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Some smart locks give a false sense of security

Electronic locks can be just as easily defeated as the keyed kind

Published: May 06, 2014 12:45 PM

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The high-security Medeco Maxum 11*603 offers the most protection of any lock we tested.
Photo: Medeco

Most smart locks let you instantly add or ­delete distinct user codes, so you can let your children in when they forget their keys or grant temporary access to workers from afar. Unfortunately, like many regular locks, some electronic locks come with flimsy parts that can be defeated by a well-placed kick or a small cordless drill. In fact, the best door lock from Consumer Reports' tests is a dead bolt with a standard key.

Electronic connected. The Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt smart lock, $200, easily withstood our simulated kick-in test, which is why it made our recommended list, though a cordless drill disabled it in less than 2 minutes. The keyless Yale YRD240 smart lock, $275, was difficult to drill because it lacks a key cylinder, but it was easy prey to kick-in. Once we replaced its cheap strike plate with a better one (about $10 at home centers and hardware stores), the Yale aced our kick-in test, as did others in this group. But we think a lock should be secure as sold.

Electronic. These locks can’t be controlled via an app. All work using a keypad or a key, and one opens by fingerprint, passcode, or key. But none could beat a drill, and one, the Schlage BE365 V CAM 619, $130, was the easiest to pick of all of the electronic locks. But that model was also among the toughest against kick-in, which raised it to the top of its category.

Standard. The rekeyable Kwikset 980, $30, Baldwin Prestige 380, $40, and Falcon D241, $55, did best in our tests of standard locks. All come with a sturdy strike plate and resisted all of our assaults except for drilling.

Best from our tests. But your best bet for the most protection is the key-equipped Medeco Maxum 11*603, $190 (shown). The high-security lock aced our best efforts to crack it. Of course, even the least expensive dead bolt is an improvement over the traditional key-in-knob variety.

—Ed Perratore

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