Published on January 2nd, 2015 | by Greg0
Danalock: A Smart Lock Not Quite Ready For Prime Time
We’ve seen plenty of smart locks hitting the market in the past year or so, and expect to see many more at this year’s massive consumer electronics convention, CES 2015, starting next week. But as the options proliferate, it’s inevitable that not every one will hit the mark. And even major manufacturers have software issues, or compatibility problems, not to mention feature limitations. Many of the existing models aren’t that attractive either.
Which is why we were excited about the Danalock from Poly-Control, and our BTZU100 Circle model that included not just Bluetooth wireless (as with every smart lock) but also Z-Wave functionality as well. The packaging is small, the setup looks simple, and it replaces the deadbolt on the inside of your door rather than leaving anything external-facing. Competitively priced, it seems like a solution that might be the ideal option for anyone looking to save some money but get a solid smart lock. The Scandinavian design and aluminum body feel pretty solid, and the one-year battery life echoes that of others.
Unfortunately, we faced installation issues that prevent us from recommending it wholeheartedly. For the most part, smart locks have proven fairly easy to install on our test doors, with only occasional troubleshooting necessary- usually, it’s the software that will trip us up or cause problems. Here, though, we faced issues with two of our three deadbolts- basically, the internal part of the lock that appears to vary quite a bit in the US. There’s a stem and tailpiece inside that you may need to cut down and/or use an adapter for, and eventually we did manage to get everything installed. On another door, we had to adjust the torque, since the danalock wasn’t opening the lock all the way, only partially. The motor sounded a little weak too, and our initial lock commands could take quite a while to engage or disengage the lock, which was worrying.
After some troubleshooting, we had everything running pretty well, though then we noticed a major issue with attempting to use the Z-wave utility- there is no accurate status of the lock’s current position, so you cannot actually tell if it’s open or closed. One of the biggest things we appreciate about a smart lock is the ability to remotely check if our guests have forgotten to close the door, and this lack renders the Z-wave portion somewhat useless. The app itself (available for both iOS and Android) is mostly fine, and we appreciated the lack of monthly paid services or extra fees that sometimes accompany smart locks. We got the auto-unlock working when we got close- most of the time- but not the fun-sounding “knock to unlock”. The log of activity doesn’t seem to record when you open the lock manually (which is what you’ll do a lot of the time), which seems like a serious flaw if you’re trying to monitor access. While many of these problems could be fixed by software updates, the installation problems are more serious. We’d suggest checking how other users report working with your specific manufacturer of lock and taking that under advisement, and carefully considering other systems. But the Danalock is pretty cool, when it works, and the price can’t be beat. Available online and in stores for around $180.