Open More Than Doors With Home Automation

Oct. 2, 2017
Safety and security is the number one consumer demand within the growing home automation market

Some of the obstacles which deter locksmiths from entering new markets such as home automation are competition from home centers, having to share recurring revenue streams with third parties, product unreliability and the steep learning curve locksmiths face with new and unstable engineering.

Home automation used to be linked to the alarm panel. I began offering home automation functionality in the 1980s, using high end security panels which offered special option modules and accessories to implement these custom features.

But home automation has emancipated itself from being an enhancement to the security system as networking technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have become commonplace in many homes.

Home automation devices have also joined the growing list of products homeowners can purchase in home centers and of course online as DIY items.

Industry experts do report that demand for home automation devices such as thermostats and remotely controllable locks is growing, but consumers consistently encounter problems setting these devices up ‑ good for the professional installation community, but bad PR for the home automation industry, weakening the demand and lowering the confidence in these products.

Locksmiths are poised to fill the void for consumers with their showrooms and residential service postures. We’ve already felt the sting of lost business as homeowners buy inexpensive new locks and struggle to install them rather than have a locksmith repair, replace or rekey it. Home centers have done their part by failing to deliver working copies of keys or the barest minimum of in-store tech support.

Whenever I was not out installing access control or cameras and was asked to man the counter to assist walk-in customers, the second most frequent heard complaint (after the lack of adequate parking) was how the locks and keys they bought at the home center didn’t work properly, forcing them to return to the lockshop for help. While I was on the counter, the client’s attention was drawn to our other products and services, and the pitch that they in the long run would save money and be safer if we got involved.

So here is the opportunity for locksmiths to get in the home automation market, and they can be selective as to what they want to offer. Some locksmiths may want to offer security; some may wish to stick to non-security convenience oriented home automation, or they may want to do both. The products are there. For example, unlike the deadbolt market, where we once calculated that the majority of homes in our market area already had at least one, the majority of homes do not have electronic security or home automation products, but the media is telling them they need it. It’s up to you to inform your customers and your community that you offer it.

If you are unsure of whether you want to enter the home automation market, you may wish to read an extensive market analysis of the home automation market from our sister trade magazine Security Dealer & Integrator,

Locksmith Ledger first interviews a couple key home automation providers about opportunities for locksmiths, then looks at some home automation products available through distribution.

Be Perfectly Clear with ClareHome

Please tell us about yourself and your company.

Clare Controls,, , is a smart home platform that consolidates connected products (devices with app controls) into a single smart app, the ClareHome App. Once they are integrated, they can work together to create one touch scenes, or synchronized automatic time-based actions, and even understand actions that can trigger other actions. Like, when you open the door the entry light turns on, or at dusk the porch light turns on, or when you arm your security system, your thermostat goes into “away” mode.

How would you define your marketing channel?

Our marketing channel is through our certified dealers. We sell to these dealers both through distribution and direct depending upon sales volumes.

Is your product security, home automation or both? How would you differentiate the two?

Clare is both a security product and a home automation product, in a unique way.

Several verticals are now offering smart home products to customers; security contractors, electricians, and low voltage integrators. Clare is one of the simplest professional-grade smart home systems that is also one of the fastest to get up and running, so we have quickly become a very compelling product for all three verticals.

To satisfy the business objectives of these three, we made it very easy to integrate the most popular security panels as an add-on. But, if we were going to gain traction in the market space faster, security could not be just an add on…it had to be truly integrated. With ClareNet and Resolution Products (RP) Helix panel, we have delivered a complete solution and an alternative central monitoring station and interactive service providers.

Within “Home Automation”, the security related features ‑ doorbell cameras, video cameras, door locks, garage door operators, sensors and of course burglar alarm ‑ drive the automation sale in the mainstream market. We call that feature group a ‘virtual presence.’ When you combine those features, it becomes nearly impossible for a consumer to effectively DIY a system and it ties burglar alarm in which is the sale that our dealers most want to close

Can a dealer upgrade a legacy alarm system to your platform

Takeover modules are available to “takeover” wired security sensors and connect them to an RP Helix panel. Many systems can be controlled by adding an RS-232 or other communication module.

How do see the demand divided? Alarm only, home automation only, full house automation?

