Review: Schlage LiNK System with BlackBerry Integration - Enter to win a starter bundle!

Schlage LiNK System
By Adam Zeis on 29 Mar 2011 04:35 pm EDT
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Check out the full Schlage LiNK system and how it can work with your BlackBerry. Keep reading for your chance to win a Schlage LiNK Starter Kit!

One of the things I love most about my BlackBerry is that it is always with me when I'm on the go. I love to be able to get things done from my device, be it sending emails, making phone calls or what have you. When things go above and beyond and I can integrate more of my life with my device, I'm all for it. Enter the Schlage LiNK system. Being a tech geek I'm always open to add more technology into my daily routine - be that good or bad - and the LiNK system is no slouch. We first checked out the system nearly 2 years ago, and since then many updates and features have been added. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a system including a keypad lever lock, wireless camera, light module and thermostat and I can honestly say my house will never be the same. Read on for my full review and thoughts on the Schlage LiNK system.

Schlage LiNK System Review

Getting Started

If you're not the handiest person the system can be a bit intimidating at first. There is a some installtion required (namely for the lock lever and thermostat) that might scare off some, but Schlage gives you very detailed instructions on how to get the job done. The light module and camera are the easiest to get up and running, but the lock and thermostat can take a bit of time (or a lot of time if you run into issues like I did, but we'll get into that later). From start to finish for all the components you can budget around 2-3 hours if you have smooth sailing, or a bit more if you need to tweak some things to get it all situated. You'll need to setup your online account where Schlage currently charges $8.99/month for service plus a 2-month trial period to get aquainted. You can access all the features through the web control panel or the free BlackBerry Schlage LiNK application.

Bridge

The bridge is the "hub" of all your Schlage goodies. It acts as the go-between and let's everything play nice. It comes into play as we get things installed as this is what you use to pair items with your system. It will need to be connected to the next and power to operate but it's all pretty straight forward.

Schlage LiNK System
The bridge is really no frills - Just a box with a light

Light Module

By far the easiest part to get going with is the light module. This handy box plugs into an outlet in your home and can control a lamp remotely. Using the included bridge for the system, you pair up the light module with a few easy steps, plug it into an outlet, plug in your lamp and you're ready to roll. Schlage suggests using a standard incandescent bulb in the lamp to take advantage of the dimmer functions, but I actually have an eco twisty bulb (as I like to call them) that works sans dimming. After you're setup you have total control over the module from your control panel (via your device or the web) where you can turn the light on or off and use the dimming function. Use this to turn on the lights before you get home, when you're on vacation or to just mess with your spouse (my personal favorite). You can also tie the light module in with the lock (which we'll get to) as well as create a schedule (just like a regular lamp timer) if you plan to be away. 

Schlage LiNK System
The light module is a simple plug-in box with one controlled and one open receptacle
Schlage LiNK System
Just plug into an outlet and you're done!

Wireless Camera

This is the one component that intrigued me most I think. Not in the aspect that I'm shady and want to keep an eye on people in my house, but just that I could easily have the option to view the camera from my BlackBerry while I'm away. Again, the setup of the camera was cake. Just enter the ID of the unit in the online control panel, click a few options, setup your wireless network to play nice with the camera and you're done. Once the camera restarts and is ready to go, you can pretty much put it anwhere within range of your wireless network (and an electical outlet to plug it in) and you're free to view. I currently have mine looking over my driveway for lack of anything better. You can view the camera from your browser via the web or fire up the app and check things out on your phone. I was surprised at the clarity of the image as it actually shows very well on my device and better yet from the web. The cool thing is that you can add multiple cameras as well. So if you want to get really crazy, you can deck out your house with cameras and never miss a beat. 

Schlage LiNK System
The camera isn't too ugly and easily to mount/install nearly anywhere you can plug it in

Lock Lever

For the door lock you have a few options from Schlage. You can choose from either the deadbolt or keypad in Satin Nickel, Bright Brass or Aged Bronze. For most people installing the deadbolt or lever will choose to be the most difficult of the entire process. If you're at all handy and have a few tools you should have no problem from start to finish. If you aren't a big fan of screwdrivers or taking things apart, you might want to enlist the help of someone else but the instructions do make things clear and easy enough for most.

