With home automation becoming more popular, the market is flooded with new features and options. This makes it difficult to cut through the noise to find the equipment and devices that best fit your needs and budget. That’s why we’ve compiled all of the data and test results to provide you with an easy-to-read review for each of the top 10 smart lock brands with comparisons and the pros and cons of each system. Our goal is to make it easier for you to review, study, and find the system that best suits your particular lifestyle and living situation.
Now it’s time to learn all about smart locks, what they do, how they work, how to install them, the latest features and tech, smart lock reviews, and so much more. So strap in and get ready for the most comprehensive smart lock masterclass available anywhere online. And don’t worry, we broke it down into simple sections for easy reference. Let’s jump in!
What Are Smart Locks?
Smart door locks, or electronic door locks, offer an added layer of home protection and include nifty automation features. A simple tap of your smartphone screen to secure your home, from anywhere in the world? Sounds too good to be true. But that’s the convenience and tech-forward innovation of today’s smart locks. It’s no wonder millions of Americans are ditching their old-fashioned keys for futuristic virtual keys.
Smart locks function with electromechanical technology. They either replace your deadbolt or upgrade your existing one, and they are generally easy to install. The prices vary depending on features and technology, but they typically cost between $100-$300 for one lock. While the prices might seem steep at first, these locks are incredibly useful in more ways than one.
A great addition to any smart home ecosystem, smart locks are controlled remotely via a companion app. Simply open the app on your smartphone, touch the screen to lock/unlock, and watch your door obey your commands from almost anywhere in the world. The features and technology get pretty advanced, as we’ll discuss in a bit, but many smart locks send real-time activity alerts, let you add permissions for multiple users, allow you to access usage logs, and the list goes on.
Smart door lock companies are at the forefront of the home automation game. They are constantly innovating their products to integrate seamlessly with third-party smart home automation systems. Often this means plug-and-play DIY setup that doesn’t take any technical skills whatsoever. So if you currently have a system like Apple Homekit, Alexa, or Google Assistant, you’re in business with a handful of smart locks.
Smart locks are ideal for people who:
- Are tired of fumbling with their keys
- Desire a custom home security experience
- Value remote access and monitoring
- Embrace the latest technology
- Enjoy home automation features
- Rental property owners
- And others
Of course, there are lots of reasons why smart locks make sense. But for some people — namely Airbnb hosts and vacation homeowners — they serve a uniquely important function that makes their lives much easier. Hosts can now configure their doors with smart locks and touchpad technology. And they can grant and revoke access at the push of a button. This streamlines the check-in / check-out process and allows the host to manage their property remotely — without needing their neighbor Carl to personally deliver a key.
While smart locks are fast-becoming a go-to solution for entryway security, the technology is not quite perfected yet. Like anything else, there are some disadvantages to consider before you make your purchase. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Some smart locks are difficult to install
- Depending on the product, they can be big and bulky
- The battery life is relatively short
- Certain smart lock features require Wi-Fi to function
- They can be pretty expensive
But for the most part, all of these potential drawbacks can be avoided with a little bit of upfront research. That’s why we created our top 10 best smart locks list above. We cover each of these negative points and do our best to steer you in the right direction. You’ll want to consider our proprietary SecureScore for each of the products on our list. That way, you’re sure to narrow down your choices to find the best smart lock for your needs.
Smart Lock Features
OK, you’ve read the reviews, the pros and cons, and a variety of information about the above mentioned smart locks. Now that you have those details, you will need to consider which features matter before you can narrow down your choices and make a purchase. The answer isn’t going to be the same for everyone. So we are going to go over a list of the most important features when it comes to smart locks, then you will be able to determine which of those features best suits your particular needs.
Different features hold more weight than others because they are the more popular features most people want. For example, automatic unlocking and locking, remote control, mobile app, encryption technology, backup systems, a retrofit lock or new lock, etc.
Here is a list (in no particular order) of the most popular features people look for when shopping for smart locks.
- Remote control
- Auto unlocking and locking (using proximity sensors)
- Mobile app
- Security features (military grade encryption, etc.)
- Retrofitted lock or replacement smart locking system
- Backup key feature
- Battery life
- Communication types (Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc.)
- Door history and notifications (names, dates, times, etc. lock was used)
- Compatibility with home automation features
Smart Lock Technology & Remote Capabilities
The top smart locks on the market today deliver big when it comes to technology and functionality. Every smart lock offers remote locking and unlocking, but the skies the limit from there. Today’s electronic door locks allow users to issue and revoke virtual keys, monitor their security status from anywhere in the world, and even have built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. But even those features and tech are just beginning to scratch the service.
