You may have heard that installing a smart lock on your front door will add safety and convenience to your life. But what exactly is a smart door lock, and how do they work? Is there anything you should be concerned about when installing a door lock that can connect to the internet?
The following information will answer your questions and explain how a smart door lock can enhance your home. But if you find yourself wanting more information, feel free to contact the experts at ADT to learn how a smart door lock and other safety features can fit your life and your budget.
What Is a Smart Lock?
Considering that a lock is generally an inanimate object, you might be wondering how it can be considered “smart.” The adjective “smart” in this context refers to the lock’s ability to connect to other technology. Just as your smartphone can connect to the internet, a smart lock can connect to your home Wi-Fi.
Why would you want a lock to connect to your Wi-Fi? Well, this connection gives you the ability to activate the lock remotely, as well as check if it is locked or unlocked. In fact, you can even check on the status of a smart lock from virtually anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.
Imagine you are boarding an airplane and the thought strikes, “Did I remember to lock the front door?” A smart lock allows you to check an app on your phone to reassure yourself. And if the door was left unlocked, you can lock it from miles away with just the push of a button.
Smart devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Smart locks are just one of a number of devices you can have in your home. These devices can be controlled and monitored remotely, as well as automated either by setting a time for them to activate or by creating an automated program that initiates several of them at once.
For example, when leaving your house, if you have smart devices connected, you can turn off the interior lights, close the blinds, activate your alarm system, lock the door, and turn up the thermostat all by pressing a single button in an app.
Seven Common Smart Lock Features
No two smart locks are exactly alike, but many share common features. These features contribute to both the convenience and security associated with having a smart lock.
Keyless entry: No need to worry about forgetting your keys, losing your keys, or letting someone in when they don’t have a key. Most smart locks are equipped with a number keypad allowing you to open the door by simply entering a code. This is especially great if you have kids who get home from school before you do or relatives staying for a visit. You can also change the key code at any time for added security.
Mobile access: Smart locks can connect to a mobile app, allowing you to lock and unlock your door from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, as well as keep track of how often household members or guests are coming and going.
Mobile alerts: With a mobile app comes the ability to receive mobile alerts. This can be great if you want to know when the kids get home or if someone is in the house who shouldn’t be.
Custom user access codes: Many programmable locks allow you to create custom user access codes so that each member of the family has a different code.
Nighttime illumination: A back-lit keypad can make it easy to see in the dark so you aren’t fumbling around trying to press the right keys at night.
Bump guard: Smart locks may also be equipped with additional security measures such as a bump guard, which prevents would-be burglars from entering your home by bumping the lock.
Smart key: It used to be that if you needed to prevent someone from entering your home or you lost track of spare keys, you would need to replace your door lock entirely. With smart key, you can just reprogram the key codes in your existing lock instead.
ADT Smart Door Locks offer all of the above features, in addition to the ability to be added to the ADT mobile app, where you can control all of your home security and smart home devices to allow them to work together.
How Do Smart Locks Work?
Just as you can replace the standard deadbolt locking mechanism in your door with another similar lock, so too can you replace the mechanism with a smart lock device. In terms of the locking mechanism itself, all of the parts are the same, it’s just that it is controlled electronically instead of manually when you lock and unlock the door.
But because the locking mechanism is electronic, if your door requires any special encouragement (such as pushing on it or pulling the handle in just the right way) in order to properly close and lock, then you will need to do more than just replace the door lock when you install the smart lock. You will have to adjust the door and the frame so that it closes easily and locks and unlocks without requiring special finesse.
The smart lock itself, being an electronic device, requires a power supply in the form of a battery. So your lock will include a small, hidden battery compartment. ADTs smart door lock operates off of four AA batteries and will notify you when the battery level is getting low and needs replacing.
Your smart lock will contain electronic components allowing it to connect to your home internet either via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Z-Wave. This is what enables you to remotely control and monitor the lock.
Like all locks, smart locks operate with the use of a lock and a key. But in this case, the key is digital rather than physical. The key may be both in the form of a code entered on a keypad and a command sent from a smartphone application that makes use of cryptography. ADT smart locks use the current industry-standard 128-bit encryption.
Smart Locks and Personal Safety
There are a multitude of ways that having a smart lock can increase your personal safety as well as the safety of your home. Among these are:
Works in conjunction with your security system: Smart locks can also be integrated with home security systems and cameras allowing you to see who is at your door and to lock and unlock the door for them accordingly.
Reminders and automation: By setting reminders or programming your door to automatically lock after a certain amount of time, you eliminate the possibility of forgetting to lock the door. You can also set up emergency automations, such as locking the doors anytime there is motion detected on your camera system.
Monitor who comes and goes: Keep track of who comes and goes with alerts sent to your phone.
