Tech Tips: Bluetooth for Storefront Locks

Nov. 5, 2018
KINDOO is a smart system that allows workers to lock or unlock any electric door right from their smartphones, ideal for storefront and office building applications

We received the following question regarding deadbolts for a storefront which can be controlled by a smartphone.

“Hello. Do you sell any deadbolts that can be controlled by a smartphone that will work with metal retail doors? The ones that have glass in the middle? The latch needs to be shorter than the usual 2"3/8"... Thank you! Anthony”

This is a great question because it involves many technical issues which are best addressed by locksmiths.

There is a demand for access control without credentials. Credentials can be forgotten or misplaced. Credentials can be cloned. The alternate, using a memorized code, is flawed in many ways.

Bluetooth has emerged as a preferred technology for smart phone credentials.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), is a wireless personal area network technology aimed at applications in the healthcare, fitness, beacons, security, and home entertainment industries. Compared to Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy is intended to provide considerably reduced power consumption and cost while maintaining a similar communication range. Mobile operating systems (Android, iOS) natively support Bluetooth Low Energy. It is predicted that by 2018 more than 90 percent of Bluetooth-enabled smartphones will support Bluetooth Low Energy.

However there are potential issues with Bluetooth. Each user MUST have a smartphone. I suppose there are certain individuals who do not want a smartphone. But if you have a smartphone, you are unlikely to leave it at home.

Another perceived potential issue is vulnerability to hacking. The Bluetooth technology I’m discussing in this article, KINDOO, is highly secure, using excellent encryption and a sophisticated control infrastructure.

A question which is also asked repeatedly is whether or not the metal in the door affects the range of wireless and BLE devices. As with all RF (wireless), the answer is yes, but it is more likely to reduce the range rather than prevent the device from operating.

Coincidentally I was in one of those manufactured metal buildings recently, and my Samsung S5 couldn’t get a hit off the Verizon network. There may have been a premises network, but I was only visiting, and I hadn’t been invited to use it. If a mobile device and its target receiver are both within the “bubble,” they will still operate. In the case of Windoo, if the mobile device cannot connect to the Internet, the device will not work. This is not a singular weakness of Windoo; it is a characteristic shared by devices which connect with the cloud in order to function.

So it is always necessary to perform a range test whenever deploying wireless devices and determine if the required connections and desired range can be reliably achieved.

With Kindoo, the module requires external power and external connections to the lock, so you would not want to fit into the tubular storefront extrusion, (assuming it would fit) because that would probably also prevent it from getting a signal.

For a Kindoo, you would mount it elsewhere and if necessary use a power transfer type device to get signals or power from the frame to the lock in the moving door.

If you were going to use an electric strike rather than a door mounted electrified lock or electrified trim, you could avoid wiring to the door.

RF will pass thru most building materials, and there always is a work-around to achieve your mission.

Storefronts are usually not residential, involve glass, and used on high traffic openings. They therefore are subject to abuse, and the locking must be robust and also safe so free egress is assured.

Besides the physical characteristics of storefronts, you must initially determine the following factors.

Type of occupancy: Residential, commercial, bank, retail, manufacturing etc. You must be certain your system complies with the life safety code for the occupancy classification in order to keep the users safe.

Will the lock be used to individual access with the door being locked at all times or to unlock in the morning relock in the evening and then provide individual access while the building is locked down?

Storefront extrusions are usually tubular, frequently aluminum, and where a locking device would be required (mounted) often are supporting glass on one side.

In virtually all my encounters with retrofitting electric locks onto storefronts, a fair amount of labor was required to “cut in” and wire up the locking device.

Tight Dimensions: There is limited room inside the extrusions, and the aluminum is relatively narrow, so the backsets of hardware used on them is specialized for storefronts.

Internal bracing and construction: Storefronts are assembled using internal brackets and threaded rods which cannot be seen from the outside, but which can cause problems while you are fitting the hardware and running the wires.

Existing preps and mounting heights: I usually notice locking arrangements on storefronts wherever I go.

Some set ups are really goofy, perhaps because the installer wanted to avoid cutting and tried to use existing trim cut outs and holes in the door and frame. Levers mounted at knee height and exit devices at eye level just do not seem right, are contrary to code, and you wonder how they get away with that kind of installation.

For all but only a few of my installations on storefronts, the work was performed on an existing door and frame as a retrofit/upgrade. It was rare to have the door and frame factory prepped, since that would require someone actually planning ahead.

It was always a ‘walk on the wild side’ to communicate the installation requirements (mounting heights required mortising, templating) with the door shop, months in advance and a million miles away from the job site when these details were not provided by the customer or architect.

Hinges: Another thing about storefronts is they frequently will not use hinges but instead use pivots. Getting involved with aluminum doors with worn or damaged pivots is not a good idea. That is to say, installing new locks on a damaged door or a door with bad pivots or hinges will be a disappointment and won’t work properly. Your new hardware might get damaged if doors drag or interfere with door frames.

On the other hand, having an inventory of popular pivots means you will be able to pick up additional revenue by being able to repair a damaged door to a busy variety store. Even chain stores which may normally need to go through corporate can authorize emergency repairs on entrance doors where there is a danger to pedestrians, or the potential to lose business by a blocked entrance.

