In recent years, technology has enabled home security to take different strides in efficiency and convenience. Cameras are smaller, less wiring is required for installation, and everything syncs to wifi or a smartphone. There are even options to upgrade or retrofit existing deadbolt door locks, moving in the direction of a fully automated “Smart Home.”
Securing each entry point of a home can be accomplished in one go with a fully connected security system or can be done piece by piece – a front door camera here, a side entry lock there.
With all these upgrades, the largest door on a house shouldn’t be an afterthought. Garage doors are often targeted by would-be thieves because of the ways emergency release cords and garage door openers are designed and can be bypassed. Adding a deadbolt to a garage door is a permanent deterrent for these kinds of break-ins. The question is – does this solution come with tech upgrades for a smart home?
In theory, a smart garage door lock is a garage deadbolt latch connected to a power supply, wi-fi, and a remote or dashboard app for a smartphone. While remote access and garage security monitoring have improved, the technology for a remote deadbolt has not yet been widely developed and marketed.
Garage door deadbolts are a tried and true method of keeping a rolling garage door secure. But for the tech-savvy home-owner, there are now other security options that utilize wi-fi monitoring, smartphone alerts, and remote access to the garage door opener.
Garage Door Deadbolt Locks – Basic Security
Most residential homes with attached garages have upgraded to the automatic garage door opener. These different units are designed to keep the garage door in place as a security measure. However, a coat hanger through the door can release the emergency cord with just a tug, or garage door remotes left in a car on the street can be easy pickings to grant access to tools, bikes, or other things stored in the garage.
A deadbolt on the garage door itself can effectively stop both kinds of unwanted entry and has been used for years before automatic openers became industry standard.
Deadbolt locks and latches can be installed on the inside or outside of a rolling garage door. For most, the location of the lock will depend on the access needs or, for some, how the lock looks with the rest of the house. Locks on the outside of the door can attach to the siding, or can be connected to a latch in the concrete itself near the bottom of the door. Inside locks can also be installed at the bottom of the door, but more commonly involve some kind of lock or sliding latch that barricades the garage door track itself to keep things in place.
Before automatic garage door openers, and for many detached garages, it was not uncommon to have a locking handle on the front of the garage door that attached to a deadbolt on the inside. The handle connected cables and sliding latches positioned near the garage door track on either side. With a twist of the handle, the latches would slide out of the track, giving access to the garage.
Deadbolt Security vs. Technological Conveience
While deadbolts do provide that extra layer of security to a garage, the trouble is that most locks don’t work well in tandem with an automatic garage door opener. Manually unlocking or disengaging the lock is a required step before the opener can be safely used. Pressing that remote while the deadbolt is in place can cause serious damage to the door or the opener itself. Some models like the locking handle system described above, specifically say NOT to use them on doors with automatic openers.
Locks that engage from the inside can also only be released from the inside – meaning either you only use the locks when you’re in for the night or away on vacation, or you have to enter through the side-entry door to disengage it before pulling your car in the garage. And there is nothing convenient about that.
Currently, there is only one company making an electric deadbolt lock that is intended to work automatically with a garage door opener. (And these only pair or come with certain brand models). The latch unit attaches to the garage door track and is wired directly to the opener unit on the ceiling. It is simply designed to engage the deadbolt after the garage door is down, and disengage it before opening it. This may seem like a basic “set it and forget it” feature. But, aside from a visual assessment, there is no way to determine remotely that the lock is working.
Features of Smart Garage Door Security Systems
In lieu of deadbolts, many people have opted for different types of garage door access or monitoring features to add security. Garage keypads, for one, can grant access when the garage door opener is elsewhere. But the next tier in this technology is the smartphone interface.
Some brands, like this one, have a sensor that attaches to the garage door and syncs to a hub that can be installed in the garage. This brand in particular has contracted with a variety of automatic opener companies and is compatible with a number of newer units. The hub connects the unit and sensor via wi-fi and then can be monitored via a smartphone app. The app gives real-time monitoring of the garage door (if it is up or down and how long it has been open or closed), but also has that one-click feature that lets you open or close the door remotely.
As an added feature, a camera can also be synced to this system, giving you eyes on who is entering the garage, and the ability to ensure that small children, pets, or other items aren’t in the way of the door before you close it. Other brands provide an all-in-one system that includes a camera and a two-way mic, so if you did see someone entering the garage who shouldn’t be there, a loud verbal command may be enough to scare them off empty-handed.
You can watch a product comparison video here: (Note that product prices have changed since this was posted.)
Monitoring and Awareness Replace Lock and Key?
As of yet, garage door security features that seem to be on the rise are more tech-driven around monitoring and remote access. And, given the features, it can be easy to see how these gadgets can give peace of mind. It can feel empowering to have a recorded feed of your garage door, knowing that if someone tried to break in you would be alerted quickly. Or if you were away from home and needed to let the neighbor in to borrow some tools, he could be in and out with a couple of clicks.
All of the new features, however, come with new costs. Wi-fi platforms require hardware and a clear signal. Electric devices need power supplies. Video monitoring and downloads require cloud storage. So, for your purposes and your budget, the question to ask may be, “Which area of security is more of a priority for you?” Hybrid smart deadbolts on garage doors haven’t been widely produced yet. So, if you had to choose, do you go locks? Or monitoring? Here is a feature comparison: