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QUICK LOOK: Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with Apple HomeKit

Schlage as a brand has been around almost a century, offering interior and exterior door knobs, handles, and deadbolts.  And when it comes to home automation, they have been offering compatible products to consumers for some time.  As such, it should come as no surprise they are one of the first in their industry to bring to market an Apple HomeKit compatible deadbolt.  Let’s check out their new Schlage Sense device in this quick-look blog post!

As we head into the 2015 holiday season I’m reminded that just a year ago, during the 2014 holiday season, I purchased & installed a set of Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt devices in my home.  You can read more about that upgrade to my two exterior doors in THIS BLOG POST.  Schlage still offers the Connect devices, which works using Z-Wave protocols.  To harness the full power of that Schlage Connect device you’ll want to acquire a smart home hub, such as the Samsung SmartThingsWink Connected Home Hub, or the D-Link Staples Connect Hub.  Those hubs bridge the connection between the lock, and your phone.

SIDEBAR: Stay tuned to my blog for a huge shootout coming soon.  In this forthcoming post I’ll compare the Wink, SmartThings and Staples hubs directly against Apple HomeKit.  We’ll also be testing other hardware, such as the Amazon Echo.  Keep your eyes here!

With the new Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt kit you no longer need a smart hub to control your deadbolt.  All you need is a newer Apple iOS device in order to harness the Bluetooth power of the Sense.  But before we get into these new features, HomeKit accessibility, and software changes, let’s first talk about the hardware.

Unboxing & Installation

Having installed the prior generation Schlage Connect just a year ago, I found this new Schlage Sense to be a nearly identical device.  Since the major change here has to do with the circuitry inside the device (see next section), this permitted Schalge to keep the exterior hardware mostly the same.  For those of you who have encountered Schlage’s smart deadbolts before, this will all looks very familiar.  They still offer two styles/shapes, and three different metal finishes.

For newcomers, don’t freak out!  Believe it or not, the installation remains a very simple task, typically requiring only a screw driver.  There are always exceptions, such as if you’re adding a bolt to a door without the necessary bore.  Or if you need to increase existing hole sizes, drill new pilot holes, and so forth.  But no matter how involved your particular install may be, the instruction manuals included with the Schlage Sense are very thorough, allowing even the most novice individual the hand-holding needed to make short work of the install.  In my case I was swapped over to my new smart deadbolts in less than 10-minutes each.

There were some changes I noticed when comparing this new hardware to their prior iteration.  For example, the new panel has a silver background, rather than a black one.  The buttons still illuminate, and appear slightly brighter than before.  But I preferred the old contrasting black-face white-light style, which proved easy to see in direct sunlight.  But I will admit that the new silver color/design is a bit classier looking.  Another smaller change is on the metal plate that installs on the interior side of the door.  Though the shape and size remain unchanged, they’ve now stamped words onto the plate indicating door side, and interior side, making it that much easier to install properly.

To break it down and explain just how simple the process was (at least for me): there are two screws that hold the bolt into the door edge.  The touch panel snaps into place from the front of the door, and is then retained with the metal plate and two screws from the back/interior.  Then you attach the main brain which is held onto that metal plate with two more screws.  Beyond that, you simply slide in and connect the four batteries, and you’re done!

Many folks speak negatively of the overall size of the hardware on the interior side.  Though I agree it is larger than a conventional door lock, one must face the fact that the device needs to house batteries for long-lasting electrical operation, plus the smart electronics needed to make all the magic happen.  If that doesn’t justify the size enough for you, try and compare this unit to others such as the August Smart Lock.  Personally I find the August to be an eye sore, way too big in depth and diameter, and visually too bulky and industrial.  My preference is the Schlage Sense which continues to provide a nice mix of contemporary and modern styling, and never looks out of place in any home.  But to each their own…

Included with each Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt kit is a key, as well as two initial codes to unlock your door.  You’ll use one of them after you power it on, just to make sure things work.  From there you can program new codes directly on the unit with a third “master code” provided with your kit.  But rather than dealing with manuals, and button presses, and sometimes “hard to follow” instructions, it is far superior a user experience to use your smart phone to control this bolt.  So let’s do that!

Software & HomeKit

Schlage offers a companion app for your iOS device (iPhone, etc) to help not just lock & unlock your Schlage Sense deadbolt, but also program user access codes, and set other features or settings.  As you can see in the gallery above, setup is a quick and painless operation.  The device is automatically found using your phone’s Bluetooth, and in my case both devices ran through a swift Firmware update after my initial sync.