To start you'll have to remove the existing door knob/lever which doesn't involve more than a few screws. Once the assembly is out you'll hopefully be left with an opening that will match the Schlage setup you're going with. If not, you'll have to dive in a bit and tweak thinks up to get the right fit. From there, simply follow the instructions and insert the lever piece by piece, tighten the provided screws and you're in. Install the batteries, attach the cover and levers and that's that. I did have a few issues with the size of my strikeplate so I had to make a few minor modifications, but the overall process only took about 30 minutes or so.

Schlage LiNK System
The "guts" of the keypad lever - batteries are included!

Once you've got the hardware installed you will pair the lock with the bridge (provided in the starter kit). Again, there are easy instructions for all of this, but it basically consists of removing the bridge from power, putting in a 9-volt battery and pressing a few buttons. You get confirmation on both devices when you did things correctly and you're lock is ready. You can then add it into your account via the control panel on the web. From there you can view battery status, create lock codes and more. The lock comes programmed with an entry code, but you can create any number of others for family members, the housekeeper, babysitter etc. You can customize each to only work for a set period of time (ie. 2-4pm) and also send you SMS alerts when used. From both the web control panel and your device you can also "buzz" the lock which will unlock and relock the unit so you can let someone in right from your device. This is useful if a guest shows up at your door while you're not there or you're just too lazy to get off the couch and unlock the door. Again, you can tie the lock unit in with other devices, so when entering a code you can unlock the door as well as activate the light module so you don't have to enter a dark house - very cool. If you have the lever locked, you can still open the door from the inside without doing a thing, and it will stay locked once you close the door again. 

Schlage LiNK System
The back of the lever - Unlock and lock button make things easy
Schlage LiNK System
The lock lever is pretty sweet - the buttons light up and feel bery solid

Thermostat 

Typically the thermostat installation shouldn't be a very difficult task. In most newer homes you can simply pop off the old unit, swap a few wires, attach the new unit and be done with it. In my case (and what I'm sure is the extreme opposite end) things may not be so simple. The thermostat was actually what I was going to install first, but it turned out to be the last and most lengthy of all the pieces.

Schlage LiNK System
Ye olde ugly thermostat
Schlage LiNK System
Two-wires means more work (but it paid off)

Most homes will be outfitted with a 4 or 5 wire thermostat cable from the furnace (boiler, heat pump or whatever). Each serves a purpose, and the Trane thermostat provided needs them all to work properly. The unit is self powered, so it needs to receive current from the furnace itself to operate. Unfortunately my old system was original to the house (built in 1959) and I was presented with only a 2-wire unit (I don't have central AC). This meant a decent project was in store. I thought running a new cable would be easy enough, so I snagged 100ft on Amazon for a decent price, and when it arrived I was eager to go. I popped off my old unit hoping to just run the new wire along the same path as the old on the way to my furnace. Sadly the old wire looked to be installed while the house was being built, so it ran all over through my walls - wedged behind studs and snaked behind electical boxes. Once I realized this was a no go I tried to run the new cable on it's own which didn't work out so well either. After an hour or so of trying to snake the line through the walls I decided to move to plan C. I found a new suitable location for the new thermostat, drilled a few holes through a different wall and floor and the cable found the way to the furnace. I hooked up the needed wires (again, explained very clearly in the instructions) and hooked up everything as it needed to be. When I flipped the power to the furnace back on, the thermostat came to life and I was in business ... thankfully. 

Schlage LiNK System
Shiny new Trane Thermostat
Schlage LiNK System
More wires means more fun!

From there I needed to pair the device to the bridge with the same process as before. A few button presses and flashing lights and all was well. The unit was then added to my account and viewable in the control panel. The options for controlling the thermostat are plenty. You can choose from the existing Energy Saver option or create your own heating/cooling schedule. You can view the status of your system, place the unit on hold and change temperature remotely. Perfect for monitoring when you're away or just turning up the heat from bed on a cold night. 

The Control Panel

From the web you have a huge control panel that houses all the options you need to get things done. You can control all the pieces of the puzzle from one interface, as well as rename units, program codes, set a heating/cooling schedule, add phones and much, much more. It's the "command center" for your house once you get everything up and running.

From here you can also set Events and Schedules. Event's are things like getting the lights on when the door opens, and schedules would be triggering the lights on at 5am to wake you up in the morning. You can figure out what needs you have and they will do the job for you.

