There are only a few household names in the lock industry — one of them being Schlage.
Since 1920, the company has helped keep homes secure with top-quality deadbolts. It has also done an excellent job in recent years of integrating new smart technology into its products.
The Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt exemplifies Schlage's commitment to staying ahead of the tech curve. It's an investment at $249, but it's the company's most advanced smart lock, and it works with Amazon Alexa and Ring to boost safety and convenience.
Below are my experiences with the Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt.
Though the Schlage Encode is mainly meant for residential homes, it holds a Commercial Grade 1 certification from the American National Standards Institute and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association. In order to receive a Grade 1 classification, a lock must (among other things) last through 800,000 cycles of locking and unlocking, and survive two strikes each of 60 foot-pounds, 90 foot-pounds, and 120 foot-pounds. All of this is to say that the deadbolt goes through the ringer.
But should any issues arise, the Encode is backed by a limited lifetime mechanical and finish warranty, and a three-year electronics warranty.
Here are a few other specifications, and you can also check out the Amazon page for more details:
- Uses 4 AA batteries (included)
- Designed for doors between 1-3/8-inches and 1-3/4-inches thick
- Exterior dimensions: 3 inches by 5 inches by 0.9 inches
- Interior dimensions: 3 inches by 5.5 inches by 2.2 inches
- 1 key included for keyed entry
- 100-code capacity
Installing went smoothly for me, so it just took about an hour, but give yourself an extra 15 or so if this is your first time installing a deadbolt.
Regardless of your experience with deadbolts, the device comes with easy-to-follow installation directions. Removing my old smart lock — the Danalock— took 10 minutes, and installing the Encode took another 20. This mainly involved fitting the lock on just right in my door, securing the screws, connecting to my Wi-Fi, and activating the device.
The deadbolt hole in my door frame was too shallow for the lock to fit properly so I spent another 10 minutes making the hole deeper so it could fully extend. Then it took another five minutes to download the Amazon Key app and pair it with the lock, and 15 minutes to install the Ring. Finally it's another few minutes to download the Schlage app, but most of this is easy and intuitive.
The biggest challenge here was ensuring that I positioned and installed the Ring's camera so it easily picked up the face of whoever came to my door. Once that was done, I paired the Schlage lock with the video doorbell in the Ring app so whenever there's a person I know or am expecting at the door, I can unlock it.
What makes the lock stand out
The Schlage Encode is incredibly easy to use. My teenage son, who has some experience with smart locks but is generally annoyed by them, was able to get into our home using the lock without any instruction from me. In the two months we've used the lock, he hasn't complained once and neither has anyone else in the family.
I like that the lock not only makes a sound with each press of the button, but the button pads also light up when entering the code so you can see what you're pressing. With audio and visual confirmation, you'll have a better chance of punching in the code accurately each time. But if the beeping annoys you, you can turn it off in the Schlage app.
I have not had to replace the batteries on the lock yet, but both the Amazon Key and Schlage apps tell you exactly how much battery life is left. After 60 days, I'm just sitting at 64%. When the battery level starts to get low, you'll get push notifications and the lock itself has a low battery indicator too.
I also love that the lock is Wi-Fi-enabled so I can monitor the state of my door anywhere. If I go to Canada, I can tell if my neighbor has used the access code I gave him to enter and look after our house. I can also get push notifications when someone unlocks the door, and at night, I can check to make sure that I remembered to lock up without getting out of bed.
Since no one in my house seems to remember to lock the doors, the auto-lock feature is a lifesaver. You can choose times ranging from 15 seconds to 4 minutes. In practice, this feature worked perfectly. I generally had it relock after four minutes. You could also voice-control the device if you're paired up with Alexa. I tested this out by telling my light switch to unlock the front door — this worked well, like I was living in some cartoonish future.
Cons to consider
I could not for the life of me get the edge of the inside panel to line up with the door edge. The outdoor touch screen looks straight, but there is a noticeable angle on the interior. I tried reinstalling it but didn't have any luck. Locks and other items not fitting correctly appears to be par for the course in my rickety old home.
In order to get the full functionality of the Encode, you'd essentially have to use four apps. You'd need Amazon Alexa for voice control, Amazon Key for pairing the lock with the Ring, the Ring app for getting alerts and video when someone is at your door, and the Schlage app to get more out of your lock, such as setting up the brute force attack alarm. This is annoying, but I can't see how Schlage could this without all of the apps.
And speaking of the brute force alarm, I also couldn't get it to go off no matter how hard I tried. In the Schlage app, you'd enable the alarm and change the sensitivity. I had it on the most sensitive and started hitting my door pretty hard with my shoulder, but the alarm didn't go off at all. This could either mean the alarm doesn't work, or it just requires even more force for the alarm to sound.
The bottom line
I have smart locks on all of my doors, but I save the best — the Schlage Encode— for my front door. It's reliable, easy to use, and packed full of high-end security features. Plus, it works with both Ring and Alexa for smart features that make my family and I feel safe.
Should you buy it?
At $249, the Encode is definitely expensive, so you need to ask yourself if you really want the added features like a forced entry alarm, Ring and Alexa compatibility, access from anywhere in the world, a lifetime warranty, and certified durability on top of the boilerplate features you can expect from most smart locks.
Which model should you get?
I strongly recommend taking advantage of the bundle with Ring Video Doorbell 2. You'd end up saving $100 compared to the price of buying these two units separately. There's another bundle with the Amazon Cloud Cam for $299.99, which would save you $40 on the cost of the camera alone. This is an excellent option if you just want a security camera, but I'd still opt for the much more versatile Ring/Encode bundle.
Overall, I'm happy with the Schlage Encode's suite of high-end and smart features, and I recommend it as a long-term smart lock solution.
But what are your alternatives?
Here are four alternatives I have firsthand experience with that you might want to consider:
- Schlage Z-Wave Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt ($159): I have this on the door to my guest room, and we haven't had any problems with it. It has ANSI Grade 1 certification and a limited lifetime warranty. However, I don't like that it isn't Wi-Fi-enabled, and it isn't as smart as I would like. You can read my full review here.
- Lockly Bluetooth Keyless Fingerprint Smart Lock ($279.99): There are two reasons why you might prefer this lock. First, it's not a deadbolt, so if you're looking to replace a lock but don't have a deadbolt hole or want to add one, this is a great solution. Second, the touchpad is incredibly secure and randomized so onlookers can't steal your code. On the downside, it's expensive and requires an additional purchase to be Wi-Fi-enabled. Read my full review here.
- Gate Labs WiFi Enabled Home Security Smart Lock ($249): I like this lock a lot because it has a built-in video doorbell, two-way audio, Wi-Fi capabilities, and more. Plus, it's cheaper than the Encode/Ring combo and only requires one app. However, you need a paid subscription to store videos, and Gate Labs is not as well-known as Schlage.
- Danalock Smart Lock ($325.99): This deadbolt works with your existing one to make it smart. Installation is simple, and I've never had a problem using it. However, it has limited features and isn't Wi-Fi-enabled, so I don't understand why it's so expensive.
Pros: ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 certification, Wi-Fi enabled, limited lifetime warranty, works with Ring and Alexa, has auto-lock feature, has forced entry alarm feature
Cons: Requires four apps for full functionality with Ring and Alexa, can be pricey for some