Read our full Kwikset Premis review.
You’ll never forget your keys with this lock, because there aren’t any. The Kwikset Obsidian with Home Connect is a keycode, deadbolt lock with a smart, minimalist keypad that lights up on touch. Tap in a code (it can hold up to 30) and this best smart lock opens. Using the Obsidian is a simple way to control access to a basement or home office without worrying about keys.
A feature called SecureScreen prompts you to touch random digits before you enter your code, so others can’t guess your code by fingerprint smudges. However, in order to control or monitor the lock remotely, you’ll need a compatible Z-Wave smart home hub, such as Samsung SmartThings. If the four AA batteries run out at the wrong moment, you can give the lock a boost by touching a 9V battery to the two terminals underneath the touch panel.
Read our full Kwikset Obsidian review.
The Level Bolt smart lock distinguishes itself from all other smart locks in that, once installed, its mechanism is completely hidden from sight. That's because all of its workings fit neatly inside your door. So, not only does this mean you don't have to mar the appearance of your door with a gadget, but it also means that you're not advertising to others that you have a smart lock. And, because the Level Lock uses your door's hardware, you can still continue to use your keys to lock and unlock the door.
The Level Bolt works with HomeKit, Alexa, and Ring, but does not work with Google Assistant. And, because it only has Bluetooth built in, you'll need a compatible smart home hub nearby if you want to remotely monitor and control the lock. These limitations aside, the Level Lock performed well in our tests.
Read our full Level Bolt review.
Wyze made a name for itself by making many of the best cheap smart home devices. The Wyze smart lock is the company's third product, and is very good—and very cheap—too.
The Wyze smart lock was easy to set up and even easier to use, and integrates well with Wyze's other products. However, as of our review, it had yet to support any other smart home systems, such as Alexa and Google Assistant, which limits its usefulness.
Read our full Wyze smart lock review.
What to look for when buying a smart lock
When shopping for a smart lock, there are a few factors to consider.
Lock Type: Smart locks come in two types: deadbolt and lever-style. The former is designed to replace your existing deadbolt, while the latter has the lock and door-opening lever in one. Deadbolts are the most popular, but lever locks are becoming more common.
Design: Your smart lock should blend in with your home decor. Most locks are available in a variety of styles and finishes, such as brass, silver, and bronze.
Security: Smart locks offer one or more means of entry, so it's up to you to decide what you prefer.
- Keys: Just like a traditional lock, some smart locks have a traditional keyhole. Some can even be re-keyed, to make it easier to transition.
- Keypads: The most common entry method; most smart locks will let you create and manage dozens, if not hundreds of keycodes.
- Virtual keys: This lets you send a virtual code to people, who can use the smart lock app on their phone to unlock your door. You can manage when these codes are active.
- Fingerprint reader: Some smart locks now have fingerprint readers, so you no longer need to remember a code or your keys; just press your finger against the reader to gain entry.
Connectivity: In order to control and monitor a smart lock remotely, you have to connect it to your home network. This can be done in one of several ways. Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth are the most popular radios built into smart locks, as they require little power. However, these models require a hub or bridge of some kind if you wan to monitor the lock remotely. One of the best smart home hubs, such as the Samsung SmartThings, Amazon Echo, or Apple HomePod mini, will help you do this, but you should make sure the hub is compatible with the lock.
Increasingly, more and more smart locks have Wi-Fi built in, which makes connecting them to your home network easier. However, this may mean that you'll have to change their batteries more frequently.
Smart home compatibility: The better smart locks should be able to work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, which allows you to tie them in to other smart home devices. So, for example, if you say "Siri, Goodnight," Apple's assistant will turn off your lights and lock your doors automatically. If you have a home security system, you can also connect some locks to it, so that they'll automatically lock when you leave home.
How we test smart locks
The only way you can really test a smart lock is to install it on your door and see how well it works. The first thing we look at is the ease of installation. A smart lock should be simple enough for anyone with a screwdriver and a modicum of know-how to put on their front door. Most smart locks currently require a Wi-Fi bridge in order to operate them remotely, so this adds an extra layer to the setup process.
Next, we see how well the lock works in everyday operation. Can you use it as easily as a traditional door lock? How intuitive is the app? What features does it come with? The best smart locks will let you create a number of temporary "keys," which you can send to others to open the door. Ideally, you should be able to schedule for when these keys will work. For example, if you have a dog walker, you should be able to program the virtual key for that person to work only during daytime hours during the week.
We also look to see what other smart home devices are compatible with the smart lock. At a minimum it should work with Alexa and/or Google Assistant, so that you can not only lock your door by voice, but query the assistant to actually see if the door is locked. Even better is when a smart lock can work with smart lights and security systems, to create a fully automated smart home.