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In a drive towards convenience, we are well on the way to a time when most of our home appliances and at least some of our home fittings and appliances are interconnected and controlled remotely. One of the more recent additions to this list is the smart lock.

What are smart locks?

Smart locks are locks which don’t have physical keys. A smart lock is an electronic lock which is opened and closed wirelessly using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections. There is also Z-wave and Zigbee which have connections available for smart locks. Z-wave and Zigbee are new wireless technology particularly used for smart home gadgets.

How do they work?

You can access your smart lock by sending a signal from a mobile application on your smartphone, computer or tablet. The signal received by your home network then informs the smart lock to lock or unlock your door. Some smart locks fit over your existing door lock and some require you to replace it.

Some of the features of smart locks:

  • You can’t lock yourself out
  • No need for getting extra keys cut
  • You can control access to your home remotely in order to let someone in or send a virtual key to allow access for a set length of time
  • Some smart locks can connect to a home automation system for enhanced control of home systems
  • Many smart locks log access and some include a camera for a photo log of who is trying to access the door. Some have real-time alerts when someone enters your home.
  • Many smart locks will send you a notification if you have forgotten to lock your door so that you can lock it remotely

One of the first decisions you need to make when considering buying a smart lock is the type of connection you are going to use.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-wave or Zigbee?

Most smart locks can use multiple standards for connection to your smartphone and other devices.

Wi-Fi is commonly found as a connection standard for smart locks. It is simple and cheap to set up using a router connected to a modem. Wi-Fi door locks generally have more features than Bluetooth but are generally slightly less secure than Bluetooth smart locks because they are constantly connected to the web and more vulnerable to hacking. An advantage of Wi-Fi is that you can access your door lock from any Wi-Fi, and it can connect to your lock’s Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is probably the most common standard. It doesn’t use as much power as WiFi which is important because most smart locks are battery-powered. On the other hand, Bluetooth only works within a certain range. Therefore it is best to choose a lock which has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Z-wave and Zigbee are similar. Both need a hub and are commonly used for remote control of multiple devices in a smart home such as turning on your heating or lights remotely. Z-wave works on a dedicated frequency so there is less interference than with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks. Z-wave is very secure - it uses similar encryption measures to online banking. Both Z-wave and Zigbee work as a wireless mesh network so that different devices link up and strengthen the signal.

Home automation

If you want to make your smart lock part of a home automation system, the easiest way to get into home automation is via Amazon Alexa, though there is also Nest, Apple HomeKit and now Google Assistant.

Potential problems

What happens if your electricity or Wi-Fi goes down? Some smart locks come with a conventional key so that you can still use the lock. Also, Bluetooth connectivity will still work if you are in range.

There are potential hacking vulnerabilities with smart locks, and they are not necessarily more secure than conventional locks. For best protection, you could consider using smart locks together with other security devices.

For advice on all types of door locks please contact Keys4u locksmith.

Tel: 033 330 52993

Email: [email protected]