Everyone wants to feel safe and secure in his or her own home, but security means different things to different people. Plus, it depends on where and how you live: flat or a house, city or country, quiet or coming and going, alone or with family or flatmates.
With the proliferation of smart home devices flooding the market in the past few years, and with the Internet of Things growing by the day, there has been a lot of attention given to smart home security.
It's a big category at industry trade shows, with many products already selling well and even more in development. All of these devices do different things to enhance the safety and security of your home, but which one is right for you?
We've compiled a list of some of the best smart door locks, both available now and coming out soon, that we think are worthwhile.
Security is Personal, Smart is Eternal: Smart Door LocksIt used to be that if you lost your keys, you were simply locked out. It also used to be that if you had friends coming over, you either had to be home to let them in or give them a key. Plus, if a burglar could pick your lock, he (or she) could simply walk right into your home and take anything.
Now, however, smart door locks are reinventing the whole concept of safe access. You don't need a physical key because you can use your smartphone as a key. And, depending on the model of smart lock you choose, you'll have access to lots of features in addition to just a simple door lock.
If you're an Airbnb host, a smart lock may prove to be a fabulous investment. Here are some smart door locks to check out.
smart door locks are reinventing the whole concept of safe access.
1. Kwikset Kevo Smart LockYou probably already know the name Kwikset. They're a leader in home locks, so it makes sense for them to get into the smart lock game early. The Kevo is a pretty good offering, using BlueTooth to grant access. In fact, if your smartphone holds your e-key, you don't even need to hold it up; keep it in your purse or pocket, touch the lock with your finger, and you're in. This saves a lot of fumbling around.
The Kevo works with iPhones and a select number of Android Lollipop devices by Nexus, Samsung, and HTC. (We're guessing, or perhaps hoping, that more extensive Android support is on the way soon.) For family members who don't have a smartphone, it's no problem: an old fashioned key can be used, as can a key fob.
The lock has inside versus outside detection, and when you touch it to lock or unlock the door, the lights on the unit lets you know that it's working.
Other features include notifications, which you can set up to let you know whenever someone enters or exits your home, plus compatibility with other smart home devices like the Nest thermostat. (For example, you can program Nest to turn down when you leave the house.) And, like other Kwikset locks, it's highly pick resistant.Kwikset locks are highly pick resistant.
While it's a bit pricey — it's on Amazon.com for around $199 — it's a quality smart lock from a longtime lock manufacturer. Unfortunately the Kevo smart lock is not available in the UK as of this writing.
2. August Smart LockAt $250 USD (so, about £165), the August Smart Lock isn't cheap either. However, it seems to be the smart lock model turning the most heads. Like the other smart locks mentioned here, it's completely keyless, and using the app for iOS or Android, it lets you extend and cancel digital keys as you need to. The app will keep track of comings and goings for you, and you can turn on notifications to let you know when they happen.
The August Smart Lock works mostly over BlueTooth rather than wifi, so even if the power's out or your internet's down, the lock will still work. However, if you want to control the lock remotely, you'll need the corresponding wifi Bridge, which will run you another $50 USD (£33).
It fits over your existing deadbolt (as long as it's compatible, but the list of compatible locks is a pretty long one), so installation isn't a big deal.
To power the unit itself, it uses AA batteries. Yes, they'll eventually run out, but the app will let you know when it's time to replace them.
There is no official retailer for the August Smart Lock in the UK yet.
Additional Reading: Preview – August Smart Lock
3. Goji Smart LockThe Goji Smart Lock was riding high after a hugely successful $300,000+ USD campaign in the summer of 2013, but then it got plagued with delays — serious delays. Really, it's about a year overdue, so while we can't provide any actual usage reports, the product looks like it will be fantastic when it's finally here, and is therefore worth a mention.
Like the other products in this category, Goji uses your phone to lock and unlock the door, and you can set up auto-unlock when you're within close proximity. More than that, you can set up auto lock after the door shuts behind you, so you'll never wake up in the middle of the night wondering if the door is locked.
For kids and other family members who don't carry smartphones, there are corresponding Goji fobs that can be used, and an actual key is included as a backup. (Just don't lock it in the house.) You can send keys — with start and stop access times — via text message, and you can turn on phone notifications so you'll know when they get used.
One especially cool feature is that you can see a picture of who's at your door: there's a camera on the exterior part of the lock that will send it to you. Now that's secure! Of course, you can always check the door log.
The Goji itself is the best looking smart lock we've seen, with a text readout for a personalised welcome rather than simple lights. And, if you're really in a jam, Goji has 24 hour support, so you can report a stolen phone to disable its access or get back in if you're truly locked out. Goji is relatively easy to set up, it works via wifi, and it runs on batteries; the app lets you know when they're running low.
