Years ago, my husband and I had this tug-of-war thing going on when it came to locking the door. We live in a really safe neighborhood, so his thinking was that we never really needed to lock up. In fact, when we bought the house, the previous owner looked at us like we each had three heads when we asked, “So where are the keys?”
I’m sort of the opposite. At some point, I was hoping that we’d invest in one of those metal doors that shopkeepers pull down at the end of the business day. I’ve had multiple cars broken into and once spent the night in an apartment as it was being robbed. So yeah, I’m a bit more skeptical.
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It’s nice to know that we live in a safe area. However, it’s another thing to get robbed because we left the door wide open.
Soon after, we came to a compromise. Getting a smart lock meant that my husband didn’t have to fumble with keys. It also meant that the door was locked every single time we left the house — whether he liked it or not.
Schlage makes a variety of smart door locks. However, if you’re in need of something a little stronger, the company just released the Touchscreen Deadbolt. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: A touchscreen that uses a keypad versus traditional keys. However, this one has added smart features by tying in Nexia Home Intelligence. This incorporates several alarm features, as well as the ability to lock and unlock the door from almost anywhere in the world.
The Touchscreen Deadbolt is just as easy to install as any other deadbolt. No special tools are required. As long as you have a Phillips-head screwdriver, you can have this thing installed within minutes. Schlage strongly recommends that you don’t use any sort of power tools, as it could damage the lock. Of course, if you don’t already have a deadbolt installed, cutting, measuring and even a few power tools may be involved.
Out of the box, the deadbolt is extremely heavy, which is exactly how you want it to be. After all, you don’t want something that’s flimsy enough for a burglar to snap. The kit comes with the touchscreen assembly for the outside, the locking mechanism for the inside, and all of the hardware and faceplates needed for the installation. It even includes a key just in case. Go figure.
Start by removing the old deadbolt and checking the door and frame dimensions, just to make sure everything matches up properly. From there, install the bolt and strike inside the door. The bolt comes with a fancy rectangular faceplate attached, but Schlage also includes a round one, if needed. When installing the bolt, you want to make sure the Schlage logo is upright and the backset is turned to the point where you hear a little “click.” From there, you’ll install the strike, which is basically a faceplate for your faceplate.
Once that’s in, the touchscreen assembly should pop in pretty easily. If it doesn’t, that means that the backset was put in wrong. Otherwise, as you put the touchscreen on, make sure to feed the attached cable underneath the backset. Inside the house, install the included deadbolt faceplate, so you can lock and unlock the door from the inside. However, make sure to remove the battery cover and put four AA batteries in first. That’s what allows this lock to make some of its magic.
If you aren’t taking notes, don’t worry; Schlage has included detailed instructions and all of the hardware needed to get the lock installed pretty easily.
Smarten Up That Lock
Yes, there are a lot of instructions for this little lock. That’s because it’s smart lock.
To use those smart features, the lock needs to be installed. After that, you’ll need to set up the lock using the default user codes, which can be found on the back of the included User Guide. From there, you can tweak the pass-code or add additional ones. That way, you can deliver access to other users, enable a vacation mode, and more.
However, one of the most impressive things about this lock is that it works in conjunction with the Nexia Home Intelligence System. The Schlage lock has wireless Z-Wave technology inside, so it can connect to Nexia devices and also provide access through the web.
The Bridge also comes with one Home Appliance Module.
Setting up the Nexia account and Bridge requires your name, address, a user name, password and other tidbits. Once you confirm the registration, the system will ask what devices you’d like to connect. There are several options besides locks, including other locks, dimmers, security cameras, thermostats, motion sensors, and more.
Next, you need to register the Bridge, which is where things got frustrating for me. Nexia asks you to enter the Bridge’s MAC ID, which is located inside the battery compartment. From there, connect the Bridge to your router and — nothing. Mine would not connect. I changed ports and cables and still no love. After spending about 20 minutes listening to horrible on-hold music, I spoke to an incredibly nice, apologetic Nexia tech support person, who instructed me on how to reboot the Bridge. Success!
Once the Bridge is part of your account, you’ll need to add the lock. It’s easy, but also time sensitive. It’s also important to note that the setup needs to be completed within 6 feet of the lock, with the Bridge using battery power. Just push the Plus button on the Bridge (per the manual), enter the programming code on the back of the User Guide, and it’s all set. Plug the Bridge back into AC power and the router and you should see the device added to your online account. The Bridge also comes with an Appliance Module, which you can use on a lamp, your coffee maker, or any other plug-in device. This is just as easy to add to the system.
As soon as the lock is added to your Nexia account, you’ll be able to lock and unlock the door from the website, as well as program pass-codes, a Vacation Mode, an Alarm Mode, and more. Now, what if you don’t have a computer close by?
There’s An App for That!
Like pretty much everything these days, Nexia has an app, so users can tap into all of those home features from miles away or the living room couch. A smartphone or tablet is not needed to access the service, since the My Nexia website does provide all of the access you’d need. However, if you’re looking for control in a more portable package, the company offers a free app for iOS and Android devices.
The app pretty much mimics the web-based interface, with options for all of your connected devices. You will need to set up each device on a computer. However, once the installation is completed, those devices and all of your settings will automatically show up on the app.
The Touchscreen Deadbolt can be controlled through Nexia’s iOS and Android apps.
One Slight Problem
The Touchscreen Deadbolt and Nexia system wasn’t perfect. Several times, the Bridge would disconnect from the web, without rhyme or reason. Sometimes, the fix was as simple as unplugging the Bridge and plugging it back in. Easy yes — except when you’re halfway around the world. I need to point out that I really only had that problem when I was inside my home; never when trying to access the system while on the go.
Also, the Nexia system does have a slight lag time. It’s not bad, but it’s there. Whether using the web or my iPhone, there was always a few seconds in between my command and the actual deed. It’s just a few seconds, but worth noting.
So How Do You Really Feel?
After spending a few weeks with the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt, I can honestly say that having remote control over your locks is a very cool Electronic House feature. It certainly adds another level of convenience into the home.
The touchscreen aspect alone makes the deadbolt worth the $200 purchase price — and you don’t need the remote control aspect to use it. However, is the Nexia service worth the extra $8.99 per month? That will depend on how often you need to let people in or want to double-check the locks. That said, it’s certainly worth the extra money if you’re looking for an easy way to add remote access to thermostats, lights, cameras, and more. If you still aren’t sure, Nexia also offers a one-month trial, so you can check out the service before committing to the monthly fee.