Vacation Rental Management for busy people!

Choosing a keypad lock for your vacation rental

When you are not local to your Vacation Rental and wish to deal with access yourself you'll need to mail the keys to your guest and have them get them back to you. There is always risk in using the mail to get them there on time and in them being lost by the guest. A great alternative is some kind of keypad, so that no keys need to me physically moved - you just provide a number. One always has a physical key in a lock-box as a backup should the battery die, so there's not really any risk there.

There is some additional cost in terms of the lock so you'll need to weigh the cost of your time, postage and convenience against this. This article summarizes the main choices that the Vacation Rental owner has for replacing their key-based system with a keypad-based system.

There are three types of keypad locks that you can choose from today.

Manually-set keypads - codes are changed by physically being at the lock

These have nothing to think about other than the lock - buy and install the lock and you are done.

  1. No internet access required at all
  2. Typically hold 20 or so codes (that you'd use for your ManCo, cleaner etc)
  3. The Guest Code must be programmed into the lock physically each time there's a change

One thing to consider is how the lock operates, as this can have an effect on the battery usage and guest usage.

Lock Choices

I have two locks to recommend after trying many:

Schlage BE365 (deadbolt)

Kwikset Lever (not the deadbolt)

Rather than using the battery and motor to move the locking hardware, the keypad in these locks simply controls whether turning the knob/lever will allow the locking hardware to move or not. This means that the person opening the door uses their own strength to move the hardware. This is good because doors can warp and the locking hardware not align properly over time and with changes in the weather.

A person can always add more force to get the hardware to move if needed, but with motors moving the hardware strength is limited and the batteries are run down very quickly with multiple attempts. This is quite frustrating for the user when the door needs to be pulled, pushed and jiggled around in the hope that it will eventually lock or unlock.

If you have the choice, don't get any type of lock that uses motors to move the locking hardware.

Remotely-set keypads - codes are changed on the lock via an internet connection

These locks allow you to make changes to the lock itself remotely - altering the codes that it contains, as if you'd done it manually. You buy and install the lock and then need to ensure the codes can be changed remotely by having internet access to the home.

  1. Typically holds some permanent codes (for manco/cleaners etc)
  2. Guest code can be changed if you have an internet connection near the lock itself. You need a reliable internet connection in your VR
  3. You need your internet and power to be on in order to change the code.
  4. For me (Florida), this is too risky - I want the guest to be able to get in even if the power is off. Of course, you could give them one of the permanent codes if they called, so maybe not a big deal if it happens infrequently.
  5. There's no calendar - you change the Guest Code at the time you want a new one to be in effect.
  6. If you don't want guests to get early check-in then you'll need to ensure that their code is not set until you are ready.
  7. Thus there is a tradeoff between reliably being able to change the code in time for the guests and not letting them in too early.
  8. Note that the lock itself uses the wireless z-wave standard for access - you need to have a converter that will connect your internet (WiFi/Ethernet) to the z-wave wireless standard - this converter may need to be purchased separately.

Lock Choices

There are two reasonably-priced locks that provides this capability right now:

Schlage-link (recommended)

This is the same physical lock as the BE365 above, so will work well.

Kwikset with HomeConnect

They have a deadbolt and a lever/handle version. The deadbolt version uses the motor to move the deadbolt so I would tend to avoid this one in favor of the Schalge.

Time-set keypads - the code itself determines when the door will open

  1. Holds some permanent codes (for manco/cleaners etc)
  2. Guest code is set without changing anything on the lock.
  3. Once you install it and add any permanent codes you'll not need to touch it again aside from replacing batteries
  4. Guest code is set based upon a date range using some online (or desktop) software.
  5. Thus you may need access to the internet in order to create a new code - but you can be anywhere that has an internet connection and you can generate it at any time in advance - we do it once the reservation is confirmed, 60 days before arrival.
  6. Even if the power to your VR goes down, the guest will still be able to use the code and get in.
  7. There's no need for a calendar as each guest's code lets them in only during their stay.
  8. The dates are encrypted in the entry code and the lock decrypts them and lets them in if the current date/time is within their stay.

There are 3 players in this field: Kaba, ResortLock and  eRentalLock.


Please see the comparison here.