Installing the August Smart Lock Pro in Singapore Apartments [HDB or Condo]

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Probably one of the few smart locks in the market that is actually compatible with a wide range of platforms 🔑

When you visit a Smart Home, the very first thing you’ll no doubt notice is the main door. Lo, and behold – a Smart Lock! The very first hint that this home might actually be smart in some ways.

It’s 2018, and even if you have no intention of converting your home to a Smart Home, I’m sure you’ve ever thought of better way to unlock your home without a key. That familiar memory of the few times when you’re lugging loads of groceries and your keys are in the depths of your pockets suddenly kicks in.

…or the time when you realize that you left your keys at your work desk and can’t get home for that nice, warm shower you deserve! 😱

Here’s how my August Smart Lock installation looks like from the outside of the apartment.

Wait, where exactly is the smart lock, again?

Isn’t this just the standard HDB door which comes with Mortise lock? And there seems to be a deadbolt lock installed above it?

For those who didn’t know yet, Mortise locks are the “European-standard” locks which almost all apartments in Singapore use – they usually consist of a double-locking latch mechanism and a handle which controls the springy latch above.

The inside of my main door – with August Smart Lock (Pro) installed

This is how my main door looks like from the inside. Nobody can actually tell that there was any smart capability whatsoever until they step into the apartment and look at the back of the door.

Before we get to the August Smart Lock (Pro), let’s see how I actually got to using August here in the first place.

Different Smart Locks We’ve Tried Over the Years

Before the market was totally saturated with a huge selection of smart locks, there were only a few viable choices available.

Samsung Smart Locks – It’s everywhere!

Back in 2010, when I had my first experience with smart locks, Samsung Smart Locks weren’t even in Singapore yet.I even needed to get it imported from Korea. When they came to Singapore, they remained a popular and widely supported choice till this day, but the Samsung Smart Locks had its set of issues (well, in my opinion at least) too:

  1. It’s actually pretty obvious that it’s a smart lock from the outside.It also means that if someone wants to make your life difficult by denying you entry to your home, that someone can just simply smash your lock and you won’t be able to enter the premises.
  2. Fingerprint scanners which came with some models were inaccurate.Ideally, this is the easiest way to unlock your doors, but in practice, your fingers aren’t always clean enough to trigger the fingerprint reader correctly.
  3. Not smart enough for 2018.True, the Samsung Smart Locks were at the top of the whole smart lock ecosystem back in 2010, but it’s EIGHT years later and the new models are somewhat… the same as before. Maybe a few new bells and whistles, but nothing major, just incremental stuff.

 

Danalock – Using your existing HDB/Condo Mortise lock and turning it smart?

Danalock was the 2nd smart lock which I tried not too long ago. I’ve actually got to try the Version 2 (V2) and Version 3 (V3), and truth be told, the V2 felt like an unfinished prototype with an app which constantly crashes, and the V3 is much better – but still too slow.

Wait. What’s Danalock, again?

Danalock is actually a device which replaces the turn-knob on the inside of your door which already has an existing Mortise lock. It basically does the double-locking turns instead of your fingers.

You can then control the Danalock with your mobile phone to lock/unlock the door.

V3 was honestly pretty good but slow. It usually took me about 2 to 3 minutes to even get the door unlocked. I would actually rather reach for the physical keys.

To visualize how slow it actually is, imagine a motor working to turn a tight knob about 2-and-a-half rounds in order to unlock it. It’s not really a problem with the product which causes the slow speed, but more like the design of a Mortise lock which makes it not really feasible for modification to become a smart lock.

The Danalock app also claims to be really secure, with the encryption keys and stuff stored on their servers, but that also means that it requires an internet connection and is awfully slow. I got kicked out quite a number of times from the app because the 4G reception near the door which I installed Danalock is actually bad.

It is, however, useful for rented spaces including offices and apartments as not many landlords will be keen to let you perform a more intrusive installation of other smart locks which require drilling of the door.

Well, unless you’re willing to give them the smart lock when you return the place… then I guess it’s negotiable. 😂

So why the August?

Simply because nothing comes close to the functionality of the August suite. Nothing, at all.

Unlocks in Under 2 Seconds

Because of the type of physical door lock that the August was meant to augment – the deadbolt – simply requires 1 turn to latch/unlatch, the August is able to work at much faster speeds than the Danalock. It locks and unlocks the deadbolt in under 0.5 seconds.

After factoring in Bluetooth 4.0 connection time from my mobile phone to the August Smart Lock Pro, it takes about 2 seconds for the door to get unlocked in total. That’s legit fast.

