For those barely entering into the smart home space, the idea of unlocking your home is intoxicating.
With the appropriate smart lock set up, Alexa can lock and unlock your door. Smart locks that have Alexa capabilities require connection to the internet via Wifi or the smart lock brands specific hub. Bluetooth only smart locks will not work with Alexa.
Whether you are in the market for a smart lock already or you are new to the home automation hobby, I will get you the knowledge that you need to get all set up with Alexa opening your door.
Alexa and Smart Locks
Amazon’s Alexa is really great. They are known for making it really programmable so that you can choose what your voice assistant does for each and every command. For example, many people program their Amazon Alexa to play certain music when they make some sort of movie reference. There really is an endless amount of applications for a voice assistant.
But what about opening your door? Can Alexa let people into your house?
Alexa is pretty dynamic, but unfortunately, the voice assistant isn’t to the point where it can physically move around and open your door like a robot butler. However, Alexa does have the ability to slide your deadbolt back and forth, as long as you have the proper equipment installed. This proper equipment is a simple smart lock.
Smart locks come in all shapes and sizes, but they were all made to accomplish one simple task. That task is to unlock your door using a smartphone. Some locks are better at it than others, but that is really what they are made for. That being said, many have the added bonus of Alexa compatibility and a plethora of other features.
It is pretty simple to set up using the Alexa app, as long as you have a smart lock installed. All it takes is going to the menu, selecting “smart home”, and then adding the lock to the menu.
Locking is easy, but unlocking is hard
The geniuses at Amazon have had the ability to lock your door using Alexa for years. Simply saying “Hey Alexa, lock my front door” was enough to slide that deadbolt into place. There is never anything wrong with locking a door right? The tricky part having the ability to unlock your front door using your voice.
Although voice assistants have voice recognition software that is getting better with every update, they are not perfect. If unlocking your door was as simple as asking Alexa to do it, people that are looking to break into your home only need to shout in an open window to Alexa that they need the door open.
After several years of testing, Amazon came up with a simple solution that finally allows people to unlock their front door using only their voice. A simple passcode.
In order to unlock your door using Alexa, all you would need to say is “Hey Alexa, unlock the front door” at which point the voice assistant would respond by asking you for the passcode that you determined inside of your app. This passcode need only be 4 digits, and can be changed whenever you need it.
Although I am a bit bummed that there is an extra step, I can see why the engineers at Amazon deem it necessary. I personally can’t see anybody shouting in my door trying to get Alexa to open it. I really wish that this was optional, but alas, beggars can’t be choosers. Maybe some genius will come up with a solution.
This is the age-old debate that is all about the balance between safety and convenience. The truth is that in many places, you could leave your front door unlocked all the time without any real problems. Although really easy to implement, not enough people in the US at least have this type of system installed that thieves and other people with malicious intent will start taking advantage.
The great thing about these smart locks is that some of them automatically lock and unlock your door while you are home. That ease of maintenance is why many people are choosing to install these systems. The issue with that is when you are home, generally, your door is unlocked anyway. At least that is what I have done my entire life.
What this is good for
Many people love the idea of using Alexa to lock and unlock your door. I get so excited when voice assistants mesh with things in real life to give your home a real techie smart-home vibe. The fact that you can ask your voice assistant to change the color of your lights, play music in another room, turn down the thermostat, and in this case unlock your front door really is awesome. The issue with the smart lock application is that many people simply don’t use it.
Before going out and investing all your money into a smart lock that has the ability to be compatible with Alexa, I want you to think about when you are going to use those features. What problem will the ability to use your voice to unlock your front door solve? There are really only a handful of situations where this will be useful.
One situation is of course if you have your hands full and need to open the door for a guest that you already know is coming, and instead of stopping what you are doing you could just tell Alexa to unlock the door and shout “Come In” to whoever is at your door.
Another situation is that you are in the shower and you realize you have somebody coming home that doesn’t have a key. At that point you could ask Alexa to unlock your front door, allowing them inside.
Smart devices are designed to solve problems that people have. The key is understanding what your problems are and then finding a solution to those problems. If you feel like being able to unlock your door with your voice is going to solve one of your problems then go for it. If not, then I would look into other ways to spend your smart home budget. (Maybe some awesome smart lights?
Best Locks for use with Alexa
Last update on 2020-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
August Smart Lock + Connect
The August smart lock product line is a personal favorite. They are affordable, look great, and have all the functionality that people are looking for in a smart lock. They connect to your phone via Bluetooth, but if you purchase their Wifi bridge then the lock is ready to connect to Alexa. These products are great because their battery life lasts around a year and they are durable. Any time somebody asks me what smart lock they should get I always recommend they start with the August smart lock, and then purchase the Wifi bridge when they decide they want more features. In the case of somebody that wants Alexa capabilities right off the bat, the August Smart Lock + Connect is a really great purchase.
Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot Touchscreen
I really like this smart lock. Although it is a bit more pricey, it has some added benefits that really make it special.
The thing you need to understand about this lock is that it won’t work with Alexa right out of the box. What you need to do is buy a simple Z-Wave smart home hub that will connect your lock to the internet and therefore your voice assistant. The added hub is going to cost you some extra cash, but for some the added benefits of the Schlage touchscreen is worth it.
Many people flock to this type of smart device because it does what a smart lock was designed to do: give you easier access to your home. The Schlage Touchscreen models actually come with a touchscreen keypad on the outside of your door so that you can always have access to your home even if you don’t have either your phone or your keys. My brother actually has one of these and says that he will never go back to a door lock that doesn’t have a PIN pad ever again. He never carries a house key, and sometimes you forget your phone somewhere and then you don’t have access to your own home.
Although this feature is the epitome of smart locks, in my opinion, some peoples doors might not be compatible, and/or you may not want to go through the hassle of doing a complete deadbolt replacement. If you fall into one or both of these camps, the August Smart Lock + Connect is going to be the better option.
Can Alexa be hacked? Amazon has meticulously designed is voice assistant to be completely private and very secure. There have been cases of people with physical access to the device that have installed malicious software and spyware.
Can Google home lock and unlock doors? Google home has the ability to lock smart devices, but not unlock them. Even when locking doors, google home will ask for a 6 digit code in order to access a smart lock.