Smart locks are all the rage among homeowners looking to get into the home automation game. They offer convenience, efficiency, and more control. At the same time, different brands of smart locks offer different features. With that in mind, note that just because a lock offers keyless entry does not make it a smart lock.
Today’s smart home industry is not governed by a hard-and-fast set of rules that define what smart devices can do. Knowing that, a manufacturer can produce a keyless lock and call it ‘smart’ even though it offers no other features. By the most common understanding of what constitutes a smart home device, such a lock wouldn’t actually be considered smart. It is just a regular lock that utilizes a keypad instead of a key.
What Makes a Lock Smart?
So, what makes a lock smart? For that, we turn to Vivint Smart Home and a comprehensive guide to smart locks they published a while back. The rather detailed guide lists most of the features that would define a lock as being smart. A numeric keypad is one such feature. There are two others.
1. Wi-Fi Connectivity
Beyond the keyless entry feature, a truly smart lock offers wi-fi connectivity. The point is to be able to connect the lock to a home’s wireless network for the purposes of enhancing control. Depending on how a system is set up, a smart lock might connect directly to the home network yet remain completely separate from other devices on the system or connect into a smart home hub where it can be controlled through hub software a remote app. Either way, connectivity is a must.
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2. Remote Access
As the smart home industry has evolved, remote access has been added to the definition of ‘smart’. Any true smart device can be accessed remotely using a mobile device or computer. That is certainly true of a genuine smart lock.
Why would you want to access your smart locks remotely? For starters, being able to lock and unlock the door with your smartphone means you do not have to fumble with your keys any longer. It also means your kids do not have to carry a set of keys with them. If you ever have visitors stopping in from out of town, you can let them in by remotely unlocking the door from wherever you are.
Other Smart Features
Keyless entry, wi-fi connectivity, and remote access are the three features that make an electronic door lock a smart lock. If your locks have those three features, consider them smart. However, know that today’s smart locks come with additional features as well.
One really great feature is the notification feature. This feature sends a notification to your mobile device whenever your lock is activated or deactivated. It provides an ongoing record of who enters and leaves your home. By assigning different keypad codes to different people, you can even control access according to whatever parameters you set.
If a home automation system is equipped with geofencing, another great feature is one that ties your smart locks to your cell phone. The feature can be programmed to automatically lock your doors when your cell phone leaves the geofencing perimeter. The locks can automatically unlock when your phone reenters the perimeter.
Door locks featuring keyless entry are convenient and more efficient. But keyless entry alone does not make a lock smart. For a lock to be truly smart, it also has to feature wi-fi connectivity and remote access. Throw in a few more features and you have a truly outstanding lock.