Within the app you can adjust settings for each lock individually, such as Alarm Mode.  That feature allows you to configure the lock to beep when the door is open/closed, or sound an alarm during forced entry detection.  Other settings include having the door auto lock after a set period of time, or choose if button presses on the outside panel beep or not.  Having the ability to control this myriad of settings on your phone with Bluetooth on the Schlage Sense offers a far superior experience versus the old Z-wave device.  But it is worth noting that you can still make all those same changes the old-fashioned way on the lock, should you desire to pretend you’re still living in 2009.  (Or, gasp, for those people without smart phones!)

Your Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt has the ability to retain up to 30 unique unlock codes, and you have the option of setting them to a varying length of digits (4, 6 or 8), as well as when they can be utilized.  This is great for letting your cleaning service, dog walker, or child into the home with simple taps on the outside touch panel.  Overall the experience at the door is great, allowing you to use a physical key, or the keypad, for ingress and egress of your home.  But where things get even better is when you start to use your voice.

Using Siri you can unlock and lock the door, thanks to Apple HomeKit compatibility being baked right into the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt.  As you’ll see in photo captures above, simple ask Siri if the door is locked and she’ll tell you.  Or ask to her unlock the door for you, as you’re walking up the driveway, and boom it unlocks!  During my testing I tried both my iPhone as well as my Apple Watch, and it worked flawlessly when I was at home and within local Bluetooth range.

Where Siri continues to fall down is when using my Apple TV to remotely access my doors.  The sis supposed to work such that I could ask Siri if I forgot to lock the door behind me, and she’d advise me.  The only hiccup here remains that for HomeKit devices using Bluetooth rather than Wifi, your Apple TV needs to be within BT range of those devices.  This meant that I would often get a reply back from Siri about being unable to perform this task.  It is worth nothing this is not a shortcoming of the Schlage Sense, but actually the HomeKit platform itself.  For example, I have the same issues with my Elgato Eve HomeKit hardware remotely, as it also uses Bluetooth.  However, my wifi HomeKit devices such as the new Philips Hue Bridge, or my Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge, work great away from home, over LTE.

Verdict

If you’re an Apple user then Siri is no stranger to you.  For Android users, or folks just curious, we’ll be talking more in my forthcoming blog post about HomeKit as it stacks up against devices like the Amazon Echo.  At that point I’ll spend more time talking about smart home automation in a broader sense.  For now I wanted this post to just focus on how the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt works, and what it brings to the table as a stand-alone device.

And in that case, whether you’re just getting started in building your smart home, or you’re a seasoned veteran, the Schlage Sense comes highly recommended.  Like most of the battery operated deadbolts on the market it can be a bit noisy when it operates, but I love the ability to bark commands at my iPhone or Apple Watch.  I’m a huge fan of the quality of hardware that Schlage brings to the table, where the unit feels safe & secure.  And with a variety of styles, you’re sure to find a Schlage Sense that looks great in your home.

As we head into the holidays and the New Year there are sure to be even more Apple HomeKit devices coming out each day.  This will allow even deeper integrations and automations, so stay tuned to my blog for more comparisons, reviews, and findings!  Happy Holidays!

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Published by

Ari Jay Comet

Sharing my life experiences. Interacting with technology. Digital self-expression. Binary is black, white, and many shades of grey.

38 thoughts on “QUICK LOOK: Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with Apple HomeKit”

  1. I would think if you picked up more Bluetooth devices if it would fill the dead spaces in your Bluetooth network in. It’s tough to find them now, but I have a feeling that will change in the coming year. I’m putting the new GE Bluetooth switch through its paces at the moment.

    1. What you are suggesting is that HomeKit uses these Bluetooth devices as repeaters. Is that truly the case? And if so, does a firmware update have to occur for devices like, say, my Elgato Eve hardware? Or are they already offering that feature, I wonder? Curious….

  2. Put in all Schlage locks last year. If I use a bridge, will I be able to do everything with my iPhone on the old locks that you are able to do with the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt ? If so , which is the best bridge ?

    1. Mike, when you say “old locks” are you referring to the Schlage Connect that work on Z-wave? If yes, then right now there is currently no bridge that I am aware of that works with HomeKit that also supports Z-wave protocols.

      INSTEON makes a HomeKit hub, but it only works with their lighting devices (I’m testing one at my office right now, and none of the garage door, locks, etc work with the HomeKit hub yet). As far as I’m aware there is no bridge for z-wave devices, and even if there were, I’m not sure that Apple allows locks to be controlled via a bridge, at least, not yet.

