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I’ve Had My New Invisible Smart Locks For 4 Months – Here’s An Honest Review

As someone who is “tech-wary” in my home, I am starting to make some pretty *smart* choices (this one I can even install myself). Sometimes “smart” stuff can actually overcomplicate, intimidate and frustrate people (myself), but not these – Level Home smart locks are shockingly simple, smart, and stylish. I had been eyeing Level’s products for a minute – I wanted something that didn’t scream “this house is a vacation rental,” but was still functional enough to provide controlled access for Airbnb guests, cleaning services, our property managers, handypeople, friends, family, etc. – so when Caitlin mentioned that Level had reached out about partnering on some social content, it was an easy “yes.” We installed the Level Lock – Touch Edition at the Mountain House earlier this year and love it so much that we ended up installing them at the Farm, too.

Their smart locks are aesthetically pleasing and easy to use for everyone, knowing that different people have different tech preferences and comfort levels. They can be locked and unlocked with a traditional/old school key, with your phone, with a key card (like a hotel!), with mini key cards (we put these on keychains), with your voice, with a keypad…Level Home is the creme de la creme of smart locks, folks. It’s VERY genius and I hope this is a new trend – having both manual and tech ways to operate something in your home.

We considered three of Level’s offerings: The Level Bolt, which goes inside your existing lock and transforms it into a smart lock (a great option for those who want to keep the aesthetics of their door the same, which wasn’t the case for us). Note: Level locks are compatible with residential doors that meet something called “ANSI standards” (American National Standards Institute). At the Farm, our vintage front door was an old-world mortise and tenon lock so Jamie had to fill the original hole/cartridge area to retrofit it for a 21st-century ANSI deadbolt lock (which he says he does all the time).

Since we were looking for a new slim profile for our Mountain House door, our two frontrunners were the Level Lock and the Level Lock – Touch Edition. Both have a ton of functionality, like access with a mobile app, key codes, voice entry and remote connectivity (so we can make sure the doors are locked from bed), but we ended up going with the latter because of its bonus touch and key card functionality. Being able to lock and unlock the front door with just a touch of my finger (if I have my phone with me) is game-changing, especially when you’re trying to get everything out of a car and into the house in one trip.

The Ingredients – So Simple

I originally figured I’d hire our handyman to install the lock, but after I opened the box, I realized it only required a screwdriver and that I’d be able to do it myself. (We also made a partnership reel documenting the process, which you can watch right here.) You can really see how sleek and well-designed the lock is here – it has the smallest footprint on the market (I checked) and it doesn’t scream “dorky smart lock,” which is nice (especially for the farm that is an older vintage door). We opted to add the Level Keypad accessory to pair with our lock for our Airbnb guests, and for a set of Key Card Minis for the kids.

STEP ONE AND TWO: Screw In The Deadbolt, Then Pop In The Motor

It’s recommended to use a screwdriver to prevent possible damage to the lock, but I couldn’t find one so I broke out the drill. Do you see that little Level logo? That’s actually where the battery that powers the lock will live – it has a lifespan of about a year and you’ll see a message in the app before it’s time to swap it out for a fresh battery. You can also always use the lock manually with a traditional key, so the technology can really meet you where you’re comfortable. Some people prefer using keys because that’s what they’re used to, while others prefer the app or entering with a code to be phone-free. It’s a smart lock that gives you the freedom to enter however you want.

STEP THREE: Add The Lock Exterior

We picked the Matte Black finish for both the Mountain and Farm, but Level locks also come in Polished Brass, Satin Chrome, and Satin Nickel.

STEP FOUR: Attach Backplate, Secure Thumbturn

Again, it was super easy, fast, and intuitive.

STEP FIVE: Insert the Battery

The lock makes a sweet little chirp when everything is turned on and ready to go. We took a few steps back to admire the handy work and were so excited by how simple and clean both sides of the lock looked against our current door. It was a nice improvement visually and functionally from the big, bulky keypad lock that had been taking up a ton of real estate previously. Also with our old lock, when the keypad would malfunction or run out of batteries, there was no way to get into the house. We love that we can use a traditional key backup with Level.

