Smart home tech: Which smart locks are best for security?

January 15, 2021
Inman News
CMW Modified this article for clarity and to remove 2021 prices.

 A smart lock can offer homeowners security, convenience, and peace of mind. Here’s how to find the best (and most compatible) smart lock in a sea of options — plus a few tips on keeping your home extra secure.

It’s been a year since we first compared Schlage to Kwikset, and we’ve gone on to test several different locks sent to us from various manufacturers. We documented our installation process and tested them in real-world environments for about six months, noting what worked well and any issues we had, like jamming. This week, we’ll discuss the locks we tested — plus a few tips on keeping your home safe.

The Locks:

August Lock (4th Generation): Wi-Fi-based, only replaces the interior portion of the lock. 

Yale Assure Lever Lock: Modules are available for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave Plus, and Zigbee. It’s the only lever lock we tested. Deadbolt versions are available in a variety of options.

Kwikset 916: Available with Z-Wave Plus or Zigbee, this version replaces the deadbolt, but other options are available for lever locks or only to replace the interior portion.

Eufy Bluetooth Smart Lock: This lock uses Bluetooth (Wi-Fi version coming soon), replaces the deadbolt, and includes a fingerprint scanner.

Lockly Vision: Uses Wi-Fi, comes with its own hub, replaces the entire deadbolt, and includes a fingerprint scanner and video doorbell functionality. Other versions without a camera and different door or lock configurations are available.

GateLabs: This also uses Wi-Fi and replaces the entire deadbolt. It includes a built-in camera but doesn’t integrate with other devices now.

Wyze Lock: This lock is Wi-Fi-based and only replaces the interior portion of the lock.

1. Make front door access secure and convenient

A smart lock can give homeowners peace of mind, security, and convenience over home access. It also means no more hiding keys under the mat or worrying if you locked the door before you headed out. You must simply control the lock and monitor every entry and exit right from your phone. When considering a smart lock, there are several features to examine:

Retrofit vs. replacement.

You first need to decide if you want a retrofit lock (only replaces the existing deadbolt from the inside, which means you can keep your current keys!) or one that requires full deadbolt replacement. For apartment dwellers and renters, retrofit locks like the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock (also consider Wyze Lock or Kwisket Convert) are perfect, as they give you all the perks of a smart lock while still allowing landlords or maintenance crews to enter with their existing keys.

If you own your home, it may be worth checking out a full replacement deadbolt with an integrated keypad. While these require a deadbolt replacement, keypad locks provide a minimalist solution with all the same great features. You can easily distribute temporary PIN codes or access for family, friends, guests, and service providers.

Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi connectivity

If you want to control your lock remotely (if you’re traveling or running a vacation rental property), you should get a Wi-Fi-enabled lock, or one connected via a hub. This will allow you to unlock, lock, check the door status, and be notified of any activity from your phone from anywhere in the world.

Wi-Fi connection will also let you integrate your lock with existing security systems, hosting platforms (e.g., Airbnb), and voice assistants. If you only plan to operate the lock locally with your phone — such as from within your house, with an external keypad, or with auto-unlock upon arrival — then you can opt for Bluetooth only.  Compatibility As mentioned above, Wi-Fi connectivity can let you link your lock with other devices and systems. But do your homework and ensure your lock of choice connects with the platforms you already use, as not all of them have every integration available.


As mentioned above, Wi-Fi connectivity can let you link your lock with other devices and systems. But do your homework and ensure your lock of choice connects with the platforms you already use, as not all of them have every integration available. 


From push buttons to touchpads and from oil-rubbed bronze to satin nickel, smart locks come in all shapes, sizes, and finishes — so make sure it fits your overall home aesthetic. Design is important to lock makers too!

2. Secure access inside your home

People typically think of outfitting only exterior doors with smart locks, but interior doors can be upgraded too. From basements and home offices to spare rooms for guests, interior smart locks like the Yale Assure Lever (which has a keypad) can provide extra security, convenience, and privacy within the home. 

3. Keep an eye on everything — even while away

If you’re nervous about leaving your home unattended while away (either on a short or long-term trip), be sure to get a connected smart lock that offers an activity feed. You can see when a user locks or unlocks your door or when a new user’s entry code is created. You can also create a unique entry code for visitors or just monitor who’s coming and going.

4. Enable hands-free access

If you’re always juggling groceries or want to encourage a more contactless lifestyle this season, consider a smart lock that doesn’t require hands-on operation. For example, many smart locks have an auto-unlock feature that intuitively unlocks the door when you approach it without having to reach for your phone or keys.

You can also control them with your voice, integrating the lock with Amazon Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant so that you can lock, unlock (requires an extra PIN code), or check the lock status with simple vocal commands. 

5. Consider how to safeguard items and areas in and around your home.

It’s not just doors that need to be secured! From alcohol cabinets to cleaning supplies, home office valuables to package deliveries, look for ways to protect items in and around the home as well. For example, the Yale Smart Cabinet Lock is designed for cabinets and drawers and can help keep children and guests away from medicine, liquor, and other sensitive items. It’s a small device (about the size of an Air Pods case) that can turn any cabinet or drawer into a locker. It mounts on the inside, making it invisible from the outside.

The Yale Smart Delivery Box is an external, non-entry way to protect packages from theft and harsh weather — perfect for the influx of deliveries that may be arriving throughout the year. These also integrate with voice assistants for hands-free operation.