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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Schlage Encode is Nearly Perfect Even Without a Smarthome

The Schlage Encode Wi-Fi lock installed on a green door.
Josh Hendrickson

Smart locks are a great addition to the smarthome. But they usually require a hub for remote access and often that even means a full smarthome system. The Schlage Encode smart lock changes all that. Anyone can use it.

I’ve been using a Schlage Z-wave Connect deadbolt for years. It’s reliable, works well, and super convenient to have. I don’t even carry around house keys anymore because I don’t need them.  The keypad means I can unlock the door even when my hands are full, and scheduling features let me stay in bed without worrying if I remembered to lock up.

But it’s not a perfect lock. For one, it’s bulky and loud. And for two, it requires a Z-wave hub for any remote capability. That’s fine for me, a smarthome expert, but not great for any of my friends or family who aren’t ready to jump in the deep end of smarthomes just yet.

The Schlage Encode fixes all of that. It’s smaller, quieter, easier to install, and doesn’t require any other smarthome tech to work. The thing is darn near perfect. How near? I already recommended it to my in-laws who don’t like smarthome tech, and they love it too.

Smaller and Easier to Install

Smart locks have two components that make them mildly more challenging to install than a standard lock. The keypad on the front, which requires running power cables through the lock cavity. And the battery and circuitry box, which goes on the inside of your door. What’s impressive about the Schlage Encode is how much smaller it is than the Z-Wave Connect. And that size makes the install easier.

A Schlage Z-wave Connect and Encode unit side by side. The Connect unit is noticeably larger.
The Schlage Z-wave Connect is on the left; the new Schlage Encode is on the right. Josh Hendrickson

I’ve installed quite a few smart locks over the years. For the most part, they’re not much more challenging to install than a standard door lock. The hardest part is keeping the pieces in place while you’re driving screws that attach the lock to the door. Usually, the components are so heavy they want to fall out. That leaves you trying to awkwardly clamp it with one hand while driving screws with the other. It’s not impossible, but it’s awkward and mildly frustrating.

The Schlage Encode doesn’t have that problem at all. It just sticks in place while you work on getting everything centered and aligned. That made installing the lock so easy I finished in less than ten minutes. When I recommended the Encode to my sister-in-law, my wife put in the lock for her. She’s never installed a smart lock (or any lock) before and came away impressed with how simple it was.

Unlike a lot of other locks, you don’t need to install a bridge or Wi-Fi adapter for remote access. Nor do you need to pair to a smarthome hub. The lock contains everything you need, and that makes the entire setup process far easier.

One thing that stood out to me is how quiet this lock is. Smart locks work by using a motor to turn the lock components. With the older Schlage Connect, the sound of the motor is loud and jarring. I have a scheduled routine that locks the door at 10 P.M. every night, and it always startles me (my front door leads to my living room). The Encode is quiet. I can still hear it, but it’s nowhere near as distracting or disruptive.

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