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Everything You Need to Know About Smart Locks

Jul 21, 2021|

When it comes to home security, the basic lock and key has been the go-to protection against unwanted visitors for a long time—since 4,000 BC, to be exact.

But locks have come a long way since then. Now, smart locks have become a popular keyless replacement for physical keys. Approximately 4 million are sold every year, with no sign of slowing.

If you’re in the market for a smart lock, this guide will help you navigate the different types on the market while helping you choose the best one.

man leaving house locking smart lock
Press one button to lock your door while you're on your way out.

Overview of smart locks

Smart locks allow you to lock and unlock your front door with a code, app, or even your proximity to the door. And if you or one of your family members have ever been locked out of your house, you know how convenient the idea of a keyless door lock can be.

In addition to being able to lock and unlock your door remotely, smart locks also tend to be more secure—with a smart door lock, you don’t have to make spare keys and try and hide them around your front porch, risking your front door security.

How do smart locks work?

The exact way the smart lock functions will depend on the type of lock you have, but in general, smart locks either replace or attach to the deadbolt on your current lock.

Once installed, keyless door locks require connection to a local network (usually WiFi), which allows it to receive the command or code to lock and unlock the door.

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Smart lock access control

You can control smart locks in several ways, depending on the exact lock you have. In general, this includes:

  • Remote. Lock and unlock your front door, as well as manage access and create codes, with your smart phone via your smart lock’s app. This allows for complete remote access to your door, whether you’re in another room or another state.
  • Access code. Some smart locks also come equipped with keypads, so family members or visitors can unlock via an access code that is entered into the keypad.
  • Fingerprint. With this type of smart lock, you can unlock using your fingerprint, much like you’d use your fingerprint to unlock your phone.
  • Voice. Some door locks, when part of a smart home system that has a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home, can also be controlled with your voice.
  • Smart hub. When part of a connected smart home, you can also manage your smart locks from inside your home with your home’s control panel.

Keep in mind that most smart locks also have a physical key. This functions as a backup in case your lock runs out of batteries. Many smart locks also feature a combination of the above, such as combination smart lock and keypad door locks.

Smart lock connectivity

Smart locks require some type of connectivity. Not only does this allow them to receive commands from your smart phone, but also to connect with other devices around your home.

Different connections for a smart lock include:

  • WiFi. This is a popular connectivity option for smart locks, since they can easily be paired with your home’s WiFi system. If your home has a strong, reliable connection and additional devices you want to sync, WiFi enabled smart locks are a good option.
  • Bluetooth. With a Bluetooth-enabled smart lock, your lock connects directly to your phone or computer. Because the lock will need to be in close proximity to your phone or computer, they have a much more limited range.
  • Z-Wave. Z-Wave smart locks don’t connect directly to your phone. Instead, it uses a hub that is connected to your home’s router. When connected, Z-wave enabled smart locks can also be accessed from any location.

Connectivity will be an important thing to consider when you look for a smart lock. If you live in a small apartment or home and don’t anticipate needing to unlock or lock your door remotely, Bluetooth may be sufficient. For most people, however, WiFi or Z-Wave enabled smart locks provide more flexibility and scalability as you add smart devices to your home.

smart lock image of both sides
A smart lock has a sleek design to match any door.

Smart lock security

Front door security is a top concern when it comes to door locks. In many ways, a smart lock can actually be safer than a lock with a physical key, including:

  • No physical keys that can get lost or fall into the wrong hands
  • No “hidden” spare keys (most of which are easily found)
  • Security of pin codes. The odds of guessing a 4-digit pin code correctly are about 1 in 10,000, making it highly unlikely anyone can guess a unique code. The odds increase the more numbers you add to the code.

Hacking into a smart lock is a valid concern, though, and should be taken seriously. Make sure your smart locks has security features that include:

  • 128-bit (minimum) AES encryption, a form of encryption that protects online information
  • Two-factor authentication, which requires two forms of identification (such as a password in addition to your key code) to gain access to your system

Some of the most effective ways to protect your keyless door lock from hackers, though, is through basic steps like creating strong passwords for your door and WiFi, updating your software regularly, and keeping your app up to date.

What to look for in smart locks

Now that you have a good idea of what a smart lock is and how they work, it’s time to start narrowing it down. Some of the best features you may want to look for in a smart lock include:

Multiple codes

One convenient feature is the ability to assign unique codes to family members, housekeepers or pet sitters, or out of town guests. These unique codes can also be temporary, so you don’t have to worry about people accessing your home at a later time.


One of the great things about a smart lock is the ability to receive notifications on your smartphone. Some of the notifications you might get regarding your smart lock include:

  • Visitor notifications. You’ll know exactly when your front door is unlocked with visitor notifications. You’ll also be able to tell who, depending on the code used.
  • Lock status. Some locks will also notify you if your door is unlocked. This is particularly helpful if you forget to lock up.
inside view of smart lock
Keep tabs on your smart lock via the Smart Hub or app.

Automatic locking

Auto locking is a must in smart locks. If you’ve ever left your house in a rush, you know how convenient automatic locking can be. Look for a smart lock that locks automatically a certain amount of time after it’s unlocked.

Integration with smart home system

If you have other smart devices, make sure you look for a lock that has the ability and the hardware to integrate with other devices. For example, if you want to unlock your front door with your voice or set your home’s entry lights to turn on automatically whenever you unlock your front door, you’ll need a lock that is part of a complete smart home system.

Professional installation

Some smart locks can be installed fairly easily with just a screwdriver. If your smart lock is part of a complete smart home system, however, professional installation is the way to go. This ensures your entire system will work together smoothly and correctly.

One-touch locking

When you’re heading out and don’t want to fumble with keys, being able to lock up with the push of a button is a great feature to have.

A safer front door with Vivint

As you narrow down the perfect smart lock, make sure you consider a Kwikset lock from Vivint. The Kwikset smart lock is part of a complete smart home security system and is loaded with features that include:

  • Keyless entry. Completely keyless entry means no more misplaced keys or accidentally locking yourself out.
  • Control at home or away. Control access to your front door remotely with your Vivint App while you’re away, and lock up at night or unlock your door for visitors from your Smart Hub control panel while at home.
  • Unique codes. You can create up to 30 unique access codes for your family and visitors, all from you’re phone. That means you’ll never have to make a spare key again.
  • Visitor and status notifications. Your Kwikset smart lock tracks when each unique code was used, so you’ll know exactly who’s coming and going with notifications on your app.
  • Front door security. When combined with devices like the Vivint Doorbell Camera and security system, you can rest easy knowing your home is completely protected, day and night.
  • Custom actions. As part of a Vivint Smart Home system, you can create custom actions for your smart lock, like automatically locking your doors when you arm your security system or setting your smart lock to automatically lock after a specified amount of time.

Smart locks provide the safety and convenience of managing your door locks wherever you go, keeping you informed and connected along the way.

If you’re ready to upgrade your front door security, contact our Smart Home Pros today to learn more.

Get a free quote today.

A Vivint Smart Home Pro will contact you within 24 hours. Or skip the form and call now: 844.481.8630.

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