Yale Assure SL lock review

We trial the Yale Assure SL digital deadbolt that lets you lock and unlock your door from anywhere in the world.

Yale Assure SL lock on door

More and more household gadgets are gaining “smarts” – locks are no exception. Our writer installed one in his home to see if they’re an intelligent solution.

What is it?

Yale Assure SL, $418

The Assure SL is a battery-powered deadbolt that does away with keys and replaces the exterior keyhole with a keypad. You can lock/unlock your door via the keypad, through an app, or by stepping into the future and using your phone’s voice assistant.

The Yale app connects to the lock via Bluetooth. Using the app, you can easily create four- to eight-digit PINs. This means everyone in the family can have their own code. You could even create a PIN for a tradie and delete it after they’ve completed the job, rather than leaving a key in the letterbox.

All this tech comes at a premium. The Assure costs $418, while you can pick up a regular deadbolt from a hardware store for less than $50. Not only does it come at a high price, you’re putting a lot of trust in a piece of tech that will stop you entering your home if it goes haywire. That said, there’s a backup if the lock runs out of batteries, you can jump-start it with a 9V battery. That shouldn’t happen though as the lock lets you know when its charge is running low. It’s a downside for sure, my old deadbolt only ever needed a key.

Pros and cons

After a tricky install (I should have paid a locksmith to do it), I quickly got used to not having a key and really enjoyed having a space-age lock. On my way out of the house, I simply covered the outdoor keypad with my hand and the door locked immediately. Coming home, I could stab at the keypad with hands full of shopping bags rather than having to put them down and fumble with a key.

However, the Bluetooth side of things wasn’t without its problems. Often when I arrived home and tried to unlock using my voice, the lock wouldn’t connect to my phone – it’s one of the perennial issues with Bluetooth devices. There was a lag in connecting and they never seemed to pair by the time I reached the front door (it worked fine when I was leaving the house because it was already connected). In the end, I reverted to just using the keypad.

An unexpected bonus of the Assure was when I had those moments when I was in bed wondering if I’d locked the door. I could check and lock the door from beneath the covers.

Reliability and security

A word of caution from Consumer technology writer Hadyn Green

I’m dubious of any device that calls itself “smart”, because that’s usually a lie. The main issue is reliability. I have smart lightbulbs that work about 90% of the time, which is annoying, but I live with it. However, my lights not turning off is very different to not being able to get into my house.

Security is also a concern. A quick Google revealed there are security flaws associated with this lock (and other smart locks) if you connect them to your home assistant (such as Google Home or Alexa). That all said, if someone wants to break into your house, they’ll do it if you have a smart lock or not.

The verdict

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed my “smart” lock. It’s been a welcome addition to my home and I could see it being useful for those who offer Airbnb-style accommodation, since it does away with needing keys and it’s so easy to make new PINs. I’ve already been recommending it to all my friends. Mind you, I haven’t been locked out in the cold by a self-aware lock yet.

Specs

Price: $418
Batteries: 4xAA
Door thickness: 35-57mm

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Bryden S.
03 Aug 2019
Door locks

I have a simple keyless door lock - no bluetooth nor battery operated. Sure it only has one code at a time but it is simple to change. I had one installed at a previous house because my late husband had a habit of losing keys - the code for that one was our wedding anniversary date! I love it - no getting locked out because the door shut behind you with the key inside.

Wal Marshall
03 Aug 2019
Great technology.. skip the fancy stuff.

I installed a set of mains powered digital deadlocks. Very cheap.. less than $200 ea. Illuminated waterproof keypads. Door locks automatically every time the door is closed. No fancy nonsense like Bluetooth or other stuff to go wrong. During power cuts there is a UPS which keeps the locks operational for several hours. After that they default to open. When we are away for a long period we manually close the original deadlocks, so the house is secure even in an extended power outage. I would do it all again in a moment if we ever shifted.

Trevor H.
03 Aug 2019
No Regrets

We got a smart lock for three reasons:
First: general convenience of not having to take a key (some members of the household have forgotten theirs and had to wait for someone else to come home), and not having to leave a spare key outside - a risk right there.
Second, if we needed to give someone else temporary access to the house we could create a code for them and wipe it after it was no longer required, as opposed to the possibility of a key being lost or copied.
Third, one of our family has cancer and we were not sure she could continue to be able to handle the key mechanism itself, whereas the numbers are light sensitive and just need to be blocked.

I determined to get a Yale Touchscreen Digital Deadbolt lock with a key capability, in case something failed on the electronics. It has a light-sensitive keypad, a key capability and can also work with a fob if one gets the optional accessories. I did not do so because it was not necessary and a fob was just another risk if it was lost or stolen. The lock is battery operated but gives a decent period of warning before it needs to be replaced - so far that has not been required. So far after a year it has performed flawlessly, but the key is available if I need it.

I did some shopping around and found the prices varied from having a professional provide and install it, (around $600) to getting one from a hardware store and installing it myself. Here, I was lucky. Someone had purchased the lock and returned it opened, so the price dropped to a very acceptable $120.

I was installing it in place of an existing deadbolt, so having made sure the dimensions were compatible it was actually very easy to do the mechanical install. The electronic install was actually very easy - one is guided by an interactive voice system to complete the process. I was held up for a moment with the programming until I realized the previous user had made an attempt to do so and screwed it up, so after a master reset (took seconds) I was able to program in as many codes as I wanted.

From there on it has been a real boon. We don't have to give out keys, when the lock is disengaged it makes an audible sound so I know someone is coming in. We have no intention of using it with any smart features, so I don't feel insecure in having an electronic lock.

Really, it's all about balancing risk and benefit, shopping around and being prepared to do the install yourself if you feel competent in doing so. We would never go back to a conventional lock again.