Smart locks have a few advantages over traditional locks: You can control them remotely from your smartphone, issue temporary passes to friends, and see when—and who—uses your door. You can also connect them to other smart home devices, such as security cameras and video doorbells, so that you can unlock your door for a guest, even if you're not at home.
After reviewing numerous smart locks from several well-known brands, our top pick is the August Smart Lock Pro, which was easy to install, has a number of optional accessories (such as a keypad and doorbell camera) and can be connected to a wide range of smart home systems, such as Alexa, Google Home, and Nest. The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt is a good option for those looking to save some money. However, it only works with Alexa, via the Samsung SmartThings or Wink hub.
Latest News & Updates (March 2019)
- Schlage's first Wi-Fi-enabled smart deadbolt, the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt ($249) is now available. Despite it using Wi-Fi, which is more power-hungry than the Zigbee and Z-Wave technology used in most smart locks, the Encode's batteries should last up to six months. The lock works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and can integrate with Amazon Key, Ring devices and the Cloud Cam.
- August is releasing a limited edition of its Smart Lock in white. Bundled with the August Connect (which lets you control it remotely), the lock, which is also available in silver, dark gray, and satin nickel, costs $179, and is available only through August.com.
- Kwikset announced two new smart locks: the Wi-Fi-enabled Halo ($199 with a physical keypad, and $229 for a touchscreen keypad), and the Bluetooth-enabled Aura ($150). Both will be available later this year.
- Yale released a new line of locks that integrate with August's app; the Yale Assure Lock ($299) can be opened using the keypad, the app, or by enabling Auto Unlock, which will unlock the door when your smartphone is in range. The lock is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, as well as SimpliSafe. The Assure Lock SL, a key-free lock with a touchscreen keypad costs $299, while the Assure Lock Touchscreen, which has a keypad and a key slot, costs $279. Current Assure Lock owners can purchase a Connected by August Kit module for $129.
The August Smart Lock Pro, which looks like a round cylinder, replaces just the inside portion of your deadbolt, so that you can keep using your same key. It has an automatic lock and unlock feature, handy for when your arms are full. A Doorsense module also lets you know if you've left the door open. While it lacks a built-in alarm, this lock has its own app, and works with both Android and iOS devices. It's compatible with HomeKit, Nest and Xfinity, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant. Plus, it also works with AirBnB, so guests can automatically send temporary access to guests for the duration of their stay. August bundles the Smart Lock Pro with a Wi-Fi bridge so that you can control and monitor your door remotely, and also sells an optional keypad ($79) and doorbell camera ($199).
If someone tries to jimmy this lock or force their way in, this Schlage will emit a piercing siren, which will warn away any intruders. This lock also has the highest possible security rating. You can program in up to 30 codes, and the touch screen is smudge- and fingerprint-resistant. The Touchscreen Deadbolt doesn'’t have its own app, but you can connect it to a smart home hub to control it remotely.
This HomeKit-compatible lock lets you use Siri to open your front door; too bad it doesn't work with other smart home hubs, like the Schlage Connect. It can be programmed with up to 30 different codes. It also has the highest possible security rating, and an alarm if someone tries to break in.
Forget your keys? No problem. In fact, the T1L doesn't even have a key slot, making it potentially more secure from burglars who might try to pick the lock. You can program up to 25 codes, and the lock's small and stylish design will blend in nicely with any décor. While it doesn't have a standalone app, the T1L can be connected to, and controlled by, several different smart home systems. If the batteries inside the lock die, you can connect a 9-volt battery to gain temporary access to your house — a nice feature.
How We Test Smart Locks
To gauge the effectiveness of all the locks, we time how long it takes to install each on a door and how easy the directions are to follow. We then evaluate them on their features, including security (alarms, tamper-resistance), the number of codes you can program into each, and smart home compatibility.
What to Look for When Buying a Smart Lock
Lock Types and Styles
At their most basic level, locks are generally divided into two categories: deadbolts and lever-style locks. A deadbolt only has a keyhole or touchpad, and requires a separate lever for you to actually open your door. A lever-style lock has the lever, the keyhole, and the keypad all contained in one unit. In most cases, a deadbolt will be the best option. As you’ll most likely be replacing a traditional deadbolt, installing a smart deadbolt will require the least amount of work.
Like their traditional counterparts, most smart locks come in a variety of finishes and styles, so you can pick the one that best matches your home's décor.
Another option you’ll want to consider is whether you want a lock with or without a traditional key, or with a keypad. For example, the Yale Real Living Assure Lock Touchscreen Deadbolt has both a keypad and a key; however, Yale also makes models that are key-free, meaning they only have a keypad. Meanwhile, the Kwikset Kevo deadbolt lacks a keypad, so you’ll either need a key or your smartphone to unlock your door. Still others, such as the August, have an optional keypad.
A keypad gives you the option of assigning codes to different people, so you don't have to hand them a physical key, or have to remember to bring a key with you when you leave your house. However, keypads take up much more space on your door, and there's the chance, however remote, that a thief can guess your code to get into your home.
Another good feature to look for is a built-in alarm that will sound when someone tries to forcibly open the lock; the better locks will have this feature, plus the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the alarm.
Smart Home Compatibility
Most smart locks—such as those that have Z-Wave or Zigbee—don't have a dedicated app, so in order to control them from your smartphone or smart home system like Alexa, you'll have to connect them to a smart home hub, such as Samsung SmartThings, Wink, or the Amazon Echo Plus. Locks that fall into this category include the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt, and the Kwikset SmartCode 910, 912, 914 and 916 smart locks.
Smart locks that work with Apple HomeKit will use Bluetooth to communicate with Apple's smart home platform. As a side benefit, many of these locks also have their own smartphone app—usually for iPhones and Android—so even if you don't hook them up to a smart home system, you can still control them locally using your phone. Locks in this area include the August Smart Lock, the Schlage Sense Smart, Kwikset Kevo and Premis, and the Yale Real Living Assure locks—which can also be upgraded with a Z-Wave or Zigbee module.
Several smart lock makers also sell accessories to bridge the gap between their locks and your home Wi-Fi network—thus allowing you to monitor and control the locks remotely. Examples include the August Connect ($79) and the Schlage Sense Wi-Fi adapter ($69).
|MORE: Smart Home Guide: What to Know Before You Buy|