No one gadget will improve your day-to-day life more than a smart lock

kevo convert
Kwikset

Asking Alexa to convert cups to ounces is convenient. And your friends will marvel when you change the color of your lights on command. But after you carve away the novelty, I promise no smart home product will improve your day-to-day routine more than a smart lock.

I know because after becoming a homeowner eight months ago, I vowed to transform my nearly 100-year-old house into a modern test bed for all things digital. From Nest thermostats, to Brilliant light switches with embedded screens, and even sensors on my garage door, I’ve dabbled with a bit of everything. And if I had to do it all over again, on my own dime, honestly, I’d probably just buy a smart lock for the door.

Here’s why: locks suck. They’re one of the few pieces of hardware where life is actually easier without them 99 percent of the time. Sure, they allow us to return home to all of our belongings, and sleep without getting stabbed, but security, by its very nature, doesn’t really improve life, it just keeps it from getting worse. At its best, it’s merely invisible, something you can forget exists.

Smart locks remove a mental burden you probably don’t even realize you’re carrying.

And that’s exactly what smart locks do: remove a mental burden you probably don’t even realize you’re carrying. Leave the house and forget your keys? You can get back in without them. Leave the house and forget to lock the door? It locked itself. Arrive home with an armload of groceries and can’t figure out which pocket your keys are in? It’s already unlocked.

Is this what people felt like in the fabled communities of yore where nobody locked their doors? I hope so. It’s really, really nice.

I installed a Kwikset Convert deadbolt on the door to my detached garage, and a Kwikset 888 on my front door. Because the Convert retrofits to an existing lock, my garage door looks the same as it did before I added the smart lock on the inside. Because the 888 has an exterior number pad, I can reenter with a four-digit code even if I forget my phone. House guests and dog sitters can too, without installing and fiddling with a single app.

Forget video calling and 3D printing, this feels like living in the future.

August

I’ll admit it took some tinkering. The Convert didn’t like the slightly sticky deadbolt on my home’s back door, so I had to switch it to the garage. And the automation once scared the living hell out of my girlfriend when I rode past the house and triggered the creepy mechanized unlocking of the deadbolt  … without actually coming home. Sorry, Yamini.

But the benefits have been worth it. I no longer wonder at 7 a.m., as I groggily stumble to take the dog for a walk, whether I’ll accidentally lock myself outside in the rain. Nor do I turn the house upside down looking for my keys after dinner just so I can take some cans out to the garage. And I’ve heard for myself, warm in bed on a frigid winter’s eve, the front door locking itself … because I forgot to.

So maybe the best security isn’t invisible, it’s just visible enough to remind you how handy it is.

Forget video calling and 3D printing, this feels like living in the future.

Smart locks aren’t the cheapest investment for your smart home, but I maintain they’re the most useful. The Kwikset 888 retails for $125, and the Convert can be had for $113. Multiply that by a few doors and the bill adds up, but remember you don’t need to do every door in your house to get the most benefit. Other models range in price and functionality.

I only did two locks. And if you want to unlock (ha) the biggest benefit for less money, just put any basic electronic keypad on the door you use most for about $70. It won’t unlock itself before you arrive home or respond to Alexa, but the convenience of never needing a house key again is worth it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going home. My door will be unlocked when I get there.

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