How A Smart Lock Can Save Your Day (or Ruin It!)
Imagine this scenario: You’re stuck in a traffic jam when you get a call from your prospective client. She’s at the property for a visit that you scheduled and you’re running late. Lucky for you, you have installed a smart lock at the front door; so you take out your phone and press the unlock button on your mobile app. Nothing happens. The lock won’t budge. You’re not likely to be home for another you-don’t-know-how-many minutes, and the client won’t wait forever.
In this article:
We’ll review four of the best smart lock models available on the market. Feel free to jump to the specific review you want to read. Or, scroll down to see why your building needs smart locks and the factors you should consider while buying them.
Why You Need Smart Locks for Your Building
In today’s fast-paced property marketplace, it is as important to keep out bad guys as it is to let in good ones. It could be a delivery driver, a prospective renter, a dog walker, or even your mother-in-law at the front door. Having them wait has consequences.
Smart locks provide a simple and cost-effective solution to a common problem—letting the good guys in safely, conveniently, and remotely. Smart locks can also:
- Spare you and your tenants the trouble of carrying, losing, and misplacing physical keys
- Send alerts on your phone whenever someone unlocks or locks your apartment
- Integrate with your voice assistant (such as Alexa) or smart home technology
- Share automatic access codes with your friends and family and visitors your trust
When chosen well, smart locks can save you from facing the wrath of an angry mother-in-law, or from losing a client or a key or a package, or from having to clean after a dog that had missed his daily stroll. Installing the wrong smart lock, however, can lead to unpleasant surprises, just like the one we tried to picture in the beginning of this article.
So, how do you choose the best smart locks for your building?
Considerations for Buying the Best Smart Locks for Apartments
You should look for the following features when selecting the best smart locks for your properties:
- Construction: The best smart locks come in either deadbolt or latch-and-lever construction. Both are equally secure, but deadbolt locks are typically easier to install.
- Installation: The best smart locks can replace or retrofit with your existing door locks. They are compatible with standard doors in your country.
- Connectivity: They connect with WiFi using the low energy Zigbee or Z-wave IoT protocols. These data communication protocols consume very little power compared to regular WiFi, so the batteries on these locks last longer. Most of them can also connect to your phone via Bluetooth.
- Power Source: Smart locks are operated by dry batteries and require very little power to work. The best smart locks come with low battery notifications and automatic battery replenishment via a mobile app or smart home hub.
- Lock and Unlock: You can lock and unlock smart locks remotely from anywhere using a mobile app on your phone. The best locks also feature touchscreen keypads for locking and unlocking the door without a phone. Top-of-the-line smart locks also feature hands-free unlock using Bluetooth technology.
- Compatibility: They can pair with your smart home automation system such as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and others. The best smart locks support voice commands through smart speakers and home automation systems.
- Visitor Access: The best smart locks also allow you to share automatic unlock links or codes with your clients, visitors, and guests. You have the option to grant permanent, temporary, or time-barred access to people you trust.
- Security: Physical and digital security are among the key factors you should consider. The best smart locks have a strong build quality and use encryption to safeguard user data. Some of them have tamper alarms while others send text alerts when the door is unlocked or relocked. Some even offer two-factor authentication for added security.
- Interoperability: Smart locks can work alongside IoT based access control systems such as Swiftlane Touchless Access Control to provide comprehensive building security, where Swiftlane can control access to the lobby and other common use areas and smart locks can secure each individual apartment.
- Integration: Zigbee and Z-Wave enabled smart locks can pair with smart home cameras and speakers to provide voice activation and video monitoring. Swiftlane access control, when used in combination with the best smart locks, can provide built-in video intercom and video monitoring capability.
Best Smart Locks Reviews
Below, we have reviewed four top-of-the-line smart lock brands to help property managers and renters select the best ones for their needs. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.
