Discovering The Best Smart Locks For Home Security In 2021

These days, nearly every element of your household operation is available in a “smart” version, and your locks are no exception. With the best smart locks securing your home, you no longer have to carry (and keep track of) a set of house keys, and some models allow you to provide secure access to visitors without requiring you to be present to unlock the door.

They can also be integrated into a larger smart-home system, triggering specific actions like turning on lights or adjusting the thermostat when you leave or return home. Smart locks are especially useful if you maintain rental properties or participate in short-term vacation leasing programs like Airbnb or VRBO, since you can create temporary electronic keys or access codes for visitors.

What to look for in the best smart locks

Smart locks generally fall into one of two categories:

  • An add-on system that replaces the interior thumb turn component of an existing dead bolt, but leaves the original dead bolt in place
  • A completely new lock system that replaces your existing dead bolt with new hardware assembly

best smart locksMost locks in either category work alongside a smartphone app that allows you to set up and manage your lock from anywhere, and some models can be incorporated into comprehensive smart-home systems like Nest, HomeKit, SmartThings and Wink. Some locks’ functions rely on an authorized user’s proximity, typically relying on a smartphone Bluetooth signal, while other locks can be controlled remotely using an internet-based hub.

The best smart locks—including the models recommended below—provide a well-rounded mix of convenience, security and functionality while remaining easy to use and maintain. They offer the convenience of remote operation via smartphone, and most of them also work seamlessly as part of the most popular smart-home systems.

Read on to find out which smart locks outperformed the field, brought to you by the Home Automation Network. And don’t forget to check out our guide to the best smart thermostats to further enhance your smart home!

Yale Assure SL Connected by August

yale assure sl connectedThe Yale Assure SL Connected by August checks just about every box on our list: it’s convenient, reliable, secure and attractive. Not only does it eliminate the need to carry a key, but it can also be operated without a smartphone, instead using a four-, five- or six-digit entry code that you set. The glass touchscreen display is sleek and easy to use, allowing the user to open the door quickly and in near-silence.

You can provide visitors with a temporary code that you can restrict or delete at any time. The unit comes with an August module that you place inside the lock during installation, allowing you to integrate the lock with Apple’s HomeKit and Siri platforms; newer Apple TV and iPad models can also be used for remote access when configured as a hub. It also includes a Connect Wi-Fi adapter that also facilitates remote access and interaction with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Installing the Yale Assure SL Connected by August is a quick and simple task, and a how-to video included in the August app can help with any needed troubleshooting. The Connect adapter uses a standard electrical outlet for power and links to the lock via Wi-Fi, providing confirmation that the unit is within close enough range of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for all features to function properly.

You can manage the lock via either the Apple HomeKit app or the August app, with red and green circles denoting locked and unlocked statuses. Depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi or cell signal, you can activate the lock and be inside your house within a matter of seconds.

Within the August app, you can mute or alter the lock’s sound level, turn on one-touch locking, enable enhanced security settings and create and manage individual passcodes for family, friends or visitors. You can even set specific days or time frames for codes, which can be handy if you have a housekeeper, repair person or other service provider you expect to visit within an established time window. The app also allows you to track who accesses your home at certain times based on which passcodes are used to unlock the door.

yale assure sl connectedTo unlock the door from outside, activate the glass touchscreen by tapping it with three fingers, then enter your passcode and press the checkmark icon. If the screen flashes, you’ve entered your code correctly, and in a few seconds you’ll hear the quiet hum of the lock granting you access.

To lock the door when leaving the house, you can either enter your code or activate the one-touch locking feature, which allows you to simply press the screen and hold momentarily until the lock engages. (It is worth noting that enabling one-touch locking prevents you from identifying the person locking the door.)

The Yale Assure SL Connected by August works with a variety of other smart devices, allowing you to manage the lock via Alexa and Siri. You can also integrate the lock into your HomeKit system and program it to perform specific functions, such as turning on lights or adjusting your thermostat, when the unit is unlocked. It is honestly one of the best smart locks we have ever tested.

Pros of the August Yale Assure SL Connected

  • Reliable, secure keyless remote access
  • Works well with other smart-home systems
  • Creates individual codes for visitors and service providers
  • No app or Bluetooth connection required to operate

Cons of the August Yale Assure SL Connected

  • Expensive
  • Cooperation with Google Assistant is spotty
  • No failsafe (physical key) in case of electronic or mechanical malfunction


Kwikset Kevo 2nd Gen with Kevo Plus Upgrade

With its compact, understated design and easy tap-to-unlock trigger mechanism, the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen with Kevo Plus upgrade offers a compelling combination of security, convenience and aesthetics. This is one of the best smart locks on the market.

Installation is a snap, requiring only a screwdriver and about 10 minutes of your time. The Kevo works by engaging the lock when the user touches the deadbolt’s housing and a linked smartphone is within range. Adding the Kevo Plus hub, which connects to your internet router, lets you manage your Kevo remotely from any location, although it’s not required for sharing eKeys and receiving notifications from the system.

