Locks might not strike you as the most essential type of smart home technology—after all, how much can microprocessors really add to a device that’s performed the exact same function for hundreds of years? However, smart locks offer surprising advantages to modern-day homeowners, especially when paired with a few other gadgets.
We’ve been Calgary’s go-to locksmiths for years, so we know all about the pros and cons of using smart locks for your home. Below, we’ll go into detail about smart locks and what they offer so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in them yourself.
What Makes it a “Smart” Lock?
To be considered “smart”, a lock only needs to have one feature: the ability to open without a key via wireless authentication. That might not sound terribly advanced to you, but hold on a second—that single feature provides some exciting possibilities.
Using wireless technology allows some smart locks to communicate with other smart devices in your home, such as smart lighting products and security cameras with facial recognition. That means you could conceivably program your lights to turn on whenever you unlock your front door or program your door to lock whenever your security cameras detect an unauthorized guest.
Different Types of Smart Locks
There are many different individual smart locks available to consumers, but most use at least one of three common wireless protocols to communicate with other devices. We’ve provided a brief list below, along with some examples of popular products in each category:
Bluetooth smart locks communicate directly with your smartphone or tablet, making them easy to set up and start using. They also tend to offer exceptional battery life, so you’ll only have to change the batteries in your smart locks every year or so in most cases. The one downside to Bluetooth smart locks is their range—you’ll only be able to control your lock from within 300 feet or so (and that’s assuming your home has a pretty open layout).
Smart locks that use Z-Wave can’t connect directly with your smart device, which means you’ll need a hub that’s compatible with the protocol to act as a go-between. However, there’s a hidden advantage there when it comes to range: Z-Wave signals can be bounced by compatible devices up to four different times. That means you can get a total range of about 600 feet (at 120 feet per device) if you’re willing to invest in a few extra pieces of gear.
Adding Wi-Fi capability to a smart lock used to require the purchase of a separate module, but no longer. Some recent smart locks are coming with Wi-Fi built right in—which means you’ll be able to unlock them from anywhere with an internet connection. WiFi also offers other benefits, like the ability to create new users and access codes remotely. You’ll even be able to view your lock’s activity log and current status without having to be in the same location, which can give you peace of mind on those long trips away from home.
Smart Lock Pros & Cons
Now that you know what a smart lock is and what different kinds you can buy, let’s examine their benefits—and potential drawbacks:
Smart Lock Pros
- Unlock your home at a distance (okay, this one’s pretty obvious)
- Program other smart devices in your home (lights, cameras, thermostats, etc.) to work in conjunction with your smart locks
- Control these features from anywhere using WiFi (available as an add-on or a built-in feature for certain smart locks)
Smart Lock Cons
- You’ll have to remember to change the batteries
- Smart locks won’t function in the event of a power outage
- Technology can go obsolete quickly—you’ll need regular software updates to keep your locks optimized
- It’s possible to hack a smart lock (but then again, it’s possible to pick a traditional lock as well, and honestly, hacking seems like a lot more work)
It’s also worth noting that technology tends to make itself obsolete. Creating incentives for consumers to purchase the latest iteration of any given product is what helps keep the tech industry so profitable. As such, you have to weigh the possibility that the company making your smart locks might stop providing support for them whenever a new model hits the market.
Should You Buy Smart Locks for Your Home?
Smart locks offer convenience and the potential for additional security features, but they can also require a significant investment on your part. If you’re interested in controlling your locks remotely or syncing them up with your other smart home products, smart locks are probably a great idea—but if not, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the traditional route.
Do you have more questions about the value of using smart locks for your home? Feel free to contact us and speak directly with someone on our team who can tell you more.