Do I Really Need a Smart Lock?
Not only can smart locks offer safety and security, but they can offer immense convenience as well. If any of the following scenarios (or something like them) has ever applied to you, it might be time to start looking into a smart lock.
Scenario 1: You keep a hide-a-key under your doormat. It’s there in case you forget your keys or a friend needs to stop by your house and pick something up for you. In the back of your mind is the fear that if anyone wanted to break into your house, they’d simply need to find that key under the mat.
Scenario 2: You rent out space as an Airbnb. Whenever a new guest checks in, you have to arrange a time to meet them in person to give them the keys and make sure you get the keys back when they check out. It’s sometimes difficult to work it into an already busy schedule.
Scenario 3: At least once a week, you find yourself trying to remember if you locked the door as you drive to work. Maybe you even turn around and go back home to check and make sure. Or perhaps you settle comfortably in bed at night before suddenly wondering the same thing, ultimately having to get back up and check.
Scenario 4: You’ve come home only to realize your door was unlocked the entire time you were gone because you completely forgot about it.
If you want the peace of mind and convenience to be able to check and control your door lock from anywhere and are beginning to realize the multitude of ways your life could be simplified by a smart door lock, it might be time to invest in one.
Having one will allow you to set unique access codes to tell who is coming and going. If integrated with a doorbell camera, you can even unlock your door remotely when a delivery driver arrives with a package to have them place it safely inside. And the keyless entry capabilities are particularly useful if you have a rental space or frequent guests.
Smart Lock Concerns
Some people are hesitant when considering a smart lock for their home and have many concerns. Among these are the security of the lock, the price, and what happens if there is some sort of electronic component failure or the batteries die.
Can my smart lock get hacked?
Because smart locks connect to the internet, many people wonder if they can be hacked. When it comes to security, some smart locks are better than others. You need to make sure you purchase a smart lock from a reputable company. Look for the use of 128-bit encryption. This is the same encryption keeping your credit card information safe when you shop at reputable online retailers.
When it comes to the keypad itself, most are set up so that if the wrong code is entered too many times, then the lock times out for a while. This prevents someone from just walking up to your door and trying a bunch of numbers to see if they get lucky.
Smart locks are more expensive than regular door locks because they come with many more features and capabilities. However, they have come down in price over the last few years, and you can find a safe and secure brand-name smart lock for less than a few hundred dollars. When you think of the convenience and safety you gain, it’s a small investment to pay.
What happens if the battery dies or I lose internet connection?
You may also be wondering what would happen if a battery dies or the internet connection fails. First of all, most smart door locks will alert you when the battery is getting low, allowing plenty of time for replacement before it runs out. It is always a good idea to replace the batteries before they drain completely, and the lock stops working.
If the batteries do drain completely, you will not be able to work the lock electronically. The lock will remain in its last state prior to the battery dying (locked or unlocked). If you are in the house when this happens, you simply need to replace the batteries, and your door lock will work again. If you get locked out, however, you may need to use a backup key for manual entry, or enter your house through another door.
Should anything happen with your lock’s internet connection, you can still operate it manually or with the keypad, and then seek help to troubleshoot the issue and get your device back online.
In the end, a good lock from a reputable source is unlikely to have many problems, if any, and the safety and convenience provided should significantly outweigh any potential drawbacks.
Smart Lock FAQs
How often do batteries need to be replaced in a smart door lock?
Batteries should last about a year under normal use.
How are batteries replaced?
On the interior part of the door lock, you simply remove the cover, and then remove the batteries or battery pack to replace batteries. You may need to initiate a pairing process with your controller afterward per the instruction manual that comes with your particular device.
Are smart door locks weatherproof or can rain, heat, or cold cause them to malfunction?
Yes. Since they are designed to work on exterior doors, smart locks are typically built to withstand all normal weather conditions.
Can you still use a key even if you have a smart door lock?
Most smart locks also have a slot for a standard key. This can be useful as an alternative way to enter in the event the batteries in your device drain completely before replacement.
How are smart door locks installed?
Smart door locks are installed in a manner typical of most deadbolt installations. Your device should come with a guide offering details, but you may wish to have your device professionally installed if you are unfamiliar with the process. After the physical installation, smart door locks also need to be programmed and paired with your devices.
Do smart door locks work with any door?
Smart door locks should work with any door that also works with a standard deadbolt lock. You do need to make sure that the door is aligned cleanly with the frame so that the bolt goes smoothly into the strike plate hole when the door is closed and does not require any special finessing.
If you are ready to get a smart door lock installed today and would like to connect it with your security system, our experts at ADT can help. And if you’re in a hurry, we offer same-day or next-day service on professional installation by experts focused on safety and convenience.