The device itself is still on pre-order, so actual use may prove all of this to be false, but it looks extremely promising.there's a camera on the exterior part of the lock that will send you a picture of who's at your door.
It's also pricey: $299 USD (around £200), and fobs are an extra $40 (£26). We're told it will be available soon.
4. Lockitron Bolt + BridgeAt $99 USD (£65), the Lockitron is the most affordable smart lock we can recommend, and it's quite good to boot. It's a two part system: the Bolt is the actual door lock, and the Bridge is a small brick-like device that connects the Lockitron Bolt to the internet so you can lock and unlock it from anywhere.
You can also change your password remotely, so if you lose your phone, the security of your home isn't compromised. The lock unit also uses BlueTooth, so if your power or wifi cut out, you can still get into your home with your phone.
The Lockitron system is easy to install, compatible with iOS and Android, and runs on four AA batteries (the app will tell you when they need to be replaced). It keeps an activity log, and you can add and delete access as needed, plus it has a Key Match system that allows you to keep your current set of house keys even after you install Lockitron.
The whole system looks quite promising, and it's expected to be available soon.
5. OkidokeysYou have to forgive the ridiculous sounding name on this smart lock, but once you do, you've got a decent device that works a lot like the other ones already mentioned here. Your smartphone is your key, though there are smart reader fobs and access wristlets for the kids and other family members who don't have a phone. You can even turn on hands-free mode so you can walk right in as long as your phone is nearby.
Okidokeys is available in the UK and works with Android, iOS, and pretty much any phone, even if it's not smart, and it also works with a corresponding portal. It's BlueTooth, which offers a number of advantages over wifi. Like the other smart locks, you can turn on notifications for what someone enters or leaves.
Plus, add on devices can be used to open garage doors, secure large gates, and more; the box simply includes the nit with doorbell and an alarm that lets you know if and when someone is about to break in.
There are a few downfalls. For starters, the lock is sort of noisy to operate, and the hands-free mode needs to be turned on every time you want to use it so it's always prepared. Okidokeys starts at $189 USD for the basic package, and there are upcharges for bigger packages, extra fobs, a smart reader, and others.
Still Okidokey's is a good first smart door lock.
6. Haven LockThe Haven Lock destroys the old paradigm of locking a door with a deadbolt. Instead, this lock is a strip that's installed on the floor at the interior base of any exterior door. It's quite strong, made of steel, glass, reinforced nylon, and aluminium.
Basically, it's a more stable way of preventing your door from being kicked in — a 21st Century version of the chair up against the doorknob. The Haven uses the entire home for stability and reinforcement to keep the door from being opened by an unwelcome visitor.
This lock works with smartphones plus a number of other wearables as well. It uses wifi and BlueTooth, and it senses when you are in close proximity so it can safely unlock the doors. The Haven Lock integrates with a number of home automation Internet of Things systems too, making it even more convenient.
You can pre-order a Haven Lock for $219 (about £145) — pricey, yes, but if you live in an area where break-ins are common, this device may help to keep you safe.
7. DanalockThis app-driven smart lock from Denmark wins big in the looks department. It's an elegant black circle with small lights that fits over the deadbolt that's already in your door. Set up is perhaps a bit trickier than other smart locks, but once it's on there, it's on there. One advantage that Danalock has over some of the competition is that it can use z-wave technology in addition to BlueTooth.
Using the corresponding app (for iOS and Android), you can lock and unlock the door, give out e-keys, get alerts, and change preferences. But perhaps the coolest feature on Danalock is its knock to unlock feature, which, true to its name, allows you to unlock your door by knocking on your smartphone. It's probably no easier than just tapping on "unlock" in the app's interface, but if you miss the old fashioned gestures associated with analog locks and doors, this is a nice touch.
As for cost, you can buy Danalock in the UK for a bit less than some of its competitors at around £120. However, some users have complained that it's not as fast to respond as they'd like — a factor to consider if you're usually in a hurry to get in your home.
8. RemoteLockAt first glance, RemoteLock looks like one of those high-tech locks from ten or 15 years ago in that it has a keypad! However, don't be fooled: this is a fully-fledged wifi-enabled smart lock that can do everything the others can do and then some. It's meant to replace whatever deadbolt you already have on your door, so there's a bit of DIY installation involved, but it's designed to be straightforward for the average user.
Once it's up and running, you can use the RemoteLock app to lock and unlock your door and issue codes. Here's where the keypads come into play: instead of issuing virtual keys, you can issue codes to anyone, even if they don't have a smartphone. What's more, you can put qualifiers on these codes so that they work just once, or only on Thursdays, or whatever. When codes are used, you'll get a notification.
