Smart Door Lock Buyers Guide: Selecting the Best Keyless Entry Door LockUpdated November 2018
Door locks have been invented over six thousand years ago in Ancient Egypt, and since then keep protecting our houses. Wifi door lock or keyless entry door lock improve the way we use locks making it even more convenient. At the same time, they are still an emerging product with some “youth” problems, confusing terms and varied quality across manufacturers.
This article is a Buyer’s Guide on wifi door locks giving a general guidance on what is a keyless entry door lock, its main benefits, exiting types and recommendations on best keyless door locks for each type of the door and budget.
About the Author
Alex Brice is a smart home expert and has been using, reviewing and testing home automation products for over 10 years. His articles were referenced by major smart home media like TechCrunch, Cnet, Home Assistant Blog. Alex is also an active contributor to smart home communities in Reddit, Quora, Automated Home and both OpenHAB and Home Assistant Forums.
What is keyless entry door lock and do I need one?
Wifi door lock or keyless entry door lock is just a traditional door lock with additional functionality. Smart door locks can open themselves with the motorised mechanism, can be operated remotely and offer some additional other smart features. The difference to an electronic door lock is that smart locks can use some inbuilt logic to make some decision (like auto-lock, notify of open status ) without manual actions from your side.
There are significant benefits in having smart locks installed. (we also urge to see some concerns below)
- Keyless life: keyless entry door locks do not need bulky keys, checking that you have them on you when leaving and trying to find them in your pockets while you approaching the door.
- Easy access control: This means no more handing over physical keys to your neighbours, friends and helpers that can be replicated without you knowing. You will also be able to share one-time keys when needed which is very convenient in some cases.
- Remote control: You can also remotely control using your wifi door lock. This might be useful if the keys were lost or you want to let somebody who does not have a key in
- Added security: smart features like geo-fencing, auto-lock and notifications can improve the physical security of your house. Best keyless door locks like Schlage Connect or August Pro offer significant improvement over your traditional door locks with the additional features like alarms or door sensors
What are the other criteria in choosing best keyless door locks?
- Security Grade: The security grade is one of the main characteristics of how reliable and also secure the locks are. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is an independent body that set the security standards for door locks and the most widely used way to measure security. Grade 1 is the top available ranking and reserved for a commercial-use lock with an inch-long latch bolt that’s able to withstand 10 strikes of 75 pounds and a million open/close cycles. (our top pick for Grade 1 best keyless door locks is Schlage Connect ($130.00). A Grade 2 lock is also awarded to consumer-level locks, with a bolt that is five-eighths of an inch thick that can withstand 5 strikes of 75 pounds and 800,000 cycles.
- Physical backup key: Even the best smart locks do break and that is why sometimes it is useful to have a backup key to open the door in such cases. Our top pick is August Pro ($219.86) and Schlage Connect ($130.00) with both having backup keys. At the same time, Yale Real Living Keyless ($99.00) has the backup key and this also might be a positive feature as nobody can pick your lock if there is no physical lock.
- Unlock options: wifi door locks have many ways how you can open them. Those are the main options:
- Pin: another popular way to open the lock is to use a pin. It is convenient as you do not carry anything with you, but at the same time, you rely on your memory. Our top pick for PIN smart lock is Schlage Connect ($130.00).
- Tap to unlock: Tap-to-lock usually works in conjunction with Bluetooth and will open the door once you have your phone near the lock and tap the keyless entry door lock. The best implementation of this we saw in Kwickset Touch ($147.99)
- Smart Card: this is a thin magnetic card that you can have in your wallet and touch the key to unlock. Benefits of using this is mainly convenience of storing, but at the same time, you will still need to find it in your pocket. Our recommendation for locks with smart keys is Yale Assure Lock (from $147.69)
- Fobs: can be convenient ways to share a temporary key with your neighbours or friends. Comparing to conventional keys you can enable and disable the fob remotely. One of the better options for a lock with fobs is Kwickset Touch ($147.99)
- Fingerprints: using your fingerprints is a convenient and secure way to open your key. The only disadvantage we see is that you still need to have your hand (or a finger ) free, but other than that is a great way to use the biometrics for security. Have a look at Ultraloq UL3 BT Bluetooth Enabled Fingerprint (from $169.15) for one of such smart door locks.
- Phone: some locks offer an unorthodox, but not necessarily convenient ways of unlocking. Yale Conexis L1 Smart Door Lock (from $392.98) as the example allows you to unlock by tilting your phone.
