Like other elements of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart locks have brought much greater functionality to what was previously a very simple device. In the past we had our locks on our doors, and the big choice was whether or not to get a deadbolt lock, which is more secure than a standard lock.
Now with smart locks, we don’t even have to carry keys around. It’s nice to lighten the load a bit that way. Some locks, in fact, don’t even have a key and you control the unit with the touchpad, app, or with your fingerprint. That’s a bit too far for some folks and they want a smart lock with a key. I get it; it’s the “belt and suspenders” approach. But can you rekey those locks like a standard lock? Yes, you can. Here’s how.
First, get a rekeying kit for your lock. The kit has to be for your brand, as the kits for each brand are unique. If you have multiple brands of locks in your home, you’ll need to buy one kit for each brand. If you have just one brand but different keys, no problem. You’re all set to rekey all those locks to one key, but you may have to have some new keys cut. It depends on how many new keys are included in the kit.
If you have multiple brands of locks, a great idea is to choose one brand of lock and replace all those locks of other brands. Then if necessary, rekey any locks that you’ve kept with keys from the new locks. You’ve just upgraded your home security to smart locks with a single key and made sure that all old keys for your home are useless.
Your rekeying kit will (or should) have all the tools you need, as well as the pins and springs that you’ll be replacing. The process is basically the same for all brands, but you’ll need to follow the instructions and take your time. Also, check out this video, which gives a general overview of rekeying and also shows how a lock and key work. There’s no real substitute for seeing it all for yourself. You’re dealing with quite a few tiny parts and even using tweezers or needle-nose pliers to hold onto the pins. It’s fussy work, but you can save quite a bit of money! Just follow your kit’s instructions, take it slowly, and you’ll get it done.
“First, set your Master Code.
Tip: The Master Entry Code is used to change the lock settings. A security best practice is to set your Master Entry Code with 6 or more digits and create a separate code that is used daily to lock and unlock the door.
Now, create your personal Entry Code.
One of the great features of smart locks is the ability to set multiple codes, just like you’re doing here.
Just in case you’re still on the fence about smart locks, why would you want to replace your old locks with smart locks? The number of useful features is probably more than you expect!
First, of course, you can use keyless entry. You can use the keypad, the app, or even your fingerprint reader on some models. Some will automatically turn the knob for you as you approach the door, as long as you have your phone on you.
You’ll have greater security, especially for models that include a camera. It’s handy to be able to check the app on your phone when the doorbell rings and see who’s out there.
You can also set individual codes and access permissions for different people, as I mentioned earlier. Each family member can have their own code, for example. Your delivery people, such as UPS and FedEx, can have their own codes, along with authorized times for entry. You could deny them entry after 9 p.m., for example. You can also set temporary codes for the plumber and other service workers, for example, who don't need to be at your house every week (you hope!) And if you’re running an AirBnb, this feature is perfect! You can set your guests’ codes to activate at check in time and expire at their checkout time.
Along with those features go activity logs, so you can check the app to see who has entered, or tried to, and when. That sort of accountability can be a major deterrent to nonsense on its own. You can also set alerts so you’ll be notified in real time when someone is trying to use one of the smart locks, or if any of your locks are unlocked. Then you can lock them from wherever you are.
It’s also possible for you to integrate your smart locks with your larger smart home system, including home security. You might have more cameras with motion detection monitoring your front walkway and backyard, for example, while you also have automated your thermostat and lighting to optimize energy savings.
You’ll have quite a few options for all this hardware to choose from, so pay attention to the integrations with Alexa, Google Home Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. Not all hardware will talk to all those assistants, unfortunately. Your smart locks will communicate with your app via wifi, Bluetooth, or Zwave. Each has its pros and cons. Wifi lets you exercise great control remotely, locking and unlocking at any time you have your phone with you and have either wifi or cellular service.
Bluetooth, in contrast, works only when you’re within about 25 feet of the lock. You may be using the Bluetooth on your phone, or you might have a Bluetooth-enabled device like a fob. That can be a handy little gadget that just lives in your bag and automatically locks and unlocks the door for you when you come and go.
Your lock will most likely be powered by batteries, and you can expect those to last for several months. Both the app and the lock itself will give you notice that the batteries are running low so you should get busy replacing them. Some locks use a removable battery and USB-C port for charging, instead of individual cells, which is a great feature. Then you periodically pull the battery out and recharge it, and it’s good for another few months of use.
With the IoT, there’s now a lot of functionality in what used to be simple and basic devices. We’re more secure and enjoy greater convenience with our smart locks, plus we’re saving money with our smart plugs, thermostats, and OhmConnect.