Solution: Simple Smart Door Lock

By: Frank Engelman.  Updated: September 06, 2021.

 

The Problem: Automating Door Locks for My Parent

Explorer Frank wanted to turn a manual door lock into an automatic doorlock that could be opened with a person-specific code, and or controlled remotely. His reason was to be able to "check" that doors were indeed locked when they were supposed to be.

Other explorers wanted an automatic door lock so that if they pressed their emergency alert button, the emergency services would be able to get in (via the special "code") without needing to have an external "lockbox" containing a key..... More about the Problem


 

Solution: Simple Smart Door Lock

I wanted a simple smart door lock, that did not require major "installation", and which I could use to have Alexa "check" whether my doors were locked at night when I went to bed.

You may be concerned that your loved one is forgetting to lock the door at night.

Before I implemented smart door locks in my own house, I would find myself getting up to check the door locks just as I was settling down in bed to sleep, even though I was SURE I had already checked them!

Being sure that the doors are locked is a very important detail for both safety and quality of life. Think about not having to worry about whether the doors are locked.

 

Here is a Video showing the Smart Door Lock Installation

 

Background & Context

Be sure to read the overview article "Smart Home for Seniors: What, Why?".

If you already have experience setting up smart door locks in your own smart home, you know that it takes a bit of skill to replace that mechanism. Do you really want to travel to your loved one’s home and spend hours installing a smart lock?

 

The Basics

There are many “smart locks” on the market, and I suggest that you be careful in choosing one as some of them require a z-wave or zigbee hub. Some current locks now provide their own hub and therefore can connect to your loved one’s home wi-fi.

  1. Be sure that they can accept Alexa lock and unlock commands.
     
  2. One of the problems with upgrading a conventional deadbolt lock to a smart lock can be in the difficulty of making it fit properly. Even if you manage to get it installed properly and the deadbolt working freely, you may find that the new lock does not cover the same area on the door which may expose faded areas.
     
  3. Additional problems may arise in that your landlord might not allow the changing out of a lock or you need to support the original key for other reasons.

 

The Solution I Used

One way to get around these issues is to install the type of smart lock that leaves the existing mechanism in place and just replaces the inside knob on the dead bolt.

The device I tested is the August Wi-Fi 4th Generation smart lock which replaces the interior knob on a deadbolt. (See our Smart Bedroom Kit List for exactly what products to buy).

Since my existing deadbolts were already upgraded with smart locks from Schlage and Kwikset, I added the August smart lock to a display board I set up for other smart home items.

All of these locks work with Alexa voice commands and Alexa Routines.

The real beauty of this type of lock is that you can continue to use the existing key and leave the deadbolt mechanism in place.

 

Doorlock 1

Caption: Original deadbolt

 

Smart doorlock

Caption: After adding August smart lock

 

Recipes and Kit List

Your loved one could say commands such as:

  • “Alexa, is the front door locked?”
  • “Alexa, lock the front door”

See the articles mentioned below to learn how to do that.

 

Additional Comments

I received some comments elsewhere where I think my responses would be useful to add to this article.

I was asked what about those concerned with the “voice unlock” as a security problem. 

  • The voice unlock is optional, you can have voice lock and voice status check without enabling voice unlock.
  • Voice unlock requires a PIN code for security that you set.

I was asked about manual unlock on a power loss.

  • You can manually turn the knob on the August lock.

I was asked about a visual indicator of whether it was locked.

  • You can add a “bump dot” or other physical marking to show the position of the knob.

 

Learn More

 

 

More Like This

This is part of a series of "Problems" and DIY Technology "Solutions" to the challenges faced by older adults, by Frank Engelman. 

 


 

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Aging individuals, Family of the aging
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