We trial the Yale Assure SL digital deadbolt that lets you lock and unlock your door from anywhere in the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Door thickness: 35-57mm