August’s Smart Locks proved to be the key to my smarthome puzzle

When smart home tech first started coming out, I was hopeful, but also skeptical. It seemed overly complicated, with too many hoops to jump through and a relative inability to meld old and new for situations like rental apartments and older homes. Now, though, the range and breadth of smart home tech means you can find something to suit just about every need, and I find my entire house is mostly connected, though it happened gradually bit by bit, rather than by any kind of grand design.

The most recent smart home tech I added to my setup is the August Lock, and specifically the third-generation, August Smart Lock Pro, along with the Connect Wi-Fi bridge. It’s the latest connected lock from August, which was acquired by lock industry giant Assa Abloy last year.

August’s product has a few advantages over more traditional lockmaker connected offerings thanks to a design that means you can keep your old lock. It’s particularly useful for renters, where swapping out the whole lock means, at the very least, asking for permission from a landlord, and in some cases, may be plain impossible. The Smart Lock Pro replaces just the inside, thumb lever portion of the deadbolt itself, so you don’t have to change keys.

The lock also has an advantage in terms of connectivity – with just the Smart Lock Pro itself, you get Z-Wave and Bluetooth connectivity, along with HomeKit compatibility, which means you can control it when you’re within BT range, or use a Z-Wave smart home hub (like SmartThings) for broader connectivity. If you add the Connect, however, you get a Wi-Fi bridge that means you can have remote lock access from wherever you are.

Again, August’s offering is relatively unique when it comes to connected locks in this regard: Many offer some of the connectivity options listed above, but very few offer all, making August among the most versatile options on the market. It’s clear that August’s startup origins have it focused on the ‘smart’ part of the smart lock equation first, rather than something that’s an afterthought to an electronic deadbolt design of yesteryear. August’s DoorSense feature, which uses magnetic, easy-to-install add-on hardware to let you know if your door is open or closed, is also a very smart thing you won’t find with most other locks.

Besides auto-locking the door behind you, easily my favourite August feature, another nice bonus you get with August is Alexa voice control. You can easily check the status of your locks by voice command, and, using a specific skill designed to do it safely, you can also unlock with Alexa. You’ll have to speak out a PIN to confirm you want it to happen, which is great, because otherwise anyone yelling loud enough outside could conceivably trigger your Alexa and let themselves in.

Ultimately, August’s offering is a game-changer, and it’s been a terrific hit with both myself and my upstairs neighbor with whom I share an entrance, since I can provision them keys. It proved so useful that I quickly picked up a second August for my inside entry, since doing things the old way just felt terribly inconvenient after a little while.

At $249 for the Smart Lock Pro and Connect combo, it’s a somewhat pricey proposition. But for the convenience it affords, including being able to unlock your door with your phone when you return home (or auto-unlock if you’ve ventured fairly far afield), along with the ability to lock automatically behind you when you have your hands full, it’s worth it.