A Schlage Encode satin style smartlock installed on a green door.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

When you’re setting up a new smarthome, one of the easiest gadgets you can add to your arsenal is a smart lock. It’s not much harder than changing a standard lock on your home. Here’s what to do.

The Basics

For this guide, we’re installing a Schlage Encode smart lock. Even if you have a different smart lock from another brand, most (if not all) the steps will be the same. You’ll generally find three main components in a smart lock: an exterior piece that may have a keypad, lock for a key, or both, an interior piece that holds the batteries and circuitry, and the bolt that secures your door. The tricky part is connecting them all.

As a quick tip: You may have seen advice to test your smart lock before installing it by inserting the batteries to turn it on. Then you can be sure the lock powers up before it’s in the door.

That seems like sound advice, but the first time a smart lock turns on, it tests if the door is left facing or right facing and adjusts the bolt mechanism to match. Without an actual door to test against, it may guess wrong, and your install will fail to work correctly. If you want to perform this test, you should check the instructions for a factory reset process. After running the test, factory-reset the lock.

Removing the Old Lock

Before you can install your new smart lock, you need to take the old one out. Standard locks are easy to remove, so long as you have access to the interior of your home anyway. Start with finding the two screws on the interior thumb turn piece. Then unscrew them.

A standard thumbturn on a lock,with two red arrows pointing to two screws.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Open the door (if you haven’t already) and go to the front side of the lock (where you insert your key). The key assembly should be loose, pull that off.

The key assembly of a lock, slightly tilted out of the door.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Now on the side of your door, look for the bolt that slides out when you lock it. Unscrew the two screws and pull the bolt assembly out.

Installing Your Smart Lock

Now find the bolt for your new lock, and look for the top mark:

Slide the bolt into your door frame, and make sure to keep the “top” face up. Look in the door hole to see if the bolt interior centers with your door well. You’ll notice three holes in the assembly—those should be as close to the center as possible. If they aren’t, you can either lengthen or shorten the bolt (depending on the current length) to center it. Usually, you do that by twisting the bolt mechanism, but you may also have to use a screwdriver instead. Then, install the two screws to lock the bolt in place.

A lock cavity with a bolt in it, and lines crossing through the vertical and horizontal center.
It doesn’t need to be perfectly centered, but it should be close. Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Next, find the outdoor assembly piece to the lock. Pay attention to the long thin bar and the electronic wire.

A Schlage Encode assembly with a red box around a wire assembly and bar.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Insert the assembly to your door. As you do so, thread the thing bar through the middle hole of the bolt assembly. It should be the only hole the bar fits through. Carefully side the wiring beneath the bolt hardware. You want to make sure hardware won’t pinch the wiring.

The door lock hole interior, showing the wiring running beneath the bolt assembly.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

If your smart lock assembly seems prone to falling out of the door at this point, we’ll be securing it in later steps. This is particularly common with tall keypads. You might consider using double-sided sticky tape to hold it in place until you can fully secure the lock.

Some smart locks include a steel or plastic plate that goes against the interior of the door. Grab that, and run the wire from the front assembly through it. Then find the two long screws and run them through the two other holds the bolt assembly to the front assembly. This will lock everything in place.

With some locks, you’ll attach the interior assembly with the two long screws without the metal plate.

A metal plate with two screws and a power wire sticking through it.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Connect the wire from the outdoor piece to the interior assembly. Usually, the interior piece contains channels to run the wiring through and prevent pinching.

An interior lock piece wired to the rest of the lock.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Once you have the wire connected, place the interior lock on the door, and secure it with screws.

A close up of a Schlage Encode lock, showing stabilizing screws.
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek

Now all that’s left to do is insert your batteries. The first time your lock turns on, it will test which way the door faces. It’s normal for it to lock and unlock several times as part of that process. Once it finishes, you can start pairing your app and setting up PINs if you have a keypad.

Profile Photo for Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code.
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