The 5 most cutting-edge technological advancements in the world of smart locks include:
Advanced fingerprint identification
Welcome to the world of biometrics. Biometrics, in this case, is the technical term for fingerprint scanning. Smart locks with fingerprint scanning quite literally put your home security at your fingertips. To gain access to your home, simply place your finger on the keypad, and voila! This is more than just a neat party trick. It secures your home in the most futuristic way possible, with biometric authentication and crisp, clear OLED touchscreens. Advanced fingerprint identification is a feature that comes with ULTRALOQ, the #8 pick on our list. Look for this technology if you want to go full James Bond with your smart lock security system.
Time-sensitive PIN codes
Many smart door locks with touchscreen electronic deadbolts offer lock/unlock capabilities with PIN codes. Some companies have taken this a step further and created time-sensitive PIN code technology. With this feature, you can issue a PIN to a guest with the confidence of knowing it expires at the date/time of your choosing. This allows you to give limited access to friends, family, and service workers, all-the-while remaining in complete control of your home.
Door activity history and notifications
Most smart locks come stacked with a mobile companion app. This app can perform a number of nifty functions, like remote locking/unlocking, virtual key issuing, and some even offer activity history reports and notifications. This technology is incredibly helpful for those who get a lot of traffic in and out of their home. It’s especially useful for parents who want to know if and when their kids arrive home from school, and for those who employ housekeepers, dog walkers, contractors, etc. Door activity logs allow you to keep a finger on the pulse of who came and went. If you configure this correctly, these reports can include names, dates, times, and other activity details.
Keyless entry via proximity sensors
Today’s best smart locks boast Bluetooth compatibility. With this technology, you can lock and unlock your doors without having to open the app. The proximity sensors detect just how near or far you are from your door, and then locks or unlocks the door accordingly. So if you’re carrying 15 grocery bags and you’re unable to access your keys or smartphone, you won’t break a sweat. Easy in, easy out. Having keyless entry with proximity sensors is like making the VIP list for your own home. Look for this technology while shopping for smart door locks.
DoorSense (exclusive to August – our top pick for Best Smart Lock)
DoorSense is unique to August’s latest smart locks. This feature alerts you if (and when) you happen to leave your door open by accident. Magnetic technology powers the DoorSense feature, similar to entryway sensors that come with home security systems. August DoorSense is especially helpful for those with kids in the home.
What is the Right Fit for You and Your Family?
Finding smart locks that fit your budget and have the right features for your particular situation is the most important thing when it comes down to deciding which one to purchase. Our guides are designed to help you do just that; however, since everyone’s situation is unique, it’s important that you perform some of your own independent research as well.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help narrow down your choices and find the one that’s right for you.
Do I need an automatic unlock and locking feature?
If you have kids and/or pets, or, if you frequently have your hands full to the point it’s difficult to find and use a door key to open or close your door, then yes, an automatic unlock/lock feature is probably necessary for you. However, this feature is a huge convenience for anyone who doesn’t want to have to deal with keys.
Is a remote-control feature really necessary?
A remote-control feature is necessary if you have the need to grant access to contractors, dog walkers, a nanny, package delivery, guests, or even your kids when you are not home. Or if you would like to monitor and manage your door for activity while you’re not home. You can use your mobile app to remotely grant access to anyone who visits your home when you’re not there and check to make sure they locked the door when they left or remotely lock it yourself if they didn’t.
How important is it to have a backup key feature?
When talking about electronics, nothing is flawless; therefore, it’s good to have a smart lock that comes with the capability of using your key as a backup if the batteries ever go out or you forget/lose your PIN code/phone/keyfob, etc.
What about battery life?
Of course, you want a smart lock that has the longest battery life as possible, but what if the lock you want doesn’t have a long battery life? Well, in most cases, but not all, the corresponding mobile app will send you a notification when the batteries are low so you have the opportunity to change them before they lose their charge. Another thing to keep in mind is that some batteries are rechargeable and some aren’t. Additionally, the Sesame smart lock by Candy House enables you to automate your replacement batteries with Amazon so they are automatically sent to you when they are low.
How secure are smart locks?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. And the answer is not cut and dry. However, many of today’s smart locks have advanced encryption technology that uses multiple levels of military-grade encryption, as well as thoroughly tested physical security standards to help keep you safe. But you definitely want to research this aspect of any smart lock before you make a final decision.
What happens if I lose my smartphone?
Most brands that come with a mobile app will also have a feature that will allow you to log into your web portal from another device and disable or delete your phone. Then you can use any backup method such as your PIN code, a key fob, or a standard key to gain entry into your home until you get a new phone.
Are all apps compatible with Android and iOS devices?
