Your House Is Smarter Than You Think Part one – Keyless Entry
The proliferation of smart phones in the market place has opened up a whole new world of ways to make your day-to-day life easier. Manufacturers of locks, garage door openers, lighting controls and thermostats have taken notice. There are door locks that unlock when you walk up to the door, garage door openers that you can operate remotely, light switches that you can dim with a touch of a button and thermostats that adjust the temperature in your home according to your schedule. Some of these devices operate using features already built into your smart phone.
Does this sound like science fiction? It’s not. All of the above not only exist as stand-alone devices, but are readily available in the market place. You may even have some in your home right now. If you don’t have any now and want to add smart devices, not only are they cool, they can save you considerable time and money. But aren’t all of those automatic devices expensive? The affordability of the devices just might surprise you.
What started out as an exploration of ways to dim the lights when watching a movie has grown into a four-part series of articles that begins here, with Keyless entry.
Almost all of us have gotten used to using a key fob and its familiar beep-beep to open our car doors. Newer cars only require you have the remote in your purse or pocket when you walk up to the car, and the doors magically unlock themselves. Why can’t our homes do the same thing? That is the question that Lock manufacturers like Kwikset, Schlage and Yale set out to address. Lowe's, Home Depot and several start-up companies have also gotten into this market, each with their own approach. All prices listed are MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price), but note that substantial savings can usually be found by doing a little shopping.
The next level of Kwikset locks have keypads that you can program with multiple codes – ideal for when you have multiple people using the door or you need to allow someone temporary access to your home. House guests, cleaning services or neighbors taking care of pets while you are on vacation all can have easy access.
Kwikset has long been recognized for their doorknobs and lock sets. It’s a good bet that you have used at least one of their products in the past 24 hours. A natural step for Kwikset was to include keyless entry systems in their product offering. All of the door locks below also have a traditional key that can be used in place of the electronic system, and are available in standard Kwikset finishes of bronze, brushed nickel or polished brass. All of the electronic locks by Kwikset use AA batteries.
The entry level keyless door lock is a deadbolt lock with a keypad. You simply enter the code and the door unlocks. This entry level lock set has a limited number of codes that can be used. Powerbolt 907 Deadbolt ($130.00).
The next level of Kwikset locks have keypads that you can program with multiple codes – ideal for when you have multiple people using the door or you need to allow someone temporary access to your home. House guests, cleaning services or neighbors taking care of pets while you are on vacation all can have easy access. The codes are easily deleted after they're not needed, maintaining the security of your house once a temporary code has been used. The devices come as either a deadbolt or a lever knob each with a keypad. Smartcode 909 Deadbolt ($229.99). Smartcode 911 Lever ($263.75).
These door locks also have the option of connecting to the Internet via your existing Wi-Fi router. This option gives you remote lock/unlock capability and also lets you remotely assign temporary pass codes. The same deadbolt and lever knob options as above are available. Smartcode 910 Deadbolt ($279.99). Smartcode 912 Lever ($274.99).
Kwikset’s KEVO electronic keyless entry is the top level offered. With the KEVO, Instead of entering a code to unlock to unlock the door, simply touch the lock and it opens. All you need is to have a corresponding app loaded on your smart phone or have a fob in your pocket. It works just like the remote for your car. The lock even knows if you are inside the house or outside. This way someone cannot just touch the lock and have it open. You have to be outside and have the proper fob or secure smart phone app for the lock to work. The Internet enabled keypad locks and the KEVO also have the capability of logging who used the door lock and when. Teenagers beware; mom and dad can know exactly when you came home with a simple check of the log. The KEVO uses 4ea AA batteries (included). 925 KEVO Bluetooth ($460.00).
The connected models from Schlage can be accessed remotely and have the functionality to allow you to remotely control the access codes for the locks.
Schlage has a huge selection of keyless entry options. They have deadbolts with keypads, and deadbolts with touch pads; each is stand-alone or can be paired with various handle or knob combinations. The touch pad versions can be accessed with Z-Wave technology. Z-wave technology is not a stand alone system but only a means to connect to another device that provides the connection to the outside world. This means that in order to use any of the remote access features with your smart phone, the Schlage products need an outside security service or home automation system to relay the signals to an Internet connection. Most security services have fees for their use. The upside is that Schlage will seamlessly integrate with just about any security or home automation system and add functionality that the system alone can’t offer. All of the electronic locks by Schlage use AA batteries.
Schlage keyless product offerings begin with a simple keypad deadbolt model BE365VCAM619 ($238.00). This deadbolt has a keypad that can be programmed with your unique code of up to 6 digits. Schlage also offers a handset with a keypad model FE595VCAM619ACC ($278.00). This handset can also be programmed with your unique code of up to 6 digits. Neither of the above models from Schlage offer connectivity.
The connected models from Schlage can be accessed remotely and have the functionality to allow you to remotely control the access codes for the locks. The locks also have built in alarms to alert you if the mechanism is forced. There are different alarms for when the lock is opened with a valid code or tampered with.
The touch screen models start with the touch screen deadbolt Model BE469NXCAM619 ($431.00). There is also a handset model, FE599NX CAM 619 ACC 619 ($406.00). Both the deadbolts and handsets have all of the features above. The top of the line offering from Schlage is the FE469NX ACC 716 CAM LH ($578.00). This model is essentially a lever handle door set with a touch screen deadbolt all in one kit.
