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The best smart lock for a keyless home

While traditional lock-and-key systems have improved over time, the basic mechanism hasn’t really changed since the first lock was invented more than a thousand years ago: A piece of metal that is just the right shape pushes pins inside a lock into the proper position, allowing the lock mechanism to turn. As a society, it’s been tough to replace a system that has worked reasonably reliably for literally a millennium.

Updated September 1, 2021 to add a link our news story covering Yale Home's announcement that it was upgrading its Yale Assure line of smart entry locks to the Z-Wave 700-series. 

You can thank the hospitality industry for finally pushing locks into the digital age. Hotels learned long ago that keys are easily lost, expensive to replace, and simple to bypass, as thieves can pick locks or simply make copies of a key to allow for unfettered future access. On the flipside, hotel guests have readily accepted key cards (and in some cases, smartphone-based solutions) as the primary means of getting into their room. The electronic solution is just so much simpler. Lost hotel key card? Replacing it is no big deal.

But the biggest benefit of electronic entry systems is that they are highly configurable. Digital locks can be changed at a moment’s notice (which is why that old hotel key card in your wallet isn’t good for anything), and the property owner can generate a record of when each door was opened. In a more advanced setting, different keys can be generated for the same lock, so a homeowner can tell when each member of the family came in, or when the housekeeper arrived.

Whether you have a teenager who tends to break curfew or merely want to give temporary access to houseguests, service providers, or Airbnbers, home use fingerprint lock are an incredible upgrade over the old way of doing things. Ready to make the jump to smart lock technology? Here are our top picks of the market at the moment. 

Some will argue that we should have named the Level Touch our top pick in this category—it earned a higher score, after all—but Level treats iOS users better than it does Android users. Kwikset also ditches the old familiar keypad in favor of a fingerprint reader on its latest smart losck. This enabled the company to dramatically shrink the footprint the lock presents on the exterior side of your door. Kwikset also gives you the option of opening the lock with a conventional key, in the event the reader won’t recognize an authorized fingerprint (should your skin prune up after a dip in the pool, for instance). 

Remember all those times you've reached your front door only to spend the next few minutes fumbling around for your keys? It's frustrating and it happens to us all. But if you're looking for easier ways to get in and out of your home, you might want to buy a smart lock.

These smart home devices allow you to unlock doors from anywhere through an app on your phone, or they can open when you're in close proximity to your front door. While smart locks won't necessarily make your home any safer, they do allow for more control and efficiency. Not only will they make sure you never again have to drop everything in your hands to look for keys, but tuya smart door lock can lock and unlock your door from anywhere and extend digital "keys" to friends, family, caregivers or anyone else who regularly visits your home. 

Sure, you can still use a regular ol' key to open a smart-lock-equipped door (or most of them, anyhow), but don't be too quick to discount the convenience of connectivity -- especially when your hands are full of grocery bags, squirming tiny humans or anything else that makes it tough to rummage around for your keys. And when you crawl into bed, only to second guess whether you locked the door or not, you won't need to throw on a bathrobe and stumble to the front door. You can just pick up your phone and check the lock status. 

That said, not all smart locks are the same. There are keyless options, Bluetooth options, locks that use your fingerprint, locks that fit on your existing deadbolt and complete deadbolt replacement locks. It can be tricky to navigate if you're new to smart home tech. Here's a look at today's smart lock options, what you need to know before buying one and how to choose the right lock for your needs. 

Models like the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, Kwikset Kevo Convert and Sesame TTLOCK Smart Door Lock are designed specifically to clamp in place over top of your existing deadbolt hardware. All three work with a lot of standard deadbolt brands. In August's case, the compatibility ranges from Arrow Hardware and Baldwin to Defiant, Kwikset, Schlage and many more. (Here's August's and Kwikset's deadlock compatibility charts for more details.)

There are still some neat integrations available with Bluetooth-only hotel smart door locks, though. For instance, the August lock has an opt-in auto-unlock feature that's tied to your phone's Bluetooth. Lock your front door, leave home, then return within Bluetooth range, and your front deadbolt will automatically unlock.

Wi-Fi is available as an optional add-on with some wooden door hotel locks. For August's line of locks, a $79 August Connect plugs into a power outlet and bridges the connection between the Bluetooth August lock and your Wi-Fi network. The same goes for the $100 Kwikset Kevo Plus. Once you've plugged in these accessory devices and made that connection, you can control your lock from anywhere with an Internet connection.

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