You may not be surprised to learn that keys are one of the most misplaced items on Earth. On average, a quarter of Americans lose their house keys or car keys twice a week! When was the last time you locked yourself out?
What if you had one less set of keys to worry about? That is where smart locks come in. Smart locks use wireless technology instead of keys.
No more keys. No more rummaging in purses or pockets and realizing you’ve lost them anyway.
But are smart locks safe? How do they work? You may have heard some myths about the effectiveness of these locks.
If you’re wondering, what is a smart lock and will it work for me, wonder no more! Read our handy guide to separating the fact and fiction around these locks.
What Is a Smart Lock?
Hold on to your hat, because some smart locks are going to make you think that the future is here now.
A smart lock has the same features as a regular lock. Installed on your door, it has a metal piece that fits into a hollow on the opposite part of the door frame that prevents opening.
But in addition, smart locks feature a wireless or BlueTooth technology that allows you to open it without a key. Some locks operate with your smartphone, while others use fingerprint or voice recognition.
Most smart locks also feature an app that allows remote locking and unlocking. You can create virtual “keys” for friends and family members or give temporary access for contractors working in your home. Your smart lock may have a security camera that gives you a view of who is approaching your front door!
Many people considering a smart lock have many questions though. Can the lock be hacked? Is it really going to keep my home and family safe?
Let’s take a closer look.
Benefits of Smart Locks
Many benefits of smart locks are clear. Here are just four, briefly examined:
No More Losing Your Keys
If you don’t have a key, you won’t lose it ever again! Some smart locks do include a key port, but you won’t need the key to access it. A keyed smart lock just gives you an extra layer of protection.
If you or your housemates are prone to losing keys, a smart lock might be the right choice for you. A smart lock means less chance of a lockout due to lost keys!
You don’t need to be near the door in order to operate the smart lock. You can let friends in while you’re in the kitchen!
Think you forgot to lock the door but you’re at work? No problem! Just open the app and lock up.
You’re heading home from the grocery store with a ton of bags. Instead of lugging everything to the door and then having to fumble with the lock, just unlock it ahead of time!
Let’s face it, talking about a home upgrade usually doesn’t make you feel like one of the hip young kids. Smart locks are the exception. These sleek, modern, tech-savvy locks are super fun and cool.
If you already have other smart appliances in your home, a smart lock can be a great addition to your home’s automation. If you’re thinking of replacing your locks, you should at least consider a smart lock. The question still remains, though: are smart locks the safest, most effective choice?
Myths About Smart Locks
As with any new technology, there are common misconceptions and fears about effectiveness. Smart locks are no different. Here are seven of the top myths about smart locks, debunked.
Myth #1 -Traditional Locks are More Dependable
Before smart locks, locks were just “locks” and not “traditional locks.” The new way of referring to different kinds of locks may give “traditional” locks a perception of effectiveness and trustworthiness. However, smart locks may be just as dependable.
While smart locks seem new, at this point there are as many different kinds of smart locks as of traditional ones. As with any kind of lock, the key (see what we did there??) is to pick the correct one for the placement and application you need.
The fact is, smart locks have the same locking technology as a traditional. The mechanism of the metal bolt that moves into its hollow applies to both kinds of locks. It’s the unlocking part that is different.
When you’re thinking of changing to a smart lock, you should ask yourself a few questions about who needs access and when. If you have children coming home when you’re not there, will they be able to correctly access the lock? Also, can a smart lock provide extra security from a camera application when you’re not home?
No lock is 100% foolproof, and many of the downfalls of a traditional lock apply similarly to a smart lock. Traditional locks and keys may be more familiar, but they’re not necessarily more reliable.
Myth #2 – They’re Too Big and Intrusive
When people think of smart locks, they often think of it having a much larger footprint than a traditional lock. It might have a large keypad and a camera, which adds to the amount of space it takes up on the doorframe.
However, as we mentioned above, there are many different models of smart locks on the market. Many of these don’t require a keypad or camera, so they look just as sleek and minimalist as a traditional lock. Some models don’t look any different to an untrained eye.
If you don’t want to have keypad access or a camera, your smart lock may not be any more intrusive than a “regular” lock. The wireless aspect will be unobtrusive.
Myth #3 – My Smart Lock Won’t Work When the Power Goes Out
There is a simple answer to this one: smart locks are battery-powered. So, when the power goes out, the most important feature of your smart lock is intact. You’ll be able to lock and unlock your home.
However, there is a little bit of truth to this myth. There are features of your smart lock that depend on wireless access. If your power goes out, your router and wifi will go out as well.
This means that you won’t be able to use a camera feature or the remote access parts of your smart lock. Your smart lock needs internet access for those features to work. Therefore, a power outage will affect your smart lock, just not disable it altogether.
In addition, many smart locks do come with a keyhole as well. This gives you added peace of mind that you’ll still be able to work your smart lock even if its power goes out!
Myth #4 – Smart Locks Need Wiring
The response to this is the same as above: smart locks work on batteries! Therefore, in most cases, it will not need wiring to work.
Most smart locks are easy to install and do not need to be hard-wired to your electric or internet. Just make sure that you choose good batteries that will last!
Myth #5 – I’m Not Technologically Savvy Enough!
Aw, give yourself more credit than that! If you can use a smartphone, you can use a smart lock. If you use Siri or Alexa, you have the know-how to use a smart lock.
That said, you can definitely nerd out on your smart technology. This goes for nearly any aspect of your home today. Many of our appliances and home features can have the “smart” moniker applied to them.
So if you’re embracing any of these new technologies, go ahead and throw the smart lock on the pile too!
Myth #6 – Someone Can Guess My Code / Copy My Fingerprint
This myth is pretty much born from movies and TV shows.
The fact is that the touchscreens are fingerprint-resistant. They often work with gloves on. There’s no way for someone to sneak up and copy your fingerprint on a piece of tape.
Also, the keypads are extremely durable and aren’t going to wear down to show which buttons you use frequently. Most smart locks are guaranteed to maintain their integrity.
Factual Smart Lock Issues
Hopefully, this myth-busting exercise has helped to put your mind at ease. However, there are a few concerns particular to smart locks that you should consider.
What if I Lose My Smartphone?
One problem with a smart lock is that many models require your smartphone in order to work. What if you lose your phone, or worse, someone steals it?
First, remember how we said that keys are the number one thing that people lose? This problem does not necessarily mean that smart locks are not as good as traditional key locks.
Also, there are back-up systems that help mitigate this problem. Many smart locks can be programmed to require secondary access, like a key code. If your phone gets stolen, the thief won’t have immediate access just by getting near your door with it.
Additionally, smart lock manufacturers provide support in just this case. When you report your phone missing, they can turn off the BlueTooth access your phone provides. This aspect actually gives you more control than you would have over a key lock.
Are Smart Locks Prone to Hacking?
Any smart device or appliance, unfortunately, provides a chance for a hacker to access it. A smart lock is no different.
As hackers become more sophisticated, though, so do security systems. Smart lock manufacturers have found ways to counter a security breach.
One way this can be done is through a secondary wifi notification. You can receive a text or alert whenever your smart lock is opened. If it’s not you or someone you give access to, you can call the police.
In addition, you must make sure to change the factory settings on your lock. Choose a secure passcode, and change your passcode often. These steps will further enhance the security of your lock.
There are some compatibility issues that might limit your choice of a smart lock. These include the “stickiness” of your door as well as the size of your door frame.
The first thing to think about is how well your door closes. Do you have to really push it to get the mechanism to engage? If so, a smart lock might be more frustrating for you.
Many smart locks require your door to be completely shut, with no gaps, in order to function correctly. If your door is misaligned even slightly, the smart lock might not actually lock at all.
Also, some smart locks have width requirements for installation. If your door frame is too narrow, you might not be able to install the smart lock properly.
As with any purchase, you get what you pay for. Smart locks are no different.
Compared with a traditional key lock, the basic smart lock might not be out of the price range. You can find a smart lock that runs for about $100.
However, if you’re looking for more bells and whistles, be prepared to pay two or even three times that amount. Keypads, camera features, and remote access will all add to the cost of your lock. In addition, you need to carry internet access in order for many of these features to work.
Let Us Help
We hope this guide has helped answer your questions about what is a smart lock and how effective it is. As with any decision regarding the safety of your home and the security of your family, it’s vital to consult a professional.
We are here to help. We provide a wide range of locksmith services and are available to talk about your smart lock questions. Contact us today!