Works with Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomeKit

The August suite plays nicely with Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomeKit. I actually have the whole home on the Google Home landscape, but it’s nice to know that the August works with everything.

Sometimes, I even ask (one of my 7) Google Home to check if the main door is locked and lock it if it isn’t by voice!

Has a Doorbell Camera Component + Cloud Recording

The August Doorbell Camera is a component of the August suite which functions as a doorbell with a camera that can record photos and videos when motion is detected and upload them to the cloud for your perusal via your mobile device.

It also happens to act as the bridge between your Bluetooth-based August Smart Lock and the internet, because it has Wifi connectivity. Hence, if you get the August Doorbell Camera, you don’t need the August Connect to enable remote access.

Wait. Why do you need remote access via the Internet for your lock again?

I like to be able to unlock my door remotely to let delivery personnel drop stuff off, and then watch them as they do so to make sure they don’t take anything out of my apartment!

Can be Manually Unlocked Using a Physical Key

Since the August Smart Lock augments a standard US-deadbolt lock, the original key for that deadbolt lock still fits and can be used as a backup key.

Has Support for Keypad-based Entry

Sometimes, I don’t carry my mobile phone with me when I walk the dogs because the outfit I am might not always have pockets. I can still get the August unlocked easily with the keypad which takes in my entry code or even on my Apple Watch! ⌚

Ability to Remotely Add/Remove Users

Oh, I can also add and remove access to new or existing users even when I am out of the premises. For example, if my friend is coming over to dog-sit Yandao and Lengzai, I can add temporary access even when I am already out of the apartment!

Installing the August Smart Lock + Doorbell Cam + Keypad

So now that I settled on the August, here’s the big question:

How exactly do I get this August Smart Lock stuff installed?

..and

Aren’t the August products designed for the US landscape? How do I get it working in Singapore?

A US Deadbolt lock on the top, and the HDB default Mortice Lock at the bottom. And a cute BE@RBRICK fortune cat on the right.

I’m not gonna lie to you – it was a bitch to install.

We couldn’t seem to find any professional locksmith or anyone to deal with the complete August installation for us.

Unlike the many other fanciful local reviews (from significantly larger blogs and sites) singing praises about the August lock that “all you need is a screwdriver to install it” and that you “don’t have to replace or drill your current door” – I call bullshit.

EH, HELLO! Those people who wrote those posts confirm never tried installing the full suite locally in Singapore! 😡

Too many other sites talking about the August suite products and almost certainly copying each other’s “review”.

This is seriously the problem about most reviews nowadays – certain people don’t even trying the products, but they are somehow able to magically “review” or even recommend the product.

Monkey see, monkey do? 🐒🐒🐒

Come, let me save you all the pain and trouble and teach you all the shortcuts:

It’s actually breeze to do it, once you follow my steps!

I’m gonna save you from the trouble and “nightmare” that we went through by listing all the simplified steps and methods here, yay!

In Singapore, as mentioned above, we are mostly using Mortice Locks in HDB and condos. The August Smart Lock is a US product and thus caters more towards US doors which using Deadbolt Lock. Plus, deadbolt locks are perfect to convert to smart locks!

Install a Schlage or Kwikset Deadbolt

First things first, you need to get an August-compatible deadbolt installed. No need to look through the list of brands so dilligently, just get the Schlage or Kwikset.

They’re widely available in Singapore, call a few local locksmiths and tell them you specifically want these two brands and ask for the model to verify. There’s like a 99% chance that it’s compatible. This should cost you under $200 inclusive of the deadbolt installation on your door because they have to cut two holes.

You do NOT need a smart lock installer. You just need a normal locksmith.

DO NOT USE brandless China-made deadbolts. They do not turn as smoothly and won’t work as well!

Once you’re done, the smaller piece of your main door should look this:

(PS: I scratched the paint slightly and haven’t painted it back yet, but that’s totally unrelated to the lock installation)

Then, the main (bigger) piece of your door should look almost like this. This is after the August Smart Lock’s faceplate is installed in place of the turning latch.

Notice the screws? Tell your locksmith to not install the turning latch with the 2 screws and instead replace it with this faceplate and these 2 screws.

…and then slip on the turning adaptor (yellow part) onto the metal latch, and you’re now ready to slip on the August Smart Lock which basically clips onto the metal piece.

You’re done. The August Smart Lock is now installed.

That was easy, wasn’t it?

Installing a US 16-volt Doorbell for the August Doorbell Cam

Wait – what exactly is a 16-volt doorbell? Why do I need this? How do I get this?

