Many homes have at least one smart device. In fact, the Telsyte Australian IoT@Home Market Study 2019, has concluded that more than five million Australian households have started the smart home journey. That’s roughly 50 per cent of all households that have at least one smart device installed. Whether it is a smart speaker or a smart hub. With smart devices on the rise, have you considered adding a smart security device such as a smart door lock to your home?
Smart door locks do more than allow you and your family in and out of the home without a key. Essentially, by having a smart door lock it gives you control, flexibility and convenience. It is checking that your door is locked from the comfort of your couch or providing access to your home to your cleaner at the touch of a button from anywhere in the world. It means you can receive notifications and never have to worry about losing keys again. With so many in the market to choose from, we’re here to help you narrow down those choices to what will work best for you with some key features that you’ll find in smart door locks.
One of the best features about having a smart door lock is in its interoperability. Depending upon the protocol you choose, your smart door lock can connect with your entire smart home setup or it can be isolated with access solely via your smartphone or tablet. Below is a small snapshot of the most popular protocols that are available to you. Please note that not all smart locks can be integrated into all of these protocols.
Bluetooth is by far the most common protocol found in the majority of smart door locks available in the market. It’s a case of pairing your smart lock to your Bluetooth enabled smartphone or tablet. Access is granted via your smart device. The downside to having Bluetooth smart locks is in its limited range. This means that you won’t be able to unlock the door from the other side of the country or check the activity log either, but if you don’t want this extent of access, then that is not an issue either. Choosing to have your smart lock run off solely Bluetooth is great if you don’t have wifi or you want to create access quickly and with no fuss.
Z-Wave & Zigbee
Looking to grow your collection of smart home devices? Using a Z-Wave or Zigbee protocol will allow your smart home devices to ‘talk’ to each other. Both Z-Wave and Zigbee are considered mesh networks. This means that signals hop from one device to another in order to complete a command. They will usually have a central hub which is then connected to the internet. The most important feature with these protocols is that you can control your devices from anywhere in the world. And yep, that means ensuring that the front door is locked from your weekend getaway.
Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
These types of AI (Artificial Intelligence) form more of an ecosystem rather than a smart home protocol, as they all use wifi to connect. By using a hub or speaker, you can make all your smart home compatible devices work together. These types of smart home ecosystems also use voice control to respond to your commands and answer all your questions. Accessing any of your smart home device features can also be done via voice commands or through an app on your smart device.
Ways to unlock
There are many different ways that you can access your door. From Bluetooth, PIN, biometrics and fob cards. Some smart door locks may offer you all these access methods, whilst others only offer a one or two ways to enter. So think about what works well for you. For example, a fob card is convenient for those with mobility issues. Whilst young children might be better off with a PIN as it’s harder to lose than a fob or smartphone. Lastly, all smart door locks will come with a backup option should the lock run out of battery or you simply forget your phone or PIN. This backup is a mechanical key, so store this somewhere safe and somewhere you can easily retrieve it should you need to do so. As such, do not throw this key away, you never know when you will need it. Whilst we’re on this subject, it also pays to know if your chosen smart lock can be jumpstarted with a battery. This bit of information will certainly come in handy if it runs out of juice.
On a side note, there are some smart door locks that retrofit onto the inside of your door. This means that the back of the deadbolt is replaced, whilst keeping the face or front of the original lock. This leaves the front of the door to look like any other traditional door on your street. With this style, you definitely don’t want to throw away your existing key. Because if the battery goes flat on this type of smart lock, it will be impossible to jumpstart it with a battery.
There is no right or wrong way to go about purchasing a smart door lock. What your friend has may not be the right one for you. Remember, the aim of having a smart lock is to create the ease and flexibility of access to your front door in a way that you are comfortable with.
To sum up, these are some of the questions you should ask yourself:
- Do you want your smart lock to be a part of an ecosystem or protocol or to be kept separate?
- Will there be plenty of one-time access users, such as for a holiday property or do you want this to provide primarily permanent and regular access?
- How do you want authorised people to access your door?
- Most importantly, Will this door lock make life easier for access? In particular, is it going to be used by the elderly or young children?
Jess is a writer who is passionate about security, home improvement, and lifestyle. With a background in marketing, she’s always interested in finding out how systems operate and why they’re important.