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Yale Conexis L1 Smart Lock REVIEW

Posted on by Martyn Wendon

 

You'll know from our previous post that we're big fans of the Yale connected locks and we're not the only ones.

One niggle with the previous multi-point lock was that it was very expensive due to needing to be fitted by a Yale approved locksmith.  When we tested this particular device it was easy to see why - it was incredibly complicated and needed a whole host of interchangeable parts to enable it to be fitted to a multi-point locking door.  It was certainly beyond the skills of most DIY-ers we're sure and the price was the main thing that had put us off from making the investment on all three of our own multi-point locking doors!

Roll forward just over a year though and the release of the Conexis L1 by Yale addresses that problem - finally a self-install multi-point lock that's reasonably priced.  We were lucky enough to be sent one for review, but this time instead of reviewing from a technical perspective, we thought we'd approach it from the self-install angle.

So just how easy is it to install the Conexis L1?  Read on to find out ......

 

The Rundown

First let's take a very quick look at the specs of the new device - Bluetooth connectivity and RFID tags / keycards / keyfobs - all pretty standard stuff from Yale.  Integration to a Z-Wave based Home Automation system is currently "officially" missing unfortunately - but Yale are working on new versions of their Z-Wave module for release later in the year.

Note that we said officially - well that's because unofficially we have heard from customers that the previous generation of Z-Wave module works OK, but you just have to be careful as some of the features aren't available in the new Conexis L1. Customers using a Yale alarm are lucky in that respect as Yale have already made the necessary changes to those systems to allow the existing Yale module to be used!

With the variation in multi-point locking mechanisms being the main reason why the previous version was a locksmith only installation, one burning question is "will it fit my door?".  Yale have produced a handy compatibility checksheet to help measure up and make sure that the basic mechanical fitting should work.

Yale Conexis L1 Install 1

 

On with the Install!

First things first, we grabbed a coffee and read the instruction manual several times over to familiarise ourselves with the installation steps.  This was important as there were several measurements that need taking in order to work out which fixings were required to marry the Conexis L1 to our door.

In the box were several different fittings packs with various length screws, brackets and bolts, all clearly labelled.  We laid all this stuff out on a clear surface to get to know what all the bits were and how they'd eventually fit together.  Once we'd worked out what parts we were going to need, we cleared anything that wasn't going to be used to the side so it didn't get mixed up.

While multi-point locks are incredibly complicated with all their internal levers and mechanisms, the way they actually work is quite simple.  The door handle itself is used to move all the latches, bars and rods into position and then the lock barrel just locks the handle in place so it can't be moved.

Yale Conexis L1 Install 2Removing the old door handles was pretty simple - just two screws on the inside held it all together, once undone the handles and linking bar that connects them could be taken away. Similarly the lock barrel itself was easy to remove - we unscrewed the retaining screw and withdrew it - a wiggle with the key was needed to make sure it lined up as we pulled it out.

Yale Conexis L1 Install 3

Since we'd already done the hard part of taking measurements and working out which bits we'd need, fitting the Yale replacement barrel was a cinch - see how it's a "stubby" version since it no longer needs to have key entry points ..... really it's only a lever to replicate the original barrel's ability to lock the handle in place!

Yale Conexis L1 Install 4

Next up was to secure the replacement barrel in place with the correct screw. After that we laid the exterior handle on a chair to make assembling the linking bar easier, made sure the connecting wire was straight and that the rubber gasket was in place correctly.

Yale Conexis L1 Install 5

Yale have made the fixings adjustable up and down to accommodate a wide range of positioning of the fixing points too - a few minutes later and the exterior handle was in place with the rear mounting plate securely attached with the provided screws.  We made sure that the rubber seal was correctly fitted and used a spirit level to ensure that both the exterior handle and the mounting plate were vertical.

Here you can also see that the linking bar comes through the original position and the connecting wire runs underneath the lower fixing point.  As mentioned previously, those fixing points move up and down to allow them to run through the original holes in the door and Yale supply a special alignment tool to make sure everything lines up correctly.

Yale Conexis L1 Install 6

After that was all secured in place, the interior part could be slotted on and the provided screws used to attach it to the mounting plate. Again, we followed the instructions to the letter and we had no problems at all.

At this point we were beginning to wonder if we'd done something wrong as so far the install had been so easy!

Yale Conexis L1 Install 7

Here you can also see the connections for the optional integration modules, for now ours is left empty, so we added the batteries and secured the battery cover.

