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Schlage's Nexia Home Intelligence system is less than the sum of its parts

Michael Brown | April 26, 2013
Schlage was an early player in the electronic home-control market. Back in 2010, the company offered DIY kits that included an entry lock with an electronic keypad. More recently, it has rebooted its efforts and given the product a new name: Nexia Home Intelligence. With Schlage now shipping its second generation of electronic entry locks, I decided to take a fresh look at its home-control system.

Schlage was an early player in the electronic home-control market. Back in 2010, the company offered DIY kits that included an entry lock with an electronic keypad. More recently, it has rebooted its efforts and given the product a new name: Nexia Home Intelligence. With Schlage now shipping its second generation of electronic entry locks, I decided to take a fresh look at its home-control system.

Like the Lowes Iris system I reviewed last August, Nexia Home Intelligence is entirely self-monitored with a supposedly optional monthly subscription fee for remote access and programming. I say "supposedly" because neither system is of much use if you can't manage it via the cloud from a PC, tablet, or smartphone. Schlage charges $9 per month (or $99 per year) for a Nexia subscription. Lowes offers a basic service for free (you can remotely change the thermostat, turn lights on and off, and lock and unlock doors--but that's about it); the company's Iris Premium service costs $10 per month.

You can purchase various Nexia starter packs, all of which include a Z-Wave-to-ethernet bridge, and then add other components to expand the system's capabilities. Schlage sent me its $299 Home Security Kit (which consists of a Z-Wave bridge, a Z-Wave appliance module, and its original keypad deadbolt) to review. The comparably priced Iris Smart Kit from Lowes includes a bridge, a numeric keypad with a local alarm, a thermostat, a motion detector, a Z-Wave lamp module, two door/window sensors, and a Z-Wave range extender, but no entry lock (though you can add locks from various manufacturers, including Schlage).

To augment its starter kit, Schlage sent me a door/window sensor ($40) and its new touchscreen deadbolt ($200), and I added a wireless indoor camera ($179) left over from an earlier review of Schlage's original LiNK system (aside from firmware updates, the camera hasn't changed since its introduction).

Other components available for the Nexia system include several types of programmable thermostats, motion sensors, lever entry locks, plug-in dimmer modules for lamps, and an outdoor camera with infrared night vision. (I did not evaluate any of these components.) Schlage provides an online chart listing other manufacturers' compatible Z-Wave, including lighting controls from Cooper, Jasco, and Leviton; door/window sensors from BTX and Hawking; and remote controls from several companies.

Installation

Installing the Nexia system isn't quite as easy as setting up the dead-simple Lowes Iris system, but it certainly doesn't require any special technological prowess. If you don't want to bother with installing it, you can hire a certified installer. Schlage provides detailed printed instructions for installing the deadbolts--and once you create a Nexia account, an online tutorial steps you through the process of enrolling each device into the bridge. This process is a bit tedious because the tutorial has you disconnect the bridge from your network and from its power adapter, plug in its 9-volt battery, enroll the device, remove the battery, and then restore the wired connections one by one.

 

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