How Security Dealers Can Cash In on Wireless Electronic Locks

Pros from across the industry share their stories of their love for wireless locks and why you’d be foolish not to get in on the action.

Trends in Short- and Long-Range Communication

For integration purposes, there are several popular communication formats that have been universally accepted by the majority of wireless, standalone electronic lock manufacturers as well as those that make and sell access control systems, loT devices and many other kinds of wireless equipment. Those universally accepted technologies are Z-Wave, Zig-Bee, WiFi and Bluetooth, to name only four. Z-Wave, however, is becoming the biggest seller of the four, at least at this time.

On the distribution side, “We’ve seen a huge increase in demand for Z-Wave-enabled products. From what we’ve seen, it’s becoming the manufacturers’ standard in the single residential to multiple-unit commercial market,” says Michael Clebnik, executive director of sales and partnerships with Security Lock Distributors of Westwood, Mass.

Kobasuk agrees. “The standard is ZigBee, but the demand for Z-Wave has quickly overtaken them all,” he says. “Z-Wave is by far the most robust platform. It has the largest group of devices available. There’s a device for every application, and it’s absolutely the best way to go.”

More on Wireless: The Advantages of Choosing a Wireless Access Control System

Clay Hart, owner of C.A. Hart Locksmith Services of Cleveland, throws more support behind the technology’s adoption. “I like the Z-Wave technology and Schlage Engage, which allows control from smartphone access. This is a great selling point for the client as it saves on buying keycards and fobs,” he says.

If that’s not enough, Z-Wave is about to gain even more traction on the security side of the house because it was recently approved and listed by UL as UL 1023 compliant.

Yale offers a full portfolio of electronic locks under the Yale Real Living brand. “We offer both Grade 2 electronic deadbolts and lever locks in various finishes. Our original product line [YRD/YRL 210/220] comes in both a pushbutton and touchscreen keypad, and supports a number of communication technologies like Z-Wave and ZigBee,” says Jason Williams, general manager with Yale Residential. “This allows the locks to connect to home security providers like AT&T Digital Life and ADT, and also to home control providers like Crestron and Control4.”

If you’re not doing wireless, standalone electronic locks, then you’re missing out on a groundfloor opportunity.

Yale claims to have agreements with more than 40 integration partners, which means the manufacturer offers products that will operate on multiple communication platforms. “We launched a line of KeyFree locks that simplify the installation process. We have also announced Assure Lock with Bluetooth, so your phone becomes your key. This product will be commercially available within 60 days [by end of June],” Williams says.

WiFi also is emerging as another lock-to-PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone/Internet communication platform over which wireless, standalone electronic locks can operate. “The future plan is to integrate Z-Wave, WiFi and possibly Bluetooth to have seamless integration of multiple devices,” says Kobasuk.

Other communication protocols include Thread, Google Weave, Control4 and Crestron. There are others, suc
h as Laserpoint RF, which is a proprietary communications technology developed and owned by Camden Door Controls of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. This and other similar technologies enable a manufacturer’s line of access control products to communicate with almost any other manufacturer’s head-end control system.

For example, “Medeco offers a mortise retrofit cylinder on the ASSA ABLOY Aperio platform that wirelessly works with an Aperio Hub and can be implemented into a variety of existing access control systems,” says Brad Smith, director of marketing with Medeco and Arrow of Salem, Va.

The Aperio Hub hardwires to the main access control system via RS485 connection or Wiegand interface. “This allows businesses to provide access control to areas that cannot be hardwired, but still be part of one system.”

Multiple Advantages for Multitenant Applications

Another reason why standalone, wireless locks are becoming ever so popular is that they are fire code-friendly. This is because the occupant of a home or commercial facility has only to push the lock’s lever to immediately exit. There is no need for egress motions, manual REX (Request to Exit) buttons, REX push bars across exit doors or the need to integrate these locks with on-premises fire alarm systems and the like. This is especially cost effective in multitenant offices and commercial apartment buildings.

When a fully functional access control system is installed on the entrance doors of such a building, the designer more often uses electromagnetic (EM) locks to control foot traffic into and from the facility. In this case, fire code requires the installation of egress motions and a manual means of egress, such as a REX button next to the door or a push bar across the door(s). In addition, the EM lock(s) must be interconnected with the building’s fire alarm system.

All of this can add significantly to the cost of the installation. However, because the lever on the inside of a common standalone electronic lock allows for immediate egress – in as much as the door is not locked from the inside – there is no need for a costly EM lock and a manual/ automatic means of egress. And yet these locks can be wirelessly interconnected to a computer either onsite or elsewhere at the other end of an Internet connection.

“Medeco offers an intelligent key [eCylinder] offering that provides audit and scheduling in a retrofit cylinder without any hardwiring. It is the same process to change out as a mechanical cylinder since all of the power comes from the key. Intelligent keys have been implemented in retirement communities and multitenant applications. Yale is also a good source for solutions for this market,” says Smith.

“Yale is launching a new platform called Accentra. The Accentra platform will bring together the Yale Real Living products with the nexTouch commercial products, along with cloud-based software to allow our partners to easily manage access to all doors/locks in a multifamily setting. We will be going to market with key partners to drive this solution into the market. This includes partners that will drive the installation and service side of the business,” says Yale’s Williams.

The use of wireless technology for door lock applications and the integration of home alarm systems with myriad wireless devices is happening now and there’s no time to waste. If you’re not doing wireless, standalone electronic locks, then you’re missing out on a groundfloor opportunity.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Al Colombo is a long-time trade journalist and professional in the security and life-safety markets. His work includes more than 40 years in security and life-safety as an installer, salesman, service tech, trade journalist, project manager,and an operations manager. You can contact Colombo through TpromoCom, a consultancy agency based in Canton, Ohio, by emailing [email protected], call 330-956-9003, visit www.Tpromo.Com.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters