The Ultimate Smart Home: Locks

This deeper dive into two smart lock brands will help clients decide what option best fits their property.
front door

© bmak - AdobeStock

Smart locks provide clients additional peace of mind. They’re able to check the status of a lock anywhere in the world and remotely lock or unlock it if necessary. This is a great option for allowing service providers into their home without making copies of keys or giving out a garage code.

As part of my Ultimate Smart Home series for REALTOR® Magazine, I was fortunate enough to test out two different smart-lock brands, Schlage and Kwikset.

Schlage has been designing and manufacturing locks since 1920. They now offer three lines of smart locks, which are compatible with a variety of smart-home systems.

Schlage Encode uses Wi-Fi to communicate with a home’s router and can be controlled with either the Schlage Home app or Key by Amazon. This allows homeowners to check the status of the lock and remotely grant access to friends and family. It does not require a hub and uses four AA batteries, making it a great option for anyone just getting started with smart-home automation. Its battery life is estimated to be around six months due to its Wi-Fi connection.

The lock integrates directly with the Ring doorbell and can also be controlled through Amazon Alexa by voice, which requires a PIN code for added security.

Schlage’s Sense lineup is another option that uses Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi, though there is an option for a Wi-Fi adapter. This lock is very similar to the Kwikset Kevo line of locks and is also compatible with Apple Homekit.

Schlage’s Connect models, meanwhile, come in two varieties—the Z-Wave Plus or Zigbee—depending on which smart-home hub the homeowner uses. These are comparable to the Kwikset Smartcode 916 line of locks but are noticeably quieter. The key differences between the Z-Wave and Zigbee versions are that the Zigbee lock is compatible with Amazon Key and Echo Plus but the Z-Wave lock works with Google Assistant, Wink, Ring Alarm, and other Z-Wave–only hubs.

The Encode and Connect both have a one-year battery life and include the needed four AAs. Each version comes in a variety of color options and styles to match the homeowner’s existing hardware. Installation is easy and took about seven minutes, including removing the previous lock, connecting to the Wi-Fi router, and setting up the app.

Kwikset has been around since 1946 and has a patent on its SmartKey Security deadbolts, which allows users to easily rekey their own locks. It’s recommended that homeowners change the locks anytime a property changes ownership or a key cannot be accounted for. You never know when someone that has been given access to the property has made a copy of the key or shared the code.

In addition to Kwikset’s standard door locks and Smartcode electronic locks, the company offers locks that connect via Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Bluetooth. The 916 series connects with Amazon Alexa via Samsung’s SmartThings or similar smart-home hubs, allowing users to check the lock’s status, lock and unlock the door, and receive notifications. The total installation time for the Kwikset Smartcode 916, including connecting it to my SmartThings hub, was around seven minutes. It performs and looks very similar to a Schlage Connect, but I did notice it was a bit noisier. The Premis line works the same way for homeowners who use Apple Homekit and also can be unlocked with the app via Bluetooth.

Kwikset’s newest smart lock, the Kevo, features “touch to open” features and can integrate with other smart-home devices, such as a video doorbell with the optional Kevo Plus.

Now a homeowner can make any lock a smart lock with the Kevo Convert, which uses the existing hardware on the exterior of the door, by swapping it for the interior hardware in just minutes.

Both of the brands I tested include a standard key as well as a programmable touchpad to open.