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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.

The bridge's ability to run on battery power makes enrolling devices such as door locks much easier, because you can take the bridge to each device. Z-Wave transmitters are low-power devices by design, so the bridge must be within fairly close proximity to a lock, sensor, or lighting control in order to enroll it. If you have a large a Z-Wave network, as I do, you can choose to enroll all of your hardware (one device at a time) and then upload the entire routing table to the cloud at once.

The deadbolts

The original keypad deadbolt ($200 if purchased separately) is attractive, with ten illuminated number buttons. I much prefer this design to locks that assign two numbers to each button, but since the lock doesn't have a motorized bolt, you must enter the code to activate it and then twist its knob to withdraw or insert the bolt.

You can assign up to 19 four-digit user codes, establish recurring codes to grant access only during a time window (a useful feature for admitting a housekeeping service, for instance), and create one-time-use codes (handy if you need to let a plumber or other professional into your home, but you can't be there to open the door in person). You can also remotely grant someone access by logging into your Nexia account and sending a command via the Internet. If you have one or more cameras, you can monitor what your guest is doing while inside.

The chief benefit of not having a motorized bolt is longer battery life. The main drawback is that the deadbolt can't lock itself, so you must rely on your approved visitors to twist the knob to lock the door when they leave. You can monitor the lock's status (locked or unlocked) and the state of its battery from the Web portal, but you can't lock it remotely. Should the battery die, you can lock and unlock the deadbolt with a key (Schlage provides two).

Schlage's new Touchscreen Deadbolt with Built-in Alarm (also $200) is available in two styles: the traditional-looking Camelot, and the more modern-style Century. Both have a smudge-proof, backlit membrane touchscreen with ten digits, and a tapered, motorized bolt that you can program to lock the door automatically after someone opens it. A tapered bolt is preferable because it's more forgiving of slightly misaligned doors. I don't know how tough the lock's membrane is, but I would venture to guess that it wouldn't stand up to the punishment that the touchscreen on Yale's Real Living locks can take (Yale produced a video showing its lock withstanding the heat from a blowtorch).

Yale's Real Living locks, however, cost $275--much more than Schlage's. A programmable sensor on the new Schlage lock can sound a local alarm and send a message to the Nexia bridge if the lock is tampered with. The new models support up to 30 user codes (consisting of four to eight digits each); and like the older deadbolt, they are openable with a key. Disappointingly, though, Schlage provides just one key with its new locks.


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