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How We Tested Smart Locks

Tuesday May 14, 2019

A smart lock is a device that you're likely going to use every day, and we tried to recreate that daily use in our testing. This involved unlocking each multiple times per day, locking and unlocking with hands full of groceries, and trying to share access with multiple different people in multiple different ways. We divided all of this use and testing into four different testing metrics, which you can read about below.

All of the locks installed in our testing door.
All of the locks installed in our testing door.

Smart Features


Here we quantified how much extra functionality each lock lends when compared to a traditional lock and/or dumb keypad locks (which cost a lot less). Most of this testing involved remotely checking and locking the locks, and remotely granting access to other people. We started by seeing if we could check the status of the lock (locked/unlocked) remotely via the corresponding app, if that status was accurate, and whether we could then lock and unlock the lock through the app.

Testing the remote access smart capabilities of each lock.
Testing the remote access smart capabilities of each lock.

Assuming everything passed, we moved onto sharing access remotely. For keypad locks we attempted to share both temporary passcodes and Bluetooth keys, for non-keypad models we only used Bluetooth keys. We also attempted to share access via every avenue that each model/manufacturer offered (generally via text or email, or both). As a standard practice we also completed all of these tests using both iOS and Android devices.

Keyless Entry


Some people are drawn to smart locks for the simple fact that it means they can get rid of their key. Therefore we thoroughly tested how easy it is to unlock each one of these locks without the use of a key. This involved unlocking each lock nearly 100 times using every keyless option available (keypad codes, Bluetooth keys, and unlocking via the app before even getting out of the car). We also made sure to test how easy it was to unlock each lock one handed while carrying an arm full of groceries or wrangling an impatient pup.

Examining the ease of keyless entry.
Examining the ease of keyless entry.

Security


To test security we mostly relied on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which tests and grades the security of locks. We also assessed the effectiveness of the auto locking features of each lock to see if they could guard against rushed mornings where you might forget to lock the door. Just be careful if you use one of those features, because it's easier to lock yourself out of the house than you think (you can trust us on that one).

Installation


Testing the installation process of each lock involved installing all of them in a couple of different doors. We also paid careful attention when setting up smart hubs, downloading apps, and connecting the locks to said apps and smart hubs, taking careful notes if we ran into any particularly annoying snags.

Reinstalling one of our locks on a second door in order to get a comprehensive view of its installation difficulties.
Reinstalling one of our locks on a second door in order to get a comprehensive view of its installation difficulties.

Conclusion


There are a number of things to consider when buying a smart lock, and we designed our testing to give you all the data you need to make an informed decision. To take a look at that data, hop on over to our main review.