Smart locks have become popular in modern times, as they offer more benefits compared to traditional locks. As expected, smart locks need power, with most getting theirs from battery cells. But do all smart locks need batteries to run? Read on to find out.
Do all smart locks require batteries?
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Yes. Presently, all smart locks run solely on batteries that can last for several months depending on the lock. The batteries in your smart lock power the LED lights, wireless chips, and the motor that initiates the locking and unlocking of your door.
Types of Smart Locks Batteries
Smart locks batteries come in two types: lithium batteries and alkaline (AA) batteries. Even so, there are differences between the two batteries, with each type offering its own advantages and disadvantages.
1. Alkaline Batteries
An alkaline battery is a dry cell battery that comes with a positive end (zinc anode) and a negative end (cathode). Alkaline batteries are more popular than any other battery type and find use in home appliances, including smart locks.
Alkaline smart lock batteries are often cheaper than their lithium counterparts. Besides, they contain no heavy metals, and are safe for the environment.
The downside to alkaline batteries is that they are non-rechargeable, and will run out of juice faster. However, their cheap price tag means replacing them is easy. Just be careful to make plans that will protect you against lockouts if your alkaline smart locks batteries die.
2. Lithium Batteries
Lithium batteries are made from lithium and carbon, and some are rechargeable. Partly because of their ability to recharge, some lithium batteries can last longer than the average alkaline smart lock battery.
On average, lithium batteries are more expensive than alkaline batteries — a factor to consider carefully before buying. Lithium batteries also tend to degrade faster immediately after they leave the factory. This causes them to discharge faster as they age.
Only a few manufacturers recommend lithium smart lock batteries due to the issues associated with them. Alkaline batteries are preferred, as they have higher consistency and offer increased cost-effectiveness. Equally, they don’t degrade under extreme heat, as lithium batteries do, making them useful for outdoor applications.
That said, lithium batteries can be a good option if they come with the smart lock or the manufacturer recommends them. You should never try to use lithium batteries if your smart lock manufacturer doesn’t recommend them.
Why Do Some Smart Locks Drain Battery?
We already explained that smart locks run on battery power. However, not all smart locks use power the same way; some drain batteries faster than others. There are many reasons smart locks drain batteries differently. Let’s take a closer look:
1. Communication Protocols
Communication protocols are the methods smart locks use to communicate with your mobile phone or smart home system. There are three types of communication protocols: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Z-Wave. And these protocols consume battery power differently.
Bluetooth: Bluetooth is the least advanced communication protocol; it requires that you stay within 300ft for your phone to connect to the lock. Bluetooth-based smart locks have low frequency and are easy on battery power. With luck, a Bluetooth smart lock’s batteries should last between 10-12 months before running out of juice.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is among the most cutting-edge communication protocols. Your phone can connect to the lock from anywhere, allowing you to operate the lock remotely. However, this functionality comes at a price: increased battery consumption. Wi-Fi-based smart locks consume more battery power than any other model. The average lifespan for batteries in smart lock using Wi-Fi is 2-4 months.
Z-Wave: The Z-wave communication protocol combines the best of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in one package. Z-Wave is as functional as Wi-Fi and allows for a remote connection. Even so, it is as energy-efficient as Bluetooth, consuming battery power in frugal amounts. Smart locks using Z-Wave have their batteries last between 12 to 18 months.
2. Quality of Battery
The quality of batteries you use will determine how your smart lock drains battery power. Established battery brands like Energizer and Duracell are durable and don’t drain quickly. A cheaper, no-name battery brand may, however, degrade fast and drain rapidly.
3. Frequency of Use
How often you lock and unlock your doors may also affect the rate at which the smart lock drains the battery. Each time you use the smart lock, it draws some battery power to retract or extend the deadbolt. So, if your door sees a lot of use, the battery may drain faster.
From research, it’s obvious that temperature levels can influence how much of the battery drains when the smart lock is in use. Some batteries will drain faster in cold weather, and there are those that drain rapidly in hot-weather situations. Consider a battery’s susceptibility to temperature before buying it.
Best Battery Brands for Smart Locks
There are quite a number of companies making batteries for smart locks. However, not all models have the same durability; some may leak and drain faster, leading to disappointing battery life.
Based on our research, here are the best batteries for smart locks
Energizer is one of the best-known battery brands, thanks to its reliability and outstanding performance. As it doesn’t leak or drain quickly, the Energizer battery is good for smart locks.
An Energizer model you can buy is the Energizer Triple A Max battery. This battery can hold power for up to 10 years when stored, allowing you to use it whenever you want.
Unlike other batteries, the Energizer Triple is leak-proof for up to two years after full use. And Energizer will cover any leakages that occur within the battery’s life or two years after full use.
Duracell is another great battery brand for smart locks. Not only do Duracell batteries last long, they are impervious to early leakages.
If you need a Duracell battery for your smart lock, the Duracell CopperTop AA alkaline battery is a good option. This battery is engineered to give you long-lasting service and offer enormous power to keep your smart lock active.
The CopperTop AA batteries come with a 10-year guarantee in storage. Moreover, they are not prone to leaks.
Panasonic rounds up our list of best battery brands for smart locks. Panasonic makes really great smart lock batteries, one of which is the Evolta battery.
Panasonic Evolta batteries can keep up to 80% of their capacity after a year of use. You can also recharge them multiple times within a single life cycle. Even better, the Evolta batteries will retain power between those charge times.
Should I use lithium or alkaline batteries for my smart lock?
Lithium batteries and alkaline batteries both have their pros and cons. Most manufacturers recommend using alkaline batteries over lithium models. Still, you can consider getting a lithium battery so long as you understand the issues associated with it.
How long will the battery in my smart lock last?
Battery life on smart locks varies. Generally, batteries in Bluetooth smart locks and Z-Wave last the longest, followed by those in Wi-Fi smart locks. Read more about smart locks batteries life.
What if my smart locks batteries die or stop working?
If your smart locks batteries die off unannounced, you can quickly get a replacement to get your lock working again. However, it’s rare for your smart lock batteries to discharge completely with no notification, so replace your battery on time when it alerts for low batteries.
Most smart locks would start alerting for low battery when the battery capacity is below 30 percent and will continue until the battery finally dies. Timely replacement can help you prevent a situation where you’re locked out because your smart lock power is off.
However, some smart locks also feature a keyhole, so you can switch to using a mechanical key to unlock your door before getting replacing your batteries.
How are smart locks powered?
As of now, all smart locks are battery-powered; usually the regular alkaline batteries or lithium batteries. For example, August smart locks are powered with regular AA and 3V CR123 or CR123A lithium batteries.
While we may get smart locks that run on electricity in the future, you have to make do with battery-powered smart locks for now. Your choice of batteries should reflect your smart lock’s communication protocol, among other things.
Alkaline models are still the best for smart locks, although you can try out lithium variants. Some of the best models you can buy include Energizer, Panasonic, and Duracell.