There are a lot of reasons you might be interested in a keyless entry system for your home. Sick of fumbling around for your keys in the dark, in the pouring rain, while you and whatever treasures you might be carrying get soaked and turn to mush? Tired of having to schlep along a key when you go out for your run? Not feeling too secure (with good reason) with your spare key hidden above the door, under the mat or planter, or in your fake plastic rock? Do you rent your place out sometimes, on AirBNB perhaps, and need a hassle-free way to let renters in? Or maybe you gave a key to the neighbor’s kid to feed your pet gerbils while you’re away on your dream vacation in Death Valley, before you found out he was just released from the youthful-offender facility for aggravated stalking.
Whatever YOUR motivation for going keyless, there have been a lot of advances over the past few years to make it WAY easier for you and your chosen peeps to gain access to your dwelling – and to deny that access to the various riffraff out there who may have somehow ended up with keys to your place. Using everything from your fingertip to your cell phone, here are five slick ways to control access to YOUR castle!
Lockitron and Friends – Beam Me In, Scotty
When our illustrious leader Marc suggested checking out the latest in keyless entry and locking technology, the Lockitron was the example he gave as a starting point. We’ll take a look at it, along with two similar offerings: The August Smart Lock and the Goji Smart Lock (I guess that’s what happens when you hire the same PR firm). These three products are part of a new generation of locking systems that integrate wireless technology, smartphones, and computers to control who gets through your door. The Lockitron and August Smart Lock work with your existing deadbolt lock (so with these and similar systems, you may want to replace or re-key the deadbolt before installing the remote locking system, to eliminate unwanted entry by Gerbil Boy and his ilk). Here’s a quick video overview of the Lockitron
According to the Lockitron’s makers, any smartphone can use Lockitron through its intuitive two-button app. With Lockitron you can instantly share access with your family and friends. Lockitron lets you see if your door is locked when you’re gone, and it will send a notification when your child, a visitor, or your gerbil-sitter unlocks the door using their phone or key. It’s incredibly easy to invite family, friends and guests to your Lockitron. Just enter their email address or phone number and the Lockitron folks will take care of the rest.
Renters can use Lockitron too, because Lockitron fits over the inside of your current deadbolt. This key feature (sorry) enables you to take Lockitron with you when you move. Lockitron is compatible with any smartphone thanks to their mobile website, and older phones can use Lockitron through simple text message commands. Lockitron connects to the internet using built-in WiFi, and you can control Lockitron and receive notifications anywhere in the world.
If you use an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5, you can enable Lockitron to sense when you walk up to the door, and have it unlock for you using Bluetooth 4.0. Lockitron’s batteries last for up to one year, and Lockitron will even send you a notification when they are running low. If you have an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5, Lockitron will work even if the internet or power go out. And of course, you can always use your original key. In the event you lose your phone, you can disable its access by resetting your account password. Lockitron, along with the other two systems we’re looking at, relies on the same security protocols used in online banking, incorporating robust encryption methods. So, everyone but the NSA should be thwarted by the security.
Using a funding model gaining popularity of late, the Lockitron came to be largely due to funds provided by people pre-ordering one or more of the units. Currently, 14,704 people had reserved Lockitrons, to the tune of $2,278,891, and the units are said to begin shipping this fall (that’s after a delay from an expected earlier shipping time). If you want to join the pre-orders, reserve your Lockitron today for $179.
This Ain’t No Stupid lock – It’s the August Smart Lock
The August Smart Lock incorporates many of the same features of the Lockitron, with an exception: it does not require a WiFi connection, but operates solely by Bluetooth. The lock keeps a log of who came and went, and when, but since there is no WiFi connectivity, you aren’t able to access this info unless you’re there, within Bluetooth range.
The August Smart Lock, like the Lockitron, attaches to your existing deadbolt, allowing you to send a virtual key to anyone you choose. Your guests then use their smartphone to gain access to your residence. You can specify the duration that the August keys are active for before expiring, or disable them at any time.
An August system consists of a small, easy to install smart lock device and a mobile app. The unit is installed on the interior side of your door using two screws, and the August Smart Lock is designed to be compatible with over 90% of all deadbolts installed in the U.S. Installation takes less than ten minutes and requires nothing more than a screwdriver. Since the system utilizes your existing deadbolt, you’ll still be able to open your deadbolt with a physical key, should the need arise.
In the event that your phone is lost or stolen you can log onto august.com and remove access authorization for that device.
The August Smart Lock can be pre-ordered at the introductory price of $199. There will be no monthly or usage fees for accessing the August key management service. August Smart Locks will be available later this year; reserve yours here.