Another name that has become synonymous with locks is Yale. They have also entered into the keyless entry marketplace. Like the Schlage models above, Yale has both stand-alone and connected locks. Yale also uses Z-Wave technology to connect to the outside world. This means that the Yale connected locks have the same features and limitations outlined above. All of the electronic locks by Yale use AA batteries.
Yale’s offering starts with a keypad deadbolt lock model YRD210-NR-619 ($159.99). They also have a handle set with an integrated keypad model YRL-210-ZW-619 ($250.00). Both of these models give you the ability to use up to 25 user programmed codes. Neither of these models is connected.
The connected models start with the touch screen deadbolt model YRD220-ZW-619 ($274.99). Yale also offers the touch screen option with a handle set model YRL-220-ZW-619 ($275.00). These models do offer the ability to connect (see above) but do not have the alarm features that the Schlage keypad models offer.
The Home Depot has entered the keyless entry fray with its house brand LockState. The deadbolt model LS-DB500R-SC ($109.00) comes with a remote, just like your car remote. Push the button to lock or unlock the door. Additional remotes are available for $16.99 each. User comments challenge the advertised operational distance of 30FT. There is also a keypad that allows you to program up to 6 user codes (from 4 to 10 digits long). This deadbolt has an auto lock feature that can be enabled, disabled or delayed from 10 to 90 seconds.
The Home Depot’s LockState also has a connected version of the deadbolt LS-DB500i-PB ($249.00). The deadbolt connects to the Internet through your existing wireless router without additional components needed. The app allows you to remotely control the lock, add or delete user codes and can give you alerts when the lock is used. This service carries a $0.99/month service fee. Home Depot also offers a handle set version of the Wi-Fi enabled keyless entry system LS-L500i-PB ($269.00). This handle set has the same features and requirements as the deadbolt above.
One disadvantage of using a hardware store brand is that the end user effectively is a beta tester for the product. The comments on The Home Depot's website as well as comments on other online forums indicate that this system still has bugs to work out. All of the LockState electronic locks use AA batteries.
The house brand for Lowe's keyless entry locks is Gatehouse. The Gatehouse deadbolt lock model G2X2D01 ($69.00), are push button operated with a traditional key for back up. In addition to accepting multiple codes this deadbolt also auto locks after 10 seconds. This setting is not adjustable, and some users suggest that the auto lock time is a feature that should be user defined. There are also no connected versions of the Gatehouse keyless entry deadbolts available. In exchange for a very good price point, there aren’t many features beyond the basic keyless entry. In addition, the consumer may feel like a beta tester for the hardware chain. The Gatehouse electronic deadbolts use AA batteries.
This new entry into the smart lock arena replaces your deadbolt with a smart lock. The August Smart Lock ($249.00), uses Bluetooth low energy signals to connect to your smart phone. The August Smart Lock is powered by two AA batteries and communicates via Bluetooth so the lock will work even if power goes out or your Wi-Fi goes down. The lock senses the proximity of your phone and unlocks the door for you. No fobs or touches needed. The door then locks itself behind you once you enter. You can give out unlimited e-keys to friends and family provided they also have smart phones that can accept the e-keys. The app also allows you to customize each e-key for duration and even for hours of the day that the e-key will permit access.
Goji ($278.00 for pre-orders shipping in April, 2015), is a smart lock with a bonus feature. Not only does it automatically unlock when your smart phone or one of its key fobs ($40.00) comes near, it also takes a picture of you when it unlocks. This added security feature means that you will always know who is coming in through the Door. The app can even send you that picture, in real time, every time the door is opened. Because the Goji is powered by AA batteries and operates with Bluetooth technology, in addition to Wi-Fi, the lock will work even if the power or the Internet goes out. The only downside of this lock is that it isn’t available yet.
Lockitron ($99.00 pre-order), takes a slightly different approach to the keyless entry solution. Instead of replacing the deadbolt assembly, Lockitron installs over your existing deadbolt and turns the existing mechanism to throw the bolt. Your smart phone unlocks the door with a push of a button. Lockitron uses your existing Wi-Fi connection to connect to the Internet and your smart phone with an app. If Wi-Fi goes down there is a Bluetooth back up. Even if the AA batteries die, you can always use your existing key in the lock just like you did before Lockitron was installed. Availability will be known once Lockitron supplies the crowd-funding orders. When you place your order, your card is charged immediately and then you are informed about your estimated shipping date. Some features are not currently shipping, but will be handled in a software update later on. Also note that Lockitron is currently working on version two of the lock hardware. As Henry Ford once said, you can have any color you want as long as it is black. Other colors will eventually become available.
This is an exciting time for those of us who can’t wait for new gadgets to make our lives easier. Doors that unlock themselves when the homeowner comes up to them used to be the stuff of science fiction, now it is not only here, but easily obtainable at reasonable prices. One of the only downsides to this bleeding edge technology is the lack of a common language that all home automation devices share. Schlage and Yale have made an effort to fix this by using the same Z-wave technology, but this solution comes with the cost of using an outside system to access the remote capabilities of their locks. Hopefully there will be an open source technology platform available soon that the manufacturers can all agree to employ. Until then, we will have to keep cobbling together various systems in our homes and use the brute force method to make them all work together.
You've just read part one of a four part series.
Part One – Keyless Entry
About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
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