Yale Conexis L1 Install 8

 

Final Commissioning Steps

Once the batteries were inserted the manual talked us through checking that everything was working *before* we closed the door.  This also included a special process that tells the Conexis L1 which way round it's been installed - i.e. with the handle on the left hand or right hand side of the door.  This allows the device to configure the sensors to recognise the correct "lift up" and "push down" positioning and which way to turn the lock mechanism to lock the handle.

Finally we created an initial pairing of an RFID keyfob, keycard or tag and we downloaded the Yale app to our IOS and Android phones and followed the instructions to pair the Conexis L1 over Bluetooth.

And that's pretty much all there was to it - we removed the plastic wrappers and gave it a quick polish with a cloth and announced job done!

Yale Conexis L1 Install 9

Operation of the lock and handle felt very smooth and was really intuitive to use - you may remember from the previous review of the Keyfree and Keyless that my kids had no problems working those out and I'm pleased to say that the Conexis L1 didn't phase them either!

To lock the door both on the inside and outside we simply raised the handle, that's all - no need for anything else.  Unlocking from the inside was just a case of pushing in the thumbturn and turning it 180° and from the outside we had the options of the RFID keyfobs, keycards or tags, or of course, the Bluetooth ability from the Apps on our phones.

 

So what was all the fuss about then?

All in all we reckon it took around 60 minutes to complete the install, which included making two cups of coffee, the initial instruction reading AND frequently stopping to stage and take all these photographs.  I'd be surprised if it takes more than 30 minutes in real-time.

And if you think we're under-stating this whole process, well you can check out Yale's own installation video and see for yourself!  There's even a second video that shows how to pair the Conexis L1 with the IOS and Android Apps.  Yale really do seem to have covered all the bases!

So exactly why did the original Yale multi-point lock cost so much and have to be installed by a Yale approved locksmith?

Well we suspect that Yale have put a lot of work into making sure that the included parts in the Conexis L1 will fit the vast majority of doors - a true multi-purpose fitting kit.  Plus the measurements chart and instructions are excellent so there's clearly been a lot of time invested in testing them extensively on many DIY-ers to ensure that they cover every eventuality.

So we'll forgive Yale for the previous multi-point lock - clearly a van load of parts and many years of experience were needed to install that version :-)

 

A few weeks on .....

Now we've been using the Yale Conexis L1 for several weeks we've found that we're converted to the advantages of a "Smart" lock!

Initially we had reservations because realistically it doesn't operate much differently from the lock that it replaced, but it's one of those things that genuinely does offer small improvements to your way of life.

On the inside you still have to unlock it manually using the turn-knob - that's slightly easier than tracking down the keys that inevitably somebody will have left lying in another room somewhere.  But locking it is just a case of raising the handle.

On the outside it's pretty much the same, slightly easier to hold the RFID keyfob, keycard or tag up to the lock to make it unlock as opposed to use a key.  And you can stick one of the smaller RFID tags on anything you want - your phone, bag, watch (maybe) and then it's just a case of holding that up to the lock instead.  And as on the inside, locking it is just a case of raising the handle.

To be brutally honest the Bluetooth functionality is a bit of a let down for general day-to-day use.  You have to press the Bluetooth button on the lock itself, grab your phone, make sure Bluetooth is ON (in case it was off) and hope that the App is already open or running in the background and then carry out that funny twisty hand motion to make the App "ready" to unlock.  Sure, it works but after all that time messing around it would have been easier to use a key!

So is it worth it overall?

For us I'd have to say yes - a big plus is that we can give the kids RFID keyfobs instead of physical keys and it's MUCH easier to cancel a keyfob than replace a lock barrel and ALL keys in the event that they lost a key - something that we've had to do more than once previously!

And as mentioned, it's marginally simpler and easier to use than keys and while the Bluetooth functionality isn't much use in day-to-day operations we have found it useful to be able to "give" temporary entry to trusted third parties such as friends and relatives.

Now that the install is done we're looking forward to the updated Z-Wave Home Automation integration module that Yale have promised for later in the year.  At that point this Smart lock will become much more useful as we'll be able to do things like check for the doors being locked when the alarm is armed at night as well as the obvious geo-location type functions to automatically unlock the door when we arrive home.

We hope you enjoyed reading this review - the Yale Conexis L1 is available now!

Bye for now.

Martyn



This post was posted in Product Reviews, Yale, Proprietary Wireless, BlueTooth

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