T he world around is getting smarter, with cars driving themselves and apps that can read your blood sugar or measure your heart rate on the spot. We can open our garage doors by only pressing a button in our car and automatically assess if the air in our home is clean enough with an air-quality monitor. Everything is becoming more comfortable and convenient.
But what about security? Has the 21st-century technology come with something that can keep us safe at night? It surely came with something to keep us safer. It introduced smart locks. These units have a more complex system behind them that makes them more convenient for the owner but almost impossible to break by burglars.
More and more Americans are switching to one of these devices. Some even integrate them among a series of intelligent appliances and turn their home into a smart, more eco one. If you are about to join them and increase the security of your family, we can only felicitate you, as you have made an excellent decision. And, if you’ve opted to install the lock yourself, it is even better, as it truly isn’t as difficult as it seems. In fact, if you follow this guide, you should get it done in less than half an hour, with the programming and everything.
So, let’s see how this works.
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How Does a Smart Lock Work?
We’ve mentioned that it offers more protection than a conventional lock, therefore there must be some structural differences between the two of them. Well, we’ll start with a similarity, namely both types include a bolt that connects the doorframe with the side of the door. In a conventional door, the bolt is actioned manually by using a physical key. This is known as the pin and tumbler method, and it consists of a series of tiny metal pins divided into an upper and lower part, which hold the lock cylinder in place. The key has the purpose to align the pins by moving them to a certain distance, which will depend on the serrations it includes. When this happens, the door is opened.
What’s different in an electronic key is that the bolt is connected through a series of actuators to a built-in motor. This system requires electrical power to work, which is provided by batteries. The door can be unlocked, in this case, by using a keypad, a card reader, or an app. Nevertheless, just as a regular lock cannot be opened by the wrong key, the system won’t activate if the electric impulse isn’t the right one, so you can have the certainty that your neighbor, who has the same lock as yours, won’t accidentally unlock your home.
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Section A: Removing the Old Lock
Unless you are installing a new door that doesn’t come with a conventional lock, you will need to remove your old one. This is an easy step though, so it won’t take you more than 10 minutes to do it.
Here’s how it follows:
- Step 1 – Unscrew the thumb piece from the inside – Open the door and find the screws that keep the interior part of the lock. Use a screwdriver to loosen and remove them.
- Step 2 – Pull out the key assembly – Move on the exterior of the door and pull the key assemble. It should come out easily as there are no more screws to keep it in place.
- Step 3 – Remove the bolt – It is the element that slides when you turn the key, locking the door. It should be fixed by two screws. Remove them and pull the assembly out.
Before moving on to the installation of the new lock, check if the opening where you are going to set it up is in good shape. Additionally, make sure that the door is balanced and closes correctly. If it doesn’t, get it fixed, otherwise, the lock may not function properly, and you will deal with security issues.
Section B: Installing the Smart Lock
It’s time to try your practical skills and set up your new lock. However, even if this guide is detailed, you will want to check the instructions that came with the unit first. Some models may require extra steps, and you don’t want to miss them out.
Before you start! You may have read that you need to check if the batteries are working properly, and some guides advise you to lock and unlock the unit before getting it in place. This is not a good idea though. The first time you activate an electronic lock, it will check for the direction in which the door closes and adjust its settings accordingly. If you operate it before being installed, you risk to mess up with its program. Nevertheless, if you insist on checking the batteries, you should first look in the instruction manual for a way to bring the unit to its initial settings and use this function before mounting it.
Once you’ve read the instructions, here’s how a basic smart lock should get installed:
- Step 1 – Mount the bolt – It needs to be introduced in the opening in a certain position, so check on it for the side that says “TOP”. Keep this face up and introduce it into the door frame. Try to center it with the door, making sure that the three openings on the bolt are as close to the center as possible. If this doesn’t happen, you will need to adjust the bolt by either making it longer or shorter. You can do it by twisting the mechanism until it gets centered.
- Step 2 – Secure the bolt – When you’ve disassembled your old lock, you’ve removed two screws to get the bolt out. Now, you need to do the reverse operation and use a screwdriver to insert and twist the two screws that came with the unit.
- Step 3 – Mount the outdoor assembly – Take a good look at it. You will identify a long metal bar and a wire. The bar needs to go through the hole in the middle of the bolt while the wire needs to go under the bolt hardware so it doesn’t get pinched by the mechanism.
- Step 4 – Temporarily secure the assembly – You will need to take your hands off the outside part of the lock, so, to keep it in place for the moment, you can use double-sided sticky tape.
- Step 5 – Mount the interior plate – It can be made either of plastic or metal and will provide an opening for the electronic wire. Pass the wire through it and insert the two screws in the designed openings. Lock the assembly in place.
- Step 6 – Handle the electronics – The wire needs to be connected to the interior assembly. You will see that there are special channels, designed to prevent pinching.
- Step 7 – Mount the interior assembly – You are almost done. Use the screws in the kit to fix it in place then, make sure the whole mechanism is well fixed and is not wiggling.
- Step 8 – Insert the batteries – It is time to power up the system and test it. Set the batteries in their place and allow the lock to identify the direction the door faces.
- Step 9 – Program the unit – Now you can either pair it to your phone or set up the codes for you and your family members, in case a keypad is included.
Check out our best smart locks and pick a model that can match both your budget and your expectation. We’ve analyzed the specs, features, and prices, and ranked the products according to their performance, so you can easily find one for your door.
The Bottom Line
Security is the reason we build strong homes and provide them with sturdy doors, so don’t get sloppy when you reach the last step. Get an electronic lock that can protect you of intruders better than a traditional one. Most models that come with a keypad have the numbers written on the inside of the keys, so they don’t wear over time, disclosing your code. Moreover, as these units can pair with your phone, you can always check the status of the lock, as it will show who entered the house and for how many times or if you have left the door open. But this is not all. You can program the lock to secure the door automatically after a few seconds and get the stress out of your head.
Plus, you’ve seen how easy it is to get it installed. The package includes everything, except the screwdriver, and you probably have one around the house. It’s time to leave behind the times when you were carrying a bunch of keys in your bag. It’s time to leave technology to take care of your home.