  3. I installed Schlage Sense last weekend. All worked great. My frustration is that I am not able to get any remote features to work once I am out of the house. I have a 3rd generation apple TV that I have placed next to the door to test. To the best of my knowledge, I have researched and applied all suggestions i.e. reset apple TV, check iCloud IDs, keychain etc. My internet queries lead me to this blog post. But looks like other than occasional fail, you had no issues with remote access. Right? Any thoughts? I am yet to get it to work even once out side my home wifi. Thanks in advance.

    1. You will find that 99% of the people using an Apple TV 3 will have no luck. Just last night someone asked me same issue via email. Then today he went and bought the new Apple TV 4 at my suggestion. Instant success.

      So, sadly, the problem seems that most people can’t manage to succeed in remote access with their Apple TV. I was testing other devices like my Lutron lights or such. Even those remotely don’t work with Apple TV 3. But the moment I upgraded to my Apple TV 4 — success !!!

      It is a bummer to spend another $149 or more. But I bet if you do it will work the moment you sign in!!

  4. I’ve been patiently waiting and waiting and waiting for the promised functionality of the Schlage Sense with HomeKit integration. I was very excited to bring an Apple TV 4 and Schlage Sense door lock into my house this week to realize the promised high tech abilities. The lock works fine if I’m close to it, activating it with the Schlage app via Bluetooth. But I was looking for Remote Access and prefer not to run my phone batteries down by leaving BT on all of the time. I find clicking through the iPhone Settings screen to toggle the BT every time I want to open the door more trouble than pulling a key out. I had a BT toggle app on my iPhone home screen but iOS 9 torched it. The other revision I want Schlage to make to the lock app is the access logging data screen should allow sorting by user codes and export in case longer term records are desired (like tracking how long the cleaning lady is in the house over time).

    I have been unable to get the new lock to recognize the Apple TV 4 for Remote Access but since it is about 25 ft away, apparently out of the range of iPhone 6 Bluetooth, I don’t think it will ever work unless I buy my door its own separate Apple TV. I guess I’ll temporarily move the Apple TV next to the door to verify this. Not cool. I may be taking the Apple TV back (and iPad Mini I bought to manage everything) within the ten day no questions asked period. I modified the door for the lock and I like the multiple code function so I’ll probably keep it.

    1. Cracks me up that people think leaving Bluetooth on drains battery. Assuming you have a newer iOS device you should not be seeing any major battery drain by leaving your BT on. But if you really want to toggle it just slide up from bottom. You DO NOT need to go into settings. Since iOS 8 there is a “swipe up from bottom” quick access toggle for wifi, Bluetooth, airplane mode and many other features. Which again is totally not necessary but if you want it go for it.

      Make sure you have your Apple TV logged in with same iCloud account as phone or device which was used to add to HomeKit. Make sure said iOS device has iCloud Keychain active otherwise remote access doesn’t work. Make sure under settings – privacy – you have remote access turned on for HomeKit. All of these steps are explained right on apples web site for getting HomeKit to work. You should need be only 40-50 feet for Bluetooth range. If you are 25 feet you’re more than ample.

      I had an iPhone 6 and now iPhone 6S. My wifi and Bluetooth always on. I could go all day and use only 50% battery in 16+ hours. So you’ll be fine. But again you have to follow carefully apples instructions for iCloud settings and Apple TV settings if you want it to work. Sounds like you may not have done all that.

      Good luck!

      PS: the logging you want would be a great feature so you should reach out to Schlage for that. I’m sure down the road they’ll add that. I have other Bluetooth devices that are on HomeKit from Elgato and they log things like doors opening and closing etc. it is great.

  5. Ok, so I bought apple tv (the latest generation), setup iCloud, did the usual checks. I am still unable to operate my Schlage Sense deadbolt away from home, or with blue tooth turned off. As part of your review of this product for your blog were you able to use the remote access feature at least once?
    I have logged out of iCloud and logged back in as per the instructions on Apple Home Kit page https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204893 without any success.

    I am really curious to know if there is anyone (consumer) who has made the remote access to the lock work through any generation of apple TV.

    1. It works for me but only 50% of the time. The big issue here is the Bluetooth connection. The Apple TV needs to be near the locks. And even then you may need to try a few times. Also make sure you’re using the right wording. Double check the wording by attempting a command locally. If it works local then try remote. I have wifi devices like Philips hue and Lutron. So I would turn off wifi and Bluetooth and test. And the lights work 99% of the time. But the Bluetooth locks and Bluetooth Elgato devices work 50% or less of time. It is kinda sad but that’s how it is right now.

  6. My lock works perfectly with bluetooth connection (both application and Siri) 100% of the time. So I don’t believe there are any installation or command issues.