In practice, using the Kevo is surprisingly similar to using a typical lock, except without the physical key. To unlock the door, simply tap the lock’s housing and wait a few seconds for a blue light to flash around it; once the light turns green and you hear the lock’s gears working, you can open the door.

Locking it is the same process reversed: close the door while carrying your linked smartphone, touch the deadbolt housing and watch the light flash from blue to amber, indicating your home is secure. If you desire an alternative to carrying your smartphone with you at all times, you can also purchase a Bluetooth key fob that performs the same function as the phone. When at home, you can also manage the lock using the Kevo app or through Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

To grant entry to family members or visitors, you can create an individual eKey that can be shared via text or email, although the recipient will need to download the Kevo app and register to use it. Once they’ve registered, you can track their usage of the lock and even receive notifications via smartphone. The system allows for an unlimited number of guest keys, which expire after 24 hours, and scheduled keys, which allow access within specific hours or date ranges.

If you opt to upgrade to Kevo Plus, you can monitor the lock’s status or engage it remotely using the Kevo app—a particularly useful function when managing an out-of-town rental property through Airbnb or other programs.

Unlike the Yale Assure SL, the Kevo 2nd Gen works with only a handful of other smart devices, including Nest and Honeywell smart thermostats, Skybell and Ring smart doorbells and Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices. It is not compatible with Z-Wave, Zigbee, HomeKit and Google Home.

Other online testers have observed a few quirks of the lock that may impact its ability to function consistently. For example, the lock seems to malfunction more often in very cold weather, especially when the door opens directly into an unheated area of your home. Some users have also reported that the lock needed to be tapped multiple times to get it to unlock, but pressing the housing instead of tapping it appeared to reduce the frequency of that particular frustration.

Pros of the Kwikset Kevo 2nd Gen

  • Affordable
  • Compact, unobtrusive unit works without a numbered keypad

Cons of the Kwikset Kevo 2nd Gen

  • Requires guest users to download Kevo app to access lock
  • Not compatible with many popular smart-home systems
  • Relatively high frequency of malfunctions


August Smart Lock (3rd Gen) with August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge

If you want to keep your existing deadbolt (and have the added security of a physical key in case the smart lock malfunctions), the August Smart Lock (3rd Gen) is your best bet. Setup is simple and straightforward, with a helpful video available to guide you through the process. All-metal housing adds an extra sense of durability and security, and the familiar thumb-turn bolt is smooth and quiet.

The unit requires the use of Bluetooth and a smartphone app, and it’s only compatible with Nest smart-home devices. If you opt to buy the package that includes an August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge, you’ll be able to control the device with Alexa and Google Assistant as well as enjoy remote access to the lock. The integrated DoorSense feature identifies when the door is open or closed and can be programmed to automatically lock the door when it has been shut for a given length of time.

The August app is intuitive and user-friendly but light on features. Its primary feature is a button for locking or unlocking the door, but you can also review recent activity, provide and manage guest access levels.

Pros of the August Smart Lock (3rd Gen)

  • Affordable
  • Allows you to keep your existing deadbolt, making it ideal for renters

Cons of the August Smart Lock (3rd Gen)

  • Limited functionality
  • No compatibility with most smart-home systems


Schlage Connect

The Schlage Connect is a well-rounded set of best smart locks that plays well with multiple smart-home systems (including SmartThings, Wink, Google Assistant, Ring, Alexa and Nexia) and allows you to provide access to guests without requiring them to download and register through an app. The lock retains traditional key access as a backup in case of malfunctions, while a fingerprint-resistant keypad provides peace of mind from a security standpoint. The lock’s housing comes in a range of styles and finishes for an elegant look.

When connected to a Z-Wave-compatible hub, users can remotely access the lock via the companion app as well as manage and arm the built-in alarm, which senses a variety of potential door attacks and security breaches. It is truly one of the best smart locks.

Pros of the Schlage Connect

  • Affordable
  • Retains the option of using a physical key
  • Compatible with multiple smart-home systems

Cons of the Schlage Connect

  • Requires a Z-Wave-compatible hub for full functionality


Other Top Picks for the Best Smart Locks

If you already have a Nest smart-home system, the Nest x Yale offers almost identical features and functionality to the Yale Assure SL Connected by August and is slightly less expensive.

For around the same price, the Lockly Secure Plus keypad lock (deadbolt edition) includes a fingerprint sensor and touchscreen, which randomizes the digits in your passcode to prevent bad actors from duplicating your button presses to access your home. The Offline Access Code feature allows you to send access codes remotely and provide access to guests even when internet service is unreliable. Unfortunately, the Lockly Secure Plus doesn’t work with other smart devices, preventing it from ranking higher on our list of the best smart locks.

Final Thoughts

The best smart locks offer major enhancements in both convenience and security, enabling you to access your home (and share access with others) without requiring you to make and keep track of multiple copies of a physical key. With a wide variety of models and features on the market today, you’re sure to find one that fits both your budget and your needs.

Leave a Comment