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4 Best Smart Locks Reviewed

Smart Locks With Fingerprint Scanners – Why We Don’t Like Them

There is a fairly large number of smart locks out there that offer fingerprint scanners. However in our testing smart locks with fingerprint scanners have several disadvantages. We’ve found that fingerprint scanners can get blocked by debris such as dust, water or even pollen which can lead them to malfunctioning when you’re trying to get into your home. They also require you to remove gloves when you’re entering your home which is a minor inconvenience if you live in a colder climate. Sweaty hands after exercise can also prevent the fingerprint scanner from properly reading your prints.

How To Install A Smart Lock & Installation Tips

All of the locks above have more specific recommendations in their instructions for proper smart lock installation but we’ve found that there are a few universal tips that can help when installing a smart lock that will make the installation go smoothly. Typically smart installation can take anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour which largely depends on the conditions of the existing door in latch.

Smart Lock Installation Tips

Leave Your Existing Door Frame Latch In Place – Many times you’ll find that the existing latch plate for the deadbolt on the door frame will work with the new smart lock your installing so it’s a good idea to leave the latch installed until you try it with the new smart lock, which could save you time and work. It doesn’t hurt anything to try the new smart lock installation with the existing latch in place.

Save The Existing Hardware – When removing the smart lock save the existing hardware. If for some reason you can’t get the smart lock installation complete you want to be able to have the existing hardware as a backup to install. Make sure you save all the small screws and hardware when you are taking off the old lock in a bag.

Smart Lock Hole Enlargement – In some cases the existing hole might be too small for you to install the new smart door lock. If that’s the case you’re going to need to enlarge the door hole. You can enlarge the door lock hole with either a door lock hole saw kit or by using a cutting drill bit with cutting blades on the side. I’ve found that it can often be hard to use a hole saw kit to enlarge an existing door hole because the blades have a tendency to skip or get caught in the existing hole. That’s why I prefer using cutting drill bit attached to a drill. I’ve found the cutting drill bit is easier to control and great for removing a small amount of material at a time. I just make slow passes enlarging the hole until the new smart lock installation will fit in the existing hole. A file or dremel tool can also be useful for fine adjustment to expand the hole. The drill cutting bit has teeth built into the drill bit which allows it to remove material along the length of the shaft which makes it perfect for enlarging holes in a precise manner. I usually use pencil marks or tape to outline how much larger I need to make the hole so I can get an exact fit. Most smart locks have a wide face on the front and back so they will cover up any imperfection from expanding the hole. Just take your time and go slowly, checking the fit of the smart lock as you enlarge the hole.

If you don’t use the cutting drill bit method and plan on using a hole saw drill bit kit, it’s important to get a kit that will solidly secure to the door and will keep the hole saw aligned as you expand the lock hole. It’s also important to make sure that you setup the hole saw drill bit kit correctly checking both the spacing from the edge of the door and the vertical alignment of the smart lock before you begin. It’s critical that you get the smart lock alignment correct so that the smart lock will fit properly and the hole is in the right place.

Smart Lock Won’t Close or Latch Properly – If you installed your smart lock and you’re having problems with the smart lock latching or properly closing there’s several things you can do to get the lock working properly. The first thing I recommend is checking the alignment. To do this open extend the smart lock deadbolt and gently close the door to the frame to check both the vertical and horizontal alignment of the latch. If it needs to be adjusted remove the screws from the door frame latch and adjust the position. Sometimes the alignment is very close and using a file or the cutting drill bit you can remove a small amount of material to make the smart lock deadbolt run better.

Once you’ve checked the alignment you should also check the depth of the deadbolt latch hole. Sometimes it needs to be made deeper to accommodate the smart lock deadbolt, You can extend the deadbolt latch hole by slowly removing material with a drill bit or chisel.

Another place to check for proper alignment of the door is weather stripping, sometimes the weather stripping can push the door to far backwards for the deadbolt to properly engage. If this is the case, it’s best to either move the deadbolt latch rearward, or remove a small amount of material from the rear of the latch plate so that it will properly secure.

Extra Security For Smart Lock Hardware – When installing your smart lock it’s best to use the longest screws that are reasonably possible for securing the door latch. Ideally 2.5-3.5” screws will offer the most protection on the door latch side. Using longer screws helps prevent the door from being kicked open as the longer screws can grab into the structure of the door fame and prevent the latch from being kicked out. Using smaller screws can make your door more vulnerable to a kick open attack. Thankfully many smart locks have tamper or kick open alarms that alert you if the door lock is being tampered with or if someone is attempting to kick open the the door.

Smart Lock Screw Holes Are Stripped – If the screw holes are stripped, it can sometimes can cause difficulties properly securing the latch hardware. Longer or wider screws can often solve the problem but if that doesn’t work. You can break off toothpicks in the hole and fill the holes with wood glue, then insert your screws. The toothpicks will provide a firm grip for the screws and the wood glue will make it a firm permanent fit.

Smart Lock FAQ:

What happens when the batteries run out on a smart lock?

Typically when the batteries start to get low on a smart lock they will give you both an in app warning and either a beep, flashing light or verbal warning on the lock that you need to change the batteries. I’ve found that all of the smart locks listed above typically give you ample warning and will give you 2-3 weeks of regular usage before the batteries are completely dead. If you don’t use the lock during that time the batteries will last much longer.

If you don’t change the batteries before they are dead you can either gain access using a traditional key if your smart lock is equipped with a keyway. If you’re smart lock doesn’t use a traditional backup key the manufacturers have built in two contacts on the bottom face of the lock that allow you to “jump start” the lock with a 9V battery by placing it on the contacts which then powers up the lock for you to enter the code.

I found that the low battery notice the smart locks give you is more than ample to change the batteries.


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