One of the most popular topics in recent years and moving into the future is and will be for quite awhile, the smart home and the many ways to build one out. There are so many approaches to take, including Z-Wave, Apple’s HomeKit, SmartThings, Zigbee and a list that other hubs and controllers that goes on forever. Each usually with an extensive list of devices to go with them. However, you can’t always mix and match some of these devices if they support one controller but not the other. Unless of course you come across a device that supports multiple controller types, like Danalock.
Danalock is one of many solutions for connecting your door (or multiple doors) to your smart home controller, allowing you to be able to lock or unlock it remotely, or assign various codes for users or have it interact with other devices on the network. This covers what you normally get with a good smart lock. However, Danalock allows you to keep your current deadbolt lock, so that you don’t have to worry about multiple keys or using alternative locks in general. So if you are a fan of Schlage (just an example) and don’t want to trust the mechanism of any other lock, then keep it, and add a Danalock to the backside so you can convert it into a smart lock.
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To make things easier, Danalock supports multiple smart home controller scenarios, including Z-Wave, zigbee, Apple’s HomeKit and more. They even support Bluetooth by default. Since they support Z-Wave in general, this also includes all controllers that do as well, including options from companies like Abode, Vera, SmartThings, and more.
All of this with a promise that it will only take you about 5-10 minutes to not only install it but to also get the app set up (a few more minutes and it will be on your controller as well). Thankfully, they are right.
Today we referencing the design of the Danalock V3 unit as well as the Danapad (optional) accessory. Both of which feature a nice smooth aluminum-like (it’s actually a durable plastic) design to them that not only feels good but looks great as well. Kind of feels as though a company like Apple or OWC designed them.
The Danalock V3 is nothing less than completely original in design. It looks nothing like any smart lock (or non-smart lock) we have ever seen or worked with. It definitely stands out and you will find just about every single person that walks near it, will ask what it is. It feels unique spinning it around vs a regular spinning latch. It spins and controls the lock smoothly, and is very easy to work with (to install or remove).
It does stick out a bit more than you’d expect, which adds to the reason why everyone will ask what the heck it is. We had a hard to filing that under a “con” (pro vs con), so it wound up in a neutral list of bullet points. Most smart locks are bulky but this one really sticks out from the door. It does so just enough for the batteries to sit perpendicular to the door. We couldn’t tell if it was because of this, or if it would stick out this far regardless of how the batteries were loaded. It’s important to point out that other locks usually cover more of a footprint outward where the batteries are stories off to the side. So I guess it is a sacrifice of one or the other.
The Danapad is also wireless and can be placed close by if it is connected via Bluetooth, or placed just about anywhere your network will reach, if connected via a smart home controller. One of the only locks we have worked with where the lock and the number pad is completely separate from each other.
Both products come in small packaging and include everything you need. The Danapad simply has screws and plastic anchors, where the Danalock V3 comes with multiple brackets and adapters to make sure it fits any common lock brand. Outside of instructions, that’s it.
The best way to summarize all of this would be “surprisingly easy”. Installation truly is between 5 and 10 minutes, as long as you are comfortable with basic hardware installation (by basic, I mean a kid could easily do it). For one, you begin by downloading the “Danalock” app from the app store on your phone and register for an account. Then you move on…
You want to secure the key section of the lock with a strong tape (but one that won’t damage the paint of the door of course). This just helps you to work on the other side without having to worry about this key side falling off as you work. Then you head to the latch side of the lock and remove the two screws holding it together.
From there, you choose a plate from the three it comes with, that matches your brand of lock (ie, Kwikset, Balwin, etc). Install the plate where the latch used to be, using the same two screws it came with. The screws may easily go all the way in, or you might have to use a little force like we did since the depth of the latch is no longer there (thankfully everything still worked for us).
The instructions will show you which direction the plate should face (arrow should be pointing up-ish and not down…ish).
Now, you choose the small adapter that fits your brand of lock (it comes with three of these as well), and slide it into place on the back side of the Danalock V3 until it clicks in. This adapts the Danalock V3 to the lock’s bar (cam bar) shape, allowing it to control the original lock.
Then, you place the Danalock V3 over the bracket, matching the markings highlighted in the instructions. Push it onto the bracket and carefully rotate it to the right gently until it clicks/locks into place. Congratulations, you can now take the tape off the other side and pull the small plastic tab from the battery compartment. The hardware install portion is complete unless you have the Danapad as well.
If you have the Danapad, you simply have to find a convenient place to install it. Use the two screws (anchors if you need them) to install the plate to a wall (or the door if you choose). Then pop the battery tab out of the bag and install the Danapad to the plate similar to how you did the lock to its plate.
The App! This part is extremely important. If you haven’t installed the app and registered yet, do it now. You want to add the lock to the app (as well as the Danapad if you have one) before you do anything else, or you won’t be able to set pins or enable certain features.
Once you are in the app, you can choose to add a device from the menu. Make sure you are near the lock, and it will pop up. You can name it and then run through your options like creating pin codes. Browse some of the settings to see if you fancy any of them being on. Then do the same for the Danapad. Once you have paired the Danapad to the app, you can assign it to the lock.
