Here is the problem, you want to install a smart lock in your apartment to be able to lock the door from your phone, but you are renting and it would be a violation of your rental agreement to change the lock.
Are there smart Locks that will work with the existing key in my apartment? Yes, the smart lock I recommend for renters it the August Smart Lock Pro + Connect. Modern technology is making everything more convenient and the smart lock is no exception. The ability to arrive at home and have your apartment automatically unlock itself when you walk in the door is a magical experience… No more fiddling with keys trying to find the correct one while you juggle the groceries or kids in the other hand.
How does this lock work with the existing lock on the door? The August Smart Lock keeps your existing deadbolt lock, it only replaces the plate inside the door and works essentially as an electronic slider to open and close the deadbolt from the inside. Your existing key will continue to work and your landlord will still have access to your apartment.
Which August Lock Model do I get?
The August lock brand currently has 3 offerings. The one I recommend is the August Smart Lock Pro + Connect, they also offer the August Smart Lock Pro, and the new budget lock called simply the August Smart Lock.
What sets the August Smart Lock Pro + Connect apart is the inclusion of the Connect bridge, on its own, it costs $79. The Connect bridge allows the lock to connect to the internet. On its own, the August lock only connects over Bluetooth meaning you have to be in very close proximity to the device to be able to control it. Having the connect bridge allows you to access the lock from any location. At work or even across the globe you will be able to check on your lock, check to see if the door is open or closed and lock and unlock it remotely.
The August app keeps a log of every time the door is opened and closed, locked and unlocked and who locked and unlocked it. The Connect Bridge plugs directly into a power outlet, and connects to your Wi-Fi network and then over Bluetooth to the lock. It does need to be fairly close to the door so if you purchase keep in mind you will need a free power outlet in close proximity to your door.
The August Smart Lock Pro is the same as the + connect version just without the bridge, and the August Smart Lock is their latest edition it looks more like a traditional lock instead of the cylinder style that is signature to the August brand. The August Smart Lock also supports the Connect bridge and it can be purchased separately.
The only Features exclusive to the Smart Lock Pro are Apple HomeKit and Siri compatibility and Z-wave compatibility.
All 3 locks support Alexa and Google Home but you will need the Connect bridge to use these smart assistants because they work over the internet.
How well do these locks work?
The August Smart locks are currently on their 3rd generation. The company has been around for 5 years since November 2012. Thus they have had many years to work out the bugs and stabilize their products. While it does work well it is not a perfect product.
Bluetooth connectivity to the lock is relatively quick and after you open the app it will take less than 2 seconds to discover the lock and connect over Bluetooth.
If you want to connect over Wi-Fi there is a little Wi-Fi button in the top right corner of the app and the Wi-Fi connection is a little slower than Bluetooth. The Wi-Fi connection can take seconds to minutes to get connected to the lock after you press the Wi-Fi button.
The Auto Unlock Feature
The best feature is the auto-away feature that will sense when you leave your home and attempt to automatically unlock your door when you arrive at home. It will not auto lock when you leave, you still need to lock it but when you arrive at home it will automatically unlock for you. This feature works very well, when you arrive home you will receive a notification on your phone that you are home and the door will unlock when you get to the door it will be unlocked for you.
Overall I am very happy with the product and another one of the best features of this product is to be able to check the status of your front door from bed when you forgot if you remembered to lock it or not.
Should I be worried about Hackers?
Are these locks safe and should I be worried about hackers? I struggled with this for a while, but what I came to realize was that thieves will look for the easiest weakness to exploit. Thus breaking a window or even taking a crowbar to your door would be more likely scenarios than having your smart lock hacked. Especially considering most petty thieves are not very technically proficient.
The August lock is installed on the inside of the door. There is no external sign that you have a smart lock in your home. This adds another deterrent to hacking because you would not know a smart lock is installed in the home unless you have been on the inside of the home.
What about other smart locks, do any others work for renters?
The Schlage Z-Wave Camelot Keypad Deadbolt, Kwikset Kevo, Yale Assure Lock with Z-Wave, and Lockitron Bolt are a few of the competitor smart locks on the market. The only one that would work for renters is the Lockitron Bolt. All of the other smart locks listed require replacing the entire deadbolt and would not be an option for renters.
The Lockitron company started as a Kickstarter product, after significant delays in releasing the original product, it was eventually scrapped because of manufacturing and performance issues. They released the Lockitron Bolt as the replacement for the original Kickstarter, but even the Bolt is receiving poor reviews and because of this I cannot recommend buying it.
Does this lock integrate with other smart technology?
As already stated the Connect bridge allows for Google home and Amazon Alexa integration, as well as the Pro version coming with Z-Wave support. The lock also works with Nest and allows you to see your apartment temperature in the August app.
The August lock works with ITFFF and Stringify so that you can trigger workflows to happen when you unlock your door. I have my lock setup with Stringify to turn on my smart lights if I unlock the door in the evening so that my interior lights are on when I walk through the front door.
Pro Tip: If your Alexa device is in voice range of your front door you can tell Alexa to lock your front door as you are leaving and as long as you shut the door right after you give the command Alexa will lock the door as you leave.
How difficult is the lock to install?
The installation of the August lock is dead simple. The first thing you do is create an account on the smartphone app. Then it will walk you through the installation step by step with pictures on your phone. Basically, all you need to do is remove the interior plate on the deadbolt, then install the August lock plate, attach an adapter for the stem of the deadbolt and finally attach the lock to the plate.
The August Smart Lock Pro, for $279 retail is not a cheap lock, and its feature set is not flashy. But the simple convenience of having your door open on its own when you come home makes it worth the investment for me. Also the peace of mind of knowing that your door is locked when you are tossing and turning in bed trying to sleep and forgot if you locked it, or checking it when you are away from home when that panic comes over you because you don’t remember if you locked it.
August was just recently acquired by one of the largest lock manufacturers in the world Assa Abloy. Which means the company is here to stay. In my testing, this lock is solid and works consistently. It has several generations of development under its belt and has now been acquired making it a solid investment, and the best of its kind on the market for those looking for a Smart Lock to use in their apartment.