It started as a boyhood dream of mine, to one day be able to control my house from a hand held device. I always thought it would be the coolest thing ever to be able to unlock a door, change the temp of the house, turn on/off a light, even watch a live video feed from inside your house directly on a non existent (at the time) device that was small enough to be carried in your pocket. Fast forward twenty years and wireless devices are almost as common as toasters now and a company named Schlage is bringing us Schlage LiNK. With this service I am able to control the lock on my door, adjust the thermostat, control a light, and even watch a live video feed from my house right on my BlackBerry (or iPhone if you have one). Schlage was gracious enough to send me a Keypad Lever Starter Kit as well as a Wireless Camera to try out and put to use. Hopefully I can shed some light on whether or not this system would be a good fit for you.
When I found out what all I was going to be receiving for review from Schlage I was very hesitant as to what it would take to install it all. I knew the basics of putting in a new door lock, but a thermostat I had no idea where to begin. After unboxing everything I decided to tackle the door lock first. From start to finish it was 15 minutes. The part that took the longest was finding the “special” tool that was a security feature on my last door lock that wouldn’t allow would be thieves to remove the lock without it. I never did find that thing, but a screwdriver worked just fine. Schlage included simple, straight forward directions on how to install their lock. Slide a few pieces together, attach a wire or two, tighten a couple screws and you are set up. I think anyone with little experience with door locks can figure this one out without issue.
The thermostat was a little more complicated and took a lot longer, to no fault of my own. This was my first thermostat that I had ever tried to install myself, there was bound to be issues. I was able to remove my old thermostat with ease, and even thought I had the new thermostat hooked up in record time. Come to find out whoever installed our heater before did not run enough the proper wires up to the thermostat (likely due to the fact that the old thermostat didn’t require them). So after a couple hours trying to figure out why it wasn’t working, going to the hardware store, and crawling around in the crawl space running the extra needed wires I was in business. Had the proper wires been available the install would have taken the same amount of time that the lever lock did. I suggest if you are unsure about what type of heating/cooling system you have call a professional or a family member who knows what they are doing (as was my case).
Two big hurdles out of the way for the installation which left the bridge, light module, and wireless camera. All of which are as simple as plug em in and let them do their work (think Ron Popeil with “set it and forget it”). There is one part I am leaving out, and that is that you need to give the bridge access to internet in your house. The bridge is the brains of the whole system, without it being able to communicate back to Schlage’s servers nothing works. You will also have to enroll all of the components with the bridge, which allows them to communicate. Alright, set up was a breeze for the most part, and now it’s time to log on to the site and set up your account. After you enter your personal information as well as payment information you will need to enroll the bridge with Schlage’s servers. The instructions both on the site and included with the equipment are easy to follow and walk you through each step. It just so happened the weekend I set my system up on there was an issue with new accounts being provisioned properly for the bridge to communicate with their servers. I was able to troubleshoot this both over the phone and via Schlage’s twitter account. They let me know it was a known issue and it would be fixed by weekends end, which it was.
What exactly can I do with the system now? A lot. There is a BlackBerry and iPhone application to control and view your Schlage system, as well as a web interface. They keypad lever lock system allows me to assign access codes for entry, not requiring a key to unlock our front door. I can set up alerts via sms if a particular code is used to open the door. I can also unlock the door straight from my BlackBerry if someone needs in my house. When the door is unlocked from the BlackBerry there is a 5 second time frame that the person needing in the house can turn the handle and get into the house, if they do not the door remains locked. Great security feature. Within 72 hours we used this very feature to literally save the day. We had some issues here at the house which required people to be working outside with the occasional need to be inside. I was home most of the morning with them but had to leave for a couple hours. Before leaving I asked if they would need inside and they didn’t. It turns out, they really did. Somehow they tracked down my wife, who told the guy to go to our front door and wait for her to tell him when it was OK to open the door. The guy refused to believe that she could let him in, but he went anyways. A few seconds later, voila! He was in. Without having been able to give the worker access to the house, their work outside would have stopped for at least 2 hours, making the difference between finishing the job that day or the next morning. Thank you Schlage. Oh, I almost forgot. I was also able to set up the wireless camera in our back shed and watch the workers actually work live on the house while sitting at my office over 50 miles away. The BlackBerry application and the web service both made it a breeze to pull up the video feed within a few seconds of logging in.
This review has become a little long winded and strayed off of my normal review process. I apologize if you are bored and not sure how we got to this point, ,if you stuck it out I owe you a gold star. The Schlage system has simply changed the way we interact with our house, yes.. I meant to say interact. That is what the system allows you to do. We have set up a separate code to enter on our keypad that when used will both unlock the door and turn on a light so we don’t have to enter a dark house late at night. If the weather changes unexpectedly or we didn’t pay attention to the weather forecast and the heater is on while its 80* outside, pull out the BlackBerry and turn the air conditioner on. I just celebrated the birth of my son and now while I am at work if I want to see him while he sleeps, or I am at home with him in his crib I just open the app on the BlackBerry and there he is via the wireless cam. The options and scenarios are endless, I really haven’t even touched the service of everything that the Schlage LiNK system can do. The pricing for a starter kit which includes lock, bridge, and light module starts at $299.99 and there is a monthly subscription of $12.99. The camera and thermostat will also cost a decent chunk of change. Looking at it now though, this is not a toy or just another tech gadget, it really is an investment into your house and the safety of your family.