With the smart-home revolution impacting everything from our televisions to toasters, it was only a matter of time before companies began to come out with smart locks that try to take advantage of today’s high-tech capabilities. In order to help our readers understand the pros and cons associated with so-called smart locks as opposed to traditional deadbolts, we’ve decided to take a close look at the Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch keypad, which allows the user to provide different codes to different individuals, allowing them long-term or temporary access to your home while you are away.
To get a better idea of how the Emtek deadbolt compares against the competition, we’ve contrasted it against another smart-lock offering from August as well as two good, old-fashioned “dumb” key-operated deadbolts from Yale and Kwiklock
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What Is the Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch Keypad?
So-called smart locks come in several different varieties. Some smart locks pair with a smart phone to automatically unlock when an authorized user approaches the door. Others, like the Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch Keypad, do not connect to a mobile device or wireless network but function on the basis of passcodes, similar to many contemporary garage-door openers.
One advantage to the Emtek Deadbolt’s keypad design is that it is not subject to the same kinds of hacks as are smart locks that are tethered into your home wireless network. However, this does not mean that the Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch Keypad is not without security vulnerabilities of its own. Quite disturbingly, a number of users have reported that the Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch Keypad will simply unlock by pressing the button featuring the Emtek logo.
This vulnerability has proven to be so widespread that some retailers have completely stopped carrying the Emtek deadbolt with EmTouch keypad. After all, the point of a door lock is to provide the best home security possible. What good are all the fancy features of a smart lock if it does not perform this core function reliably?
The Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch Keypad is designed to fit any door with a thickness of between 1.75-inches and 2.25-inches with a 2-and-1/8-inch standard bore. It comes with 2 factory-programmed passcodes that can be modified to accommodate up to 20 different users. The four-number passcodes are easy to remember and an illuminated keypad helps for nighttime operation. The Emtek deadbolt is battery operated, which may be a concern for some users, particularly if they tend to stay away from long periods of time and may not be able to respond to the Emtek’s low-battery indicator light in time.
At about $$ dollars, the Emtek Deadbolt with Emtouch Keypad is similarly priced to other smart locks, but it is four or five times as expensive as conventional “dumb” locks which may actually provide better security.
How It Compares
To get a better idea of the options available, we’ve compared the Emtek deadbolt against a combination of “smart” and “dumb” lock designs, including
- August Smart Lock
- Yale Rimlock Heavy-Duty Deadbolt
- Kwikset 985 Double-Cylinder Deadbolt
image via Pexels
Emtek Deadbolt With EmTouch Keypad
The Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch Keypad is available on Amazon for about $190, making it four or five times as expensive as unhackable “dumb” deadbolts.
Ease of Use 2 stars
The idea behind the Emtek’s ease of use and its actual ease of use turn out to be two different things. While the concept behind a key-code-operated door lock is decent, if the lock cannot be counted on to work properly then ease-of-use is irrelevant. While a glitch allowing entry without entering a passcode may technically make the lock “easier to use”, it also means the lock is not performing its core function and is worse than useless.
Performance 0 stars
Many users have shared that they were able to circumvent the passcode-protection on their Emtek deadbolts simply by pushing the button bearing the Emtek logo. As we keep saying (but it’s an important point worth repeating), a lock that cannot be counted on to stay locked is worse than a waste of money, it actually creates a new security vulnerability where one did not exist before.
Design Quality 1 star
We were extremely disappointed by the design quality on the EmTek deadbolt with EmTouch keypad. After having our own doubts about the reliability, we contacted some retailers to ask them about their experiences, and several said they had stopped carrying the product following numerous malfunctions that put their customers’ security at risk.
A number of customers have reported failures of the EmTouch keypad such that they were able to unlock the door simply by pushing the Emteck logo on the lock without entering a passcode: an unacceptable level of security risk for a device which exists for the sole purpose of enhancing home security.
Warranty 2 stars
EmTek includes a 2-year warranty on electronic components, though we have heard some horror stories about users trying (and failing) to get Emtek to live up to this coverage promise.
- Stores up to 20 unique user codes
- Includes latch and strike plate
- Unlocks via key or 4-digit key code
- Illuminated keypad
- Worrying lack of design quality and reports of serious security flaws essentially disqualify the Emtek deadbolt from consideration
- Retailers have reported that they stopped carrying the EmTek deadbolt with EmTouch keypad over concerns about customer safety
August Smart Lock
The second-generation August Smart Lock with Amazon Alexa functionality contains all the bells and whistles that entice users to smart-lock designs, but also the associated security concerns. Until the makers of smart locks do a better job of responding to the very legitimate safety concerns over their devices, we are unable to recommend them to our readers.
The August Smart Lock is available on Amazon for about $$$, making it a bit more expensive than the Emtek deadbolt with EmTouch keypad.
Ease of Use 3 stars
As it is designed to work with your existing lock hardware, the August Smart Lock is easier to install than the other locks we looked at. However, while the August Smart Lock comes with the kinds of features that entice those interested in bringing their door locks into their smart-home configurations, it also comes with many of the security concerns shared by those same potential customers.
When functioning properly, the August Smart Lock in theory will recognize your smart phone, allowing it to automatically unlock your door as you near it and re-lock it once you have passed through. While this certainly sounds convenient, in practice, the smart lock raises too many other security questions to justify this modest convenience.
Beside the system’s inherent hackability, who’s to say that you want your door to unlock automatically in all instances when you are nearby? This could create its own security vulnerabilities; not too mention that anyone who gets his or her hands on your smartphone then would have access to your home, as well.
Performance 1 star
At the Defcon security conference in 2016, the white-hat hacker known as Jmaxxz demonstrated several security flaws that would allow a malicious user to rather easily hack both first- and second-generation August Smart Locks. While August claims to have patched the flaw, both the initial existence of the vulnerability itself and August’s response to the controversy have given us serious qualms about the August Smart Lock.
Regardless of what other features a smart lock like the August may boast, if it does not give us the confidence that our home is locked securely and is not vulnerable to malicious actors, it essentially is worse than useless: it is a security risk. With our family’s safety on the line, smart locks simply continue to raise too many questions to give us the confidence we need to recommend them.
Design Quality 1 star
All the robust design quality in the world is worthless if malicious actors are simply able to go around them by hacking software vulnerabilities within the smart device. In fact, a strong deadbolt and other outward appearances of strength and durability can lead to a false a sense of security, which is the exact opposite of what we are looking for in a deadbolt to protect our home and family.
Warranty 2.5 stars
August offers a one-year warranty on the August Smart Lock.
- Attaches to existing lock hardware, turning any lock into a smart lock
- Is intended to recognize your smartphone, automatically unlocking your door as you near it
- Works with Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri
- Runs on batteries
- Serious security vulnerabilities have been demonstrated
- Only as strong as your existing deadbolt
- To use Apple Siri, the August Smart Lock must be within Bluetooth range of an AppleTV with HomeKit activated (Requires AppleTV 4th-generation or later)
- The most expensive model we looked at despite the fact that it does not include the actual deadbolt mechanism
Yale Rimlock Heavy-Duty Deadbolt w/ Thumbturn
This heavy-duty deadbolt system from Yale delivers old-school strength and security at about half the price of the more-vulnerable smart locks, such as the Emtek deadbolt.
Available on Amazon for around $, the Yale Rimlock comes in at about half the price of the Emtek deadbolt or the August Smart Lock, without the high-tech security vulnerabilities.
Ease of Use 4.5 stars
This deadbolt from Yale works just like the locks we’ve all been using for years: insert the key to lock or unlock from the outside, or use the easy, sturdy thumb turn to lock or unlock from the inside. It’s so simple and straightforward to use that we seriously wonder why we need to add highly vulnerable “smart” technology to the mix at all.
Performance 4 stars
With heavy-duty components, this offering from Yale provides the strength of hardened-steel inserts, a heavy-duty keyway, and a brass cylinder.
Design Quality 4.5 stars
We appreciate the old-school strength and durability of this Yale deadbolt even more after immersing ourselves in the security vulnerabilities associated with smart locks. The heavy-duty design, with hardened-steel inserts and a brass cylinder, give us confidence in a way the more high-tech smart locks don’t.
Warranty 4 stars
Yale provides a five-year warranty on its locks’ mechanical operation and a one-year warranty on the finish. Since we value a lock’s strength over its appearance, we find this to be a pretty solid warranty, and one that shows the confidence Yale has in its lock’s mechanical components.
- Lacks the security vulnerabilities of smart locks like the Emtek deadbolt
- Less expensive (but arguably more secure) than the smart locks we looked at
- Hardened-steel inserts, heavy-duty keyway, and brass cylinder add security and durability
- Lacks the high-tech amenities of smart locks, which may actually appeal to some users (and enhance security)
Kwikset 985 Double Cylinder Deadbolt featuring SmartKey
The Kwikset 985 double-cylinder deadbolt requires a key to lock or unlock from either side, making it ideal for some applications but less convenient for others. It is also by far the cheapest option we looked at, starting at around $.
The Kwikset 985 double-cylinder deadbolt can be found on Amazon starting at around $25, making it by far the least-expensive option in our group.
Ease of Use 3 stars
Featuring the simple insert-key-and-turn locking mechanism we all are so familiar with, the Kwikset 985 sacrifices some convenience and ease-of-use by requiring a key to operate from either side, though this feature may make it perfect for certain applications.
Performance 4 stars
The Kwikset 985 performs reliably just as we would expect it to, without the potential pitfalls of smart locks, like a dead battery or a dead cellphone. It’s SmartKey lock protects against common lock-picking and break-in methods while making it easier to re-key the lock without replacing it in its entirety.
Design Quality 3 stars
Though it lacks some of the heavy-duty features of the Yale deadbolt, the Kwikset also comes in at about half the price.
Warranty 5 stars
The Kwikset deadbolt comes with a lifetime warranty on mechanical parts and finish, blowing away the warranties offered on the other models we looked at.
- SmartKey technology allows for easy re-keying
- Protects against common break-in and lock-picking methods
- Lifetime warranty
- BumpGuard protects against lock bumping
- Requires a key to operate from either side, which may be inconvenient for some users
- Lacks some of the Yale’s heavy-duty features
After reviewing a range of “smart” and “dumb” door locks, we’ve decided to give the Emtek Deadbolt with EmTouch keypad an overall rating of just one star, as the level of convenience it potentially provides does not even come close to compensating for the blatant security vulnerabilities many users have encountered. The makers of smart locks still have a long way to go to convince us that they are capable of protecting our homes and families sufficiently to justify their vastly higher price tags.
Featured Image via Pexels