Worn or damage pivots prevent doors from swinging freely and closing properly. The door will drag on the ground, rub against the frame and get hung up on the threshold. Sometimes the door will escape the frame and simply fall to the ground and shatter.

Aluminum doors can fracture or the internal bracing can loosen and break when repeatedly forced and twisted. All these things will interfere with the proper operation of the door and your lock.

It’s bad enough when the door is free swinging, or uses mechanical locks, but unacceptable when your locking and unlocking the door manually or electrically.

There are several options for electrically locking storefront type doors.

Strikes are one of the ways electrically locking is added to doors. By using existing latches, it theoretically saves the expense of adding a new lock. The strike has to be designed for the type of existing lock you plan to use. Your door closer must be strong to pull (push) the latch past the strike gate, and the latch must have the correct length, bevel angle and spring pressure so it will operate reliably. There also must be adequate clearance between the door edge and the electric strike’s face. Often a latch protector is recommended. Since adding an electric strike may weaken the door and frame thereby providing an occasion of sin for some malevolent miscreant.

Electromagnetic locks are frequently used with storefronts. Of course in order to do a safe electromagnetic lock installation, additional accessories are required for doors that are in the means of egress for humans.

Installers ignorant of the code requirements for electromagnetically controlled doors have tarnished the reputations of locksmiths and earned electromagnetic locks an undeserved blacklisting in some jurisdictions.

The Adams Rite 4300 Electrified Deadlatch seamlessly combines electrified locking hardware with access control and fits in a standard narrow stile aluminum entrance door preparations. Interchangeable without stile modification for MS® Deadlocks or Adams Rite 4500 and 4900 Deadlatches. A 1-3/4" [44.5 mm] minimum door thickness is required.

The device provides free egress from the inside via handle or paddle device. Entry is controlled with a keyed mortise cylinder or access control device such as keypad or card reader. It is a fail secure lock. There is an optional form “C” latch status monitor. The standard fail secure 4300 Electrified Deadlatch operates on 12, 16, or 24 VDC power and is rated for continuous duty. This means it can remain unlocked for extended periods of time.Units are equipped with a quick connect plug-in type connector.

More Info:


The KINDOO app, available for iOS® and Android TM phones, allows you to easily add and delete users, modify access schedules and view audit reports. In addition, it allows you to use your phone as your access credential, allowing doors to be unlocked manually or automatically from up to 20 m (65 ft).

No network connection or IT networking expertise is required for the KIN D module.

Each KIN D “environment” includes two free users. Additional users are purchased through the app and available immediately.

Users can be purchased for a low monthly fee or a one time charge.

KINDOO Partners share in the user revenues and have access to an online portal which allows them to track their earned credential revenue in real time.

This product is designed to be sold by security professionals and offers a viable plan for recurring monthly revenue for the independent security dealer.

KINDOO Features & Benefits:

• Up to 20 m (65 ft) range

• Industry leading 256 bit encryption

• Bluetooth® low energy - 2.4 GHz frequency

• KINDOO app available for iOS® and Android TM phones*

• Directly power low current 12 VDC electric strikes

• Simple integration with power door operators, gates and turnstiles with optional relay

• All functions controlled from the KINDOO smartphone app

• Add/delete users and control access rights

• Manage access schedules

• Review audit trail logs

• Grant access remotely

• Turn ON/OFF access events notifications

• Customize transaction messages

• Changes you make are effective immediately

The thing to remember with the KIN D is that multiple units can be logically associated in the cloud to function as a “system” just like a bunch of access control panels, except that ALL the logic is in the cloud.  So you could have one on the front door, one on the back door and one on the records storage room.  Users could be selectively granted access to these areas based on time of day, day of the week, etc., just like a traditional access control system.  

Also, because the server knows who was granted access, at what KIN D and when, this information is stored in an audit files on the server for retrieval, totally or partially, just like on a traditional access control system.

There are two versions of Kindoo. Type W produces a weigand output from a smartphone credential and is connected to a traditional Electronic Access Control System which uses Weigand technology. We are not discussing this version in this article.

The other version, Type D, produces a dry contact output for connection to external devices such as electric locks, gate operators, or other switched equipment. Both versions are similar in the way they set up, and there are abundant support resources for Kindoo online.

Create An Account

  1. Download the app & sign up
  2. Verify the account in your email & activate
  3. In the Kindoo app, log in

Create A Site

  1. Click on the “+” ( this means add a site)
  2. Click “next”
  3. Select site type (type D for this example)
  4. If applicable, select a partner then press “next”
  5. Press next again, and the site will appear on the screen

Add A Kin Module To The Site

  1. Return to the app home screen
  2. Press manage on the site
  3. Press Kins, then press add Kin
  4. Hold the phone near the Kin module and press ok
  5. Give the Kin a name (for example “front door”) then press next
  6. Follow instructions to calibrate the Kin then press next
  7. Manage preferred settings then press next ( use quick set up or advanced settings)
  8. The app will request you enter a custom message then finally press save.
  9. Press the signal icon to see the enrolled Kins, and press open to test your programming

More information:

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.