SwitchBot Lock: A Smart Lock for Renters with a Big Flaw

SwitchBot Lock: A Smart Lock for Renters with a Big Flaw


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Most landlords will not allow you to replace your present lock with a wise lock in the event you hire your condo or dwelling as a result of you might want to exchange a part of the lock throughout set up. Nonetheless, the SwitchBot Lock ($99.99) would not require you to interchange something, it merely mounts over your present thumb flip to lock and unlock your door. In that regard, it’s a very intelligent design. But it surely proved to have a deadly mounting flaw in our testing that makes it exhausting to suggest.

SwitchBot Lock shown mounted on door from the side with the door open. You can see the mechanism that turns the thumb turn.

I used to maintain a Masterlock Key Lockbox on the entrance door of our New York Metropolis condo as a result of my children have been at all times forgetting their keys. It was sensible answer to the important thing drawback, however the lockbox was a cumbersome eyesore hanging off the doorknob. So when SwitchBot launched its Lock this summer time, I used to be desirous to attempt it out.

SwitchBot despatched me the Lock for testing and included their Hub Mini ($39.00) and Keypad Contact ($59.99) fingerprint reader and keypad combo. By itself, the Lock makes use of Bluetooth to speak along with your telephone or Apple Look ahead to locking and unlocking. The Hub Mini connects to WiFi so you may unlock your door remotely and obtain e-mail and textual content notifications. The Keypad Contact mounts exterior your door for phone-free entry with a code or enrolled fingerprint.

After spending a month of extensively testing the SwitchBot Lock with my prolonged household, we got here to like it – till it fell off our door with none warning. The 3M mounting tape used to carry the lock to my door failed, taking a layer of door paint with it. Fortuitously, this occurred after we have been within the condo. Had we been exterior and never taken our keys (counting on the lock for entry), we might have been locked out. For us, that might have meant a name to our constructing safety (not an enormous deal), however for others it might have resulted in an costly name to a locksmith.

I want I might suggest the SwitchBot Lock; it might have been the proper answer for rental conditions if it labored. And maybe your door will not have the identical points ours did, however there isn’t any technique to know for positive. Whereas these failures appear uncommon based mostly on consumer opinions, they do occur. SwitchBot might have to rethink the design and create extra mounting help to stabilize the lock from the fixed torque of locking and unlocking so much less stress is placed on a single mounting pad.

 + Execs

 – Cons

  • Works with a variety of door locks
  • Would not exchange any a part of your present door lock
  • Lock capabilities work reliably
  • Affords distant entry and notifications and an exterior keypad
  • 3M tape might fail, leaving you stranded
  • Cumbersome design
  • Would not work with Apple HomeKit
  • No instruments required, however set up may be finicky to get it lined up appropriately
  • Door ajar e-mail and textual content notifications do not work

Set up and setup

Every thing you might want to arrange the SwitchBot Lock comes within the field. And in the event you handle to get it positioned the primary time appropriately, the set up takes just some minutes.

An important factor about putting in the SwitchBot Lock is placement. You possibly can place the lock in order that the majority of it’s to the aspect, on high, or beneath the thumb flip. Whichever orientation you select, the Lock has to maneuver the thumb flip simply by itself. You might want to extend the depth of the Lock in case you have a cumbersome deadbolt. There’s an inside plate which you could modify to offer you greater than an extra inch clearance (you may see within the photograph beneath that my thumb flip required a bit of additional depth). There is a screwdriver within the field to regulate the Lock’s plate, if wanted – the one time chances are you’ll want a software throughout set up.

SwitchBot Lock with the cover taken off and the metal plate that adjusts the depth pointed out. The screwdriver that comes in the box is also on the wood table.

The primary time I put in the Lock, I did not take a look at it with the Lock transferring the thumb flip (I moved the thumb flip manually) and the position wasn’t fairly proper. The end result was a jammed lock. The Lock installs with 3M tape, so elimination is straightforward. And an additional tape sq. comes within the field for folks like me who make an error in placement.

Sadly, the 3M tape is its Achilles heel. If the tape cannot preserve its grip on the floor of your door below the torque of locking and unlocking, it’ll fail and go away you locked out.

After you have the Lock put in, you additionally mount a magnet on the door body that acts as an open/shut sensor. In case your door body is fabricated from steel, like mine, chances are you’ll not even want the mounting tape.

Establishing the Lock with the SwitchBot App is easy, particularly in the event you’re utilizing the Lock by itself, with out the Hub or Keypad. You simply create an account after which pair the Lock along with your telephone. That is it. When you’ve got an Apple Watch, you may load the SwitchBot App onto your watch and use it to lock and unlock your door. Sadly, it would not work with every other smartwatches.

The app additionally helps you to activate auto-lock – set a time delay and the door will re-lock itself if it is open. It’s also possible to arrange audible alerts to let you recognize in the event you left the door ajar or unlocked.

Two screenshots of the SwitchBot app. On the left you see a screenshot showing the Bottom Lock Locked with menu options for Logs, Keypad, and Remote Management.

Because the “Proprietor” of the Lock, you may ship invites to members of the family to allow them to entry the Lock with their telephones by way of the SwitchBot app. They obtain an e-mail with a hyperlink to the app and a code that they will use to arrange “Member” entry to the Lock. Solely “House owners” can add “Members” to the Lock.

Two screenshots of SwitchBot app. On the left you see the Main screen with three products: Lock, Keypad, and Mini Hub. The screenshot on the right shows Profile options: Account and security, Notifications, Preferences, Devices in Home app, Home Sharing, Widget Settings, Siri Shortcuts, FAQs, Feedback and Firmware recovery. There are options for Scenes, which only pertains to other SwitchBot devices, and Shop, which is for other SwitchBot devices.

The Mini Hub ($39.00) connects to WiFi, enabling you to speak along with your Lock while you’re away from dwelling. By way of its connection to your Lock, the Mini Hub provides distant unlocking capabilities and notifications. The Mini Hub additionally helps you to management your lock utilizing Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri. You simply want to attach your SwitchBot account with Google or Alexa and set a code to unlock your door. As soon as linked to your Google or Amazon account, you may add SwitchBot into routines. As an illustration, you could possibly add locking your door to your bedtime routine. For Siri, oddly, you may solely lock your door, not unlock it.

The Keypad ($29.99) or Keypad Contact ($59.99) provides phone-free management of your Lock. Because the “Proprietor” of the Lock, you may assign as much as 100 codes or fingerprints, which may be time-based (from one hour to 5 years), one-time (passcode solely), or everlasting. You possibly can then use these discrete codes and fingerprints to trace when folks use the Lock.

Utilizing the SwitchBot Lock

The SwitchBot Lock takes about 5 seconds to unlock or lock, whether or not you are utilizing your telephone, Apple Watch, or a Keypad. The Keypad additionally offers animation of the door unlocking or locking and a beep to let you recognize you may open the door. Not one of the six individuals who enrolled their fingerprints had hassle opening the door with the reader.

The audible Lock alerts for door ajar and door unlocked labored each time. Nonetheless, the sound shouldn’t be loud. I might suggest utilizing a brief alert interval in the event you’re not more likely to be close to your Lock after coming within the door.

There are two methods to make use of auto-lock, however just one works. There’s common auto-lock, which locks the door after you open and shut it, and there’s re-lock, which locks the door no matter whether or not you might have opened and closed the door. Solely the re-lock characteristic labored throughout my testing. And I needed to have each auto-lock and re-lock capabilities turned on for re-lock to work. Whereas not best, the re-lock characteristic is the one which’s essential and it really works.

In the event you’re involved about somebody watching you enter your code on the keypad, you may cover your code by getting into additional numbers. So long as you enter your code, you may add numbers earlier than and/or after to confuse anybody watching. As an illustration, in case your code was “865923,” you could possibly enter “164 865923 072,” and the door would unlock. I attempted numerous combos with my code and it labored each time.

The Keypad will lock after 5 unsuccessful makes an attempt, whether or not with a fingerprint or a code. The extra unsuccessful makes an attempt, the longer the keypad will lock – as much as 24 hours. And the Keypad shall be disabled if somebody tampers with it or removes it till you enter the right passcode or use an enrolled fingerprint. You will nonetheless be capable to use your telephone or Apple Watch to unlock. I might extremely suggest giving a pal or member of the family entry to your Lock, such as you would a spare key, to allow them to allow you to in.

When you’ve got a Mini Hub, you will obtain e-mail and textual content notifications when somebody opens the door, the door is left ajar, the door is left unlocked, there’s an unsuccessful try to make use of your Keypad, or the Keypad has been disabled. All besides the door ajar notifications all got here by way of reliably. Once I had door-ajar notifications turned on, I might obtain a notification each time the door opened, which was overwhelming. I turned these notifications off as a result of I discovered the audible door-ajar alert to be ample. Additionally, while you obtain the notification that the door was opened, you do not see who opened it. As a substitute, you will want to enter the SwitchBot app and have a look at the Logs on your Lock.

Utilizing Google Assistant and Alexa to lock and unlock the door and Siri to lock the door labored each time. It was additionally straightforward to incorporate locking the door into Google Residence and Alexa routines to make sure the door was locked once I went to mattress at evening.

Design

The SwitchBot Lock is an enormous, black field that attaches to the again of your entrance door. In case your door is a lightweight colour like mine, it is fairly noticeable, however not ugly.

Inside of my front door with the SwitchBot installed on the top lock. There is another thumb turn lock just above the door handle.

The Lock measures 4.4 by 2.3 by 2.9 inches in its most compact kind. However, in case you have a cumbersome deadbolt, the field might stick out even additional than 2.9 inches.

The Keypad Contact is not a lot greater than a doorbell, measuring 4.4 by 1.5 by 1.4 inches. While you use the fingerprint sensor or enter your code, the tiny show on the high reveals the door unlocking, and there’s an audible beep signifying the door has totally unlocked.

SwitchBot Keypad Touch shown mounted on door frame with a green light indicating the lock is opening.

The Hub Mini is a tiny white field measuring 2.6 by 2.6 by 0.8 inches. You will have to discover a place the place it may entry WiFi and be inside Bluetooth vary of your Lock and Keypad. Nonetheless, it is sufficiently small to simply cover or mount with 3M tape.

SwitchBot Hub Mini on lower shelf next to blue fabric-covered box.

The underside line

SwitchBot Lock shown mounted on door from the side with the door closed.

The SwitchBot Lock might have been a terrific answer for anybody who must maintain their present lock intact. When used with the Mini Hub and Keypad Contact, the Lock offers all of the sensible lock performance you want with out having to alter any a part of your lock. And the fundamental capabilities of the Lock by itself work reliably and are straightforward to make use of. Nonetheless, because of the SwitchBot Lock falling off our door after a month of testing, I am unable to suggest it.

Worth: $99.99 for the SwitchBot Lock, $139.99 for the Lock, Keypad, and Mini Hub, $169.99 for the Lock, Keypad Contact, and Mini Hub

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[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious]

For the previous 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing in regards to the world’s most fun and essential science and expertise points. Previous to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Know-how Editor for Martha Stewart Dwelling Omnimedia and the Senior Know-how Editor for In style Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.





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