    However, it works 0% of the time when I am out of the house, or on LTE, or WIFI. Also my new Apple TV is sitting right besides the lock (3 ft). 🙂

    If your experience is just 50% of the time and mine 0%, I guess this is a HUGE concern and must be advertised to the world so that the responsible people/company take not and fix this. Your blog, I believe is one such important medium.

    Thanks

    1. I agree. This is important data. However when I posted here I didn’t have but a few days testing. I am working on a follow up article this will talk about and address these issues. I also am waiting to see if this is a firmware issue with locks or an issue with HomeKit. By the way my Apple TV is 20-40 feet away from each lock. So I assumed that was issue. If yours is that near I don’t know. You should have better luck. Perhaps buy a wifi smart outlet like iDevices and see if that works to make sure Apple TV works right. You may want to reset the Apple TV and try again. Make sure it is logged in using same addres. Also did you make sure on your device under Settings -> HomeKit-> your home, to then on remote access??

  7. Just to complete the picture of my experience. I have followed every instruction I could find on the internet around this issue, and checked all settings. Yes, my HomeKit remote access is enabled (Allow Remote Access) for my home. I have reset the Apple TV a number of times too. Also, I can log into iCloud.com and see all my devices connected. The seems to be the communication between Apple TV and the Schlage Sense lock.

    Since I bought the lock from Amazon, I plan to leave my review there. Hopefully it will attract the Schlage’s attention and might attempt to resolve this for me.

    1. Sorry to hear about this experience. It doesn’t mimic mine entirely though as stated mine has been not perfect. If you do resolve please post here. I’m sure my followers & future readers would love the info.

  8. Just to echo a lot of other comments on here, I am having the same issue with remote access (using an Apple TV3). I would just return the lock, but I replaced a bunch of other locks at the same time and don’t want to go through the hassle of returning everything and re-installing my old locks. Very frustrating!
    Everything works fine over BT when close to the lock, but as soon as I am remote (or even at the far end of the house) everything gets really slow (long range BT) or doesn’t work at all (connecting via Apple TV), even when I am still on my home wifi network. Siri just adds another layer of unreliability to the sitaution.
    I’ve tried all the simple steps but nothing helps. I guess a call to Apple is in order, who will blame Schlage, and then a call to Schlage, who will blame Apple. Hooray!

    1. Keep in mind that the ATV3 sucks at HomeKit. I tested it and had zero luck. Tried all the tricks, changing my iCloud address to use my iCloud.com version rather than gmail, etc. I even used suggestions from other people like Elgato and so forth, no luck. Then, the moment I turned on my Apple TV 4 (the new one that just came out) it worked for remote access immediately. So your first hurdle may simply be the fact that ATV3 doesn’t work nicely with HomeKit, but ATV4 works great. The second hurdle is that Bluetooth devices seem far more flaky than Wifi devices. I’ve proven this by remote accessing my Lutron or Philips lights, which work great. But my Elgato Evo and Schlage Sense devices, which are Bluetooth, almost never work or 50% of the time at best. Just some thoughts to chew on… 🙂

      1. Well here is a strange thing… Yesterday it was not working at all as I walked through my neighborhood. Today, I launch the sense app from work (30 miles away) and it gets the lock status in about 10 seconds. I am going to try locking/unlocking now!

      2. It appears like I can read the lock status remotely, but it won’t accept any commands I try to send it. Maybe I just have to wait until I get an Apple TV4 in the near future.

      3. Mine typically just remains “searching for lock” when I try to access it remotely. This is using their app, which of course should require Bluetooth. I’m not 100% sure if you’re supposed to be able to use their app remotely, or only Siri. It was more my understanding that remote access with Apple TV was only for Siri, not the app itself. But I could be wrong. Either way, I may play around with my Apple TV 4 in the next few days, moving it closer to my locks, and seeing how that fares. I’ll reply here with my findings 🙂

  9. Hi AJ! I was planning to purchase this to replace my older model. However, the one feature I was looking for, it may appear that this doesn’t have it! Is bluetooth strictly used for HomeKit and Schlage App communication? Can you not use Bluetooth for the whole “walk up to the door and it auto-unlocks”? Or did I just miss reading that in the article?

    1. Bluetooth is used to connect your phone to the lock, instead of the old devices which used Z-wave and required a hub. Here your phone directly communicates with the door locks, cutting out the middle-man from prior.

      As for the door automatically unlocking, I don’t see that feature clearly shown anywhere in the app. I did find a few articles about the device that mention it, but can’t find that detail on the Schlage web site. I would suggest you contact Schlage directly, to ask if/how this feature would work, since I don’t see it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there, it just means I am not sure.

