Six Things to Consider Before Installing a Smart Lock

Smart locks can offer a great deal of convenience when leaving and entering your home, but there are a few things you should be aware of before you install one on your own door.

Use Good Batteries

Smart locks run on battery power. Those batteries are in charge of a number of things, including the wireless chips, LED lights, and most importantly, the motor that locks and unlocks your door.

When you activate the motor in your smart lock, it draws a significant amount of power from the batteries in order to extend or retract the deadbolt. So the quality of the batteries you use can have an effect on how often you need to change them out for new ones.

One smart lock user has had success using Energizer Industrial batteries, saying that he gets more juice out of them than other brands. You may need to do your own trial and error with different batteries to see which one works best for your smart lock. Of course, if you don’t lock and unlock your door multiple times per day, battery quality may not be as important, and many users have reported success with even the cheapest batteries.

Make Sure Your Door Closes Properly

A lot of doors, especially in older houses, are slightly misaligned, so they don’t really close properly. In other words, if you need to push on your door a bit in order to lock it, then you’ll need to address that before installing a smart lock.

If you’re going to be locking and unlocking your door remotely, the deadbolt will need to extend and retract freely on its own without getting caught on anything. Otherwise, the smart lock will just jam up and not work properly.

There can be any number of issues that cause a misaligned door, so either hire a professional to fix it, or call that handy friend of yours to help you figure out the problem.

Smart Locks Have Huge Thumbturn Plates

On a traditional deadbolt, the thumbturn doesn’t really take up anymore space than it needs to, making it fairly unobtrusive and low-key overall. However, thanks to all of the electronics built into a smart lock, the interior thumbturn mechanism is huge compared to a traditional lock.

Most of the time this isn’t a big deal, but if you have some kind of trim or decoration on your door that sits close to the lock, a smart lock may not fit properly, or at all.

With that said, make sure that there’s plenty of room around your door locks, especially above them, so that a smart lock can comfortably fit without an issue.

Buy the Same Brand of Lock Your House Currently Uses

Kwikset and Schlage (two of the biggest lock brands on the market) use different style pins inside the lock cylinder, which means if you wanted to use the same key on all your locks around your house, those locks would all have to be made by the same manufacturer: Kwikset or Schlage.

So when looking for a smart lock to buy, make sure it’s the same brand as the other locks around your house, if you want to use the same key for all of them. Otherwise, you’ll be carrying around two keys. (Alternatively, if you’re replacing all the locks in your house, you can buy whichever brand you want—you just may need a new key.)

You Can Still Keep Your Traditional Deadbolt

If you want the convenience of a smart lock, but want to keep your existing deadbolt, you can buy a smart lock “conversion kit” that essentially turns your traditional deadbolt into a smart lock.

Something like the August smart lock or Kwikset’s Convert smart lock only consist of interior mechanisms that are installed over your existing thumbturn, giving it magical smart capabilities without completely replacing the entire lock.

There might be all sorts of reasons why you’d want to do this, whether it’s wanting to keep using your current house keys or just keeping the outside of your door clean and inconspicuous of fancy keypads and LED lights. Conversion kits are fairly popular due to these reasons.

Check with Your Landlord First

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If you’re renting your space, changing out your lock might be against your rental contract, or even against the law. So it would be a good idea to ask your landlord if you can install a smart lock or not.

If you’re renting from a private, individual landlord, they tend to be a bit more lax when it comes to that stuff, but they still might want to know your keycode and/or have a copy of the new key to the lock itself, since most landlords need to preserve their right to entry.

If you’re renting an apartment from a big company, however, they tend to have more strict rules and little leeway, so don’t be surprised if they don’t let you install a smart lock.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.