- Installation ease: can be another consideration with some locks being very easy to use and ultimately saving you money so you do not need to hire a professional locksmith. Installation kit of one of the best keyless door locks August Pro ($219.86) is considered to be among the easiest and well-designed kits. Yale Conexis L1 Smart Door Lock (from $392.98) has also designed an easy process to install, especially considering that it is for multipoint locks.
- Auto-lock is arguably one of the major security improvements brought by smart locks. The feature basically closes the door once a certain condition is met (you are at a certain distance from home and so on). This is hugely beneficial especially for households where some family members are known to be forgetful. As with many other smart features, you still advised not to over-rely on it and maybe using other means to ensure that the door is closed. One of the best implementations August Pro ($219.86), which is basically an additional open/close sensor.
- Auto-unlock is a more controversial wifi door lock feature but can be hugely useful if implemented well. It basically opens your door once you approached the door. The proximity can be recognised using geo-fencing (i.e GPS in your phone) or electronic perimeter (which may use any combination of GPS, Bluetooth, your cellular signal, or Wi-Fi). The former is more battery hungry while other electronic perimeter methods (except Bluetooth) are less reliable. We again would complement August Pro as the Bluetooth wifi door lock having the most reliable auto-lock feature.
- Door Open sensor is the solution not to rely on keyless entry door lock but the actual sensor to define if the door is open or shut. If you do not use any z-wave or Zigbee sensor (like our top pick August Pro ($219.86)) is certainly a good idea to have one.
What is the price of keyless entry door lock?
The price for Wifi door lock would consist of several main parts:
- The smart lock itself ($120 – $400) probably would be the most expensive and the most important part of making your smart door locks. The cheapest one would cost just over 100 (August Smart Lock (from $113.51)) with the most expensive one to set you back to $300 (Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot (from $246.71)). Note that you might need to buy an additional bridge (like for Schlage Connect ($130.00) or August Pro ($219.86)) or a Z-wave module (like for Yale Real Living Keyless ($99.00)locks)
- Deadbolt ($14 – $50) – the key factor in reliability of the smart lock is you need to make sure that your deadbolt operates smoothly. If the existing deadbolt is old or not reliable, we recommended looking into Kwikset 660 Single Cylinder Deadbolt (from $11.99) or Schlage B60N 619 Single Cylinder ($31.99) both of which are bestselling and high-quality deadbolts.
- Installation costs ($50 – $150) might cost you nothing if you do it yourself. This is ok if you do not have any complicated set-up or do not need any modifications. Some smart locks also offer very easy installation process comparing to others. Our top pick for the best Bluetooth wifi door lock. August Pro ($219.86) is recognised to provide the best installation kit. For any other cases, we highly recommend you to opt for a good locksmith. The price for their services would vary on location but we typically expect to have somewhat between $50 and $150 for installation.
- Integration costs ($50 – $100) depends on the type of smart lock and comms protocols used (Bluetooth/z-wave/ZigBee). When using some of the locks you might need to buy a wifi bridge or connection module . Wifi bridge connects the lock to the internet via Bluetooth or zwave (like Connect hub for August or Wi-Fi Adapter for Schlage). A connection module is needed to add an additional protocol to the lock itself (like Zwave module for Yale locks)
- Dedicated Smart Hub ($70 – $150) is needed by Z-wave door locks for remote control and other smart features. There are many options in the market, but our top pics are Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit ($154.99) for the majority of users and Home Assistant if are happy to do learn some configuration and DIY.
- Management apps are the additional cost you might consider to make the management of smart locks convenient. The most popular app for SmartThings is Rboy, which makes the management of locks really easy and even enjoyable.
- Running cost of the keyless door locks are minimum. The main cost is the battery with the average battery life of approximately 6 months. As the majority of locks use AAA or AA batteries (usually 4), the cost of replacing them is not too big. You might also consider investing in good rechargeable batteries (like our top Pick Energizer AA Rechargeable Battery ($18.42)) and charger (Energizer Recharge 1-Hour Charger ($671.45)) to reduce the impact on the environment.
Steps to find keyless door locks
1. Find if any add-on or lock replacement door locks would work for your door?
Add-on wifi door locks are the easiest to fit, as they replace the interior thumb latch of your door’s existing deadbolt (but not the deadbolt itself). The advantage of this type is that you can install it on almost any lock and the process usually relatively easy.