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

The BlackBerry App

Here is the coolest part of it all. You can control all your newly installed pieces right from your BlackBerry, no matter where you are. You'll have to create a PIN when you start the app the first time which is good as it prevents unwanted users from getting at your stuff. You'll have to setup your device via the web, and then you can choose which units the phone can access, change alerts and more. Total control on the go.

The main screen shows you a list of all your components that you can scroll through.

Check the status of your lock (locked or unlocked) on the security screen.

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

 

On the Climate screen you current heating/cooling status where you can choose to run schedules, change the temperature and more. 

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

 

The Cameras screen shows your available cameras - just click to view.

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

 

Lighting and Automation shows all the installed light modules. Choose one and easily dim or turn on/off. 

Schlage LiNK BlackBerry

Final thoughts

Once you get all the installation done you can just sit back and do your thing. You can install the free app to your device OTA from which you can access all the features of the control panel (for the most part). You can control your light module (or multiple ones if you add to your system), view any cameras, unlock your door and, change your thermostat settings.

I'm definitely a big fan of the entire system, although some friends and family find it a bit too "geeky" to comment on. I do like the fact that I can monitor my heating system when I'm away and even check on things from the comfort of my office. Having the keypad on my door means no reason to carry extra house keys around as long as I remember my code. I have one set for daytime that simply unlocks the door and another for nights when I want to turn the light on as well. I think down the road I'll toss a few more light modules on and maybe another camera, just to take the "go big or go home" approach. At $8.99/month, it's not a bad price to pay for all the features you get. Schlage is a big name so everything is very well built and should last for years to come. They are constantly adding more features that make things even better, and hopefully more toys will be added to the lineup at some point as well. 

So is the LiNK system a good buy? I believe it is. It all depends on how much tech you want to surround yourself in. The price to get started is a bit steep (around $150 for a lock, camera and thermostat and $50 for a light module). I personally like the fact that my house is a nerdy as I am, but others may not feel the same. The price may be hard to justify for some, but you don't have to go all out with every component either. All the items can work on their own, so if there is something you like more than another you can work with just that. The available starter kits come with either a keypad lever or deadbolt, light module and bridge. You can find the full selection at the Schlage LiNK site or many home improvement stores.

Check out all the Schalge LiNK products

Contest: Want to try a Schalge LiNK setup for yourself? We're passing on the fun and giving away one starter kit. To enter to win just leave a single comment on this post. You'll be able to choose a starter kit to get you up and running. Good luck!

Reader comments

Review: Schlage LiNK System with BlackBerry Integration - Enter to win a starter bundle!

923 Comments

Yes please!!! I would love to lock my self in and then activate it and then go outside, only to do it all over again and really irritate my wife LOL

My girlfriend an I are just about to to move in together. Having such a practical thing like remote control of door lock, lights turning off and on or turning on the heating (which i keep turned off when we're at work to save money) a bit before we come home so it's not cold would be wonderful. I hope you pick us :)

This would be great for my family. With 2 young girls a wife and a mother-in-law around the house I know it would give me peace of mind while I'm at work.l

That's a slick setup. Being able to let someone in the house when you're not there is pretty handy. The controlable t-stat is nice as well. While programable ones are nice, being able to tweak the settings remotely is really cool. I can see that being helpful when plans change.

I work over an hour away from my house would love have this as I would be able to make sure my family is safe with the ability to lock and unlock the door.I have a teenager who constantly forgets to lock the door when she leaves.......

I have no problem with Nerdvana....my house is definately working that way, this would be a nice addition.

Now this is awesome. Id love to have this for my home. I do have wireless ip cameras set up but the locks and light control would be a sweet addition.

I tried for this the last time you gave one away. I hope I win this time. Thanks for the awesome giveaways.

Right now my front door is tied together with some rope, and the crackheads are getting better with the knots. I need to protect my collection of blacberries & boogers.

This would be a great gift to give my mom, would definitely take a load off of my mind knowing that she will be protected by Schlage security.
Thanks CB keep up the awesome give aways.

i would love one of these! i install dvr and network/ip security and surveillance systems in my spare time, and love testing out new devices before recomminding them to clients.

This sounds sick! The lock would have come in handy numerous times so my friends dont have to wait outside til i get home lol.

