Home automation and the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt [UPDATED]

For greenfield home automation Schlage and Nexia are a solid choice

With Google having just acquired Nest it's obvious that home automation, at one time a hobby for geeks with lots of patience, has become big business. In fact, the global home automation market was, according to Transparency Market Research, worth $3.6 billion in 2012 and is targeted to hit $16.4 billion by 2019.

Naturally this has attracted many major vendors from traditional markets to develop products that fit in this category. Unfortunately some vendors get it wrong such as the Hunter Fan Company whose Internet-enabled thermostat was, in my opinion, a dreadful product and, as I noted last July, Hunter not only discontinued the product but also bought back all units they had sold. 

In sharp contrast to Hunter's attempt a few other companies have entered the market with home automation products that are really good. I just tested one such product; the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt Lock BE469NX which is not only a motorized deadbolt with multiple entry codes and security features but can also be controlled via the wireless Z-wave network protocol.

First launched in January last year the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt is a replacement for a standard Schlage deadbolt and if the old hardware was installed to spec the new Touchscreen Deadbolt will take literally just a few minutes to install. Schlage also provides several features that compensate for a few common installation variations such as thicker doors or a smaller crossbore.

While the outside part of the lock is slightly larger to accommodate the touchpad the inside alarm assembly which houses the electronics, alarm, and bolt drive is considerably larger.

Outside (left) and inside (right) parts of the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt.

Once everything is in place and batteries connected (they have a roughly two-year life) you can program the Touchscreen Deadbolt with access codes from its front panel or integrate it with a home automation system via Z-wave which is far easier than using the front panel.

I've been testing the Nexia Home Intelligence System [corrected - see below] which I'll discuss in detail in a future review but for now I'll just note that Nexia allows you to control your home devices from anywhere via the Web and mobile apps and supports rules and alerts.

Once introduced to the Nexia system the Deadbolt appears as a device in the "Security and Sensors" section. You can have user codes of 4 to 8 digits (you can create up to 30 users) and some of them can be codes that only work between certain hours (note that currently an alert can't be sent for scheduled codes and that after entering either type of code you can't review it once set).

Enabling "Lock and Leave" allows you to just press the "Schlage" logo on the touchscreen to lock the door behind you (if set to "Off" you have to enter a user code to lock the door). Enabling "Auto Lock" will automatically lock the door if unlocked after 30 seconds and "Local Alarm Control" makes the it possible to disable the built-in alarm using the button on the back of the alarm housing.

The alarm can be disabled or set to one of three levels; "Activity" (chirps when the door opens or closes), "Tamper" (simply shaking the door will set off the remarkably loud alarm sound), or "Forced Entry" (triggered when significant force is applied to the lock). The rest of the settings are self-explanatory.

In practice the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt is, in general, very practical. Some users have complained that the numbers on the keypad are hard to see in direct sunlight which could be an issue in some settings. Another complaint is that being tied to the Nexia service (which costs $9.99 per month) is onerous but I see that as fairly minor for the level of control you get. Even so, I think Schlage would be smart to be more open and enable integration with other Z-wave-based home automation systems.

Priced at around $200 the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt is a good choice for "greenfield" installations that are happy to use the Nexia service or just need a standalone deadbolt system.

Lock down your thoughts below or to gearhead@gibbs.com then follow me on TwitterApp.net, and Facebook.

[Correction] The Schlage Web site is unclear on compatibility of the Deadbolt with other home automation systems and, I have been informed, it will work with HA solutions other than Nexia.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10