Alarm only is becoming a very difficult sale in today’s market. The real issues that security contractors deal with are: acquisition costs, monthly GPM and attrition. Alarm only will produce the lowest recurring monthly and the least differentiation which will lead to attrition. Automation only, again to the mainstream buyer, is also a tough sale given the growing list of DIY products that really are pretty simple to install. Safety and security  is really the number one consumer demand within home automation, so it is the combination of these features that provides the best consumer experience as well as placing the professional installer at a strategic advantage in today’s competitive market. Following safety and security is energy management (smart thermostats), lighting control, and entertainment system control.

Is your system open architecture so accessories can be obtained from home centers?

Yes, with limitations. Certain products we know are simple and reliable can be added via the end user mobile app. Examples include many lighting products, thermostats, garage door operators, sensors and door locks. For more complex products or ‘systems’, we provide a cloud based configuration tool for use by authorized dealers. Examples of these products include most security systems, large lighting systems and complex entertainment systems.

What opportunities are there for locksmiths?

That will depend a lot of state laws and licensing. We would recommend starting slowly: doorbell cameras, video cameras of any kind, then follow with a smart home solution that integrates that video and features such as door locks, garage door operators and thermostats. Security systems are the most significant investment in terms of time that a locksmith may make given training, licensing and contracting requirements. Having said that, long term, it will be the most lucrative.

Licensing is state dependent and is the responsibility of the installing contractor (e.g. locksmith). Licensing varies by state from none required to very strict state licensing laws with certifications required for every installer and sales person (e.g. Florida). We are active in North America.

What training is required?

We have two levels of training: Essentials and Custom. Essentials training can be taken at our offices in Sarasota, one of our many distribution locations on online via our free Learning Management System. Essentials is likely all your market would require and takes the student from introduction to security and automation through installation and customer orientation.

The Clare Essentials Certification Program is offered online and can be completed in as few as 4 hours. Register here:

Do you have a sales demo unit which can be put in the locksmith’s showroom and taken to customer premises for sales presentations?

Yes. We have two demos: a full kiosk and a rolling demo. Our sales people use the rolling demo to sell to dealers. Our dealers can purchase kits for their purposes as well. I typically use the ClareHome App and my phone to demonstrate the system at my residences. The product is the app and the experience and customers are comfortable with the interface in minutes.

There are three categories for security customers those who already own legacy alarm systems which may not be upgradeable; those whose hardware are potentially upgradeable and those who no alarm yet. Which of these groups do you service?

We service new construction and take over. We do not try to upgrade the existing panel and use a gateway module right now. Instead, we have the contractor remove the main control unit and replace it with a new controller.

How much of an investment in time and money will set the locksmith up as a dealer and put some inventory in his showroom?

We would encourage a new dealer to do the following:

a. Attend a Clare sales webinar. These are conducted weekly, free of charge.

b. Have a sales person and installer attend or take online Clare Essentials certification training (free, 1 day)

c. Purchase a CS-Kit1 = ClareSecure training Kit 1. Very creative, but it is essentially a kit of material that lets the dealer touch security, control, lighting, cameras etc. The CS-Kit1 is $399.

Typically, dealers purchase add-ons to the base kit and put it in their house or office. We STRONGLY recommend the dealer LIVE with the system. When people have this in their home, they really love it and better understand how to make the automation a part of their daily lives. When this happens, the sale to the customer becomes very personal.

d. Showroom: Kiosks start at $1,500. Sales kits are $600.

e. Most important – stay in contact with your local Clare Sales rep or sales engineer. Run the first 2-3 sales through our support team. Our system is not very complex in terms of configuration, but properly setting customer’s expectations and selling tips are the difference between winning and losing in the early days.

How does the RMR work, and how is billing and payments managed? What kind of revenue stream does an account create?

