Review: Yale Real Living Key Free Touchscreen Deadbolt T1L With Z Wave

The Yale brand has been synonymous with home and business security for many years. The company’s locks and security systems are fitted in millions of premises around the globe. But home security is changing, with funky start-ups launching a dizzying array of smart home devices. They’re wooing consumers with new ways to secure and protect the home, with mobile devices at the heart of the proposition.

Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Weave? Smart home networking protocols are swiftly bumping traditional lock features from specification lists. And who needs keys nowadays? While innovators like Linus Yale Jr., the original inventor of the pin tumbler lock, can build huge enterprises on ingenuity, smart operators aren’t afraid to jump on a bandwagon or two to keep growing. So, it’s no surprise to see Yale bringing smart home features to their residential security products.

Much has been written about the upcoming Yale Linus, with its Nest integration features, but you’ll find smart home credentials creeping into a range of the company’s product lines. Today’s review subject, the (takes a breath) Yale Real Living Key Free Touchscreen Deadbolt T1L With Z Wave is one such example.

It’s a small, compact device with a touchscreen keypad control, enabling access to your property without the need for physical keys. Z-Wave integration allows the device to be accessed and controlled by compatible smart home hubs from Samsung SmartThings, Revolv and Logitech Home Harmony, Vera and others, bringing Yale’s lock in line with those funky upstarts.

What’s in the Box?

The $195.99 Yale T1L ships in a compact, branded box that includes:

  • Exterior Lock with Touchscreen
  • Interior Lock Mechanism
  • Interior Mounting Plate With Gasket
  • Latch
  • Strike
  • Mounting Bolts
  • Screws
  • Wireless Network Module
  • Battery Cover
  • 4 AA Batteries
  • Door Marking Template
  • Installation Guide

The lock is available in a selection of finishes and is available online for around $200. Our review model is the Satin Nickel, but Polished Brass and Oil Rubbed Bronze are also available.

 

With exterior dimensions (L x W x H) of 15/16″ x 2 3/4″  x  5 1/8″ and an interior of 2 1/8″ x 3″ x 6 7/8″, the T1L is reasonably compact in lock terms, but there’s still a fair amount of hardware that’ll be visible on the door. The interior design, in particular, suffers from the inclusion of a black plastic battery cover – a consistent metal finish throughout would have been preferred. But overall, clean lines and a graceful shape gives the T1L a modern and reasonably unobtrusive appearance.

Installing the Yale Real Living Key Free Touchscreen Deadbolt T1L

Installing the lock is straightforward enough for anyone that can complete a basic DIY job. If you’re replacing an existing lock, you’ll only need a Phillips head screwdriver, but note that the lock aperture (the face bore) is must be sized at 2 1/8″ (54mm). That makes the Yale T1L less flexible than the Kwikset Kevo (see our review) which cab be installed in bores of 2-1/8″ (54 mm) or 1-1/2″ (38 mm). If you’re nervous about drilling, or you’re limited in what you can drill (if you’re in a rental home, for instance), then I’d recommend you remove your existing lock and measure the bore hole before you make your purchase.

As with the Kwikset Kevo, the critical element is ensuring the connector cable between the exterior and interior sections of the lock is not trapped during installation. Yale’s design includes a cut out notch that you can push the cable into, to insure it’s safely out of the way. Rubber gaskets are fitted to the underside of each side of the lock, which protects the internals from the weather – that’s a great move on Yale’s part.

The Yale T1L is powered by four AA batteries, which are supplied in the box. Rechargables can’t be used, unfortunately, but there’s a 9v battery backup which will ensure you won’t be locked out should the AA’s die. Simply touch the battery to elements on the base of the lock and it’ll power onA low battery indicator on the touchpad will ensure you know when it’s time to switch the batteries out.

Once installed, you’ll be greeted by a reasonably loud melody from the lock, so you know that it’s powered. Set a Master PIN and run through a short handing process (ensuring the lock knows which way the deadbolt needs to turn) and you’re done. Installation should take less than 30 minutes and it’ll be a lot quicker if you don’t need to do any drilling.

Using the Yale Real Living Key Free Touchscreen Deadbolt T1L

The touchscreen keypad is invisible when inactive. A black panel on the exterior of the door gives little clue that the device is a numeric keypad – from a distance, anyway. Touch the keypad and the numbers illuminate brightly in blue – you’ll hear a loud chime with each tap, which makes it clear that your selection has been registered. It is quite loud though and fortunately, audio mode can be disabled with a reasonably complicated numerical code that navigates you through the T1L’s settings menu.

Alongside the master PIN code, up to 100 user codes can be created, allowing you to grant access to your property to family, friends and a host of others. Again, PIN code setting is all conducted using the keypad, so you’ll need the manual handy. Compared to an app-based controller, as supplied with the Kevo Kwikset and other competitors, it can be a frustrating experience if you don’t take your time. Certainly there are smart elements to the Yale T1L, which we’ll come to, but elements of the user experience feel a little traditional too.

The lock is equipped with a number of additional security features that should offer peace of mind. You can choose to lockout all codes other than the Master PIN if you suspect a code may have been passed to an unauthorised person, while an automatic re-lock ensures the door is locked 30 seconds after an unsuccessful unlock attempt. Should the wrong code be entered five times, the touchpad will automatically shutdown for sixty seconds (with a flashing touchscreen). A tamper alert also sounds the alarm, should a burglar forcibly attempt to remove the lock from the door.

As mentioned, Yale are taking a step in the direction of smart home control with the T1L’s support for the Z-Wave protocol. Again, without a supporting app, enrollment into a Z-Wave network (controlled via a hub from a third-party such as SmartThings, Logitech Harmony or Vera) the lock needs to be placed into an enrollment mode through a button on the side (or via the touchscreen keypad menu).

Once integrated into your smart home network, the T1L can be used to trigger events and device actions around the home. You can, for example, power lights when you unlock the door or set the temperature of your home heating system. Geolocation triggers can ensure the lock is activated when your smartphone is away from the property, or you can automatically unlock the door when you’re nearby. For those moments when you wake up at night wondering whether you remembered to lock the front door – rest easy with a timed trigger, ensuring the home is secure when you go to bed.

Summary

The Yale Real Living Key Free Touchscreen Deadbolt T1L With Z Wave is a compact, great looking lock that’s easy to install and does a great job with the basics of home security. With a bright, clear display and audible tones, the lock is simple enough for any member of the family to use to access the home and, with up to one hundred user codes available, you can invite a host of friends along too.

But with only tentative steps into the smart home world, the T1L is more complicated to manage than its competitors when you want to progress further than basic locking and unlocking. Without an accompanying app, you’ll need the manual handy to work through a keypad menu for additional features.

Once connected to a smart home network, you’ll really start to benefit from the full value of the T1L, though. While you’ll need to invest in a third-party hub (if you haven’t already) for control, integration with other devices around the home works well.

For real ease of use, I prefer the app-base approach of the Kwikset Kevo, but the Yale T1L remains a good-looking choice for those seeking a Z-Wave lock. As a pure keypad lock replacement, it’s a premium option, but once hooked up to a smart home hub and integrated with other smart devices around the home, it’ll do a good job.

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