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Text Messages
The Goji Smart Lock is similar to the Lockitron and August locks, but with a twist: it has a built-in camera that takes a picture of anyone activating the lock and sends a real-time picture alert to your mobile phone, providing you with visual confirmation of who is accessing your home. You can also choose to receive real-time app and text notifications on your mobile phone about all the activity around your Goji Smart Lock. All activity is recorded and logged by the system and is available to review at any time via the Goji Mobile App or from your online Goji account.
With Goji, you can send access to your home to anyone via text or email, and you can set up the access to be unlimited or to include specific date/day and time parameters. The Goji Smart Lock is optimized to be used with your smart phone, but you can also program the included Bluetooth Low Energy fobs. These fobs allow you to lock and unlock your door, similar to the way a car’s remote works, but with additional personalized time and date access rights. Fobs are great for children or anyone who doesn’t carry a smart phone, or for those times when your phone is in for its 50,000 text checkup. The Goji Smart Lock also comes with two mechanical keys as backups in case you ever need them.
Where the other two systems make use of the existing deadbolt, the Goji system includes a new deadbolt, which you swap out for the old one, or install as you would any new deadbolt. Once it’s installed, place the lock in the unlocked position, place the batteries in the lock, and press the “commission lock” button on your Goji mobile application.
Goji’s Mobile App enables you to unlock your door automatically as you approach it, without having to take your smart phone out of your purse or pocket. The Goji Smart Lock knows if you are inside your home or if you are coming from the street. If you are coming from the street, Goji will open the door automatically, and if you are inside of your house, Goji will not unlock your door as you approach it before you know who is on the other side.
Goji Smart Lock is designed to be totally do-it-yourself. It is easy to mount on the door, with a simple WIFI setup. The system walks you through every step of the way. According to the company’s website, Goji will have customer service representatives available 24/7 to help you lock or unlock your home remotely in case something happens to your phone. The first Goji Mobile Apps will be for iPhone and Android, and new versions will be released to cover the widest spectrum of phones possible.
The pre-order price for the Goji Smart Phone is $235, and it comes with four electronic and two mechanical backup keys. Estimated availability is December 2013, and you can pre-order it directly from Goji.
Give Your Door the Finger – The ReliTouch RT-201 Fingerprint Lock
Got a small business, or a busy household with a lot of people coming and going? Or maybe you just want some cool biometric tech to use while you save up for your retinal scanner. The ReliTouch RT-201 Fingerprint Lock gives you total control over who gets in, with a very beefy lockset that can be programmed to permit access using either a fingerprint, an access code, or a combination of the two. And oh yeah, a key!
According to the folks at ReliTouch, this USB Fingerprint Lock is perfect for both residential and commercial installations. As easy to install as a conventional keyed lock, you can add biometric security to your home or business. Enroll users in seconds by following the simple prompts on the built-in LCD. You can add up to 1,000 users, and control who gets in and when. The unit stores a log of all lock activity. The ReliTouch comes with a 3-hour UL fire-rated latch, a free-wheeling clutch, and 100% weatherproof design – it’s rated for -40F to 150F, and the lock can be placed in adverse weather without the fear of damage caused by moisture, snow, dust, UV, or humidity. The unit also contains an Impact Alarm; if the lock is attacked and loses contact with the door, a screeching alarm will sound.
For the commercial customer in particular, the USB Fingerprint lock is a must-have product if you are serious about your security. Security professionals understand the value of biometric access control for identification and authentication purposes. This information can reduce risks and costs associated with theft, vandalism, and fraud.
The ReliTouch also provides real savings by eliminating replacement costs associated with re-keying, replacing cylinders, or purchasing swipe cards. Because it is a standalone access control system, this lock also eliminates the material and labor costs of installing electrical wiring and network cabling necessary for wall-mounted access control panels.
This lock’s description lists about a million features; some of the more pertinent ones include a backlit PIN keypad for easy use at night, heavy duty components rated to over 2,000,000 cycles, recognition time of < 1 second/user, and False Accept Rate (FAR) < .001%. The ReliTouch requires 4 AA batteries to operate (they recommend Li-AA batteries for longest life), and estimated battery life of 12,000 to 21,000 cycles. Non-volatile memory will not be lost when batteries are removed or replaced.
Giving your door the finger ain’t cheap; the ReliTouch RT-201 is available from several online retailers, including Brick House Security, for about $500. Another competitive product is put out by the folks at BioLock.
Tired of Fake Living? Try the Yale Real Living Touchscreen Deadbolt
My wife refuses to replace her 10-year-old flip phone with a smart phone (I think it’s a rotary-dial model). It still works just fine, most of the time, and who needs a camera and all those fancy-schmancy features, anyhow. With approximately six pounds of keys in her purse, though, for her office, two different doors at home, two different doors at the farm, two cars, and several mystery keys, she has recently become amenable to the idea of keyless entry. And after seeing the quality of the Yale YRD220 Real Living deadbolt locks, I think she’s ready to make the move (as long as no smartphone is involved).