STEP SIX: Connect Your Level Lock To The App

The app is really intuitive and easy to use, so we set up two Key Cards (for me and Brian) and Key Card Minis (for the kids, which we also really really love having at the Farm).

It’s easy to keep track of who has what, when they enter and exit, and it also shows you how long they were there. For instance, if you want to give your cleaning crew space to clean the house without you lingering, you can check the app to see if they’re still working. It’s also great to give easy access to handypeople, dog walkers, contractors, etc. (our property manager uses it to know when guests or the cleaning crew has left so she can ready the house for the next family). With Apple Home or Ring connected, there’s also a ton of other functionality, like the ability to remotely lock and unlock the doors, so there’s no more “wait…did I lock the door?” panic moments when we’re in the middle of a trip back to Portland. You can even create automations (i.e. locking and unlocking the door at certain times every day).

STEP SEVEN (Optional): Install a Keypad

As someone who loses most small things or whose phone/wallet is always at the bottom of my purses, I really like the Level Keypad, which can be placed anywhere within 30 feet of the lock (so it doesn’t need to be in plain sight – did you notice it in the earlier shots of the entry?). You are even able to create custom entry codes for guests, the dog walker, etc. (Fun fact: I was a dog walker in New York when I was 22 and yes, keeping track of all the keys was difficult – a code would have been wonderful.)

The codes are much quicker to generate and easier to share than I anticipated. Take it from this formerly tech-wary person 🙂

STEP EIGHT: Enjoy Entering A Billion Different Ways

You can use a Level Key Card just by tapping it (like a hotel key you keep in your wallet with the rest of your cards).

Or you can enter with a simple touch of your finger (hence the “Touch Edition” name). This works when your phone is within range of the lock (and the locks work with Bluetooth, so no worries if your WiFi goes out or if the power is off). The app doesn’t have to be open, your phone just needs to be near you (like in the bottom of your purse).

If you’re like Brian and like to go on runs without your phone, Key Card Minis are easy to keep on a zipper or inside a pocket. It’s great to be truly hands-free (and I could always use the Keypad in a pinch, too).

We installed and shot this over summer while we were living there. Since then, the kids (and the Airbnb guests) have been loving the Level Keypad.

And it’s been awesome to have a backup set of Key Cards that we can both just keep in our wallets.

When all else fails, we can break out the good old-fashioned hard metal keys. I LOVE THIS. This means that should you ignore the battery warning (that again, lasts a really long time) you can always have the OG key in a nearby lockbox or like us at a neighbor’s. No one will ever be locked out again. There’s an entry option that can make anyone feel comfortable!

We’ll be rolling out a few more Reels with Level over the next few months, so keep an eye out for those. We did a ton of research on the best smart locks on the market and Level’s options were outstanding in every aspect – they’re beautiful, easy to use, functional, and very safe (fully certified to meet highest standards for security/durability/reliability). I know that locks aren’t usually a super sexy topic, but we’ve genuinely loved our experience with these at both houses and I’m excited to support a brand that’s really innovating in the space. And with the holidays coming up…maybe it’s time to try a new lock at your house, too? (Imagine this: you can set up temporary codes for your family so they can enter and leave your home as they please. Kinda nice, right?) 

*This post was sponsored by Level Home but all thoughts are my own
**Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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Orlando
2 months ago

Okay, this is def what I’m getting for Londo Lodge. The current keyless entry situation I have is hideous compared to this! I love how there’s no huge ugly pad or weird clunky levers.

LL
2 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

Hi Orlando, we miss you, your designs and your voice here!

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

Yaaay!

2 months ago

This is really amazing. This showss how technology is changing rapidly. Looking forward to more such content

Emma
2 months ago

How does this kind of system work with home insurance?

Gabrielle Muir
2 months ago

Hi, LOVE this and was about to start looking into options, this one does look great, especially the tip about moving the keypad to less prime position.

So we are now set for our front door with this.
Question: our back door is a sliding glass door with a lock, (Schuco ASE60) do you know if this workers in sliding doors?

