Published March 4th, 2024

What is a smart lock?

Written by Level Home Staff | Fact Checked by Eric Schoneberger

What is a smart lock?

Smart locks are electronic locks that replace the traditional manual lock/unlock action with motorized operation. Typically smart locks can be unlocked or locked when you are within range (and remotely in some cases) using an iOS or Android app on your smartphone.

How does a smart lock work?

Smart locks operate by connecting to your smart device via bluetooth and/or a wifi connection. They obtain operational instructions from an electronic device (like your smartphone) that allow the lock to function using a code or command sent from the smart device.

Benefits of smart locks

1. Smart locks can have keys – But don’t require them

You still need a key for a smart lock to operate, however, this “key” doesn’t necessarily need to be a standard house key. For example, some smart locks can be operated via smart devices like a smart speaker, simply by voice command.

Some smart locks, like the Level Bolt, allow you to continue using a house key to operate the door. This can prove beneficial if the smart device you use to lock and unlock your door is lost, stolen, or has a dead battery.

2. Convenience

Have you ever misplaced your keys and been locked out of your home? With the convenience of a smart lock, you’ll have a way in without needing to use regular keys, and since you can control the lock from your phone, smart locks can be locked and unlocked from virtually anywhere. Some smart locks also add another layer of convenience with auto-lock and auto-unlock settings.

Smart locks allow for keyless entry, which means you can easily let in your neighbors, relatives, dog walkers, technicians, or anyone who may need to enter your home. There’s no need to have copies made of a physical key.

As an added measure, you can set limitations for access to your home. For example, if the dog walker arrives every day between 11 am and 2 pm, you can set timings such that the lock won't grant them entry at other unscheduled times.

3. Security

Some smart locks can also integrate with security cameras, keypads, and other technology that you can control on your smart device. These additions provide even more security and convenience to your day by letting you know when someone is at your door or when someone has unlocked the door. Learn more about smart lock security.

4. Accessibility

Options to lock and unlock a door beyond a physical key may be more usable for some people. Depending on the smart lock, you can use various methods of entry, including:

  • Touch

  • Keypads

  • Mobile apps

  • Key cards

  • Voice

  • Geofencing (smart lock detects when you cross a virtual boundary around your home or neighborhood)

  • Traditional keys

5. Peace of mind

If you think you forgot to lock your door, you can view the lock status on your smart lock’s app without needing to go all the way back home to check. In fact, you never have to worry about whether you’ve left your door unlocked because you can lock it any time, from anywhere, when connected to a smart home hub.

Smart locks also let you see who's come and gone, and when. Often, a smart lock app will even send you a notification when guests enter or exit your home or if someone's at the door.

Frequently asked questions about smart locks

Can you add a smart lock to an existing deadbolt?

Yes — You can opt for a 'retrofit' smart lock, like Level Bolt, which fits inside the door hardware you already have. However, if you're not attached to your existing deadbolt and want to upgrade your entire locking mechanism, there are many smart lock options on the market to choose from.

Is smart lock installation and setup hard?

Some smart locks fit into your existing locking system, while others replace your current lock. The difficulty or ease of installing a smart lock depends on the device you choose.

Can you open a smart lock with a traditional key?

Yes – if your smart lock supports a traditional keyway/key cylinder you can use that to manually operate the lock.