Wouldn’t it be cool if you had some of those nifty commercial-level features when it came to opening the front door of your home? Like NFC access using your phone, or a special ID card? Or even better, biometric access that ten years ago would have reminded you of something out of Mission Impossible? That last part may be a little over the top, but what’s nice is that this really isn’t so hard to find now. Thanks to companies like SwitchBot, at least. The SwitchBot Lock is one of these smart lock solutions that offers a modular approach to building out your access options as you see fit and it all starts at $99.
Like most deadbolt solutions, it comes with a slightly bulky mechanism that hangs out on the indoor side of your door. It works with most modern deadbolt options, including double cylinder or jimmy-proof lock styles that have a rotatable lever).
What’s nice about this one is that it doesn’t touch the outside of your door. So your normal keyhole remains as-is and no one would even know it’s automated unless they came inside. At this point, they would likely be wondering what kind of nifty robot you have there.
Not only that, but it’s a more user-friendly install as it only requires a small screwdriver that comes in the box. Beyond that, it simply sticks to your door once you’ve measured a few things. From there, it’s your typical app access and the adventure of pondering which accessories you want (if at all–which we will get to in a moment).
So when I say easy to install, I kid you not. It doesn’t get much easier than this. First, you confirm which of the three included adapters fits over your deadbolt’s lever on the indoor side of your door. Then you attach it to the SwitchBot Lock. Then you pop the top off and unscrew the sliding plate that acts as a spacer as not all levers stick out the same. Some come with thicker faceplates than others. Some levers are larger than others, etc.
You slide the plate out until the SwitchBot Lock sits flat against the door and just perfectly covers the lever with maybe a few millimeters of space for wiggle room (per the instructions). Then screw the plate into place and wash the surface of the door. Remove the protective tape from the 3M sticky pad on the back and apply it to the door. Press firmly for what they say to be two minutes and that’s it.
There are just two batteries inside that need to be activated by pulling out a tab. This puts it into pairing mode immediately. Just look at the following video briefly covering all of this.
Now you pair it to the SwitchBot app (available for Android or iOS). This is a step you can’t avoid with any smart device (or else it wouldn’t be so smart). And you also have to attach a small magnet to the frame near the lock so it can calibrate and know what’s what. That app will walk you through installing this in just a few steps and will confirm that it is working.
The app guides you through setting up an account and joining the lock to your account. Then it walks you through setting up that magnet and then the various settings of the lock. including setting up NFC access.
The NFC access is something you can play with right away since it comes with two small NFC pucks that can be stuck anywhere. Simply program them to your lock and you can use them to either unlock or lock your door by simply tapping your phone against one of them.
Of course, that might not be cool enough for you–and this is where the modular approach kicks in. The lock can operate by itself with no other accessories needed. However, in this basic scenario, it only operates via Bluetooth. This means you can open your door with your normal key as well as the app (but only when you are standing near the door).
What if you want to open the door over the cloud from anywhere in the world? Let’s say that you’re on vacation somewhere and your dog sitter comes over to check on the furry ones. Or let’s say that you have a friend or family member (that you trust enough) that needs to come in but no one is there to answer the door. Or what if you want that sweet sweet biometric access? Or a numeric keypad?
In order to gain access to these options, you do need the SwitchBot Hub Mini. This becomes the brain for everything, taking the load off the Bluetooth connection and onto the Wi-Fi network instead. This opens you to the cloud.
The Hub (Optional)
The Hub Mini is one of a number of optional accessories that you can build out your access with. There are a number of kit/bundle options depending on where you wanted to go with everything. You can go with the lock by itself for $99 or you can build out from there, starting with this Hub. Kits range up to $169, keeping within a reasonable price range.
Unless, of course, you already have one of these. If you already have other SwitchBot products in your home that use the Hub, then you already can open the lock to cloud access.
It doesn’t take much to set up the hub. You do so by adding it to the app and connecting it to your network. Then you can click on your devices and tell them to connect to cloud access.
The hub is so much more than this though. Not only does it bring all of the SwitchBot products together, connecting them to the cloud, but it also has the ability to control some of your other devices. This is because it also has a built-in IR blaster, allowing it to function as a universal remote for many products that use IR input for control (and are within IR range). Including TVs, fans, small HVAC systems, air purifiers, and more. This little hub is quite the workhorse.
The hub is tiny and doesn’t take up much space at all (only a few inches wide in either direction).
So what’s next?
The Keypads! (and biometric access)
These come in two forms. Either just a keypad (the SwitchBot Keypad) or a keypad with a biometric sensor at the bottom as seen in the image above (SwitchBot Keypad Touch).
Also part of various kit/bundle options, you can pick up the lock with the hub and the keypad of choice all in one transaction. This includes SwitchBot’s website or Amazon (or likely anywhere else that carries SwitchBot products).