Our favourite add-on door lock is August Pro ($219.86)
Lock replacement wifi door locks require removing your existing lock assembly and installing all new hardware. Those locks are usually more expensive but at the same time they offer more comprehensive solution and better security. Our favourite z-wave door lock is Schlage Connect ($130.00)
2. Determine if you need a Bluetooth or Z-wave based lock?
Bluetooth door locks are using Bluetooth (duh) as the way to connect and the second is Zwave Bluetooth door locks. The advantage of the Bluetooth wifi door lock is local and proximity-based connection protocol. This, in theory, improves the security of the lock as it is not connected to the internet. Secondly, Bluetooth can be used to auto-unlock as the door lock app will understand when you approached the door. In practice, many users would like to have remote controls and opting to buy additional wifi bridge. This means extra cost and also security risks associated with the other types of the door locks. Our favourite z-wave door lock is August Pro ($219.86)
Zwave is a very energy efficient protocol aimed specifically at the internet of things. It is also a local protocol meaning it does not require an internet connection to work. At the same time, to get the most out of the z-wave door lock you will need a smart hub. Our favourite z-wave door lock is Schlage Connect ($130.00)
3. Find out which door lock would work the best for your type of door?
Based on what you decided above, have a look at all the available door to find the best one for your situation. Our guide below might help you to make a decision.
Which keyless entry door lock works with my door?
Keyless entry door lock would not work with all the door types, but the producers tried to cover as much of the options as possible. Also, some types of doors especially best keyless door locks in our review section below offer an easy way to smartify than others.
1. Deadbolt door lock
Deadbolt is the most popular type of door lock in the US. It is designed to be opened only through a key or knob and cannot be easily battered or bored. As the result, they can resist any forced entry into the house and thus offer a good security to the house. They also generally cannot be jimmied open with a knife or any other object.
Deadbolt locks are one of the easiest to make smart and there are multiple very good options. Our preferred suggestions are August or Schlage.
Best Smart Deadbolt Lock
2. Rim lock
Rim lock is the oldest type of locking device. It comprises a surface mounted box containing a lock and a latch. They are fixed to the door rather than being set into the edge.
If your door is not thick enough to fit an internal locking mechanism, you will need a rim lock. But that is not to say a thicker door cannot have a rim lock – it can also be a style choice. Rim locks add that period touch to your door.
Best Smart Rim Lock
3. Mortise lock
Mortise locks is a specific type of locksets which are popular in Europe and used in the commercial applications (and in heavy duty and high frequency). The typical mortise lock is different from cylindrical lock, and has the cylinder installed in the lever, with the latch bolt connecting to the chassis.
Mortise locks are one of the more challenging to make smart due to complicated mechanism and integrated lever and lock.
Best Smart Mortise Locks
4. Lever Locks
A lever lock uses a set of levers, in place of tumblers, to prevent the locking bolt from moving in the lock. When the key is inserted into the lock, the levers are moved and the locking bolt can be operated. The number of levers may vary, but generally the greater the number of levers, more secure the lock will be.
Best Smart Lever Locks
5. Multipoint Lock
Multipoint locks offer the highest level of resistance to forced entry, soundproofing and thermal insulation. The majority of UPVs, Patio Doors or Composite door will be using multipoint door locks. A multi-point locking system has a minimum of three locking points that all lock simultaneously with the turn of a key.
As Multipoint lock is a complicated mechanism and not easy to motorise. The smart Multi-point locks require powerful moving force to lock and unlock and hence use more energy.
Best Smart Multi-point Lock
What are the main concerns when using keyless door locks?
At the same time smart locks have some inherent disadvantages over conventional door locks:
- Security Risks: any lock is prone to picking, but having electronics based controls for your lock can bring additional security risks. There were a number of reports recently with the hackers getting access to electronic systems and the smart lock Expensive: smartness of the smart doors comes at a price. In many cases even with the best keyless door locks, you will also need a bridge, so you are looking to spend $250-300 which is a significant amount comparing to 20-40 you need for “dumb” deadbolt
- App and hardware pollution: as with many smart devices these days you will likely need another app and a bridge for your smart lock to operate.
- User acceptance: conventional locks are simple – if you have a key you will be able to get in. In theory wifi door locks should be even easier to operate but reality begs the difference. All your family members would need to get accustomed to using the device and in many cases should have a compatible phone.
- Other complications: There are many other considerations you need to be aware before committing to buying a wifi door lock.
- Does your insurance company accepts it and no claims issues might arise?
- Does your development approve the change of door lock exterior to accommodate wifi keyless entry door lock design (if not August Pro might be a good option)?