I would love to win one of these if for no other reason than the Thermostat. I currently have a programmable one but it is such a pain to program...

Thanks J...

I could really use the camera to monitor my two dogs when I'm at work, sounds like a really good system.

They need to invent controllable relays so you can wire it to anything! I want to turn on my oven from my phone!

Looking to buy new locks for our house soon. I've been really interested in these products since seeing them on Crackberry in the past. Although I'm not sure I can sell the wife on purchasing everything I'd want. If I could win this to get started though I'd be off to a great start. :)

Count me in.

I do work with Ingersoll Rand, the parent to Schlage. Have seen this system demo'd in their showroom. Pretty cool stuff. Would love to win the starter kit....Thx for the article!

I would really like this system I am just now buying a house and this would be a great first tech accessory.

I think you failed to mention a critical downside in this system. There's a monthly subscription fee to keep the system working over the Interwebs.

this would be a 10,000 time upgrade to my existing Kwik lock from Walmart..

Great Giveaway .. thanks CB Team !

With 3 autistic kids and my work being an hour drive away from home this system would be awesome for me to be able to check in and see how they are doing along with being able to give my wife some help by being able to watch therapy sessions that are going on from my desk instead of her trying to tell me 15 hours of session time a week in an hour. Also living in Pittsburgh south side it would give me piece of mind for any extended trip from home that the house is left unguarded.

Very cool technology, would love to be the first in the 'hood with this working. Will drive my neighbours green with Shlage envy!

I've been wanting one since I heard about it, but just can't justify the cost. However, free is good!

I would love one of these. My street is getting some work done and I believe that the construction guys are messing up my yard and causing damage to property during the day but I can't prove it. This will totally help me catch these F&*%#s

I could capture the ghosts in our house on camera, lock them in, turn up the heat and burn them out right from my beloved blackberry. Need this!

I love how technology has progressed the only deliquency I might have is if this kind of technology could be hacked.

Your article didn't say for sure how the items communicate with the bridge. I have been using a communication system called X-10 for almost 20 years. It works really well for controlling almost any electrical item. As far as I know, no X-10 for door locks, but then I haven't been on line to check in quite a while. The modules seem to be cheeper than what you quoted in the blog.

My friends have been giving me the geeky title for so long, it has almost become a nick name. Just live with it and enjoy your toys.

This is Crazzy !! I was just talking about this kind of setup and access like a month ago with my budday !! Cant wait to see more from this .

Man I'm in the middle of doing a whole home remodel and this would be a perfect addition to my list of to do. Crossing fingers.

This is crazzy !! I was just talking about this with my budday !! cant wait to see how far they go with this !!

Dear Crackberry,

My fiance and I just bought a house and this would be the perfect addition to it! I am CrackBerry addict! (He's an Android user, but no one's perfect ;-p)

Please make this the best house-warming present EVER!!

What if you buy a house with some of these components already installed? Can you manage your lock codes, etc.. locally only or do you HAVE to pay the monthly subscription for online access?

This is pretty awesome..I was just researching Camera for my house..PLEASE pick me Crackberry, you guys always have the best contest

Home automation is cool. This would be a good starting point. Wonder how my luck will be on this one.

it's as cool as it looks. I know when the cleaning lady comes and goes. I know when the babysitter comes and goes. I'd recommend this to anyone who ever needs to have people coming and going...

Very Nice. Gots me a new house, me and the wife have a BB9700, soon to have a Playbook now to complete my domination of my properTAY I need this. Send it to me plz...THIS I COMMAND!

This would go a long way to keeping our house safe! We may even be able to cancel our expensive monitoring subscription we currently pay for! Thanks CB adn Schlage!

I hope you pick me! My wife is always complaining about how cold she is. She also complains about how much I use my blackberry. This would rock! I can eliminate her complaints with the thermostat.

Her: Put the phone down and turn up the heat.
Me: (Shows the blackberry) Look! The heat's at 75 already!
Her: My Hero.

(Fade away to black)

MUST HAVE, I live in a scary building and can't afford to move pleeease pick me this would make me feel so much safer!

I've always wanted a home security system with a camera, keypad entry door & a BB app too boot. Win, Win!! PLEASE! ; ]

Just bought a house back towards the end of December and got a cheapy Schlage lever lock 3 months ago, this LiNK system does look a hell of a lot better though...

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