After announcements about new IP-controlled door locks at CEDIA EXPO last year, followed more recently by Gordon van Zuiden’s excellent analysis of the developing product category, I was surprised to learn that one of those “lock companies” was located right in my own backyard in Carmel, Indiana.
From left, Schlage's director of marketing communications Ann Matheis, solutions manager Steven Samolinski, and IT/business solutions manager Michael Sabolcik with their demo kit in Carmel, Indiana. This morning I spent an hour with the folks at Schlage, a brand owned by Ingersoll Rand, where I learned more about the company’s new Schlage LiNK door lock and remote home-management system. During my meeting, director of marketing communications Ann Matheis, IT/business solutions manager Michael Sabolcik, and solutions manager Steven Samolinski, walked me through their product demo and introduced me to many of features of the system that I’d only read about.
Although the product is already being sold to the DIY set via Lowes home improvement stores and e-tailers like Amazon.com and Gokeyless.com, its features also play very well in the world of custom installation. Essentially a product like the Schlage LiNK System can serve as a “scene trigger” for an entire automated home, via a Z-Wave mesh network. A consumer need only enter her access code to unlock the door, turn on the lights, kick on the “at home” HVAC temperature, etc. The system can get as intricate as the homeowner may want, or it can remain quite simple.
The big messages that I received from Schlage during my visit were the company’s mandates to provide reliability, security, and simplicity with its products, which isn’t always the case from the bleeding-edge CI manufacturer.
Yes, there are things that Schlage’s LiNK System cannot do, but that is generally because, the company says, not all Z-Wave products have reached the point in their development curve where they wouldn’t complicate an installation. For instance, Schlage manufactures its own lamp dimmer module, and wired and wireless indoor IP security cameras, and works with many of the Z-Wave devices on the market. However, the product does not yet integrate with any monitored security systems or Z-Wave window and door-security contact-closure devices, because those products either have ergonomic issues or technical limitations in their current incarnations. In many cases, the Schlage LiNK system will be purchased instead of a home security system, but in the future the Schlage folks say they hope to integrate with these systems too.
A product that the Schlage development team does like and has chosen to integrate with is the Trane Remote Energy Management Thermostat, which just so happens to be owned by the same parent company. This brand partnership enables owners of the Schlage LiNK keypad lock/home-management system to remotely monitor and control home cooling and heating from any computer and most Web-enabled mobile phones, including Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry.
The Schlage LiNK System Starter Kit includes one Schlage wireless deadbolt or lock, a Schlage Bridge, an Ethernet cable, necessary batteries, and one Schlage Light Module. The Bridge connects to the home’s existing router and uses Z-Wave wireless technology to transmit data to the wireless lock. Installing the Schlage LiNK System is a straightforward process that typically requires only a screwdriver and no additional wiring. Additional Schlage wireless deadbolts and locks are sold separately and finish options include bright brass, satin nickel, and aged bronze. Adding a device to the Bridge is a simple button-push process, and creating a mobile device sounded like a secure, but not complicated, endeavor.
A close-up of the demo kit, which featured a deadbolt and regular handle lock, along with the Bridge and one of the company's wireless IP cameras.
The retail price of the Schlage LiNK Starter Kit is $299, and additional Schlage wireless deadbolts or locks are $199 each. There is also a $12.99 monthly subscription fee for 24-hour access to the Schlage LiNK online and mobile interfaces, which make it possible to remotely control a variety of Z-Wave devices.
The monthly subscription initially caught me off guard, but Schlage has researched its target demographic (the busy, working parents with older latch-key kids) and found that they were willing to pay an amount that works out to be less than 50 cents a day for 24-hour access to the Schlage LiNK online portal and mobile-phone applications.
The system allows up to 19 different, customizable four-digit access codes to be added to the 10-digit keypad, but then each code then can be scheduled to expire or deleted by the homeowner to limit access. Applications that come to mind are pet sitters or childcare providers who may need temporary access to a home, or even renters of vacation properties and property managers for second homes.
Homeowners also can choose to receive an e-mail or text notification when specific user codes are entered on the lock’s keypad. The system stores data for 90 days, providing a record of who enters the home at what times and on which days.
It’s a very intuitive and useful product that should do well, even in down economy. Maybe, ESPECIALLY in our down economy when home security and peace of mind are more prized than ever before.