Monday 20 April 2020

UK Smart Lock Adoption is Sluggish due to Poor Compatibility with our Doors

Compared to many other countries around the world, UK smart lock adoption is already lagging way behind. Head to South Korea and you’ll see that keys are nearly non-existent, with most locks replaced by electronic keypad solutions. 

In the US, newer brands such as August are selling millions of units, and more traditional brands such as Schlage have launched successful offerings.

Adoption has been much slower in the UK, though. Smart locks appeared on the market as early as 2013, yet it’s only a small minority of Brits that have even interacted with one. Walk around a smart home exhibition and you’ll still see a number of consumers being amazed upon seeing a digital unlock for the first time.

It would be easy to attribute this slow take-up to differing attitudes towards technology and home security. (Americans are probably more willing to experiment with smart locks when they have guns as backup!) But the different doors across various geographies should also be considered.

The brands selling heavily in the US work on the rudimentary, but widely prevalent, cylindrical deadbolts, meaning a quick and easy self-install.

The PAS24 requirements over here mean the majority of UK doors have either a multipoint locking mechanism, requiring a handle lift to throw the bolts, or the more traditional set up of a night-latch and a mortice deadbolt. While solutions have been created for both of these doors, there are user experience issues or physical security drawbacks that have hindered uptake.

The solutions available for lift handle locks are Yale’s Conexis and Brisant’s Ultion Smart*. For Yale, the Conexis not working alongside a physical key is a sticking point for all but the largest technophiles.

The Ultion Smart’s design will provide users with more assurance by incorporating a traditional 3-star cylinder and hiding all of the smart design on the inside of the door. However, it still comes with its own problems. Having to perform a handle lift before the door can be digitally locked can be a convoluted process; one you don’t want to leave to your delivery man or dog walker to accidentally get wrong.

Although with an extremely similar ‘key-turner’ design to Danalock, Nuki claims not to be compatible with lift-handle locks. Their website turns you away in red letters as you complete the required compatibility check needed to complete a purchase. The experience of lift-handle locks, in their opinion, is sub-standard. For now, they are concentrating their marketing efforts on the rest of Europe.

With a nightlatch and a deadbolt you’re going to need to buy a smart lock for each or leave the deadbolt permanently open. By doing the latter and swapping your night latch for Yale’s ‘Connected Keyless Smart Lock’, where the latch bolt is non-deadlocking, you are significantly reducing the level of security on the door, allowing intruders in using nothing but a credit card.

Klevio has opted to control a traditional electric strike on these doors’ nightlatches; testing whether homeowners are happy securing their properties using hardware typically used for office access control.

And this is all before anything has been said on battery life. While Klevio’s electric strike approach does allow for hardwiring, everything else mentioned here depends on batteries which must be changed; causing lockouts if they aren’t. Browse the manufacturer’s websites and there are average lifetimes advertised which seem fine - a range of between 6-18 months.

However, be cautious when reading these. While accurate for a brand new, perfectly aligned door, they can drop dramatically if their motors are doing extra work as a locking bolt experiences friction going in and out of the keep.

It’s worth checking out the reviews on the respective app stores for all the brands mentioned here. They’re not exactly glowing and are littered with people having more issues than they would with a standard physical key.

The solution, in my opinion, is to promote the installation of automatic multipoint locking, as opposed to lift handle locking, when doors are manufactured. They result in a far superior user experience when integrated with smart locks, and, if the customer’s budget allows, can be hardwired to a motor inside the door. Winkhaus’ AV3E and GU’s Secury Automatic Opener are good options here.

Although door buyer’s might not be ready to adopt smart technology right now, they should be encouraged to think about their need for it in future. A wrong decision on locks now could leave them with 20 years+ of frustration.

*Avia is another option which has appeared on the market in just the past few weeks and which the jury is still out on.

Previously Head of Installations at Klevio, Jack Peacock is now consulting with companies to help integrate smart locks into their offering and is also launching The Smart Door Company marketing smart door installation packages to homeowners. 

You can get in touch with him at or visit .

This article was first published in the Spring 2020 issue of the Door Industry Journal.

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