Adventures in Wireless Communications

June 2, 2016
Once your become familiar with the process, selling, servicing and installing phone-operated locks is no more difficult than working on mechanical ones.

Home automation has existed in one form or another for many years. An example of older versions of home automation might be electric ovens which could be set for a desired temperature or for a time duration before shutting off.  This type of home automation is self-contained.

As home automation became more sophisticated, added features installed in electronic devices provided wireless communication. An example of this might be electric garage door openers. A fob can be used by the owner to send a wireless signal to the door operator to either close or open the garage overhead door. Dedicated electronics in the fob provide just a single use of operating the garage door.

In recent years a Z-Wave alliance has been formed which allows manufacturers of many different types of home automation products to all use the same protocol to operate their products. Other protocols have also been invented but Z-Wave is presently the most popular protocol. Alarms, house lights, thermostats, video cameras and door locks are just a few of the items which can be operated by teaming together an App, Z-Wave technology and a smart phone. A Z-Wave signal can be sent approximately 100 feet.

A hub serves as the entrance point for sending wireless signals from a smart phone to home automation devices. Many hubs use proprietary electronics. While this may provide added security, it also provides recurring monthly revenue (RMR) for the company which installed the wireless system.

The most logical home automation product for locksmiths is electronic locks.  Until recently any locksmith sales of smart phone-operated locksets required homeowners to then source some other company and make monthly RMR payments. In essence, locksmiths lost their customer after every wireless lock installation to some RMR monitoring company.

Some companies have now introduced hubs which do not use proprietary electronics and do not require monthly RMR fees. What is required is a lockset and a hub which can both be operated with the same protocol such as Z-Wave.   The last required hardware item is a smart phone.

The hub chosen for this article is made by SmartThings. There was no particular reason for choosing a SmartThings hub, it was found on the internet and met our requirements. A Kwikset 910 Signature Series deadbolt was used for this article. The Kwikset 910 is Z-Wave compatible.

Begin by accessing the Google Play or App Store and downloading the SmartThings mobile app at : A SmartThings app can be downloaded free of charge.

An Ethernet cable and an AC power supply are included in the SmartThings hub kit.  The Ethernet cable and power cable must be plugged into the hub before proceeding. As seen in the photo, the network box at my home was located in a dingy part of the basement.

A card is included which has a special code number. The code number must be used to create an account. Kwikset instructions recommend that the hub should be installed within 35 feet of the lockset for best results. Hub and lockset must be 'paired'.  ress the "A" button on the lockset during the pairing process.


This author had initial difficulty in downloading the SmartThings app. Read all instructions before starting. Power to the SmartThings hub was not applied before developing an account and the secret code can only be used once. Therefor SmartThings had to be contacted by E-mail for a new secret code.

Programming and using electronic devices is new and different. There are no screws to remove so you can look inside the case and watch the parts operate. You must depend on following instructions and letting the electronics do their job.  Companies recognize that problems may exist and technical assistance is as close as the internet or an 800 number.

The only way to learn about these new products is to buy one and practice until you understand what makes it tick.  As time goes on, more and more of your customers will be asking for electronic security products. Selling, servicing and installing phone-operated locks is no more difficult than working on mechanical ones once you become familiar with the process.