You add the keypad to the app and from there you simply start assigning key codes. You can assign them to permanent users or assign them as limited-use temporary users. If you have the Touch model, you can do the same for biometric access. Adding as many fingers per user as you want (since it is good to have more than one finger registered in case you cut a finger or overwork one of them to the point of drying out and cracking.
Even better, the keypad comes with a wallet-shaped card with built-in NFC. You can register the card so you just tap it to the face of the keypad for wireless access. Just like a commercial building. You can buy more of those or even buy a key fob.
The options are quite all-inclusive as the company has pretty much thrown everything into the pot when developing this product.
It doesn’t stop there…
Of course, since it is a smart lock that is cloud-connected, it wouldn’t be completely smart without the ability to support additional third-party solutions. As long as you have everything connected through the hub, the SwtichBot Hub will also support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, IFTTT, and even SmartThings.
It can also support Home Assistant for more complex users, although this is a little different as it doesn’t support cloud/hub access just yet. HA acts as the hub currently, allowing you to connect SwitchBot products to HA instead. However, it doesn’t support the Lock it seems (not yet). You have to add each product separately to HA and only if the system running HA supports Bluetooth and is within Bluetooth range of the devices. So, for the moment, we couldn’t fully recommend going this route. Not until a proper cloud integration with SwitchBot’s ecosystem can be made.
Since SwitchBot does have API access, it shouldn’t be long before you see integrations popping up in other hubs and services. Including a proper HA integration, hopefully.
We have been testing the locks with the Keypad Touch units, the NFC card, and pucks. All connected to a Hub Mini unit. Setting everything up (as mentioned) was quite easy and didn’t take much time at all. The magnet is a little oddly placed since it doesn’t slit flush to the SwitchBot Lock so it does get some comments from others as it kind of stands out because of this. But it does serve a purpose, at least.
We didn’t run into any disconnect issues and everything continued to work every time. Although I’m sure the battery life won’t last as long for us since we have been playing around with them so much. They are rated for up to 180 days of use before having to change out the batteries. This is based on an average of 10 uses per day. We have probably blown through a month’s worth of uses by now.
The biometric access works like a charm as well as the NFC bits. We hid a few of the pucks in plain view, tucking them into things like outlets, faceplates, and even tucked away in a small lawn ornament (with thin layers so the NFC will still reach through). Everything worked well and it felt like hiding a key under a rock (but way more safe). This also acted as a fun “secret” access to the doors related for those unaware of what we were doing.
You get so much customizable access through the app when it comes to building everything out and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out (as long as you have some experience with pairing devices to their proper apps).
The ability to support your common digital assistants and things like IFTTT opens the user up to so many other scenarios as well. Allowing you to automate your daily life like you would with any other smart home product. SmartThings support is also a huge win as this allows you to interact with other products quickly and across so many ecosystems using SmartThings as a bridge. Turn on the lights when you access the door, set off a siren if something is wrong, etc.
We have spent a good deal of time playing with everything and we couldn’t praise it anymore. We just wonder what the future will be for SwitchBot. Greater integration with third-party ecosystems? Support for the upcoming Matter protocol? I guess we will just have to see. This isn’t so important since it already has so much with the three big ones (Alexa, Google, and SmartThings). Plus, most of these bridges plan to offer Matter support, so it will come one way or another.
In the meantime, the price is right and you can build it out as you want. From the price of just the lock to having everything at once, it all feels right. It is competitive without sacrifice. It is versatile and non-invasive. It allows you access to your home for virtually any scenario or user. We like it! We had a lot of fun setting everything up and look forward to finding ways to integrate it with other products and ecosystems once given a chance.
I feel like we have missed some things as there is still things we haven’t even tried out yet. So we may be coming back to add some more to this review come time (once we have chipped away at some of these other features). Just look at everything the Hub Mini can accomplish both within the SwitchBot ecosystem and beyond.
Even better, we have a 20% code for you. Simply use “SWITCHBOT20OFF” for a promo code if checking out via SwitchBot’s website. A solid product mixed with saving some of your hard-earned cash.
| Our Rating|| Average Price*|
$99 – $169
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Material: PC+ABS
- Compatibility: Check here
- System Requirement: iOS 11.0+, Android 5.0+;
- SwitchBot Tag: iOS 13.0+, iPhone XR or higher models; Android 5.0+, any models that support NFC;
- Apple Watch: Apple Watch Series 2 or higher models and WatchOS 4.0 or higher versions
- Lifespan: Up to 50,000 cycles (1 cycle equals clockwise rotation by 180-degree and anti-clockwise rotation by 180 degrees)
- Angle of Rotation: 360 degrees clockwise and counter-clockwise
- Power Input: 3V CR123A x 2
- Battery Life: 180 days maximum, locking and unlocking 10 times per day
- Communication Mode: Bluetooth 5.0
- Third-party Services: Alexa/Google/Siri/IFTTT/SmartThings/LINE Clova/API
- Encryption: AES-128-CTR
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
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