With smart door locks becoming all the rage, it was only a matter of time before the traditional padlock joined in. Out with the tiny keys and remembering what your combination is. The Koogeek FL1 Fingerprint Smart Lock eliminates that by letting you open your lock with a finger, smartphone app, or even your voice.
Koogeek isn’t a household name yet in the smart home industry, but they’ve built a small following over the years. Their focus has primarily been on HomeKit devices for budget minded consumers. We reviewed their light switch last year and plan to follow-up with more products in their ever-growing lineup.
Sturdier Than Anticipated
Immediately upon grasping the smart lock, I could tell it was well made. Plenty of metal inside with a weight around the same as an old school Master Lock. It’s comprised of zinc alloy with a stainless steel finish. Perhaps the only noticeable difference from a traditional padlock is the shackle being a tad longer than I’m used to.
The front face is black and features a biometric scanner smack dab in the middle. On top is an LED which indicates when the lock has been successfully opened. The look is a bit modern for my taste. I prefer my padlocks to look a little more intimidating.
Powering everything is a 280 mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery inside. Koogeek claims you can go a year between charges or 30,000 unlocks. The app does track battery level and can be set to notify you when it gets low. A micro USB port is located on the bottom for easy charging.
Koogeek suggests that the lock is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. There is mention that the unit is waterproof, but I could find no IP rating anywhere in their materials. My thoughts are to use at your own risk around water.
Connects Seamlessly with Apple HomeKit
Setting up the fingerprint lock is relatively simple. You’ll need the Koogeek app to install firmware updates and it does unfortunately require creating an account. As with other Apple HomeKit devices, you’ll scan the included code and be connected via Bluetooth immediately.
Storing your fingerprint is as simple as pressing the reset button and touching the fingerprint scanner 5 times. When it has successfully registered your print, the green light will blink twice and you’re on your way. All in all I was operating the FL1 within 5 minutes.
Fingerprint Scanner Can Be Stubborn at Times
The fingerprint scanner is unfortunately not as reliable as the one’s on modern smartphones. You have to be much more precise with your finger on the sensor. It can sometimes take multiple tries before unlocking. And there is a built-in security feature that locks you out for a minute if there are too many failed attempts.
The alternative is of course using your phone. You can control the lock through either the Koogeek app or Apple Home. Besides unlocking, you can also check on the battery level, check the usage log, and attach it to scenes. The last is what I’m using the lock for these days.
My home has a cellar which is primarily used to store tools, patio furniture, and other junk I’ve accumulated over the years. But the issue has been turning on the light inside without breaking my neck tripping over something. Using the Koogeek Smart Lock on the cellar door, I can have it trigger on the lights in the cellar whenever it becomes unlocked. When I lock it, those lights turn off. This feels perfect for cellars, garages, and sheds with lights inside.
Beyond your phone and finger, Siri is also an option for unlocking. Same goes for your Apple Watch as long as you’re within Bluetooth range.
No User Management Limits Potential Use
One area of disappointment is the inability to manage users. Koogeek lets you store up to 50 different fingerprints. The problem is that you can’t assign a person to each fingerprint. It’s all one person in their system. Meaning if you want to remove a fingerprint from the lock, you have to remove them all.
This particularly stinks when you notice the app stores logs. This should be a great feature that someone can use to see who has accessed the lock at a particular time. But since it treats all 50 fingerprints as the same person, there is no way to know which fingerprint was used at which particular time. Now this isn’t a knock on the lock itself since it’s a software oversight. But it kills the usefulness for landlords or business owners wanting to track which people are accessing their lock.
A Nice Improvement on Traditional Padlocks
If you’ve grown tired of having to remember combination numbers or losing those tiny keys, moving to biometrics is certainly a solution. There are some minor annoyances with the sensor and you won’t be able to log which employee is entering the supply cabinet at work. But it does the basics, and I trust Koogeek more than the off-brand smart padlocks being sold on Amazon.
The $50 price tag is right in the middle of where smart padlocks are being sold at. You can save a few dollars by going with the WGCC lock, but they’re relatively unknown. Or go all out for a Tapplock One Plus if you’re in need of serious security. Otherwise this hits a nice sweet spot and is a nice improvement on the outdated padlock.