No. Every brand’s app is different. And while almost all apps these days are compatible with both an Android or iOS device, not all of them are. Therefore, you need to confirm that your chosen smart lock is compatible with all the mobile devices you will be using to lock/unlock your door.
What is a single-cylinder deadbolt?
A single-cylinder deadbolt is one that uses a traditional key to lock and unlock the door from the outside and the inside lock is controlled using a thumb turn mechanism.
Will smart locks work on any door?
Most smart locks today are designed to work with or replace any single-cylinder deadbolt regardless of your door’s width or height. However, the thickness of your door and the backset do matter. Some smart lock brands sell add-on equipment to compensate for such issues.
Do I really need a smart lock that offers door history and notifications?
If you have anyone that comes and goes from your house, you will probably want to have a door history report that gives you the name, date, and time of when any given person used that door. And most smart locks will also notify you in real-time whenever your door is opened and closed. These features are helpful in so many ways, such as knowing when your kids get home from school and if they left the house at any time. They tell you when a contractor, housekeeper, etc. entered your home and how much time they spent there. They can also tell you when a senior or disabled loved one left the house and when, and if they arrived back home, etc.
How to Install a Smart Lock
It’s relatively easy to install a new smart lock, no matter how un-handy you might be. And most smart locks have the same universal installation requirements, so you shouldn’t be caught off-guard with any surprises.
Set aside 10-30 minutes for the project, have a screwdriver at-the-ready, and make sure you have installed a quality battery in your smart lock.
Purchase great batteries. Your smart lock is only as good as your batteries. This might seem dramatic, but there’s a lot of truth to it. You do not want your smart lock juicing out on you in the first few weeks after installation. The better the batteries, the more reliable the lock and, of course, the longer it will last.
While these steps below will certainly help you along, you should defer to the installation instructions that are included with your specific smart lock. Follow them step-by-step and you’ll be up and running with smart lock protection in no time at all.
Here are the simple steps for installing a smart lock:
Step 1: Take off the old lock
Extend the deadbolt fully. Apply tape to the outside of the door lock to keep it from falling when screws are loosened. Unscrew everything. Take out the internal deadbolt mechanism with the strike plate.
Step 2: Install new deadbolt
Slide new deadbolt into the key-lock hole. Screw-in both plates, inside and outside. Be careful not to pinch the wiring.
Step 3: Install electronic panel
Connect the wiring from the front lock to the electronic panel, ensuring that the wiring rests snug in the channel.
Step 4: Download app and add new lock
The smart lock companion app will have a simple setup process to add a new lock. You will have to ‘add new lock’ with each new installed smart lock.
Step 5: Test the lock to ensure it works properly
Now comes the fun part. Hit the ‘lock’ command and watch the deadbolt turn on its own. Congrats! You’re now setup with smart home protection for the 21st century.
Note: These steps are only meant to give you an idea of the installation process. Again, you must use the instructions included with your smart lock when installing your new lock(s).
Not all smart locks require you to completely disassemble your lock. There are some smart locks, like Sesame, that fit over your existing deadbolt for super-easy installation. While this is a nice feature, it should not be your main reason for choosing a lock — as almost all smart locks offer easy install. Instead, choose a lock that has the features and tech that you will get the most use of.
In any event, you shouldn’t need to drill new holes into your door, as most smart door locks come pre-drilled with standard hole placement. The best smart door lock companies are competing in the department of easy, DIY install. It’s a major selling point for consumers, and so the latest and greatest smart locks can be installed in a matter of minutes, with no fuss or hassle.
The main takeaway here is that most smart door locks offer an easy installation. So whatever you do, do not be intimidated by the technology. It’s so easy that anyone can do it.
Smart Locks for Apartments and Condos
Before we dive in, it’s important to clear the air with a disclaimer. That is, it’s always smart to ask your landlord for permission before installing a smart lock in your rental unit. You’d be surprised by what they put in the fine print in rental agreements, so it’s probably best to cover your bases and get their buy-in to avoid any trouble. This is especially true for smart locks that don’t work with your existing key.
With that said, let’s discuss smart locks for apartments and renters.
August smart locks top our list for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because they are great for apartments. This specific smart lock — and others like it — are retrofitted to your existing deadbolt. This means you do not have to completely disassemble your apartment’s locking mechanism. Your apartment manager or landlord will be happy, and you can easily take it with you when you move.
The best smart locks for apartments offer easy install and easy programming. But it’s also important that you look for a solution that doesn’t require swapping out hardware — as it’s best that your key remains the same. Obviously, this keeps everything landlord-friendly, as they need access with their existing keys, too. The good news is that there are plenty of options for this type of setup. Look for a smart lock that installs on the inside of the door so that the exterior hardware can remain the same. This allows renters to continue using their traditional key if and when desired.
