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5 Tips for Choosing a Smartlock

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

When it comes to door locks, there’s a general recommendation to replace them every 7 years. We know most don’t stick to this schedule. Locks generally only get replaced when you buy a new home or there’s a compelling reason - like you’ve lost the key or one has fallen into the wrong hands.

If you're considering replacing your locks now, then it’s probably the first time in a few years you’ve had to think about what type of lock is needed. Which means there’s a shiny and fancy new type of lock to consider. Yes - locks have moved into the connected age and smart locks are bringing some tricks with them. But how do you choose one? Here’s a few considerations to help narrow down the choices.

Make Sure it Fits Your Door

Not every smartlock will fit every door. Most of the smart locks in New Zealand were designed for overseas markets and different types of door joinery. If you have the narrow type of joinery favoured in New Zealand, most smart locks will be too big. The E-LOK was designed specifically for New Zealand and to fit our doors.

Ask How Long the Battery Lasts

You could run an electric cable to the door and power your smartlock that way. Only getting an electrician to make a mess of your nice walls is never that desirable. So you need to factor in battery life as that’s what’ll power the lock. A bluetooth controlled lock needs less power than a WifFi controlled lock, as WiFi uses too much power for most battery powered locks (not all though). If you want to maximise battery life - choose Bluetooth.

Check For a Tech Free Entry Option

This is the worst case scenario: you arrive home to discover your phone battery has died so you can’t use the app to unlock the door. The new gym RFID card looks suspiciously like your smartlock RFID card. But it won’t open the front door, which is exactly what you discover at the same time as the realisation sinks in that you picked up the wrong card from the breakfast table. Your fingerprint doesn’t change though, so you should be ok there. Only there was a papercut incident at work, leaving your fingerprint temporarily deformed. Still, at least there’s the keycode entry option. If only you could remember what it is.

Luckily, most smartlocks have planned for this (now that really is smart) and have a built-in ‘Technology Circumnavigational Device’ which allows you to gain entry when the technology fails. It often goes by the simpler name of ‘key’. Make sure the smartlock you’re interested in has one of these too!

Look at Features Such as Guest Access

One of the really great benefits of smart locks is the ability to allow family, friends and other guests into your property when you need to. The safest smart locks do this with either a one-time code, which is great for letting the plumber in, or a time-sensitive code. The time sensitive code is particularly appealing as it lets you grant access for a specific period of time, say 24 hours. A really great function if you have an Airbnb or holiday rental.

Check the Weather Rating

Some smart locks were made for exotic climates and places where the rain only comes down in drizzles. The kind of downpour we get here can be enough to soak the smart lock and drown the tech so you need to pay attention to the IP rating. Look for smart locks with a rating of at least IP66. This means it’s waterproof against hose directed water. So you won’t kill it when you clean the house, nor will a downpour down the smarts and stop them from working.

Overall, when choosing a smart lock you need to know it will fit, how it will work and what it can withstand. We’d also throw in what we think is the biggest factor - was it designed for NZ? If not, then don’t be surprised if it fails to come through a storm. Or it might not even fit your door in the first place.

The big question we often get asked when people are looking at smart locks is - will I actually use it? After all, technology is pointless unless it’s used. And the very best technology is used daily, without thinking. The kind of tech that you struggle to remember how you ever survived without it. Smart locks fall into this category and the best way to explain why is probably through the use of the humble car key.

Nearly every modern car has remote locking. That’s essentially the same as a smart lock. You’re using technology and not a key to perform the unlocking function. Imagine having to unlock your car with a physical key now! The simple fact you can’t unlock it as you walk towards it would be incredibly annoying.

So yeah - you really will use the smart lock.


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