Do Smart Locks Still Work in a Power Outage?

Posted by James Koskela on Jan 11th 2023

Smart locks are among the newest tools at a homeowner’s disposal to secure their property. A smart lock is an electronic locking mechanism that can be controlled through a smartphone and usually eliminates the need for house keys through the use of biometric markers or a keypad.

Many smart lock owners use the product for its convenience; homeowners can lock or unlock their doors when they are not present and do not need to carry around a set of house keys to enter their homes. However, the computerized and electronic nature of the locks often leads potential users to wonder if they will still function in a power outage.

How Smart Locks Work

The primary purpose of a smart lock is to facilitate convenience and remote control. Mechanically, the locking mechanism portion of smart locks functions the same as traditional locks. The electronic components inside a smart lock are powered by batteries hidden inside an inconspicuous battery compartment.

Smart locks use a digital key instead of a physical one to operate the locking mechanism. The digital key may be a keycard, a keypad’s number code, a fingerprint reader, or even a mobile application.

In the latter case, smart locks use a wireless internet connection, typically through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or both, to communicate with the homeowner’s mobile application.

Will Your Smart Lock Still Work in a Power Outage?

Most smart locks use internal batteries to power electronic functions, meaning their electronic components will still function even during a power outage. However, depending on the lock’s features, some smart locks may lose part of their functionality.

  • Battery-Powered Smart Locks

Most smart locks available today use standard AA batteries as their only power source. While this makes them resistant to typical power outages, homeowners must replace them regularly.

Some higher-priced models may use dual-group batteries, employing two battery compartments instead of just one. When battery power in one array falls too low, the system automatically switches to the other.

However, both battery-powered smart locks have the same limitations: they require regular replacement. While the smart lock continues functioning during a power outage, it depends on the remaining battery power. The lock may become inoperable if the batteries run out during an outage.

  • Smart Locks with Backup Mechanical Keyholes

If your smart lock features a backup mechanical keyhole, you can use the backup key to unlock it and access your home. This solution is suitable if your smart lock batteries run out of power before or during an outage.

If you cannot access the backup key (e.g., the key is stored inside your home while you are outside during an outage), you can use a bump key or a lock-picking kit to force the backup mechanism open and access your home.

  • Smart Locks Paired with Home Hub or Wi-Fi

Smart locks requiring an internet connection must connect to your home network to communicate with the mobile app’s servers and, in turn, your smartphone. During a power outage, your home router is likely non-functioning, meaning the smart lock has no internet access, making it impossible to open remotely.

While the smart lock’s components may continue running on battery power, if this smart lock doesn’t offer a backup entry method, you may have no way of unlocking the door.

  • Bluetooth Smart Locks

Bluetooth-connected smart locks, like other battery-powered smart locks, are usable during a power outage. The main concern for these locks is the user’s phone battery, which often has a relatively short life.

As long as your phone is charged and can connect to your lock using Bluetooth, you should be able to communicate with the smart lock. However, if your phone dies during the outage, you may have to resort to a backup entry method.

How to Ensure You Don’t Get Locked Out During a Power Outage

While investing in a smart lock is a great way to add flexibility to your home protection system, homeowners need the peace of mind of knowing that their home will remain safe (and their lock will remain operational) during a power outage. To ensure you aren’t locked out of your home during a power outage, follow these tips:

  • Choose the Right Smart Lock

The easiest way to prevent yourself from being locked out of your smart-lock-protected home during a power outage is to research and select an appropriate smart lock model. Even if you don’t live in an area where power outages are common, they may still occur occasionally.

As a result, it is essential to invest in a flexible smart lock with at least one backup entry solution that functions without power.

Smart locks with Bluetooth connectivity, a keypad or biometric system, and a traditional key fail-safe are the best options since owners can utilize the Internet-powered functions when power is on and utilize the keypad or biometric system when it is off. The mechanical backup lock serves as a valuable last resort, ensuring you still have a way to access your home when all electronic solutions fail.

  • Invest in a Bump Key

Beyond investing in an appropriate smart lock with fail-safes, another way to prevent a home lock-out is to invest in locksmithing tools. Doing this ensures access to your home no matter what happens to your lock or key.

If your smart lock has a physical key fail-safe, it is likely a traditional pin-and-tumbler lock. If this is the case, investing in a bump key can let you inside your home without power or a physical key. Bump keys are specially shaped keys designed to disrupt the lock’s pins when placed into the key slot and struck, creating the conditions necessary to open the lock if timed correctly.

If appropriately used, bump keys can unlock most cylindrical pin-and-tumbler locks. They also do not cause damage to the lock’s internals, making it possible to use this entry method as often as necessary. The only requirement is to ensure your bump keys are compatible with your house locks. Typically, each bump key can only open locks from a single manufacturer.

  • Use a Classic Lock-Picking Set and Tension Wrench

Another pair of locksmithing tools that can help you gain access to your home in a worst-case scenario is a lock pick and tension wrench.

To unlock your door using these tools, you’ll first insert the tension wrench into the lock’s key slot and turn it in the direction that you would turn a key. Then, you’ll insert the lock pick and begin lifting the lock’s pins. The goal is to lift each pin to a point where it has moved entirely into the lock’s housing, which is what a physical key would do when inserted.

Although proper usage requires diligent practice, the lock-picking set and tension wrench are versatile. Mastering these tools lets you open most pin-and-tumbler locks, regardless of the manufacturer.

Find Smart Lock Locksmithing Tools at Zero Day Gear

Are you concerned about being locked out of your smart-lock-protected home? Zero Day Gear is your source for all the locksmithing tools you need to avoid this situation.

By shopping with Zero Day Gear and purchasing essential locksmithing tools, you can ensure that you can access your home no matter the circumstances. Browse our comprehensive selection of bump keys, lock picks, tension wrenches, and other locksmithing tools, and never get locked out of your home again.

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