However, some companies manufacture smart locks that can be re-keyed to fit your existing key. Kwikset, for instance, has a rekeying system. And many other smart locks can be rekeyed to work with your traditional key.
Other important features for renters and apartment-dwellers include:
- Mobile access, monitoring, and controlling via companion app
- Proximity sensors for automatic locking & unlocking
- Alerts that notify you in the event you forget to lock your door
- Real-time activity alerts that notify you of suspicious activity
- Small and sleek design with multiple cover and color options
- And more
Also, look for pick-proof smart locks and smart locks that offer forced-entry protection. Many apartment complexes are safe and patrolled by security guards. Others can be dangerous, with residents experiencing break-ins, burglaries, theft, and even home invasions. With pick-proof and forced-entry protection, you’ll sleep a little easier at night. Certain companies like Schlage even claim their locks will safeguard against break-ins by kicks, sledgehammers, crowbars, and the like.
Today’s smart lock companies are constantly innovating new ways for renters to stay safe and protect their belongings. If you live in an apartment or condo, or if you rent a home, it’s nice to know there are plenty of ways to safeguard your abode.
And remember, when shopping for a smart lock, look for one that can be retrofitted onto an existing deadbolt. This way the keys will remain the same for you and your landlord. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Affordable Smart Locks
Although smart locks might seem like luxury devices, there are some options that fit well within the budget of many Americans. In other words, smart locks don’t have to break the bank. It just takes a little upfront research (which we’ve done for you). We’ve identified a few low-cost options, and we’ve highlighted what to look for in a budget-friendly smart lock.
Certain smart locks can be purchased for as low as $99. The Lockitron Bolt comes to mind. This smart lock has Sense Proximity for auto-unlocking upon approach, or auto-locking as you leave. It also sends real-time alerts when the smart lock is unlocked and your door is opened. Lockitron is a good option for renters, as it uses key match that allows you to keep your existing keys.
The August Smart Lock (3rd Gen) is another affordable lock. This smart lock is priced as low as $115-$149, and allows users remote access to their homes or apartments. It’s a great option for renters, as it works with your existing deadbolt. The no-fuss installation is fast and easy, and landlords are none-the-wiser.
Two other low-cost smart locks are Schlage (as low as $149) and Kwikset (as low as $135). Schlage boasts a touchscreen keypad for easy unlocking and entry. It also has a built-in alarm siren that’ll send burglars running for the hills. And Kwikset is a budget-friendly smart lock with patented touch-to-open technology. That’s right, simply touch the locking mechanism — and voila! — you’re in. Overall, Schlage and Kwikset are great low-cost smart locks to consider.
But remember, you do not want to sacrifice quality for a low price. You have to strike a balance. If you go too cheap, you might pay for it in a slow-action locking mechanism, short battery life, loud locking and unlocking sounds, you name it. So we’ve found $100-$150 to be the sweet spot for affordable smart locks.
Here are some features to look for in an affordable smart lock:
- Activity monitoring with 24/7 live video feed
- Guest access via digital keys
- Keyless entry / auto-lock and unlock
- Long-lasting battery life
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- DIY installation
- And more
Smart Locks for Airbnb and Vacation Rentals
When looking for a smart lock for Airbnb rentals or other vacation rentals, you must consider the guest experience. That is, you need to streamline the check-in and check-out process so that your guests are tickled pink with how fast and easy it is. But how? Well, you start with the feature-set.
Airbnb hosts should look for smart locks with time-sensitive PIN codes, activity logs, hassle-free digital key codes, and the like. The smart lock companies August, Schlage, and igloohome offer all this and more. In fact, igloohome was created by Airbnb hosts, for Airbnb hosts. But there are many other smart lock options that work seamlessly for vacation rental homes.
Airbnb smart lock features and technology include:
- Easy DIY setup / attaches to your existing deadbolt
- Automatic locking and unlocking
- Activity monitoring with 24/7 live feed
- Durable touchscreen with sleek design
- Ability to issue and revoke digital keys
- Alerts when a door is left open at check-out
- And more
Smart Locks that Work With Alexa
Sometimes it’s not enough to have a smart lock with app control. Sometimes you want to flex those vocal cords to lock your door and secure your home using Alexa (it is the 21st century after all). The good news is, there are many smart locks that work with Alexa. The bad news is, most require a special hub that is sold separately. But if you’re a true smart home enthusiast, you won’t mind paying extra for voice control. Don’t you want the smartest home in the ‘hood?
