Are Smart Locks as Safe as Standard Locks?

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated February 17, 2022
woman using phone to smart lock house
Photo: RossHelen / iStock / Getty Images


  • Smart locks often come with a smart technology plus lock and key.

  • Automation features offer peace of mind to control your doors when you’re away.

  • With alert capabilities, smart locks act as the first line of defense against potential intruders.

  • A locksmith may not be able to pick these locks because of their increase in security.

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A simple lock and key has persisted for thousands of years (dating back to anciency Egpyt even). But with the rise of smart home technology, the days of a physical lock and key may be a thing of the past. Is a smart lock safer than a standard lock?

We considered the most prominent features and a few common scenarios. And the answers seem to point toward smart locks as a safe—if not safer—option. 

What Are Smart Locks?

A smart lock is a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled smart home device that lets users lock and unlock doors with the tap of a finger or a simple voice command. Smart locks use various methods to allow entrance into your home, including keypads, mobile access, or even a standard key. Some even have remote access and other features that go way beyond the capabilities of a standard lock.

Smart Locks Offer Increased Safety Measures

woman entering pin to smart lock door
Photo: Hispanolistic / Getty Images

Smart locks tend to increase safety and security thanks to advances in smart home innovations as well as an increase in monitoring.

Individual Access Codes

No more “hiding” a spare key under your floor mat or flower pot. Instead, you can give out and revoke a code to anyone you deem fit. Smart locks also monitor what method was used to unlock the door (keypad, voice, manual, etc.), alerting you to who’s coming and going. If your babysitter enters your code unexpectedly, it will trigger your smart lock to check the home.

Automatic Alerts and Alarms

Smart locks act as the first line of defense against potential intruders, as they can set off an alarm system before someone even has the opportunity to enter the home. If someone enters the wrong password too many times, you have the option to include a total lockdown until you address the situation. They can also set off alarms if someone messes with it without following instructions.

Control From a Distance

Do you have a habit of rushing out without locking the front door? You can simply set up smart home automation to lock the door after a set amount of time or if your phone travels a far enough distance away from the home. Maybe you decide the automated features are too advanced for your liking. If so, just grab your phone to see whether your door is locked and adjust as needed without leaving your current location.

No More Lost Keys

The more keys you have to the lock, the higher the chance they get lost or wind up in the wrong hands. Little ones or older adults won’t have to carry a key with them. Instead, they can access home with their smartphone or the keypad. However, key or no key, you’ll still need to stay on top of the keyfob that comes with your smart lock.

You Can Use a Key If You Still Want To

While many feel that being able to ditch a key for a smart lock, you don’t always have to. Many combination smart locks combine the tried-and-true lock and key with smart technology such as keyless entry or home automation. Other options completely remove the key from the equation and use keyfobs to unlock the door (similar to push-to-start vehicles). Either way, if keys give you comfort, keep ‘em.

Can You Pick or Hack a Smart Lock?

If your smart lock does not have a key slot, then you need not worry about someone picking it. Hacking is a possibility of any smart device connected to your Wi-Fi, though it’s going to take quite a bit of brainpower to succeed. The best way to prevent tampering is to follow all Wi-Fi security best-practices with complex passwords.

What Happens to a Smart Lock When the Wi-Fi Goes Out?

If the power or Wi-Fi goes out at home, don’t worry about your lock. All smart locks run off a battery and carry an onboard memory chip. This chip saves all current codes and devices connected to it. So while you can’t add more codes, you can still use all existing ones. Many smart lock models also come with a traditional key port so you can use it as a standard lock if needed. 

How Do Locksmiths Handle Smart Locks?

When you hire a local locksmith, be sure to let them know what type of smart lock you have. If you have a smart lock that also comes with a keyhole, then you’re likely in the clear. But if it doesn’t there’s a good chance the locksmith will need to either break the lock or deadbolt to allow the person entry into the home.

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