After spending lots of time with multiple different smart locks, the Schlage Sense with WiFi Adapter emerged as the one and only model that we personally would consider for use in our own homes. This is due both to its versatility (you can enter using a Bluetooth key, keypad code, or physical key) and it's effectiveness in creating and sharing time-constrained keypad codes. This combo made it the best and most reliable model for both keyless entry and remotely sharing access with other people.
Schlage Sense with WiFi Adapter Review
Pros: Simple keycode access sharing, easy keyless entry
Cons: Lower ANSI security rating than other models, not the easiest to install
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Schlage Sense's keypad and the corresponding app's ability to simply create time-constrained keycodes and then text them to a recipient makes sharing access to your home easy, and earned the lock our Editors' Choice award.
After a gauntlet of tests the Schlage Sense came out on the top of our scoresheet, narrowly edging out the Nest x Yale. You can read more about the Sense's specific performance attributes in our full review below.
The Schlage Sense shared the top score in our smart features testing, earning a 7 out of 10.
Somewhat ironically, the Sense endeared itself to us by somewhat dumbing down its smart features. In order to remotely share access to your home with someone, most smart locks require you to complete the transaction through an app on both ends, forcing the recipient to both download an app and create a user account. This makes it somewhat hard to share access on the fly, as you have to assume the recipient has good enough cell phone service to download and install an app. The Sense gets around this problem by allowing the owner to create a keypad code in the app, and then have the app text that code to the recipient. This eliminates the need for any account creation and app installing on the other end. It is also easy to put time constraints on that new access code, so you can grant access for just a few hours, or even create a schedule for when that passcode will work (weekdays from 10am-2pm, for example).
The only other models that offered this kind of outside-of-app access sharing were the Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot, which wasn't as reliable as it's sibling and only allowed for sharing codes via email and not text, and the Nest x Yale, which carries some caveats. If you want to share an access code to someone that doesn't have a Nest app and account using the Nest x Yale you can't put any time constraints on that code, meaning you're essentially granting someone unlimited access to your home until you remember to delete that access code.
The Sense does allow you to share access through the app as well, which would allow the recipient to use their phone as a Bluetooth key and not need to punch in a code. However, when we completed that process, having the access recipient both create a Schlage account and download the Schlage app, we often got skunked. Most of the time we ran into error codes, or the newly installed app wasn't able to link back to the original invite, so it didn't actually connect to the lock we were trying to get access too. This was a pain, but also not too big of a deal, as sharing access via a temporary keycode was so much easier and much more streamlined. In real world use we would always default to sharing access via key codes, and not via Bluetooth keys.
The other slight downside of the Sense's smart features is the fact that, in our testing, we had one incident when a shared key code did not work. Everything seemed to be working fine, and the recipient got a text with their temporary keycode, but when they tried punching in that keycode it didn't work. All we had to do was reset the smart hub and that keycode became functional, so it wasn't a huge deal. Also, this was just one of about 20 keycodes that we shared, so it certainly wasn't a pervasive issue. However, if you're using the Sense to share access to a vacation rental, we can't guarantee that you won't have some issues and possibly get a bad Yelp review here and there.
Here again the Sense topped our leaderboard with a score of 8 out of 10. In our testing it offered the easiest and most convenient keyless entry of all our smart locks.
When we used the Bluetooth key to unlock the Sense, the deadbolt always disengaged within 10 seconds of opening the app in the vicinity of the door. This was a major step up from locks like the August and Kwikset models we tested, which tended to take multiple attempts at engaging the Bluetooth key before the lock actually responded.
While the Sense's Bluetooth key worked quite well in our testing, we kind of doubt you'll use it. In general, we found it much easier to just punch a keycode into the Sense than fish around for a phone and open an app.
Unlocking the Sense remotely (ie. via the internet using the app) was also quick and reliable in our testing. This means you can park the car in the driveway, unlock the lock via the app (even if your driveway is outside of Bluetooth range to the door), and then not have to deal with the lock while you drag groceries inside.
This is one area where the Sense was only mediocre in our testing, earning a score of 6 out of 10.
This somewhat lower score is mostly due to the Sense's grade 3 ANSI rating. This is the lowest ANSI security rating gives to door locks and deadbolts, causing the Sense to lose some ground compared to the higher grade 2 ratings of the Nest x Yale and the Kwikset Kevo. However, grade 3 is generally considered to be appropriate for residential applications, and if you've ever lived in an apartment you've likely trusted your security to a grade 3 lock. So even though the Sense won't stand up to as many door kicks before finally giving in when compared to higher grade locks, it is of a security level that is widely considered appropriate for home use.
We found the Sense's auto locking feature to be reliable. We also really liked that you can set your own delay for the auto lock. Most locks default to locking after 30 seconds of inactivity, but you can use your own custom delay on the Sense, allowing you to go get the mail without the door locking behind you.
Here again the Sense was in the middle of the pack with a score of 6 out of 10.
The Sense's physical installation process is very similar to that of any other deadbolt, but the lock has less wiggle room in terms of placement and hole size than other locks. Most likely it will be able to be installed into the space occupied by your previous deadbolt, but there is more of a chance you'll have to do some extra drilling than there is with other locks. All of this is laid out in Schlage's installation video below. If you're looking for a really easy installation, the August models install over the top of an existing deadbolt, streamlining the process a bit.
In terms of connecting the Sense to a smart hub and installing the app, we had no issues. This process was incredibly quick and easy, especially compared to getting the lock installed in the door.
Most smart locks carry similar costs when you take into the account that they all need a separate smart hub to truly be considered smart. The Schlage Sense costs $260 when purchased in conjunction with its WiFi adapter smart hub. This is actually slightly below the average, as the Nest and August models both cost $280 when bought with a smart hub. Seeing as the Schlage Sense is our favorite smart lock of the bunch and it costs slightly less than its main competitors, we also think it is the best value available right now.
While we generally found that smart locks offer little value to the average homeowner, the Schlage Sense is the one model that might actually be able to make your life a bit easier. If you've decided that a dumb keypad lock won't quite meet your needs, then the Schlage Sense is the first, and in many cases the only, smart lock we would recommend.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata