We are half-way to the airport a few hours away from home and I start questioning if I locked my front door.

It was my responsibility as I was the last one out, but I have no recollection of turning the key in the dead-bolt.

Uh oh!

A series of panicky text messages to my neighbor follows before she assures me that it is in fact locked.

If this has ever happened to you, you could eliminate this stress and install an electronic door lock that would also allow you to check and control the situation from your smart phone. Wherever you may be.

Alternatives to the traditional key lock

Do you go out jogging or cycling directly from home and don’t want to carry keys with you? Or are you are always misplacing your house keys or constantly digging through your purse or pockets to find them? This is especially inconvenient with an armload of groceries.

Don’t waste any more time looking for those elusive keys.

There is a wide array of keyless door locks on the market today. Many of them come with a back-up system in case you lose the device that signals the door to open or the batteries die. Many Bluetooth enabled ones will also signal when the units’ batteries are getting low and send a message to your phone.

The 4 most common keyless systems are:

  1. Keypad Entry. They require a pin number that you enter manually onto a key pad or touch screen.
  2. Radio Frequency Identification. Like a fob or keycard. You may not even have to remove the fob from your pocket, which would be very handy if your hands are full.
  3. Bluetooth. They sense your smart phone and unlock your door as you approach.
  4. Biometrics. This is usually a finger-print identification system, but there are others that recognize eyes or faces of approved users.

Make sure to mount the system keypad or biometrics sensor where everybody can reach it, whether sitting or standing.

There are hundreds of types to choose from at all price ranges. Do a google search for keyless entries to find out where to buy them. For specific brand recommendations take a look at here and here.

Do you want to see who is at your front door?

If safety and security is an issue for you and you are more comfortable knowing who is at your door before you open it, there are several things you can do.

  • Install a front door with clear glass windows. These can have blinds on them so you control when you want more privacy or light. The size and location of these windows within the door can vary greatly. In my next project I plan on using one with several inset horizontal panes of glass that begin at about knee height.
  • Place side lights (windows) beside the front door. Make sure they are low enough to see through from a seated position. TIP. They are also a great way to let in more light and create a dramatic and welcoming entrance.
  • Put peep holes in the door. Install 2 at different heights; one at standing height and one at sitting height, which children will enjoy using.
  • Have an intercom unit installed to communicate with people at your front door and be able to buzz them in from anywhere in your home. Technology enables this to happen through your phone or tv and can be utilized from each floor. You can place a camera on the exterior of your house in order to visually identify your visitors before letting them in.

Automatic door openers

Now that you have the locking and security under control, what about making things even more convenient at your entry?

There are automatic systems to open the door for you at the push of a button and they can easily be added onto any existing hinged door in your home.

The opener is mounted on the door or the jamb and can be controlled by keypads, push-buttons (wired or wireless) or remote controls. They work on doors that swing in or out and are usually mounted indoors, away from the weather.

They are easily installed by a skilled handyman, carpenter or electrician. Some models plug directly into a standard outlet and others need a source of compressed air for the pneumatic opener.

Automatic door openers are not only limited to exterior doors, they could also be used inside your home too. Gentlemen Door Automation has pocket and sliding glass door openers, and a video on their site shows a pair of pocket doors opening like the ones made famous in Star Trek.

Action plan

Before you go on your next vacation, consider an electronic front door locking system so you can fully enjoy your holiday and have peace of mind that you have left your home safe and secure.