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Anyone use smart locks?

So I’m a host newbie.

I’m very interested in setting up a smart lock on my unit’s door so I (or someone else I hire) don’t have to physically give multiple sets of keys to guests that can be lost, stolen, misplaced, etc. I work all day and I’d also rather not pay for someone else to do it when there are better options out there.

That brings me to smart locks. It seems the category is a relatively new technology. Most of them started in 2013 at the earliest.

Kevo and Lockitron are two that stand out. But each has its pros and cons.

I like the idea of sending unlimited, free “virtual” keys to guests’ smartphones (preferably at LEAST Android and iOS devices) and revoking them when they check out. Preferably, I’d like it to be platform independent. And receive new key instructions over WiFi.

I’d keep a lockbox nearby with a set of real keys as a last resort “fail safe” for a number of scenarios:

  1. The batteries die on the smart lock, leaving a normal key as the only option.
  2. Batteries are alive, but power to my wireless router is down, so it can’t receive the key instructions.
  3. Guest is unable or unwilling to set up the proper app on their phone. For example, they just don’t understand the concept or their phone does not support the app.

Does anyone have any experience with this and have any recommendations? I’d love to hear about it.

Funny you mentioned this, I saw one from https://lockitron.com/ and they are taking preorders for $99 bucks

I saw that, but I need one like…in a couple weeks max. Kevo looks like the most viable option right now since it’s already for sale and apparently in a bunch of retailers (according to their site). It’s not exactly what I’m looking for but I guess it will have to do.

There are some others too. August and Goji.

I’ll try to report back with some more research.

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We had a number of units using the Nexia system. It’s been around for years. You can revoke codes from the app on your phone and set a time limit for them. For guests, you just send them the code.

Interesting, this didn’t come up in my research.

This certainly solves the problem of guests not having a compatible smartphone OS. I’m the only one that needs an app.

Not sure I like how the keypad is exposed…wonder if there’s a cover you can use for it to make it a little less conspicuous.

What’s your experience with stuff like battery life? I assume it connects over WiFi? Through a central server provided by Nexia?

Slowly realizing all these newfangled smart locks I’ve mentioned already are either 1) not shipping yet (August, Goji, Lockitron), 2) not really viable or recommended for this sort of thing (Kevo).

For example, the Kevo live chat rep straight up told me it was “not recommended for commercial use.” Even in 2015, I can’t assume everyone will have a compatible Bluetooth 4.0 device. And then expect every single guest to go through the time to download an app and sign up for an account with a third-party website. Remote unlocking would’ve made it better, but I was told was “coming soon.” It’s a shame because I really liked the inconspicuous design of it.

I’m now leaning toward a keypad-based solution, inspired by @ianmchenry, although I don’t consider the really obvious front-facing keypad to be ideal. I’ve found something called the “Resort Lock” actually uses an algorithm to generate timed keycodes and requires no internet connection, although it’s pretty expensive at almost $400. Although I’d imagine it would pay for itself in the time I save from delivering keys myself.

I’ll continue to update with my findings.

Hi Leland,

Battery life is good. It usually lasted several months. It automatically notifies you online on your dashboard when the battery is low. It also still has a normal key backup, so you can always run over with a key in a jam. But as long as you replace batteries before it’s absolutely dead, you’re fine. We never had a problem.

It loads new keycodes and their expiration dates via WiFI, but once those codes are loaded it doesn’t rely on WiFi to work. Which is good in case the electricity goes out.

What’s your concern with the keypad being exposed?

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Also, you can remotely unlock your doors with Nexia. If someone calls and says they are having a problem, you just log-on and click “unlock” and it will open it for them.

It’s definitely a legacy system but it works, whereas the other new systems are still getting up to speed.

I mean, it’s not really that much of a concern. This unit is in a condo building, but this door I’d potentially be setting up with a smart lock would be on the outside of the building on the corner of a semi-busy street. I just don’t want to draw too much attention. But I probably just have to get over this.

I checked out Nexia. It looks like they charge a monthly fee to use the service? I suppose if that guarantees the sustainability of the product/service, that’s fine. I’d just hate to be tied to some closed down third-party ecosystem that goes out of business or something like that which renders my lock useless.

I was looking into some other things like Zwave and ZigBee that don’t seem to have third-party dependencies, but I’ll have to look into this further. Schlage also seems to have a number of locks that fit the bill, but not sure if they’re very short-term rental friendly.

I considered my options last year and found an excellent smart lock review conducted by a lock & tech specialist.


I resolved to wait since the investment in this tech is pretty high (around $300) with questionable results. I currently have real people with keys as a backup plus KeyCafe which is a service that holds a set at a local cafe in my neighbourhood. I just have to text a PIN to a guest & the cafe’s location.

I hope this helps!


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I’m using a digital code lock from Yale doorman, does the same thing and I can see on an app on my phone who’s entering my apartment at all times.

Hi Jan, can you go into a little more detail about how it works? It looks like it uses Z-Wave. Does it connect to an additional home automation device? What app do you use to monitor it?

Curious, why are more hosts not using smart locks? what concerns do they have?

I’d say it’s mostly a fear of new technology. Keys have been opening doors since literally ancient times. Smart locks are relatively new, and some of them (like Kevo) don’t even have a keyhole.

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I’m using the Schlage Camelot and have no issues with it in the 6 months I’ve had it. It alerts me (via email or SMS) every time the door locks or unlocks. I only wish it had the functionality of changing codes remotely instead of manually - but I currently get around that by tracking multiple codes. It cost me about $200 and has paid for itself 10X over in saving me trips to deliver keys as I live about 25 minutes away.

Hi all,
My team is working on developing a new smart lock targeting Airbnb hosts and we’d like to get your help. Please fill in the survey if you are an Airbnb host. If you have friends who are Airbnb hosts, please help forward this email to them.
As a thank you for the participation, the survey takers will be entered to win a $30 Amazon gift card. The survey will close on Wednesday so don’t miss the chance!


Thank you!

@beban out of curiosity, which company are you with?

We are actually a team with students from business school and Computer Science Security lab in University of Washington. We will be pitching out prototype to a local VC this week. Thank you for your support!

Hi Airbnb hosts,

VirtualKey is looking for their first 500 beta customers and they will provide a free smart lock. Through VirtualKey services, guest will automatically get a smart key for specific time stamp once the booking is done helping host to move to hassle free key exchanges. Please provide your inputs through the survey to become a beta customer and get a free smart lock: http://tinyurl.com/obt4wtd

I list my “official” b&b on AirBnB and we use digital door locks. One all-weather one on the front door and a regular one on bedroom doors. I guess you’d only need the front door one for an normal AirBnB property where only the front door would be locked. We’ve had them for four years and they work great and that’s with heavy use (we’re totally keyless). Tip: Use the end of the guest’s phone number for the PIN as it’s something they will (probably) already know. You can see the locks in action here: https://www.anniesguesthouse.co.uk/late-self-check-in.shtml

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