Do your kids ever come home to an empty house? Are you ever concerned if they locked the door once they came in? Did your child ever lose a key; perhaps preventing them from getting in? Well, if you're like myself and other parents that I know, you've probably had to deal with all of these and other issues relating to child safety and the front door. There are a number of front door lock
safety precautions that didn't even exist just a few years ago.
As someone who grew up in the city, years ago my family had a policy of keeping the front door locked. Unfortunately, with all the stuff that goes on these days, it seems to be a common practice in suburbia as well. Over many years of raising four kids in the suburbs, the doors being locked when kids are home alone was a safety rule that created a host of issues. As a gadget nut who stays on top of the latest technology, I found myself frustrated by the lack of a good solution even as I was automating my entire home. Here are some common solutions for dealing with the front door lock:
Everyone has their own key - this is where some problems begin as they often get lost and your children can't get into their own home. Of course now there's also the concern of where the key wound up, and I know people who have changed their lock due to a lost key.
A hidden key might be convenient but the crooks out there know where to look and if they should target your home you'll just be helping them. Also, if this is the key used by the kids, you never know who's watching when your child gets it and re-hides it.
Electronic keys solve the problem of re-keying after a key gets lost as you can just re-program the keys and lock. This solution won't let your kids into the house though if they find themselves locked out.
Push button combination locks were a great convenience when they were introduced but you do have the ever-present problem of someone watching the numbers being punched in (and this may be from a distance with binoculars). Kids also may forget the number and/or perhaps share it with friends.
Biometric locks came out a few years ago and from what I've read they work quite well. But; and yes there are actually a few buts. You need to have everyone that you allow access to, to be scanned and put into the locks' memory. This creates a problem when anyone from a contractor to housekeeper, or even if a relative or friend needs to open the door. With a fingerprint scanner, when kids have anything from dirt to chocolate on their fingers, their fingerprint won't be scanned properly and they may be locked out. Also, depending upon whether it's an iris scan, fingerprint scan or voice recognition system, some biometric locks have a fragile glass element that is easily damaged.
All of the above solutions have their shortcomings and none of them can actually lock the door for you once your kids are safely inside your home. There is a new solution that comes from the home automation field that addresses every issue that exists with locking and unlocking your door for better safety and security. You've probably seen at least one commercial for starting a car and/or using auto accessories from a smartphone. You may use a variety of applications on your phone already and enjoy the power of always being connected. The solution that I'm about to describe doesn't necessarily need a smartphone as access to the internet from any device is all you need. However, nothing beats the convenience of a smartphone.
Please don't let the term home automation scare you as the technical term is actually scarier sounding: demotics! Seriously though, we've all been using remote controls for many years with everything from TV's to garage door openers. These days it's pretty simple to remotely control any light and appliance and even automate your entire house without running a single wire or even being handy. The technology has become extremely easy to use and is very inexpensive. There are a number of competing technologies out there but for this article I'll just focus on the best solution for front door security. Bare in mind that whatever investment is made for keeping your home alone kids safe, is easily expandable to almost anything your imagination desires in home control.
There is a series of smartlocks that use what is probably the best home automation technology available in addition to being a motorized lock. The ZWave technology is utilized by over 150 companies in everything from lighting to drapery control. It's completely wireless and actually sends confirmation that what you want to occur actually did occur, to the controlling device. The lack of confirmation is a shortcoming in many other technologies. ZWave signals also aren't prone to interference like some other technologies are. So, putting together the right smart lock with a ZWave gateway, creates a very attractive and functional set-up. The gateway simply hooks up to your home internet router and wirelessly communicates with any ZWave devices installed in your home. There are so many cool things that can be implemented once you get started in addition to controlling a lock, as even the lock can now turn on lights, heating, AC, music, etc. once you enter your home. The applications are virtually unlimited and future articles will detail some.
To sum up: the way to remotely lock, unlock, check status and get immediate notification on your smartphone from your front door, requires only 3 components. The gateway, the right smart lock, and any additional ZWave device such as a lamp module. The installation is pretty straightforward and doesn't even require a special smartphone application or monthly service fee. Hooking up the gateway to your internet router is basically plug-n-play. The lamp module is literally a plug-in device and installing the lock-set is comparable to changing any standard lock. I'll be happy to respond to any questions here, and/or on the guest page of my website..
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