The Yale YRD220 is available with either a durable acrylic touchscreen or a tamper-resistant keypad. Just walk on up, punch in your code, and come on in – you don’t even have to put your flip phone down! Both include an illuminated touchscreen and keypad for night-time access, and the lock’s tapered bolt accommodates misaligned doors. Available with either Z-Wave® or Zigbee®, Yale Real Living integrates seamlessly into a wide range of home control and security systems from the likes of Honeywell, Alarm.com, Vera, Homeseer, and others, making everyday living easier and safer. The keypad deadbolt can store up to 250 four to eight digit user codes, in addition to the programming code, when set up for wireless use. The Yale Real Living deadbolt lock can also be used as a stand-alone locking device to provide flexible pin-code access control, and can accommodate 25 users. Either way, unless you’re REALLY popular, you should be set.
If you use the Control4 System in your home, you’ll be able to remotely lock and unlock doors from any web-enabled device, and receive text or email messages to your cell phone from pre-programmed alerts. You’ll also be able to program user access by date and time, customize features such as privacy, language and relock time, and confirm the remaining battery life of your locks, as well as being able to view the lock’s transaction history in real-time.
Yale Real Living Keypad Deadbolts are designed to fit most standard doors, and in most cases, the deadbolts can be installed in under 30 minutes using only a screwdriver; no additional holes need to be drilled into the door. If the door hasn’t already been prepped for a deadbolt lock, you can go to the Yale Real Living website and download the proper template to prepare the door. The Yale website has a lot of informative videos demonstrating various features of the locks, and showing how to install and program them. Watch the second video on this page to see the torture test. Blowtorches, freezers, pressure washers and grinders – woohoo!
Like most of the other keyless locksets, the Yale deadbolts feature a low-battery warning; expected battery life is about a year. It also features a volume control, and a privacy setting to disable EVERYONE’S access (for those antisocial moments). The Yale Real Living deadbolts are widely available online; Z-Wave enabled, touch screen model is around $246 via Amazon. Cheaper than a smartphone!
Simplicikey – We Don’t Need No Stinking Smartphone for Keyless Entry!
Maybe you don’t have a smart phone either, or perhaps you just don’t want to horse around programming a lock, but you still want easier and more flexible access? Simplicikey’s got you covered, with three ways to get yourself inside. The easiest way is with a fob that can lock or unlock the door from up to 50’ away, handy for those “hands full” moments. Next easiest, and great for letting your chosen ones in without a key, is the programmable backlit alpha-numeric keypad, which, like most of this type, can be re-programmed to add or delete codes whenever the whim takes you. Lastly, if you’ve lost your fob and forgotten your pass code, or you just wanna kick it old-school, you can use a key. Assuming you haven’t lost that, too…
Each lock accommodates up to 8 different keyfobs, and the keypad accommodates up to 16 six-digit user codes that can be changed at any time. The reversible lock system will fit both right and left-hand doors, has a low-battery indicator light, and fits all standard doors from 1 3/8” to 1 ¾” thick. The locks feature heavy all-metal construction, and a bump-resistant 6-pin keyway. The Simplicikey is available at Home Depot for $199, or directly from the manufacturer for $250. You decide. Home Depot also carries a similar lock, made by LockState, that has good reviews and sells for only $154.
Editor’s Late Addition – Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt
Shortly before getting this onto the schedule a new arrival popped up from Kwikset. The Kevo features both smartphone and key fob unlocking, sparing you from even having to enter a code. You can also share eKeys via your smartphone. The Kevo sports a mobile app to receive notifications and manage the lock and your eKeys. Check out the Kevo in action with this happy little family:
You’ll be able to find the Kwikset Kevo Single Cylinder Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt for iPhone 4S and 5 for around $220 on Amazon in just a few days.
A Keyless Entry Disclaimer – Hang On To That Rock
A couple of final points to ponder…One consideration with the remotely-controlled locks is alignment. If you live in a nice, new place where everything is straight and plumb and level, and everything works perfectly, good for you! I don’t; literally every exterior door in our house requires a bit of manipulation to get it into the right position to work the deadbolt. This most likely wouldn’t be an issue for unlocking, but if I tried to use a fob or smartphone to lock the door, without finessing the door at the same time, I don’t know what effect it would have on the locking mechanism, but it’s pretty unlikely the door would be locked.
Finally, sporty as all these high-tech entry systems are, you may STILL be at the mercy of a physical key to get in if the high-tech option fails; some of these systems rely on battery power, either for the unit itself or for your cell phone to beam its magic code. If the battery goes dead, or the electronics go kerflooey, you’ll want to have a key stashed somewhere so you can employ the low-tech entry option—so don’t toss that fake rock just yet.