As soon as your settings have been adjusted and the pins have been added (if any), you can close the app out and move on if you are connecting it to your smart home controller. At this point, you should have completed the 5-10 minute window of installation.
To add the lock to your controller (again, we are using the Z-Wave version of the lock), you want to have the control panel (web interface) of your controller open on a laptop or phone, or the controller itself nearby if you can add a device by pressing a physical button.
You need to take a paperclip of something similar and slide it in the small hole on top. There is a button inside and you only want to click it once. This sends it into Z-Wave pairing mode. Then tell your controller to do the same (every controller is different, so we can’t go into specifics). For example, Vera requires you to go to the devices screen, click add device, choose the lock in the list, and then it will lead you to its pairing mode. Once both devices are in pairing mode, it should see the lock and add it to its list of devices.
This portion might be the only thing that drags the time past 10 minutes during installation.
It was important to add the lock to the app before doing this since its own app control has to be layered in that order else it won’t work (for Bluetooth functionality and settings to be an option and for you to have full customization of the Danalock).
Once all of this has been done, you may never have to touch the Danalock app again, unless you want to play with the pincodes. However, it seems certain controllers have access to some of the internal lock settings after the fact, which is cool.
As for how the lock works in general, so far, things have been looking pretty good. The lock responds nearly instantaneously to the Danalock app and the Danapad. It feels like it responds within a second or less to the commands, and it move quickly when adjusting the bolt closed or open. Most of the smart locks we have tested in recent years take up to twice as long to rotate, and 2-5x as long to respond to commands.
We did have an issue at first when adding it to one of the Z-Wave controllers. It seems you want to be pretty close to the controller to guarantee a smooth pairing. This is fine since the Danalock can easily be popped back off of the door and carried over to your controller and paired right there (it doesn’t have to be on the door during the process). It took us the second try to pair it because of this as the first pairing failed half way (Z-Wave device 104 ERROR: Failed to setup security) forcing us to trigger the unpairing process and start over.
Although the lock is quick to respond to the Danapad or the app, it doesn’t always do the same with your controller. This is common since there is some latency as commands bounce around, but sometimes the controller might also not report the current status. So if you lock it, it can sometimes still show within the hub as unlocked. This more than likely is a polling issue between the hub and lock. It may eventually update, and it doesn’t seem to happen with all controllers (it was most common with the Vera).
The only other thing we were able to nitpick was the sound. The lock is a tad noisier than most of the locks we have tested. This is more than likely due to the fact that it is also faster than most of the locks we have tested. Possibly a toll you have to pay in order to get that rapid response and speed.
Beyond that, the batteries are supposed to last as long as 18 months before having to swap them out. They aren’t rechargeable, so you will have to buy new batteries each time. It takes 4 (four) CR123A batteries, so you may have to hit a hardware store or order them online. The Danapad takes 4 AAA batteries, which are much easier to find of course. The battery life is draining a little faster for us than you’d expect, however we have also been really putting it to the test, placing it far outside normal daily usage rates. So as of now, it may be awhile longer before we can weigh in on battery life. However, if it can last an average of up to 18 months, that’s not too shabby at all.
The fact that you can join it to a smart home controller is a major plus since the lock can interact with other devices and settings on your network. You can create a goodnight scene for example that includes checking to make sure the door(s) is/are locked. Or if your controller supports geofencing, you can have it automatically lock when you leave the home, or even unlock when you come back (which the latter isn’t always the safest option to have enabled depending on where the door is, but you can do it nonetheless).
As for the Danapad, it works perfectly and can work anywhere within range of your network if you have it added to a controller. We were able to stand around 200ft away and control the lock with it (we have a really large network of course). I can’t come up with too many reasons why the pad wouldn’t be located somewhere near the door, but the variable is there if you need it (panic room?).
Price was the final weigh-in for us. The lock ranges between $199 (HomeKit) and $229 (Z-Wave/zigbee versions), and the Danapad falls around $100. This means the lock by itself is as expensive or more expensive than most of the locks that come with the pad and the actual lock hardware. Add in the Danapad and now you are an additional $100 on top of that. So this is a pretty pricey option for simply converting the lock you already have. I guess this is the price you have to pay in order to keep your original lock vs having to swap it out with a new key and hardware completely. A small penalty is one thing, but the difference in price when comparing to smart-compatible companies like Kwikset does weigh in the on the final score of things.
Installing the Danalock and the Danapad is pretty easy. It is also easy to get the lock working with your smart home controller (the Danapad isn’t Z-Wave, it simply works directly with the lock it seems). The fact that they didn’t fib about the installation time is a big plus, and so is its flexibility to work with so many controllers. The lock works extremely quickly (although a little noisier because of this) and seems to be user friendly across the board. The price was the only concern as it doesn’t compete well in that area of things. For the price, it feels like it needs more (fingerprint/bio access maybe, or built-in geofencing within a few feet). Of course having more will also affect the battery life and complexity of setup. For now, it is what it is price wise, but when it comes to function, it delivers with style.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
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