In an age when companies are eager to show off their latest electronic locking solutions, TownSteel is doing the opposite. It has a mechanical lockset that it’s springing on the security world that it wants everyone to know about.
The m-Genius is a mechanical interconnected lock that TownSteel expects will earn the industry’s only ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 designation after the completion of final tests, President Dennis Ma says.
The lock operates simply enough: On the inside, when you press down the lever, the interconnected latch and deadbolt retract. You walk through and close the door, and the one-half-inch latchbolt automatically locks. Lifting up the outside lever throws the 1-inch deadbolt, which provides additional security.
Upon returning, a turn of a key in the lever cylinder unlocks both locks, and again, one press down on the lever retracts both latches. After closing the door, the door locks, and another lift of the inside lever throws the deadbolt.
“I think this will greatly help the security for residential homes and be much more convenient,” Ma says, noting that only one key is required to unlock both latches from the outside. In addition to the residential market, the m-Genius is aimed at multifamily housing, K-12 school districts, correction facilities and hospitals, says Rickey Green, vice president of sales, multihousing at TownSteel.
The mechanics of the m-Genius are similar to the company’s e-Genius electronic interconnected locks, which allow the stop plate and spindle driver to become a solid piece that retracts both bolts. e-Genius locks have been out for a few years and include three patented technologies.
One technology creates a clutch mechanism on the lever, so when the door is locked, the exterior lever rotates without retracting the latch. Only after a user presents the correct credential — a key in the case of the mechanical m-Genius — will the lever connect with the spindle driver and retract both bolts simultaneously.
The most difficult part in developing the m-Genius, Ma says, was to figure out how to allow for passage mode. In passage mode, the door isn’t locked automatically when it’s closed, which is an important consideration if, for example, an end user goes out to a mailbox and doesn’t want to lock themselves out accidentally if they didn’t bring their key with them.
“It took three years to find a solution,” he says.
The solution was discovered in early 2021 and could result in patent No. 4. Ma refers to this as a sliding spindle that allows the spindle itself to be engaged, so a toggle switch on the interior lock lever can be turned and make it so the door is either latched or locked when it’s closed. (Ma says the door can’t be locked when the m-Genius is in passage mode.) Either way, the m-Genius complies with single-motion-egress fire code.
Choices for Everyone
Considering the increased public interest in smart, electronic locks and that TownSteel already had an electronic interconnected lock, why bother with a mechanical version? One reason is simple choice.
“People like apples; people like oranges,” Ma says. “To me, Bluetooth is tedious, but people like it, so we offer it.”
But Ma also acknowledges the practicality of providing options. Of course, electronic locks aren’t suitable for all applications. Plus, mechanical locks cost less than their electronic counterparts, so the m-Genius might fit smaller budgets better or be aimed at different markets in the case of multifamily-housing builders.
“In certain areas, they have a high-end market, and in [other] areas, they have a standard market,” he says. “So, this gives them a selection.”
The m-Genius provides additional selection within the series. The lock comes in two sizes, with the latch and deadbolt being 4 inches apart or 5-1/2 inches apart, and each version comes in three varieties.
The primary version has an interior and exterior escutcheon that’s 8-25/32 inches tall. The other two versions have the same escutcheon on the interior but different presentations on the exterior side. The C version is blank except for the handle, so it resembles a standard cylindrical latchset from the outside even though it still has the deadbolt that can be thrown or retracted by the exterior handle.
The P version, which has no keyway and, thus, no toggle switch, can have a privacy indicator on the exterior that indicates “vacant” or “occupied” status, in red or green lettering, depending on the status. When privacy mode is activated from the inside by throwing the deadbolt, the outside lever won’t be able to open the door. The exterior indicator includes an emergency release slotted driver that can be turned by a screwdriver.
The m-Genius cylinder comes with a Schlage or Kwikset six-pin keyway, but it also can handle small-format or large-format interchangeable cores from BEST, Corbin or Schlage as an option. Further options include TownSteel six- or seven-pin high-security cylinders.
TownSteel provides templates on its website for installation of the m-Genius, which Ma calls “easy.” As far as retrofitting, Ma notes that the m-Genius has an adjustable 2-3/8-to-2-3/4-inch backset, “so it shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
- Door thickness: 1-3/4 in.
- Handing: RH, LH, RHR, LHR
- Faceplates: 1 in. (w) x 2-1/4 in. (h), 1-1/8 in. (w) x 2-1/4 in. (h)
- Latch strike: Full lip with radius corners
- UL 10C 3-hour fire rating
- Americans with Disabilities Act compliance
- Finishes: Satin Nickel, Satin Chrome, Flat Black, custom upon request
More info: townsteel.com