This is a very complex topic. The following is a very brief summary:

a. RMR is essentially the recurring fee the dealer charges the customer for alarm reporting (burglar alarm) and interactive services (smart home)

b. Virtually no independent security contractors staff a monitoring center. The outsource monitoring centers are well known. One good example is AvantGuard, one of Clare’s partners in Ogden, Utah.

c. The dealer signs a contract with the homeowner for a monthly rate that is highly dependent upon the services rendered. For example, simple monitoring of an existing legacy panel (no new equipment) could be as low as $20/month. The other extreme is the Vivent model where an entire security system, plus smart home products may be installed at a low entry cost of $199 but the monthly RMR is $65. The rates depend upon the services: alarm monitoring, cellular or IP reporting and interactive services rendered. Add to that any equipment that was installed for “free” and you get wide range of monthly rates and margins.

d. The cost to the dealer will vary and is made up of three primary components: alarm center fees (e.g. AvantGuard), cellular and IP services (e.g. Clare Controls) and interactive services (e.g. Clare Controls)

e. Billing and payments if the dealer retains the account can be processed internally or through the use of an outsource firm like

f. Lastly, if the contracts are right (terms, duration etc.) the contract can be sold to one of the many different capital firms or security companies in the market. When the contract is sold, the dealer operates almost as a loan origination service. They install, get the contract signed and sell the contract at a multiple of the monthly fee. The dealer will typically perform warranty work for one year and paid service thereafter. This is a very complex topic that merits a lot more time and space!

Just the Facts, JAQX

A new breed of security/home automation equipment has appeared on the market very different from the conventional alarm panels you may be accustomed to, so The Locksmith Ledger reached out to two leading providers for information to share about their products and dealer programs offered to locksmiths.

Can you provide an overview of your company?

JAQX, is a leading provider of DIY Smart Home Security Systems. We are plugging homeowners, renters and small businesses into the Smart Home Revolution with a simple, affordable, personalized, and reliable solution. JAQX combines the protection of professionally monitored security with the convenience of home automation features with an all-in- one system that is controlled through an easy-to- use app.

Founded in 2016, JAQX is led by a team of security, sales and marketing executives who had a vision for creating a new “Do-It- Together” approach to make smart home accessible to real people throughout the country.

How would you define your marketing channel?

We sell our equipment and services using two separate but related sales channels:

          A: Conventional independent sales representatives (“IRs”), who decide to become full time, part time, or spare time independent representatives (IRs).

          B: Existing home/office services “Affiliates” (e.g. HVAC, electricians, alarm installers, locksmiths, builders, lighting and window contractors, etc.).

Is your product security, home automation or both? How would you differentiate the two?

We believe that any “smart home” includes both security and home automation features that can be controlled from anywhere through a single App on the smartphone, tablet or computer. In fact, only JAQX provides both home automation and professionally monitored security in every package we offer. Our system is a fully integrated, end-to- end home automation/home security solution comprised of three core components; the equipment, the Interactive platform, and the alarm monitoring.

As technology advances, the line between what defines home security and home automation continues to blur. To us, home security helps protect the home and includes things like door and window sensors, security cameras and motion-detecting sensors…basically any device that prevents a home from being broken into. Home security can often help save on homeowner’s insurance costs.

Home automation products are smart devices can be controlled remotely primarily through an App from a smart phone or tablet…including thermostats, lights, and small appliances. Home automation products often help save on energy costs by remotely controlling thermostats and lights, so users can turn them off when not needed.

The difference between home automation and home security starts to become less clear when certain devices, such as smart locks, can be important for both safety and convenience.

Can a security installer upgrade a legacy alarm system to your platform.

Yes, our system can take over many hardwired and wireless security systems.

How do see the demand divided? Alarm only, home automation only or some combination?

We believe that the JAQX solution meets the growing consumer demand for an all-in- one security/home automation solution. Today’s market divide can be traced to new technologies being introduced combined with consumer’s varying needs and perceived value for differing costs in protecting and controlling their home…including upfront cost of equipment, the need for professional monitoring versus self-monitoring and the monthly costs attached to this service…as well as an integrated solution controlled through one app, versus separate solutions controlled from multiple apps.

Is your system open architecture so accessories can be obtained from home centers?

JAQX security and video components operate on a closed architecture and can only be obtained from JAQX. Our home automation devices run on the Z-Wave communication protocol. Customers can purchase any Z-wave enabled device from any home center and it will integrate/run on the JAQX system.

What opportunities are there for locksmiths?

By becoming a JAQX affiliate, locksmiths will be able to profit from the growing customer demand for smart home security systems…at no additional cost to the locksmith. By referring their existing and new customers to the JAQX solution, locksmiths can earn $100 upfront activation bonus with every sale, plus up to 30 percent of a customer’s monthly bill.