Smart locks compatible with Alexa include:
- August Smart Lock + Connect
- Schlage Z-Wave Connect
- August Smart Lock (3rd Gen)
- Kwikset SmartCode
- Yale Assure Smart Lock
- Kwikset Kevo Convert
- Schlage Camelot Touchscreen
- Schlage Encode
- Kwikset Obsidian
Smart Locks that Work With Google Home
Want to make your smart lock a whole lot smarter? Connect it to your Google Home smart home ecosystem and step into the future. Smart locks that work with Google Home allow you to control your entryway using only your voice (and Google Assistant, of course).
Once you’re up-and-running, simply say the words and your entryway will secure itself. The convenience of Google Assistant’s remote voice control is worth its weight in gold (you can even control your lock from across the house).
Smart locks that work with Google Home and Google Assistant:
- Nest X Yale
- August Smart Locks
It’s important to note that not all smart locks will connect to Google Home right out-of-the-box. Only a select few smart locks (like the Nest X Yale) will connect directly to your Wi-Fi and Google Home. Others require a bridge or hub to connect to your network, and this always comes at a price. The Bridge upgrade isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, though. It’s just something to budget into your smart lock system.
Smart home automation enthusiasts have choices when it comes to smart locks. And if your particular platform is Google Home, then you’re in business with a handful of options to choose from. The setup is typically fast and easy, especially when you don’t need a bridge or hub. And controlling your smart lock with just your voice is much more than a party trick — it’s one giant step toward hands-free living.
Smart Locks that Work With Ring
The ever-popular Ring Alarm is constantly expanding its feature-set and capabilities. Today Ring offers compatibility with a host of smart home features, not the least of which are smart locks. So if you have a Ring Alarm, or you’re looking to get one, these are the smart locks that work with Ring. They seamlessly integrate into Ring’s smart home ecosystem, so you can run all your devices off a single platform. Just open the Ring app to access, monitor, and control your smart locks from the convenience of your smartphone.
Smart locks that work with Ring include:
- Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt
- Yale Real Living Assure Lock SL
- Kwikset SmartCode 888
- Kwikset Kevo
- And more
Smart Lock Reviews
For smart home enthusiasts, smart locks seem to be the best thing since sliced bread. So it’s no wonder there are loads of smart lock reviews all over the internet. But it’s important to remember that not all reviews are created equal.
Here at SafeHome, our reviews are the result of extensive research and testing. For instance, in our full Schlage and August smart lock reviews, we cover the important things that matter for the everyday consumer — things like customer service, value, equipment, features and tech, and ease of use. Then, we assign each device a SecureScore rating for the categories above.
Our reviews are well-rounded and tell the full story. They are also objective — sharing both pros and cons — and highlight exactly what you can expect by purchasing a particular smart lock. The important thing is that you walk away with real knowledge and the utmost confidence to make a wise buying decision. And we’re happy to say that hundreds of thousands of readers are getting the information they want and need from SafeHome.org.
Are Smart Locks Worth the Price?
Well, that depends. If you are busy, have kids and/or pets, always have your hands full, or have physical challenges that make it hard to use keys, then yes, smart locks are pretty much priceless. However, if you have a more relaxed lifestyle that affords you more time in the day and don’t always have your hands full, then maybe not so much.
Either way, it’s an undeniable fact that having smart locks is a huge convenience regardless of whether you really need a smart lock or not. There’s also the security factor that comes with having an advanced locking system that has multiple layers of security and encryption technology. These features alone will help prevent or eliminate the possibility of your traditional locks from being opened using bump keys which can be purchased just about anywhere for $10-$50.
So when you look at it from a convenience and security standpoint, then, yes, smart locks are worth the price…and then some!
If you are still not quite sure which smart lock is right for you, take a look at the categories below for more information that will help you narrow down your choices even further.
The Bottom Line
We’ve showcased the best smart locks and smart lock companies of 2021. And we’re most impressed with August, Yale Lock, and Schlage smart locks. These companies offer reasonably-priced devices that are stacked with the latest and greatest features.
Other standout smart lock options include Kwikset, Sesame, Lockitron, Danalock, ULTRALOQ, Friday, and igloohome. Finding the right fit for your needs starts with features and tech. So when you go to purchase a smart lock, ask yourself what functions are absolutely necessary, which features would be nice to have, and which ones you could do without. Then dig into other important factors like ease of installation, customer service, and the like.
By now you should have a solid understanding of smart locks and what to look for when choosing one (or more!) for your home. We understand that it’s an important purchase. So we’re honored that you would read our Best Smart Locks of 2021 list. Now it’s time to make a wise, informed, and highly-educated smart lock purchase!