Thank you in advance, awesome timing like usual, just when I need something you dive deep ahead of me.

Lauren H
2 months ago

Love the concept of the Level lock but as a Google home and Android user, the current compatibly does not work for me. Every few months I check to see if they have expanded their availability yet.

Also I love the plant and skis on your front porch. So lovely!

Betsy
2 months ago
Reply to  Lauren H

That is a bummer. I was all in, until reading your comment.

Rose
2 months ago

Can you tell us about that lovely door handle that you are using with your lever lock?

Kj
2 months ago
Reply to  Rose

To me, it looks like a Schlage Century Handleset (exterior) with a Schlage Latitude Universal Handle (interior) but that’s just a guess: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Schlage-Century-Aged-Bronze-Front-Entry-Door-Handleset-with-Latitude-Handle-Universal-FE285-CEN-716-LAT/313311800

kiki
2 months ago

OMG, what perfect timing! We have a punch code lock that’s probably about 30 years old and it is dying. Just this week our cleaning lady accidently locked the knob (instead of the deadbolt) and our poor international student was locked outside for over an hour until we could get home with a knob key and let her in! This will be the perfect solution so that never happens again!

Roberta Davis
2 months ago

I LOVE this! Been wondering what to do at my house- battery dead on keypad at back door and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it- even after watching several videos. I like that the key is always an option and you can put the keypad anywhere within 30 feet. Looks easy to install and use- we have a few tech-wary people in our family! It would be awesome if they offered your readers a discount code! 🙂

Ken
2 months ago

Aren’t these the locks that the LockPickingLawyer showed were pathetically easy to pick open by a novice?

Alison
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Current Level owner here. I purchased these even after seeing that video. No one is walking around with tools and a magnifying glass and attempting to discern which brand of lock is easiest to pick. Also, when the lock is open or messed with…it tells you. I’d rather be alerted to some weirdo trying to enter my house and have documentation to bring to the police, but that’s just me. Also agree that the functionality is great. I just locked up my house through the app from across the country after accidentally rushing out to catch a flight…I’m at a small SFH in a major city with a lot of foot traffic, so someone absolutely would have been able to walk on in. I’m not that passionate about smart home products but this is the exception. It’s only been a week or so, but I wouldn’t sweat any picking claims.

Sarah F
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken

I agree that any lock can be picked—my husband learned how to for fun and yeah, not matter the lock, it it can be done.
People CAN possibly break into almost anything, if they are determined! Even the thickest bike locks, etc.. But having Nest cameras, etc. at home gives us more peace of mind. Also knowing that prob 90%+ of people who would break in aren’t super skilled and as motivated to break in if there are deterrents.

priscilla
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah F

Your husband’s idea of fun! lol (looking for lock picking videos on youtube now)

Rachel S
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Yes that was my question too. I know nothing about locks but I couldn’t help thinking if it is super easy to install with just a screwdriver wouldn’t be easy to remove it too? Or just kick the door in?

Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken

It seems like you would have to be SO careful about making sure any tag or phone that can unlock it is out of range when you are indoors. If you have kids who keep their backpacks on hooks by the door, and if they have tags that they can use to swipe themselves in, what is to say that those tags can’t give someone outside the door easy access?

Charisse
2 months ago

Why do we allow technology to make things so complicated? First, a key, OMG how simple, and it works, even with the deadbolt. It keeps on working without batteries, no app or phone required. I have beautiful door hardware that does not require anything but a key. And usually I do not lock my doors so don’t even need a key. And guess what, it works, a plain ole metal key, go figure. And it cost a dollar or two to duplicate. The environment says thank you, no batteries required.

Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  Charisse

I think these locks are weirdly unnecessary for most homeowners but actually a really good idea for a rental/vacation property like the Mountain House is now.

