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! 😱
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Aren’t the August products designed for the US landscape? How do I get it working in Singapore?
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:
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…
..but if you still don’t feel secure enough, maybe having a guard dog would help significantly, too!