      Also, you could use HomeKit to unlock your doors automatically using a geofence, too, if you wanted. But that is then using HomeKit (and would need an Apple TV), rather than what you’re talking about which is bluetooth within 40-feet of the device.

    1. Not at this moment, no. I’m not entirely sure if this is by design, but I think it is due to Apple. However, since the Sense works via Bluetooth, I would assume that the Wink or SmartThings hub could also communicate via Bluetooth with the locks. You should reach out to those two hub makers, to find out if/when they will be adding support for the Schlage Sense. And then report back here if you wish 🙂

    1. I would contact Schlage directly about this. I’m not sure you’re supposed to add second people to the same device. Instead, you would set it up on HomeKit. Then share your home with the second device/person. They then gain access via Siri. I’ve never tried multiple users. See what the manufacturer says.

  10. My husband and I just installed the Schlage Sense deadbolt. Worked great. I paired it with the app and it required a firmware update. After the download was successful, the lock turned off and won’t turn back on. It has been a couple of hours now. We’ve tried taking the batteries out- uninstalling the app- nothing. It is like it is dead. Have you heard of this happening to anyone else? Of course their Customer Service is closed until Monday.
    Thanks

    1. I’ve never had that issue myself nor have I read about it anywhere else. The only thing I might suggest is doing the reset as explained in the manual. You hold down the exterior Schlage button while plugging batteries back in. That may resolve your issue? If not, I’ve heard good things about their customer service and hope they can help you Monday. Best wishes.

  11. Thanks so much for your quick reply. We have tried the reset, but to no avail. I will let you know if customer service can resolve it. Thanks again.

    1. Is it possible the batteries included were almost dead? I know that seems basic and almost too obvious but if you’re not getting any reaction perhaps try another set of four new batteries. You should get some sort of noise or light or something upon connecting power. Sorry I’m not of much help otherwise though.

      1. @Kim B, Are you unable to operate the lock with the app, or is it not responding to key pad codes? Does the keypad light up when you touch EXTERIOR schlage?
        One mistake I did in my re-installs was touching the interior shclage button while factory resets.

  12. I have a new house with a Control4 home automation system. I have Nest and Protect, as well as some distributed audio and lighting.

    I have been ready to get the Schlage Connect, but just hadn’t convinced the wife to spend the $650 to replace all three of our locks to make it truly worthwhile. Now I see the Sense is out and I’m wondering which one to get.

    I am an Apple user and have the 4th gen Apple TV (about 30 feet from the front door) and we both use iphones. I have heard that Apple won’t allow unlocking doors using Siri, but you seem to say it works.

    I will probably have to pay an installer to program the Control4 system to work with the new locks, but it’s been a year and I need to update the software anyway so that’s not so big a deal. Any thoughts on why I should or shouldn’t go with Sense or Connect?

    Thanks!

    1. When the HomeKit system first came out door locks didn’t work. Lights only. After some updates and new iOS versions things like door locks are now included. There are still caveats to HomeKit versus other systems, for security purposes. But I can promise you that you’ll be able to use Siri to lock and unlock your doors. Both while at home, or away using your Apple TV 4 that you mentioned.

      Based on this, you being an apple user, then yes I definitely recommend the sense over the connect. It is the latest and greatest and works great for Apple. See links above in my blog for your purchase purposes. Cheers!

    2. Hi Jason,
      I started my home automation project with Schlage Sense. I ran into a number of issues accessing it remotely.
      Today, I have 3 Schlage Connect in my primary house and 2 on the beach house. They have worked great for me with Smartthings (via Z-Wave). The remote access and control is simply awesome. I have moved Schlage Sense locks to storage doors where they now simply function as keypad enabled lock and bluetooth locally.
      I am extremely satisfied with Schlage Connect and Smarthing combo. I have heard other users have good success with Schlage Sense and HomeKit. Unfortunately, not me.
      Hope this helps (I benefited a lot from other users responses when I was doing my research).
      Good luck!

  13. I’ve had my SCHLAGE sense locks working perfectly via local Bluetooth and my and my wife’s iPhone 6 since Christmas and in the last week or so I found I could no longer connect to my front door lock (one of my two Sense locks). When I open the SCHLAGE Sense app on my iPhone, it finds the basement lock but says “Searching for lock…” perpetually for the front door lock even when I’m standing right next to it. The locks were installed at the same time and the front door lock appears to have plenty of battery power left. Any thoughts about how to get this lock to reconnect?
    Because of this Siri can no longer respond to commands like “lock all my doors” or questions like “are all of my doors locked?” because it can’t connect to one of my locks.

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