Schlage Smart Locks for Apartments
Schlage is one of Allegion’s brands dating back more than 100 years. Today, Schlage manufactures a wide range of smart deadbolt door locks including:
- Schlage EncodeTM Smart Deadbolt with built-in WiFi: The lock was rated as “great” in a recent NYT review. It is also one of the best locks to use in rental properties because of its simple installation and ability to connect directly to your WiFi without the need of a plug-in adapter.
- Schlage SenseTM Smart Lock uses battery-friendly Bluetooth® to connect to Schlage Sense WiFi adapter, which allows it to connect with your WiFi and compatible home automation systems. SenseTM is also the only Schlage smart lock that supports Apple HomeKit.
- Schlage ConnectTM Smart Deadbolts are Z-wave and Zigbee enabled smart locks that can pair with your home automation system and control your lock with your voice. Z-Wave or Zigbee technology consumes minimum power, which gives ConnectTM a longer battery life.
Schlage Smart Lock Features
- Easy to install on existing door locks using just a screwdriver
- Available in Century, Camelot, and Accent Lever style and a vast variety of finishes
Lock and Unlock
- Tactile and touchscreen keypads for easy one-touch locking and pin code unlocking
- Remote lock and unlock through Schlage Home App (can control Encode and Sense smart locks) and home automation systems (for Connect smart locks)
- Send access codes to family and friends and schedule recurring, permanent, or temporary access for people you trust
- Can pair with Amazon Alexa, Amazon Key, Ring, Schlage Home App, and other home automation technologies (view compatible platforms)
- Low battery indicator
- Smart battery reordering via Amazon
- Built-in alarm feature
- Data encryption
Top Reasons for Buying Schlage Smart Locks
- No need for a plug-in adapter (EncodeTM only)
- Simple installation on top of Schlage Camelot, Century, or Lever door locks
- Work with most of the popular smart home automation systems and voice assistants
- EncodeTM and ConnectTM smart locks don’t support Apple HomeKit (only SenseTM does)
- Low power Zigbee and Z-wave technology is only available in the ConnectTM series.
Yale Assure Smart Locks
Yale door locks have a 180-year history of manufacturing door locks for protecting homes. Yale’s contemporary range of Assure smart locks includes a number of deadbolt- and lever-style models that support WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-wave Plus communication protocols. Yale Assure Lock SL (YRD256) was rated as the runner up in a recent NYT Wirecutter review.
Yale Assure Lock SL (YRD256)
Yale Assure Lever (YRL256)
- Sleek and stylish glass-and-metal housing
- Completely keyless (no keyhole)
- Easy to install using just a screwdriver
- Available in keyless, deadbolt, lever, and traditional metallic key models
Lock and Unlock
- Use the Yale Access App to lock and unlock from anywhere
- Backlit keypad and touch-screen models for unlocking using an access code
- The door unlocks automatically as you approach and relocks once the door is closed
- Share access codes and monitor who comes in and goes out via the Yale Access App
- Share app access with the people you trust and allow them to create unique entry codes
- Built-in Connect Wi-Fi Bridge eliminates the need for additional hubs
- Works with your home Wi-Fi right out of the box
- Use voice assistants including Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri to lock, unlock, and check lock status using voice commands
- Integrates with smart home platforms like HomeKit and SmartThings
- Low battery notifications, 9V battery backup, and smart battery reordering
- 1-year battery life
Top Reasons for Buying Yale Smart Locks
- Advanced low-power Zigbee and Z-Wave Plus technology for a longer battery life
- Superior aesthetics and a super quiet operation makes it suitable for high-end apartments
- Automatic hands-free unlocking and locking offers more convenience
- Yale Assure Lock SL (YRD256) and Assure Lever (YRL256) are completely keyless and have no keyhole, so you may get locked out of your apartment if the electronics fail
August Wi-Fi Smart Locks
August is owned by ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in access solutions. The company manufactures simple smart locks that install easily on most existing deadbolt door locks. The older models include August Smart Lock and August Smart Lock Pro, which are larger in size and require August Connect to connect to WiFi. The latest August WiFi Smart Lock is smaller and has WiFi built in, but is not Z-Wave compatible.
