Product Reviews

Schlage LiNK System Delivers

Posted January 18, 2017

Introduction

This review covers several devices from the Schlage LiNK product line including:

  1. Z-Wave Door Lock (now available at select Lowe’s)
  2. A wired ethernet camera
  3. Z-Wave Thermostat

There are two versions of the Schlage LiNK door lock starter kits available. One kit features a lever style door handle (Figure 1), which is equipped with a keypad. The other kit features a dead bolt style door lock. Both kits also contain a Z-Wave lamp module and a Z-Wave to Ethernet bridge.

Figure 1. Schlage LiNK Door Lever

With the assistance of David Powell (ZWW technology editor), I installed the lever style door lock at our Hackerspace. Hackerspace is an organization whose purpose is to provide a place for like minded techies to collaborate and build things. Harford Hackerspace focuses on science and technology and we emphasise educating the community with hands-on projects. The coolest part about being a Hackerspace member is that you have 24/7 access to the facility, which is filled with all the tools you need to work on your projects. The Schlage LiNK entry system was perfect for us since we actually use my large two-car garage as our meeting space. Now, other members can call me to gain access even when I am not home.

Installation

After opening the Schlage LiNK door lock kit I spread out everything (Figure 2) and reviewed the instructions.

Figure 2. Schlage LiNK Door Lever Components
Figure 3. Old Lock

With the old door lock removed, I started assembling the new keypad lever lock (Figure 4). After I got one side on there was a tiny screw that, according to the instructions, must protrude 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch. (The screw needs to protrude in order to snap on to the internal plastic housing that contains some electronics.) For some reason I had a hard time accurately measuring that miniscule length. The tape measure was too sloppy and the ruler I had was too bulky. A little L-shaped cardboard ruler would have been nice. After putting the second piece on (which the little screw goes into) I found that measurement not to be that big of a deal, just back it out until it fits nicely into the second half.

Figure 4. Mounting the Housing

Aside from spending too much time worrying about the depth of the tiny screw the door handle went on easily (Figure 5). The instructions are clear and accurate, and near the last step they mention what to do if you put the door handle on the wrong way (which I did). They give you a little pin to push a release lever to take the handle off and put it back on the right way.

Figure 5. Installed

With the door handle on I moved to the next device, the lamp module. Its a basic lamp module, you plug your lamp into it, and plug it into the wall. The only thing to notice here is the size of the module will block one of the outlets on a standard two outlet wall jack. I found that if you place the module at the top, most plugs can squeeze in to the bottom outlet. If not there are two ports on the lamp module, the lamp control port and a always-on-pass-thru port on the other side so you don’t lose an outlet.

Next I moved onto the wireless bridge. The first thing I noticed is that the bridge requires an Ethernet connection. I would have liked WiFi as an option. So while following the instructions on the bridge, the web site was saying it was waiting for the bridge to connect but it failed to establish a connection. It turns out we were off a digit when I wrote down the MAC address. After we corrected the MAC address, it still said that the bridge wasn’t establishing a connection, so I power cycled the bridge and restarted the web site setup from the beginning. everything off and started over on the web site setup. This time it made a connection and worked like a champ.

Going through the each step of the web site setup, it let me name the devices to be more descriptive then just “lamp,” which is good. The wizard now asked if we had any cameras to add, and we did (Figure 6), the Schlage Wired Camera — the wired Ethernet version of the camera. (They do offer a WiFi option.) I entered the MAC address and plugged in the camera and let it connect to the internet and the web wizard found it and said the task was complete.

Figure 6. Schlage LiNK Wired Camera

At the end of the web based setup it asked if I would like to download the LiNK software to my mobile phone. (Here I needed to provide my phone number and wireless carrier.) So I entered my number and it sent a link via text to download the phone software. I have a Palm Treo 755p from Sprint. After clicking on the link it said my phone was unsupported. Schlage’s list of supported phones includes iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 5, and Java Compatible . I noticed they have a Java version, I know my phone has Java so I tried that on. The application started, but as I began setting up my account it kept locking up after mulitple resets. I contacted Schlage about my phone issues and was told that the model of my phone is not supported. Schlage is planning to support more phones in the future. Check the web site for updates.

Set Up

After playing with the web interface, remotely unlocking and locking the door, and turning my lights on and off, I noticed there was a spot for the LiNK thermostat made by Trane, I didn’t remember the wizard asking for information about the thermostat but I might have clicked too fast.

The first problem I had installing the new thermostat was a very common one when switching from old mercury based thermostats. I didn’t have the ‘C’ or Common wire used to power the thermostat. Luckily the strand in the wall had a few extra wires, so I connected the common wire to one of the empty wires. I would recommend getting a HVAC installer to help you with this if you are not familiar with your heating system. Also, make sure to power off everything (they usually have a separate breaker box).

The second issue with the thermostat was the design. It requires you to bend all the wires in a pattern that gets around the electronics of the thermostat. It’s clearly noted in the wall plate and the instructions, it’s just not that easy to do. These are solid core wires not standed. This took some time to accomplish. After it was all together we paired it and the web site picked up our thermostat and let us remotely set heating and cooling schedules.

The web site is decently designed and not hard to figure out.I was able to set different codes for the door for different people and it would log everything: when people used their code, turned lights on, or watched the web-cam in the browser. I could see this system being more beneficial with the phone application.

I only had a few concerns about the system, unlike a traditional Z-Wave system, there is no way of communicating with the wireless bridge directly. You used an online web site from Schlage, and it sends commands to the bridge, which then uses Z-Wave to communicate with the devices. This concerns me because if the internet connection goes down, does it remember the schedule settings? Does it queue up log events? That wasn’t clear. You can’t clone the wireless bridge into a handheld remote like a traditional Z-Wave system.

There is a $12.99 per month subscription fee. Schlage LiNK customers get one month free.

Paul King is a software engineer with 20 years of development experience and has made numerous open source contributions. He is an avid embedded systems hobbyist and home automation enthusiast.

Ratings

Ease of Installation

Documentation

Value

Quick Reference

Product Name
Schlage LiNK System

Company
Schlage

Rants and Raves

Raves
The door lock can hold 19 codes and the thermostat is made by Trane.

Rants
Mobile software was not compatible with my cell phone. And, I could not figure out how to add a secondary controller.

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