Well, these days, we are kinda accustomed to using stuff like wireless doorbells which are battery operated or plugged into. But in places like the US, wired doorbells are still largely in use.

The August Doorbell Cam was designed to be a replacement for a US doorbell because it requires an active current to operate. Hence to get it working effectively, you will need a US doorbell, which when installed, kinda looks like this:

I got the Broan Nutone BK125LWH from Amazon but you can essentially use any 16-volt doorbell. (You only need the doorbell chime itself – but this bundle was the cheapest I could find. The buttons and supplied 110V transformer are useless for us.)

What this means is that the doorbell has to be powered by a 16-volt power supply (which I got from Taobao) in such a manner:

Power Source (220V in Singapore) –> Transformer (220V to 16V) –> Doorbell (16V) –> Doorbell Buttons

This means that the doorbell buttons are actually able to tap on the 16V of power from the doorbell, and since the doorbell buttons are replaced with the August Doorbell Cam, it means the device can utilize this 16V of power.

The end result is this:

August Doorbell Cam Pro with August Smart Keypad outside of my door!📱

Installing the August Smart Keypad

This is the easy part – just slip in the batteries and double-sided tape it to the wall. Done. It’s totally wireless.

Was August Worth the Trouble?

The fundamental of getting a lock is to keep your house safe and secure, but yet offer convenience and ease-of-use.

I can basically now lock and unlock my main door with my phone:

Or even check if the door is closed properly – this shows that the door is Open, but Unlocked:

When someone presses the doorbell, my phone rings, and I can “answer the door” from my phone, and even unlock the door by pressing that red button…:

I can also view the history of activities which happened outside my apartment:

..and I can configure stuff like Auto-lock and Auto-unlock, and alerts to notify me if my door is left open for too long, too:

 

Now, do you see your money’s worth with the August suite? Heh.

Oh, and you can check out the specs of the August Smart Lock here:

If you need even more Security for your home…

In closing, the August suite does a pretty good job of keeping your home safe, I must say…

You could always get your very own guard dog 🐶

..but if you still don’t feel secure enough, maybe having a guard dog would help significantly, too!

 

Read my related posts;

Totally Pimped Out 3-room HDB Smart Home [Overview]

Installing Colour-changing Smart Glass on Sliding Doors

39 Comments
  • Derrick
    March 5, 2018

    I am interested in installing the August smart lock for my hdb as well. In your current setup, how would you unlock your gate? Wouldn’t you still need to carry a physical key to unlock your gate?

    • YingVannie
      March 5, 2018

      If you wish to install August on your gate, you’ll have to get a customized gate – or at least a customized center-locking-piece for the gate. It’s the same with the rest of the smart locks such as Samsung’s or Yale’s – they all require modifications to the existing gate or a customized gate 🙂

      Hope that helps!

      • Ryan
        May 31, 2018

        In your case, did you also install a digital lock on your gate? Is it also August? Thanks.

        • YingVannie
          June 1, 2018

          Hi Ryan! You’ll have to get a customized gate – or at least a customized center-locking-piece for the gate. It’s the same with the rest of the smart locks such as Samsung’s or Yale’s – they all require modifications to the existing gate or a customized gate.

          • Ryan
            June 2, 2018

            I understand the part about having a customized gate. But just wanted to know if you also used the August lock for your gate? Are there any issues with have two August locks side by side?

          • YingVannie
            June 2, 2018

            Hi Ryan,

            No, I don’t use the August lock for the gate. However, I’ve actually managed to have two August locks work simultaneously before and it works fine. Each lock has its own “unique identifier” hence the app doesn’t get confused – in fact, the app allows you to name each lock accordingly.

            I guess in this case, apart from a customized gate, you have to figure the clearance space (between gate + August lock and your main door)… Also, I am not sure if using a deadbolt lock for a gate might be the wisest choice, given that most people use other types of locks for gates. Perhaps you should consult your locksmith on whether a deadbolt is suitable in terms of security for the gate of your unit?

    • Derrick
      March 6, 2018

      Thanks for the information, I will start with my door and if all goes well I will add the August smart lock to my gate as well.

      • ET
        August 15, 2018

        Hey… I’ve been researching extensively on installing smart lock on the standard HDB gate, and I don’t think August can work since it only work as a retrofit for deadbolt. Installing on gate will meant that anyone can reach it and turn the knob which defeat the purpose.

        I have only found 2 “semi-smart” solution thus far on the gate i.e. Yale Link (can use app one) for YDR30G or YDR50G; or Gateman. Otherwise, the other workaround is a smart padlock. Either the Noke, or Koogeek homekit pad lock.