- Modern and attractive design
- August WiFi Smart Lock is significantly smaller and slimmer than other models
- Mounts on your existing lock on the inside of your front door, so you can continue to use your metallic keys
- Easy to install and compatible with most single-cylinder deadbolts (see compatible locks)
Lock and Unlock
- Remote unlock using the August app on your phone or Apple Watch
- DoorSenseTM technology automatically unlocks the door as you approach and locks it after you leave, but both your phone and the smart lock must be connected to WiFi
- Option to install a keypad for manual unlocking through access codes
- Send secure keys via the August app to friends, family, and people you trust
- Monitor entry and exit with August’s Activity Feed from within your app
- Enable multi-factor authentication using your smartphone’s fingerprint or facial verification
- August WiFi Smart Lock has built-in WiFi (August Connect not required)
- August Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro require August Connect for WiFi connectivity
Smart Home Compatibility
- All August Smart Locks work with Alexa and Google
- Smart Lock Pro and WiFi Smart Lock work with Apple HomeKit as well
- Only August Smart Lock Pro supports Z-Wave technology
- Bank-grade security with AES 128 bit and TLS data encryption
- Lost Phone Feature allows you to quickly disable the August app and revoke virtual keys in case you ever lose your phone
- 2 3V CR123 or CR123A Lithium batteries
- The average battery life is 3-6 months
Top Reasons for Buying
- Perfect for rental property managers and owners who need simplicity and convenience
- Minimalist, user-friendly design that blends into a smart home
- Easy and quick installation. You don’t need to remove or replace your existing deadbolt
- You can keep using your existing locks and keys
- No tamper alarm, however, August does come with door position sensors
- Only August Smart Lock Pro can support Z-Wave devices
Danalock V3 Smart Lock
Danalock is a Denmark based company that offers smart locks, entry keypads, and smart gateways. Danalock V3 Smart Lock is a low-power minimalist deadbolt door lock that can be retrofitted with most existing deadbolts. When combined with Danabridge V3 and Danapad V3, Danalock can provide remote access, pin code unlocking, and Zigbee, and Z-Wave Plus data communicability.
- ABS and anodized aluminum
- Retrofits with Scandi cylinders, Euro cylinders and US deadbolt locks
Lock and Unlock
- Remote unlock from the Danalock mobile app (Danabridge hardware required)
- Pin code entry using Danapad add-on hardware
- Automatic hands-free door unlock and programmable automatic relock feature
- Motorized locking assistance with Twist Assist
- Share digital keys with trusted users
- Advanced encryption using AES 256 and TLS 1.2 data transfer protocols
- Use of Bluetooth 4.2, S-Wave and Zigbee technologies delivers an approximate battery life of 1 year
- Compatible with Apple HomeKit, Alarm.com, SmartThings, Zigbee/Z-Wave Plus, and Bluetooth smart home automation products
- Can work with Amazon Alexa via Samsung SmartThings and Zigbee Hub
- Compatible with Siri Voice Commands and Apple Watch (requires Apple HomeKit)
- Fully documented SDKs and APIs for integration with a wide range of third-party applications
Top Reasons for Buying Danalock
- Ideal for property management firms and building automation companies with custom integration needs
- Easy to use and convenient for tenants
- Installs easily on Scandi, Euro and US standard doors
- Military- and government-grade information and communication security
- A sleek Danish design
- Not all features are compatible with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa (see compatibility)
The market size for smart locks is growing at an astounding 21.4% CAGR. Before long, you’ll see smart locks everywhere. Physical keys are on their way out. If you’re still thinking, you’re already late. We hope this article helps you make an informed decision and select the best smart locks for your apartment building or property.