Is anything dumb anymore? Smart locks are one of the latest gadgets to gain some serious IQ points.
Physical keys are just so 2020. Today's locking mechanisms are often powered by a fob, keypad, wireless app or even biometrics (like a fingerprint). The newest and most advanced smart locks are those that are Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth-enabled to lock and unlock doors. That's a pretty far cry from old-timey keys and tumbler locks.
Smart locks work in different ways, depending on the type of lock. Here's a breakdown of the various versions out there.
Although not the best from a germaphobe standpoint, biometric locks are nonetheless very convenient since all you need to make it work is your finger. Since most of us carry those around all the time anyway, there's no worry over forgetting a key, code or phone. Some versions even store up to 100 fingerprints!
These locks require a programmed pin number to function. Users can change the pin at any time, and the administrator can dole out multiple pins to different people. Some of these locks have buttons, but the newer ones feature snazzy touch screens.
You're much more likely to use this type of lock at work, but it still bears mentioning. RFID locks require a keycard or fob to unlock the door.
These utilize Bluetooth technology to sense when you're approaching, so the lock disables automatically. Pretty convenient, huh?
You don't even have to be near the lock to get this type to work! Wi-Fi-enabled locks can lock or unlock from anywhere in the world using an app. Plus, they cultivate all kinds of data, like who is opening and closing the door at a given time.
There's a risk with any type of lock, so it's only natural to wonder if smart locks are safe. Even standard tumbler locks are picked pretty easily with a bump key. Smart locks are more physically secure than regular locks because they're not nearly as easy to pick. Many models will also disable if the wrong code is punched in too many times, so would-be thieves who try to guess your code will be left out in the dark.
Smart locks also eliminate keys floating all around the town. Since they have custom access codes, it's easy to know exactly who is going into the home at what time (cleaners, kids, dog-walkers, etc.) Many smart locks can also work in tandem with home security systems, letting you know if there's motion in the area or if someone needs to get let in or out.
However, some smart locks are connected to the Internet, which begs the question — can they be hacked? Some can, unfortunately, so protect your home by choosing a smart lock that features high-security capabilities, like two-factor authentication, 128-bit encryption, long passwords and Z-wave technology.
Smart locks have a lot going for them. Here are a few of the most appreciated benefits:
There's no need to haul around a key, put one under the mat or leave one with the neighbors.
If you're the forgetful type, smart locks are fabulous because they can be programmed to automatically lock at certain times or after they've been left unlocked for a particular amount of time.
Many smart locks are illuminated, so they're delightfully easy to see in the dark.
If you switch dog walkers or cleaners or whatever, you can simply disable their code. And, you can change the code regularly for added security!
Clearly, smart locks are fancier than the average lock, but is fancy always a good thing?
Even the best tech has its moments of failure. Here are some potential pitfalls of smart locks.
Even basic keypad smart locks use batteries to function, so if they run out, it's pretty inconvenient. The same goes for dead Bluetooth, downed power, malfunctioning Wi-Fi or a lost/dead/stolen phone. So, it's important to have a backup plan in case something crazy happens.
Smart locks cost a bit more on the front end to purchase and install. The fancier Wi-Fi versions can run into hundreds of dollars!
If you're not very tech-savvy a smart lock is sometimes frustrating, especially in the beginning.
If you're itching to ditch the physical key, it's worth it to convince your landlord of the merits of smart locks.
First, call around to other apartment properties (or ask friends what their communities use) to find out if they have them and if so, what model? Next, price a few options of differing grades (basic, mid-range and higher-end). Don't forget to find out roughly how much time and effort they take to install. If your property doesn't have an on-site handyperson, get quotes for that, too.
Put it all in an easy-to-read email. Be sure to note that although smart locks have front-end costs, they also take away others, like the need to change locks after a tenant moves out. Instead, they can be easily reprogrammed.
Also, note that smart locks are an additional amenity that the property can put down on listings! In today's competitive rental industry, every amenity really counts!
Every home should be safe and secure. If it's a little smarter due to smart locks, that's probably a very good thing!