Smart technology has now made its way into door locks. Even though regular metal locks still work fine for homes, smart door locks provide some added security features. The difference between a smart door lock and a regular metal lock is that a smart door lock does not use keys. Instead, it is an electronic lock that is powered by a battery. If you want to lock or unlock the smart lock door, you just need to activate a special app that is installed on your mobile device or computer and choose the necessary action. If you want to schedule a time to lock your smart lock, the app lets you do that as well. Alternatively, there are smart locks which unlock when you’re within a certain range of them.
Overall, smart door locks make life more convenient for users. If you’re away from your home and wonder if you remembered to lock the door, you can check your app to see if it’s locked. And if the door is still unlocked, you can use the app to lock it remotely. This sounds like technology that everyone would want to have, right? But that isn’t even the extent of it.
There are smart door locks available now which can be linked to other smart devices and “Internet of Things” technology within your home. For instance, if you have a smart heating system and you want it to shut off after you leave your home, a smart door lock can actually remind the heating system to shut itself off. You could even perform a grouped action where you schedule the same time for your smart lock to activate and your smart heating to deactivate.
How long have smart door locks been around?
You may think that smart door locks are some recent technological innovation, but they’ve actually existed since the 1990s in hotel buildings. Do you know those electronic key cards that hotels have used for decades? The hotel industry wanted a way to replace traditional keys for their rooms, so they implemented the electronic key card system as an easier alternative. The front desk of the hotel has complete control over the functionality of the card. It is the same way that smart door lock users have control over the lock through their smartphones.
Over the last 10 years, the Internet of Things has taken storm. This is a concept which describes machines and devices that are connected via the internet. When you see the term “smart home,” it really refers to a home which is comprised of “things” that connect to the internet to communicate with each other. Smart thermostats, smart clocks, smart ovens, and smart door locks are just a few examples.
Therefore, smart locks are just a more updated version of the classic electronic key cards that hotels have used for a long time.
Smart locks vs traditional locks
Okay, so should you replace your traditional metal locks with smart locks? Maybe it would be nice to have remote control access to the locks of your house, right? All you need is a wi-fi connection and a smartphone to control your smart lock. In Australia, you can also use ZigBee, Bluetooth, and Z-Wave to control it as well. The smart locks themselves are powered by batteries, which means power outages won’t incapacitate them.
Smart locks have so many benefits worth considering. Aside from locking and unlocking your door remotely through your smartphone, you can also give guests shared access to your home via a digital access key. This is great if you want to let in your maid or dog walker, for example. The digital access key is like a special PIN which works temporarily. To prevent the keys from getting copied, you have the power to delete the key at any time.
Smart lock systems are totally customisable and configurable without much hassle. If you can touch buttons, then you can perform these actions. Some systems let you create a record which shows all the times that your door was unlocked and locked. Since there are different types of smart lock systems on the market, it is important that you examine each of their specific features to see which ones are suitable for your needs.
Here is an overview of the differences you may come across:
- The smart door automatically unlocks or locks as you get closer or farther away from it because of a sensor that detects this.
- A voice command activates the door lock or unlocking mechanism.
- As you get closer to the door, it opens automatically.
- A smartphone app that lets you tap buttons to perform actions.
- Having your phone nearby as you physically touch the door.
- Wave the app at your door.
Types of Door Locks Available
Australia has all kinds of smart door lock options that have their own unique differences and qualities. Some connect to a hub or voice-assisted technology like Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit. However, these have been known to raise security concerns. For instance, Amazon Alexa doesn’t allow you to use a voice to unlock your door. And because certain hubs depend on Wi-Fi for their functionality, there is a greater chance of security threats taking place.
You must consider how the door lock and hub communicate and how your smartphone and hub communicate. Certain types of door locks don’t always communicate the same way with the hub that your smartphone does. That is why it is better to keep your devices synonymous in their communication.
For instance, if you don’t want your smart door lock to have Wi-Fi, then you cannot have Wi-Fi for your hub either. A Wi-Fi enabled smart door lock means that you’re sending security information to the internet from your Wi-Fi router. It is so easy for hackers to hack into Wi-Fi routers and steal information, such as smart keys. So, perhaps a smart door lock with no Wi-Fi ability is better.
Let’s examine each type of communication system for a smart door lock.
Bluetooth technology is something we’ve all used by now. It doesn’t require a hub to use it because it allows two devices within a short distance to communicate directly with each other. Even though Bluetooth has been around for more than 20 years, it is just recently starting to take notice by consumers.
The great thing about Wi-Fi is that it is a cheaper form of wireless internet. It doesn’t require you to use the “data” on your smartphone either. Just be aware of the security risks mentioned before.
Z-Wave is compatible with lots of different products. It doesn’t matter which brand you’re using either. Be prepared to pay more money for Z-Wave Plus, though.
You can use ZigBee with other products and brands of the same name. There are lots of products to choose from and it’s a cheaper alternative to using Z-Wave. Even the security of ZigBee is better and safer.
How secure are smart door locks?
It all depends on how the door lock is controlled and how it is connected. Like previously discussed, Wi-Fi connectivity is convenient for door locks but there’s also a bigger security threat too. You just need to do your research and determine which is the best technology for you.