MJ
2 months ago
Reply to  Charisse

I understand what you are saying, but when I am coming home from a solo parent excursion with one baby and one toddler and all of their crap to juggle, I often find myself wishing for an electronic lock rather than having to jiggle my key around in there! My daughter’s daycare issues fobs to the parents for dropoff/pickup, and I’m always like ahhh this is so easy, I wish I had this for home. So it’s nice to see an attractive option.
Plus, with this being Emily’s second home, it makes a ton of sense having to let others into the house when she is not there. I’d feel much safer with this option than the ol’ “hide it under the flower pot” bit.

Judy
2 months ago
Reply to  Charisse

As someone with teens and young adults… we did the whole “hide the key outside ” for the kids and guarantee they would forget to return it for the next time. A keypad lock means that they could always enter, and if my mom was meeting them after school, she could too.

K
2 months ago
Reply to  Charisse

I’m anti-door tech but for the ease of children not being locked out, I’m all in on the technology. Plus if I exercise outdoors, I’d like the idea of not needing a key or leaving house unlocked.

Nancy
2 months ago
Reply to  Charisse

I have been waiting for something like this. My car locks spoil me. Walk up, touch, open. I don’t have my keys in my hands, so I have to get them out to open the door. Frustrating, when carrying things. I’ve even resorted to ringing the doorbell for my husband to let me in. Yes, a bit lazy I know. And, I live in a safe area, but being alone in the dark, unlocking a door is a risk. This really makes sense.

Christina Schroeder
2 months ago

This post is a lifesaver for us. We had a Kwikset keyless smart lock on the owners closet in our vacation rental and it malfunctioned so we could not open the door. We called their customer service and the only answer was “Sorry. Call a locksmith.” We ended up having to have the locksmith break the lock just to get it off. I will never have a keyless lock again.
We ordered a Schlage keyed smart lock but it is on back order for 2 months. This looks like a great option. Putting one on order asap.
Thank you and Level!

Honest Lee
2 months ago

So I’m curious… where’s your dishonest review?
Seriously, though… please reconsider using this overused phrase in blog posts.

  • It implies that other bloggers are inherently dishonest.
  • It’s just… awkward. Like, would you introduce yourself personally to someone else like that? “Hi, I’m Emily, and I’m a very honest person!” Or give a talk at a conference like that, “Today I’m going to give you an honest overview of…”
  • Ironically, it’s also the sort of reassurance that a pathological liar would make. “I swear to God, what I’m going to tell you is TOTALLY true…” or “Honey, I’d never lie to you!!!” etc.

Thanks for taking this into consideration 🙂
Signed,
A guy who has just kinda gotten fed up with this increasingly-common titling nowadays (sorry, sorta)

2 months ago

I have read your blog it’s very interesting and useful.

Jason
2 months ago

Perhaps an “honest review” would also describe any challenges you had?

Nancy
2 months ago

Was very excited to see this. But, went to Amazon to read reviews and there are issues that will keep me from buying. But, will keep an eye on it and see how it evolves. Really trying to duplicate the ease of unlocking my car

Cami
2 months ago

We have level locks and we have been super disappointed. Why are we having such a bad experience? The touchless option rarely works. It worked the first 6 mos, but has not worked in a couple of months for me. Still works for my Husband occasionally. You can not lock your house from anywhere. Mine won’t even lock it from my own bedroom. Says it’s out of range. The app rarely reports the true status. On the app, it will say it’s unlocked and you go to lock it and discover that it’s already locked or vice versa. Ours worked fairly well for a few months (we have 3 locks) but only work with the phone right next to them now.

Kate
2 months ago

Hmm, interesting. If you can unlock the door with your finger as long as your phone is within range, what happens if you are inside and want the door to be locked but your phone is within range indoors? Could someone outside tap the lock and open it?

Jenny M
2 months ago

This might be the only way I will ever get my family to lock the front door. We are not good key people.

Mitten
2 months ago

I’ve just done a deep dive into the archive and cant find the exterior paint colour of the mountain house anywhere. Can anyone help me find it please?

Nathan Ridge
2 months ago

If you are concerned about security you should go on YouTube and look for @LockPickingLawyer’s video #1480. These locks tick the boxes in some areas such as convenience, but provide no real security against a skilled thief. Level should be pressured to “Level Up” their game on the mechanical side.

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