Lockitron Tested

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 14, 2014

Lockitron is one of the most hyped products in years and maybe the most well known access control product ever. Ever since their crowdsourcing campaign began, this red-hot startup has won millions in backing and all the admiration Silicon Valley has to offer.  

But quite literally, the multi-million dollar question is: Does Lockitron deliver?

We bought a unit and put it through its paces.

What we found was was a mix of disappointment, confusion, and a glimpse at the trouble of bootstrapping an idea into a real access control solution.

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Comments (5)

You're better off getting a Yale deadbolt with z-wave or zigbee built in and then utilizing the z-wave or zigbee with another device like Revolv. I have this set-up at home. I can unlock the door with a code or with a key. With my Revolv attached to it, I can open it with my iPhone. I can also use my iPhone and add an access code remotely that someone else can use to open my door if I'm not there. With the Revolv, my house locks automatically when my wife and I are both gone or at certain times. When 1 of us returns to the house, we can just knock on our pocket (phone in pocket) and the door opens or you can manually swipe a notification to open.

I see my Costco store has the Yale Touchscreen with Lever for only $130. When I bought mine, they were around $180.

If Apple and Google can communicate with Z-Wave or Zigbee with their upcoming home auto built into the phones...you would not need to purchase another device like the Revolv or SmartHome.

I personally agree that Z-Wave/Zigbee locks are preferable, but I don't know if the average Joe would. I've installed lots of deadbolts in my lifetime, but I just bought a Kwikset SmartCode deadbolt and had a lot of problems with the installation. Things didn't align right, the clutch on the thumbturn didn't work right, then the bolt wouldn't throw manually, etc. etc. etc. For the average user, that's going to be insurmountable.

Lockitron is addressing the need for simpler, though obviously they haven't gotten there with this product. In theory, though, their installation looks more doable by the average renter or homeowner without skill.

The other thing they're doing, which I agree is the most likely way forward, is wi-fi enabling it, instead of doing Z-Wave or Zigbee. Average folks are familiar with wi-fi. Connecting something to wi-fi isn't foreign, since even my 70 year old mother has searched for a wireless network and connected. Mention one of the Z___ wireless standards though, and they look at you funny.

The issue is technology isn't at a point where wi-fi devices can be powered for long periods of time without large batteries, and wake/sleep modes have problems, which are obvious in this test. Once that way forward is clear, wi-fi is more likely.

Lockitron indeed is fairly simple to install. Most DIYers, if they follow instructions and watch the videos, won't have problems installing according to plan, if everything matches the plan.

The problems are - and most professionals know this all too well - that the condition of the underlying door, lock, and frame are a wildcard. Even something as simple as stripping out a thumbturn screw, having oversized trim, or a worn deadbolt full of stiffness or backlash can be a showstopper for Lockitron.

If the typical DIYer has one of these issues, installation work likely stops cold because Lockitron isn't flexible enough or tweakable to overcome these common problems.

I am glad to have cancelled my order a few months ago after waiting for much too long. Another crowd funded product that doesn't meet its hype and potential. I was hoping that this one would work out because my initial reason for ordering it was its competitive feature set (draw back being relatively large size compared to Kwikset and August)

It looks like there's a padlock with similar tech coming up as well.

Here's their kickstarter page

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