If you’re like me you use your home space quite a bit different than your parents did.
In my case I wanted to install a smart door lock – but wasn’t convinced of the likes at Best Buy or Home Depot.
In this post I’ll describe:
– which smart door lock systems I’ve looked at
– how I installed it
– how i now remote manage my home door
I also decided to map out my personal smart home roadmap for 2017.
Why do I need a smart door lock at home?
My home is kind of becoming an on-demand center for a couple of things. That’s exactly where the issues with my door started:
– Sometimes I use my home as temporary co-working space for work sessions and hackathons. These people need access and I can’t leave the door open. To my wife’s anger it might sometimes look like this:
– Deliveries from Amazon, UPS and FedEx need to drop off packages inside the house otherwise they leave nice stickers for me to pick up – which will never happen. I mean the drop off location is a mile away and it opens at 9 and closes at 7 during workdays. I’m not even home during that time.
– Friends and family coming over for extended visits including Airbnb guests – I used a lockbox but they can just copy the key and come whenever they want. My brother arriving at 2am from JFK? I don’t want to wake up and let him in. Especially not if he keeps talking for another hour (which he will).
Which smart door lock to choose?
My door is old. It actually looks like this:
How can I make this door smart – I see all the smart lock deadbolts on the Home Depot, Lowe’s or Best Buy shelf but would they really work for this door?
Looking at the smart locks market, I found:
– Smart locks: They are nice however they do not have management capabilities like the business systems I’m used to. I want to manage a access for a lot of different people, not just my dog walker. Also my door is a double door, I can’t even install two smart deadbolts here that trigger in parallel. Trust me I’ve read all the reviews about smart locks, and in my case they simply weren’t enough.
I’m not installing any of this, are you kidding me? I have a company computer at home, it needs the same security as my office.
– Now what about smart intercoms with remote unlock possibility: They are very flashy with big screens. I don’t want to draw attention to my house. I also prefer to have an access system, I’m not planning to become an on-demand mobile call center.
– When looking at business card access systems I wasn’t convinced of the security of keycards and fobs (read why here, here and here). Sure, the fobs can be erased and deleted but most of those systems seem clunky to me.
– The installer I chose (see below) recommended the following model: SECO-Larm SD 995C (here is the data sheet)
How I installed the smart door lock system at home
I’ve been using the smart access system Kisi to get into work (spoiler alert, I’m one of the co-founders). So I was thinking about what would happen if I install that business system on my home door.
So guess what: I ended up deciding installing our business grade Kisi system at home. The only problem with that is you can’t (or shouldn’t) do the install yourself. But more about that later.
Preparation to install smart door lock
Check the door (this is really important)
I have two doors that are locked and you have to pass through.
So first insight is that I have to install two smart lock systems.
The second observation was that on each door there are three different deadbolts in addition to the main lock.
I only need one lock on each door. Logically there is no value in having multiple locks unless the first lock is not secure.
Check where to connect the locks to
– Cabling. Commercial systems need to be cabled to power and signal. You have to be OK with an installer wiring to a nearby power outlet. In my case this was behind the closest wall so I was aware with him most likely drilling through that wall.
How to find a locksmith to install a smart door lock
Searching for a locksmith
You can ask your neighbor for a locksmith. That guy most likely only installs locks.
You need a guy who installs commercial access control. I was looking on Yelp and going by reviews is a great idea. It’s important to be on the lookout for scams – here’s a good blogpost on how to avoid locksmith scams.
When you call the locksmith ask if they can “install and wire an electrified lock or electric strike and could come for a free site visit to check out the lock and the door.” Most of these guys will agree and often you can schedule that on weekends. I did just that.
Get a quote for smart lock installation
I was showing the locksmith the doors I want to connect to Kisi and they usually get a bit scared when I tell them I will buy my own access system (because I don’t want his 20 year old stuff and a windows server in the basement).
So I’m telling him it’s not a big deal “it has output relays normally open and normally closed that you can connect to”. That always makes them feel better and as long as you make sure to tell them they don’t need to do anything else they normally do – they should be fine giving you a quote.
Make sure to run through everything – which locks does he remove, where does he cable the power and signal cable. Which outlet is he using, which locks is he planning on installing? Sometimes they try to test you by throwing out numbers like “it’s going to be $1800”. Just tell them to send you an itemized quote.
Thinking of doing a DIY installation? Here’s a screenshot of the tools the locksmith used in my case. Still convinced you want to do it yourself?
Getting ready for the smart lock installation
Get the equipment
At Kisi you can get around talking to a sales person by directly buying the hardware from the smart locks shop. You need to have the hardware in your hands before the locksmith shows up. Here is Kisi’s onboarding flow which you can run through after receiving the device.
I’d also recommend to get a ladder – locksmiths not always bring one and they need it to wire around the door frame.
Set up a time for the installation
Regarding installation – once I had the quote to install two smart door strikes for roughly $1400 for two doors, I went ahead and coordinated a time with the locksmith. Be aware that it sometimes takes a while till they have time. I’d calculate one or two weeks.
The actual installation
I’d highly recommend to supervise the install. Typically you might get scared by how loud and messy the install can be, but this stage you should rather focus on telling the installer where to put the cable if he asks. The mess can be cleaned up later.
DO NOT FORGET: When the locksmith says “I’m done”. Absolutely test to unlock the doors with the App. Check if it works before he leaves.
Works? Great! Rollout time!
Start using the new smart door lock!
After using the smart lock a couple of times, you’ll see optimization potential. In my case my outside wood door was bent a bit. That’s why I installed an additional door closer to keep it shut all the way.
Also other folks might have feedback. For example you could trigger both doors at once, or not share both doors with everyone.
In my case I added a Ring doorbell which has a kisi integration, so I can remotely buzz in the Amazon delivery in the first door. That’s how I can get packages without actually being home.
Want to stop by and check it out? Shoot me a note!