Is licensing required for installing security and then monitoring? What states are you active in?

This is a complex question because each state can create its licensing requirements. Each Locksmith Ledger reader is probably familiar with rules for their state, but not other states. Additionally, states differ in what activities fall under particular categories; burglar alarm, locksmithing, low voltage or other categories they define and licensing/training they require. If you cannot figure it out please contact me and I’ll endeavor to find out the answer for your state.

What training is required?

As a DIY solution, JAQX requires very little training to setup and use.

Do you have a sales demo unit which can be put in the locksmith’s showroom and taken to customer premises for sales presentations?

We offer fully functional demo units to all JAQX Affiliates to purchase at a substantially discounted price from our retail offering.

There are three categories for security customers those who already own legacy alarm systems which may not be upgradeable; those whose hardware are potentially upgradeable and those who no alarm yet. Which of these groups do you service?

A JAQX system can meet the needs of all three groups…however taking over a legacy hardwired system will require the assistance of a professional alarm installer. JAQX does not offer this service directly, but we can refer customers to local installers in their areas.

How much of an investment in time and money will set the locksmith up as a dealer and put some inventory in his showroom?

Signing up as a JAQX Affiliate takes just a few minutes, and requires a $19.99 monthly business fee that goes to the use of a co-branded e-commerce website that customers will purchase a system, marketing tools, Affiliate support and other tools to support the Affiliate and help them promote JAQX.

The cost for a fully functional demo unit is $450 plus 19.99 month for use of interactive service platform (this is what controls the entire system).

How does the RMR work? What kind of revenue stream does an account create?

A JAQX Affiliate will receive $100 for every customer sale they refer to us. Based on the number of customers they have referred; the Affiliate can make anywhere from 15% - 30% of a customer’s monthly bill. JAQX manages all customer billing and payments to locksmith.

The locksmith can view their customer and billing information at any time through their personalized back-office system which they will have access to once they become an Affiliate.

Yale SmartHome Portfolio

The emergence of the digital home is a major catalyst for the creation of the Yale Real Living® portfolio of residential access control and home security solutions. These locks and digital door viewers are designed to integrate seamlessly with digital control systems or provide convenient standalone access control.

For residential applications, the Assure Lock with Bluetooth can be upgraded with a Yale Network Module to seamlessly integrate into most home automation and alarm systems.  For those times when you don't have your smartphone on you, unlock by entering your unique 4-8 digit pin code on the touchscreen keypad.

Enjoy the best of both worlds, key free unlocking at the door from Bluetooth and advanced smart home features and remote access with your Z-Wave or ZigBee integrator, such as SmartThings. More Info:

Features include:

Twist & Go Unlocking: To unlock, rotate your smartphone into landscape and then back to portrait up to 120 seconds before approaching the door. Doing this rotation wakes up the lock and gets your digital key ready to use. Then, just tap the check mark on the lock keypad to unlock. This Twist & Go technology prevents unwarranted or unintended access that often happens with other Bluetooth enabled locks. 

Create Unique Pin Codes: For family members without a phone, or for those times when you leave yours at home, unlock the door by entering your 4-8 digit pin code. The lock stores up to 12 unique PIN codes that can all be created or removed using the Yale Assure app. 

Low/No Battery: The Yale Assure app and the lock itself will warn you when battery is running low. If the battery does die, you don't need to worry about getting locked out. Simply touch a 9V battery to the battery terminals located at the bottom of the keypad and enter your pin code.

Additional features include weather protection gasket, one touch locking, - capacitive touchscreen keypad, - backlit numbers that won't wear off, privacy button and tamper resistant battery cover.

The Yale Assure app allows homeowners to share and manage digital keys from anywhere and see who accessed your home and when. Download on the App Store or Google Play Store

The Yale Real Living door viewer with WiFi allows your residential customers to see, and speak to, visitors at their door from anywhere using the free Yale Look app for iOS or Android. The Look Door Viewer has a motion detector and doorbell so they receive a smartphone alert when someone is at the front door. They can also view a timeline history with photos and video to see recent activity.


DoorKing is one of those cornerstone companies who I’ve used throughout my security career. My initial experience was with one of their telephone intercoms integrated with an electromagnetic gate for a private entrance to a country home. Other projects included multi-tenant apartment entry telephone entry systems, and commercial parking swing and sliding gate systems.

