Array by Hampton Connected Door Lock review: This sliding smart lock includes solar panel power
By now we've seen plenty of smart locks make their way through the smart home market with a wide range of designs and features. I'll be honest, it takes a lot to raise my eyebrows, but the Array by Hampton Connected Door Lock did just that.
The first smart home product from Hampton Products, it costs $299, but comes with one feature that caught my eye: a hidden keypad beneath a solar panel cover. The Array is pricey for a lock that is only compatible with Amazon Alexa . I can't recommend it to anyone committed to a Google Home or Apple HomeKit setup, since it doesn't work with those assistants yet.
Without Z-Wave or IFTTT, even Alexa users could be disappointed by the lack of integration with other smart home devices. I'd recommend waiting for a more feature-filled version. Still, I'll give the Array points for creative design and hope that future upgrades unlock its potential.
Two 5,200mAh rechargeable lithium-polymer batteries are included with the Array. That's a thoughtful package, because in theory you would never be without a fresh battery. The rechargeable batteries cost $50 on their own. I'm a fan of anything that doesn't require me to dig AA batteries out of our kitchen junk drawer.
The Array comes in two styles: a contemporary style called the Cooper and a traditional design called the Barrington. Both feature the same sliding panel design. When closed, the lock displays the keyway and a small solar panel to help charge the installed battery. Slide the solar panel up (watch your fingers), and you'll find a physical keypad backlit with blue LEDs for entering an e-code, a four- to six-digit number assigned to a specific user. You can restrict these codes to only work once or on a set schedule with time and day restrictions.
What's really interesting about this lock is that solar panel, something I haven't seen on a smart lock before. No, the lock can't be totally powered by sunlight. The panel is just there to give the battery some extra juice. The folks at Hampton estimate that the battery, with indirect sunlight, will last somewhere between 60 and 90 days. If you door gets direct sunlight, a single battery charge with a little help from those solar panels could last up to 9 months.
Once the battery is full, the solar panel circuit stops, to prevent any damage to the battery. If solar panels aren't your thing or you need a smart lock for an area without sun like a garage entry, Hampton Products is planning a cheaper, non-solar option for later this year.
Installing the Array is a bit involved since it does replace your existing deadbolt, but it doesn't take more than a screwdriver and the willingness to carefully read instructions. The Array connects directly to your home's Wi-Fi 2.4GHz internet, so there's no need for a bridge or connect module in order to operate this lock remotely or as part of your smart home. I'm a fan of fewer modules and bridges, but the Array is missing Z-Wave or Zigbee compatibility to tie it into the rest of a smart home.
In the Array app for iOS or Android devices, you can view the lock status and lock or unlock it from anywhere you have an internet connection. You can also add an unlimited number of users and give them e-codes for the physical keypad or e-keys to control the lock as a guest in their own Array app account.
The Array includes a geofencing feature (still in beta) that detects when your phone has left or returns home and sends a notification to ask if you'd like to lock or unlock the door. It's not a perfectly automated solution like an autolock, but it is a helpful reminder should you forget to lock the door on your way out.
The Array lock works with Amazon Alexa for voice commands with the Array by Hampton Connected Door Lock skill. You can ask Alexa if the door is locked or unlocked or tell Alexa to lock the door. You won't be able to unlock the door with a voice command and PIN.
What I didn't like
There are a few areas where the Array fell short of my expectations. It's a sturdy lock with thoughtful features, but it isn't perfect by any means.
As I mentioned, the Array isn't compatible with Google Assistant or Siri yet. The team at Hampton Products told me these integrations are in the works and should be available later this year or next via software upgrades. Still, that's a risk consumers in those smart-assistant spaces likely won't want to take when there are well-tested, well-reviewed compatible smart locks out there.
Because there is no Z-Wave or Zigbee option for the Array, you won't be able to connect this lock to smart home hubs. There isn't an IFTTT service to customize functionality or link it with other smart devices, either. Let's say you'd like your thermostat or lights to adjust when you unlock the front door. The Array can't do that yet.
On the physical side of things, I had just a few issues with the feel of the product. While I do like the sliding cover and the hidden keypad, it takes a bit more effort than feels right to slide it up and down. On the interior side of the lock, the battery cover is a flimsy-feeling plastic, and I worried about breaking it each time I removed and inserted the battery.
The bottom line
I don't think this is a bad smart lock. I just think its appeal is limited. If you're an Alexa enthusiast, then you'll get full access to all the capabilities of the Array, though they are few. If you control your smart home with Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit, this lock isn't for you. Future updates might bring the Array to your platform, but you could be waiting for a while.
If you love the design of this lock and you don't need it to work with other smart-home devices like lights or thermostats, you won't be disappointed. If you're looking for a smart lock that plays well with others, this one isn't it. You'll be better off with a retrofit model like the August Smart Lock Pro or one of Yale's Assure smart locks.