The RemoteLock isn't cheap, with a retail price of $249.95 USD (about £160), but the code feature is a nice one, especially if you'll be granting access to individuals who don't carry smartphones (or leave your home without your own smartphone in tow).
9. Sesame Smart LockThe big appeal of the Sesame smart lock is that you can install it in seconds. Rather than replacing any of your door's hardware, Sesame just fits over whatever you've got, without any tools or screws required. In fact, Candy House, the maker of Sesame, claims that it will work with any latch anywhere in the world. If that doesn't sound like a challenge, we don't know what does.
Anyway, Sesame works via BlueTooth or wifi (the wifi is optional and helps to prolong battery life) and is controlled via its corresponding app, which is simple and easy to use. You can lock or unlock your door, knock to unlock (either on your phone or on the door itself, depending on how you have your Sesame configured), and grant access to anyone with a smartphone. You'll get notifications if someone enters or leaves, and if you're concerned about security, you'll rest easy knowing that Sesame has military-grade encryption.
Sesame won't make you feel like Ali Baba, but it will make your home security a little bit easier. And, it's affordable, at just $99 USD (about £64) for the lock itself or $149 (£96) for the lock plus the wifi access point.
10. Kisi Smart LockWhile most smart locks are aimed at homeowners and property owners, Kisi is intended for office use. It's a cloud managed security system designed for lots of users (like employees) and spaces that need to be secure despite lots of comings and goings. Access logs are easy to see, keys can be extended and removed, and rules can be put into place for each key.
Like many office products, Kisi is priced out of reach of the typical homeowner. That's OK, though — this is an office product. While there is a buy-outright option for $349 USD (about £225), it's pretty limited in terms of scope and support. The company appears to be more interested in selling a tiered monthly subscription for either $149 or $249 per month.
Currently, Kisi is available in the US. However, we think it's got potential to go worldwide and be used in workplaces all over the globe.
Alternatives for Apartment DwellersWhat if you want a smart lock but don't live in a private residence? The installation of the solution mentioned below does need to be approved by a landlord or apartment owner. However, it provides convenience to every building inhabitant and to the service workers who need to enter the building. Plus, it creates an added value to the building, making it more appealing to prospective tenants — a huge advantage for the owner.
Kiwi KiDesigned by German company Kiwi, the relatively new Ki System is smart lock for apartment buildings. And even though it's a relatively new product, it's already in place and working on over 100 apartment buildings in Berlin and Hamburg. The way it works is both simple and familiar: the Kiwi sensor goes on the building door (it's installed by a Kiwi-authorised technician), and anyone who needs to get in is given a transponder, or a Ki. This includes you, your flatmates or family, and any frequent guests, but it also includes people like mail carriers and service workers.
Just like starting a car with a push button ignition, the Ki can stay in your pocket, and when it's close to the sensor, the door unlocks. With the Kiwi app, authorised users can grant or remove access; simply having a Ki does not guarantee that a door with a corresponding sensor will open. This is extremely helpful in the case of lost Ki fobs, as they can simply be deactivated. (You can order a new one for €25, or £17.60.) Plus, the Kis are very small, thin, and lightweight, so they're easy to carry.
Kiwi has taken all precautions to ensure the fullest security of its system. It works using random number generation, which means that the Ki signal cannot be copied. In fact, Kiwi's system architecture is in compliance with some pretty strict international security standards: those of online banking.
Currently, the Kiwi Ki system's target audience is owners of apartment buildings. It costs approximately €400,00, or £280. The company is currently installing units in Germany, but it's likely that it will be available to other countries in the EU soon.
The Best Smart Door Lock UK?With so many smart locks on the market and available in the UK, it's tough to pick a best one. We like the August Smart Lock for its ease of use, simple design, and complete functionality. Then again, we like the affordability of Sesame Smart Lock and Lockitron, the latter of which is finally expected to ship next month. And while we're most interested in finally checking out a Goji, it's almost a year overdue. The company says it will ship soon, but then again, we've heard that before.
Plus, there are others on the market that need some tweaking before they're ready for a solid mention, like the Canary Smart Security System, which pulled in almost $2 million USD on Indiegogo in the summer of 2013 but has been lackluster in actual performance so far.
Clearly, home security is an aspect of smart home automation in which people are quite interested. In addition to all of the kits and devices mentioned here, there are lots more in the works.
Our best advice? Compare your needs and your budget with the locks' features and pricing. You're bound to find something that will fit your door, fit your life, and fit your budget, and make house keys a thing of the past forever.
Whichever smart lock you choose – stay safe.
Max is a regular contributor with a keen eye on new inventions and is always one step ahead when it comes to technology.