        Let me know if you’ve figured out a better way 🙂

        • YingVannie
          September 8, 2018

          Hi ET,

          Don’t get the Noke! We’ve tested it and it’s horrible. The software is glitchy and it’s super laggy and sometimes doesn’t open. Can’t comment about the rest because we never tried it before.

  • Gaga
    March 6, 2018

    🐒🐒🐒

  • Lee Rong Rong
    March 12, 2018

    How did you install August on the app though? The phone number required is +65 (xxx) xxx-xxxx. But every time I key in the 8 digit sg number, the first 3 digits end up in the brackets and they won’t send the passcode for verification to my phone…! Please share how you dealt with this issue. Thank you

    • YingVannie
      March 13, 2018

      Hi! For me, I just enter my number after the +65 and they send the verification code to me. Just ignore the brackets and dashes.

      • Hk
        April 12, 2018

        Hi
        I had the same problem in verifying the 8-digit number. The app insist 9-digit after +65.

        Can you share how you complete successfully?

        Thank you.

        • YingVannie
          April 14, 2018

          Hi! For me, I just enter my number after the +65 and they send the verification code to me (ignore the brackets and dashes). Maybe you can try adding zero to the back to see if it works?

        • Ed
          June 27, 2018

          Managed to solve it?

  • Joyce
    April 6, 2018

    Hi, may I have the contact of your locksmith since he / she already gotten some knowledge of how to handle the smart Lock. Hehe.

    • YingVannie
      April 9, 2018

      Hey Joyce!

      I paid $250 for installation from my locksmith, not knowing that the installation is actually exactly the SAME as a normal deadbolt lock – minus the last step of screwing on the turning latch.

      Instead of screwing on the turning latch, the August plate is screwed on instead… any layman can do it, really. The locksmith just has to get the standard deadbolt installed first – that’s the hard part.

      To be honest, after learning that it is the same, I felt it was extremely pricey, as I’ve heard that it is possible to get a deadbolt installed for $80-$150 or so. Just call a few locksmiths and ask them to quote for “Supply and install of American deadbolt on HDB 2-piece door” 😉

      As such, I cannot in good faith give you my locksmith’s contact as it wouldn’t be fair to you to pay more for something that you could get at less, sorry!

  • Amanda
    April 8, 2018

    Wanted to ask was there a reason why you didn’t replace the HDB lock set and installed another one?

    • YingVannie
      April 9, 2018

      Hi Amanda,

      The HDB lock set is a Mortise lock (European style). This means that it consists of two parts – a handle and a locking mechanism.

      The August cannot work properly with a Mortise lock and requires a deadbolt lock. If I wanted to replace the HDB lock set with a deadbolt, that would probably require that I get a new door altogether as the fit is quite different.

      That is also probably why I left it as it is…

      Hope that helps!

  • Stanley
    April 15, 2018

    I tried following yr instruction deleting the dash and bracket, I still don’t get the verification code to set up. Can you specifically shows how it is done

  • Stanley
    April 15, 2018

    Hi Vannie,

    I tried following yr instruction to input my mobile after +65 and add zero behind, deleting the bracket and dash, but the bracket and dash returns after the input. Still do not receive the verification code.

    I bought my set from Amazon. Where do you get yours?

    Rgds

    • YingVannie
      April 16, 2018

      Hi Stanley! I got mine from August directly. Another friend of mine also seems to have the same problem. I suggested trying on Android for the first sign up and it works.

  • Ivy
    April 16, 2018

    Hi dear, thanks for the detailed information on how to setup the August suite! Anyway, I was wondering how you set up the doorbell cam at the wall? Would it be more advisable for it to be the wall (as per your picture) or on the main door itself? We will find it a big hassle to mount it on the main door though! Please advise 🙂 thank you!

    • YingVannie
      April 16, 2018

      Hi Ivy!

      The doorbell cam was setup at the original opening made by HDB for the standard doorbell switch, which is where I suggest you put it. Putting the doorbell cam on the door is a huge hassle, because then you have to figure out wiring on the door itself. Don’t do that unless you’re confident of solving this!

      Since there were already two wires connected for our case, we didn’t need to lay any new wires, just needed to make them be 16-volt, which the doorbell cam takes. This is done using a 220v-to-16v DC transformer, which I linked in the post. It is actually quite heavy and huge (few KGs), and this needs concealing.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      – Vanessa

  • Ben
    May 1, 2018

    Chanced upon this post while having a dastardly time installing the lock. So apparently there is currently a bug in the iOS version of the August app. The account creation page does not recognize 8 digit telephone numbers for Singapore.

