Hands-on with the Danalock electronic lock

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The Danalock electronic lock installs over existing deadbolts and allows multiple users virtual keys through its smartphone app

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I’ve had a basic electronic lock on my door for a few months now, so when Poly-Control offered me the more sophisticated Bluetooth- and Z-Wave-enabled Danalock to review, I was curious to see what it could do. Danalock allows any existing deadbolt to be retrofitted into a system allowing multiple users different levels of access to one or multiple locks, and the Z-Wave compatibility allows incorporation into a larger home automation system. In practice, the promise of the sleek Danalock is slightly quenched by buggy iOS and Android apps, with features that simply don’t work, but the core of the lock still remains functional and appealing.

Danalock is a Danish invention and as such is tailored primarily for European locks, but with adapters targeted towards American Baldwin and Kwikset units. It’s available in two different cosmetic styles: a smooth, almost featureless circle and a more traditional looking steel rectangle. They come with either just LE Bluetooth or Z-wave, or both for an additional cost. I was sent an all-black round version with both Bluetooth and Z-wave and was able to test the associated phone apps on an iPhone 5s and a Nexus 5.

I initially set up just myself and my spouse as registered users on the lock, but theoretically I could give permissions to an infinite number of family members, babysitters, pet sitters, or home improvement staff to access my house indefinitely or temporarily, as long as they had a phone that could use the app. Instructions for downloading the app and accessing the virtual "key" are sent via email or text when a new user is added. But because Danalock is installed on the interior leaving the deadbolt chamber intact, physical keys can still be used on the system.

Danalock Installation

Installation is simple, with the interior thumb turn on a deadbolt being removed, and existing screws connecting the Danalock baseplate to the door and deadbolt. Then the bulk of the Danalock hardware is connected with its own screws to the baseplate. The tailpiece of my own lock was too long, and while the help guide suggested trimming its length, Danalock sent me another baseplate to stack which appropriately adjusted the distance. Additionally, consumers can email a picture of their lock to Danalock before purchasing so they can help pick the right type of lock.

Features with the Smartphone Apps

The primary intended method of opening the Danalock is with the smartphone app (iPhone 4s and newer and Android 4.4 and higher), where the "open" and "close" correspond to simple green and red buttons. The app doesn’t remember or know the lock’s status, however, and one can try to open or close the lock when it is already in the same state, resulting in Danalock grinding uselessly against the bolt.

However, the app does offer more sophisticated methods of opening the door other than just pushing the colored buttons. "Knock to Unlock" allows users to knock gently on their phone case when within Bluetooth range and "Auto Unlock" unlocks the door whenever someone with the correct digital key is in range. I was disappointed to find that neither feature worked with either my Nexus 5 or iPhone 5s, other than one successful "knock" that I could not replicate. This was despite checking all the settings required by Danalock and reading through other reviews for recommendations. This seemed to be a common complaint from other users.

Often using the app I was given slightly obscure errors, such as that I had "timed out" and to try again in two minutes, or that my keys were invalid. Refreshing my keys manually solved the problem in the majority of situations, but I was also happy that I was merely testing the lock at the time, rather than juggling heavy bags in the cold on the other side of the door. One evening I had to locate the physical key because even with multiple digital attempts, I couldn’t convince the lock to close.

Z-Wave and the Danalock Web Portal

The Z-wave functionality and the more complex user management allowed with the Danalock web portal is where Danalock might show its worth to a commercial or community establishment, or a user already with complex home automation at home.

The portal allows for a range of permissions to be extended to users, from an end user who just needs to unlock the door, to someone who manages a whole system of Danalocks set up in a variety of places.

In fact, it was tempting to install my test Danalock at a community space I am a part of, where the needs placed on entry into our internal door are complex, with full-fledged members, guests, landlords, publicly open visitation nights, and more.

In the end, we realized our that our internal door not having a deadbolt caused it to be incompatible with Danalock, but the problems I had with the Android app also caused me to hesitate to secure a more public space with what felt like the app’s unreliable nature. However, if the bugs in the system are addressed, Danalock’s user groups along with the flexibility of using a Z-wave gateway with the lock would definitely make a Danalock system desirable.

Danalock is available on Amazon or through its website, but the numerous configurations of design and compatibility, along with the option to send a picture of your lock first to the company, suggests ordering direct through the company is the best option. Its price point of US$159 for Bluetooth Smart and US$179 for Bluetooth and Z-Wave make it roughly compatible with other similar locks we’ve seen at Gizmag, such as the low power Genie Smart Lock, the Lockitron, and the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen.

You can see the Danalock in action in their promotional video below.

Source: Danalock

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