Gadget review: Bluetooth locks
Jana Haecherl |November 18, 2016 |6 min read
Padlocks are something that everyone uses in self storage. But padlock technology hasn’t really improved since the design of the first laminated metal padlock in the 1920s. With all the advancements of the 21st century, the Internet of Things is slowly internetworking many of our common physical items like cars, vacuums, refrigerators, and now - even padlocks!
If you own a self storage facility, you might be interested in bluetooth padlock technology. Even if you’re not interested in smart devices, you might soon see an influx of bluetooth padlocks. Read all about how bluetooth padlocks work and what you need to know about bluetooth padlocks in self storage.
How it works
Bluetooth technology was invented in 1994, and since then it has been used to connect one device to another wirelessly. (If you want to learn more about how Bluetooth works, check out this great infographic.) Most smartphones, including modern iOS, Android, and Windows devices, all offer Bluetooth capability, pairing with everything from watches to dog collars to toothbrushes. Bluetooth padlocks work in the same way.
Bluetooth padlocks have no keys or combinations. The locks come in indoor or outdoor, weather-resistant models and run on a long-lasting battery.
To use a bluetooth padlock, you simply:
- Turn on bluetooth on your smartphone
- Download the device’s app from the App Store, Google Play, or Windows Apps
- Follow the in-app instructions to set up your padlock
- Have your phone nearby to easily open your padlock without a combination
What if your tenant doesn’t have their phone with them and needs to get into their storage unit? Or what if their phone dies? Bluetooth padlocks have touch-activated technology that unlock with a unique, directional-sensitive pattern of taps and holds.
Our Favorite Bluetooth Locks
We were curious to check out this new technology for ourselves, so we got our hands on a Master Lock Bluetooth Padlock and a Noke Padlock. Check out our product reviews below!
Master Lock Bluetooth Padlock
The Master Lock Bluetooth Padlock allows you to open your bluetooth lock from anywhere, by just opening the app. The app keeps track of who you let access your lock with a guest history and it also sends you “tamper alerts” if someone is messing around with your lock or trying to open it without your permission.
Touch Code: The padlock has a circular keypad on the front that lets you enter a secret directional code to open the lock if your phone is dead. The center of the keypad is blue when it’s processing your code, then turns to green and makes a ‘click’ sound when the lock is ready to be opened.
Price: The outdoor version of the Master Lock Bluetooth Padlock costs $89. The indoor version costs $70.
Toughness: The lock is weather-resistant with a 9V jump battery. The shackle is .36” in diameter.
Battery: The Master Lock uses a replaceable CR2 battery, which it claims lasts over five years using the app’s unlock mode and two years using just the keypad’s touch code to unlock.
Looks like a regular Master Lock. If you were to turn the front keypad towards the door of the storage unit, you wouldn’t know it was a bluetooth lock. Because it looks like a regular lock, there is less risk of it getting stolen.
Two versions. With both an indoor and outdoor version, there is variance in size. The indoor version is smaller and cheaper than the rugged outdoor lock.
Exterior keypad looks breakable. The exterior keypad is touch sensitive to keypad codes, but it looks like the least durable part of the lock. If it were to get stepped on or slammed in a door, it looks like it would be damaged.
Still requires remembering. While you don’t need the code to access your lock when your Bluetooth device is nearby, you still need to know a code to access your lock in case your phone dies. You also need to remember a login and password for the app.
(Get it? “No-key.”) Noke started as a Kickstarter project, and they’re now being sold at various locations around the U.S. Like the Master Lock, you can also manage multiple locks, create custom settings, allow guest access, and see a full history. The Noke app takes guest access and lock history a step further and lets you specify the day, time, location, and duration of access. The Noke app is GPS enabled, so if it’s stolen you can find it through the app the same way you track an iPhone using “Find My iPhone.”
Quick-Click: If your phone is dead, the backup entry plan is a custom quick-code, which is a unique combination of short and long clicks on the lock shackle (the top of the lock).
Price: The Noke Padlock comes in one style for $70. You can also buy a key fob add-on for $25 that enables you to open your lock without a smartphone or Quick Click code.
Toughness: Noke has a boron-hardened shackle, anti-shim technology, and no exterior sensors to minimize the effects of exterior damage. The lock is weather resistant for temperatures ranging from -10°F to 150°F.
Battery: Noke uses a standard 2032 watch battery, which it claims lasts over a year with regular use. The lock notifies you ahead of time through the app when it’s time to replace the battery.
Modern design. The Noke padlock just looks cool. It’s smooth, shiny, and has a minimalistic style. It looks expensive.
Easy to change battery. The standard watch battery can be purchased almost anywhere, and the back of the lock easily twists off to change the battery when the lock is in the open position.
Not truly “combination-less.” Like the Master Lock, the Noke lock also requires some remembering. You have to remember your login and password for the app, and you have to remember your quick-click code in case your phone ever dies when you need to access your lock.
Weather resistance woes. The Noke website says the padlock is weather resistant to extreme temperature, but where I’m from, we don’t call -10°F “extreme.” We call that a pretty standard January day. I’d be a little concerned about my Noke lock jamming in winter weather.
If you’re interested in bluetooth locks, there are several other bluetooth lock brands on the market, including the LockSmart padlock by Dog & Bone for $90, the Quicklock for $70, and iBluLock for $40. A standard disc padlock (non-bluetooth) costs between $10 and $25, so there is a big cost difference between the high-tech padlocks and traditional padlocks.
Bluetooth padlocks would certainly make a fun gift for tech lovers. With the holidays coming up, it’s a safe bet there will be a lot more bluetooth locks purchased this year. If your self storage customers are the techy types, consider recommending a bluetooth lock for convenient entry into their storage unit. If your customers are more frugal, it might be best to stick with a traditional padlock.