    As mentioned by Vanessa, one way would be to use an Android phone and the Android August app to create your account. But another obstacle appears if you are unable to find an Android phone with Android version 5 and above. What I did was to download one of the US web phone apps (I used Talkatone) which gives you a temporary US telephone number and allows you to make/receive calls and SMS. Use this US telephone number to create your August account using the iOS app. The verification code was sent to the telephone number and subsequently my Talkatone app. Once you have completed your account creation, you can go into the August app to change your number to your SG one. The SMS verification will work as the stupid bug is on the account creation page only.

    Who knows why August is taking such a long time to fix this simple bug. But other than this, so far the lock seems quite ok. No major complaints yet.

    • YingVannie
      May 2, 2018

      Thank you for the tips! Hopefully August able to patch this bug soon.

  • John
    May 31, 2018

    Thank you ying for writing down the journey.

    How did you wire up the doorbell camera? And could you take acouple of photos of where you install the transformer, and how it is wired up to and from the doorbell?

    Thank you!

    • YingVannie
      May 31, 2018

      Hi John,

      It’s a little difficult for me to take photos of the transformer because it’s been taped up inside a the “box” which is quite high up on the kitchen ceiling… but let me describe it for you:

      For HDB units, it comes with HDB’s default “doorbell switch” placed outside your main door, which is essentially a bouncy (pop-back) switch with 2 wire ends (1 circuit). It’s supposed to function that when you press the switch, the circuit is closed, and well, the doorbell rings.

      What I did was basically to remove that bouncy switch, and utilize that circuit for the August doorbell, as well, it just requires 2 points (in and out).

      At the other end of that bouncy switch wiring circuit is once again, 2 loose wires hidden in a small gap in my kitchen ceiling. HDB units have that as a standard. It’s usually hidden behind a round white plastic cover with 2 screws. I took these 2 wires and connected it to the output end of the transformer (output 16V).

      On the input end of the transformer, well, you input your 220V which has to be tapped from an existing point. My electrician ran trunking for this from one of my kitchen sockets to tap this.

      Basically, it looks like this:
      Existing Power Source [220V Output] ==> [220V Input] Transformer [16V Output] ==> [16V Input] August Doorbell

      Hope it helps!

      Cheers,
      Vanessa

  • Gary
    June 21, 2018

    Is the Danalock really that slow? 2 to 3 minutes to lock and unlock?

    I was thinking between a Danalock which requires no drilling as compared to august and made in Europe, or August Lock.

    • YingVannie
      June 21, 2018

      Hi Gary, My husband’s office installed it and stopped using it in favour of another system within 2 months. I think it might also be partially due to the workings of a Mortise lock which requires 2.5 rounds to fully unlock, plus there is a “resistance” element in the lock.

      Try it out at a showroom and you’ll know what I mean. Don’t buy before testing! 😉

  • Yan
    July 9, 2018

    Have you by any chance tried unlocking the lock and connecting it back and it shows that the lock is locked by when checked it wasn’t? I read a review on Gizmodo he had that experience.

    • YingVannie
      July 26, 2018

      Hi Shirley! Nope. I never experience that so far. If it fails to lock or unlock, it will usually notify me to check the lock and recalibrate it.

  • Eric
    August 14, 2018

    Thanks for this. This is wonderful!

    I just bought the August smartlock in the States and will try to install it on the main door. Quick question – did you install a smart lock on the HDB grill gate too? I have been searching up & low, and the only option seem to be the Yale Gatelock which it’s not as great.

    Any thoughts?

    Appreciate this.

    • YingVannie
      September 8, 2018

      Hi Eric,

      We didn’t install the August smart lock on the gate as a deadbolt doesn’t seem to cut it very well for a HDB gate – I think the gates aren’t supposed to use deadbolts anyway.

      Your other option is to probably use the Yale but disable it unless you absolutely need to lock the gate?

  • Eugene
    September 3, 2018

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing.

    Can you please advise the brand/model of the transformer you bought from Taopao? I’ve bought the Doorbell Cam Pro but can’t find a transformer for it. Thanks

  • Mark
    October 19, 2018

    Hi!,

    Did you get your August locally or from Amazon, if Amazon, is there a version that we should get for use in Singapore?

    • YingVannie
      October 21, 2018

      Mine is directly from August. 😊

      • Mark
        November 8, 2018

        Hi Vannie!

        Was reading up again and noticed you left your mortise lock there. Why not replace it with August completely? or use another Mortise smart lock?

        Now you have 2 locks , 1 smart and 1 normal, how do you leave your locks typically?

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