I usually obtain DoorKing equipment from ADI Distribution, but for tech support I call them direct. Besides working with the dealer on specifying the correct product, DoorKing offers troubleshooting support, advises you on relevant safety codes so your installation is safe and legal, and assista with coordinating repair/returns with your distributor.

The DoorKing Smart Open application allows you to use the NFC feature to automatically enter your digital access code in a DKS Model 1515 digital lock. No more entering four or five digit codes on a keypad ‑ just open the DKS Smart Open application and hold your phone near the DKS logo on the lock. The digital lock will automatically recognize your valid entry code and unlock the door.

Applications include residential, gated communities, apartment complexes, parking, college residence halls, nixed use, commercial and self-storage. Features include:

  • 400-memory capacity for momentary entry or hold open entry codes or any combination thereof
  • Selectable 4 or 5 digit codes
  • Low power mode for solar applications.
  • Less than 1ma current in low power mode
  • Door open time setable from 1/4 second to 99 seconds
  • Wrong entry code lockout setable from 3-9 tries and 1-9 minutes
  • Rugged steel cabinet with stainless steel faceplates and metal keypads
  • PIN codes are programmable from the keypad, or from a DoorKing Smartphone app (1515, 1504 models)
  • EEPROM memory will not lose programmed codes during power outages
  • Secondary keypad capability for controlled entry / exit applications (1506 only)
  • 2 year limited factory warranty

HouseLogix, Inc.

HouseLogix, Inc. is a pioneering US technology company based in Pennsylvania. The HouseLogix product division designs, develops, and manufactures products and software that serve the home automation industry such as the VoicePod devices and apps. The service division delivers high quality commercial and residential automation installations with their mission to deliver professional technology solutions to dealers and consumers.

Since I installed conventional alarm control panels for about 30 years, the thought occurred to me about how I might integrate new home automation technology with legacy alarm panels. Bear in mind that after a certain point, older technology is not upgradeable. But some are, and if the opportunity exists, it’s just the kind of task a person like me would attempt.

Integrate the Honeywell LYNX Plus L3000 alarm panel with your home automation system using this cable and our HSIM security adapter. Now the inexpensive wireless Honeywell LYNX Plus L3000 panel can be easily integrated with your home automation platform using this cable and our HSIM security adapter.


Easy to use - simple attach to your LYNX 3000 panel. The port is next to the battery port.

Wire the other end to the HSIM (or extend as needed via normal 4 conductor security wire)

Note: Only works with the LYNX 3000 - the 5000 and 7000 do not have the required port.

More Info:

Schlage Sense™

Schlage has long enjoyed a good reputation among locksmiths. The name sells, and the mechanical engineering works. Schlage has commercial as well as residential locks.

This newly announced product updates their residential electronics offerings so they are competitive if not superior to other locks in this class by allowing the locksmith to compete in this market price wise and also with a feature set which edges out products which require third party contracts.

Schlage Sense™ Smart Deadbolt now has Android™ smartphone compatibility. Schlage is also introducing the Schlage Sense™ Wi-Fi Adapter, a simple wall plug-in that provides Android™ and Apple users access to their locks remotely.

With this update, consumers with an Android™ phone can now use the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt. Additionally, consumers can add the Schlage Sense Wi-Fi Adapter (sold separately) to their home Wi-Fi networks to control their Schlage Sense from anywhere on their Android™ phone or Apple devices.

The Schlage Sense Wi-Fi Adapter offers remote access to both iOS and Android™ smartphone users through the Schlage Sense app.

With no connection to an existing home automation system or monthly subscription charge, the free app allows users to:

  • Create and delete up to 30 unique access codes so trusted friends and family can enter using their code at the lock’s touchscreen.
  • Schedule access codes so guests can only enter when you want them to.
  • Use the Wi-Fi Adapter to lock and unlock from anywhere, check on the lock’s status and receive push notifications when the lock is used.
  • View past activity to see which codes have been used and when.
  • Update settings and check battery life.

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt and Sense Wi-Fi adapter are available from brick and mortar and online vendors as well as authorized locksmiths. Locksmiths should contact the Schlage retail sales team in their area to obtain a demo for their showroom.

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.