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How can I unlock my front door when I'm out of town?


The Schlage LiNK System
The Schlage LiNK uses your home network to keep you connected with your home's locks and other devices.
The Schlage LiNK uses your home network to keep you connected with your home's locks and other devices.
© Schlage

To use the LiNK system, you have to purchase a starter kit for $299. The kit includes a lock, a door knob, the numeric keypad, a Bridge, a Z-Wave light module and some proprietary software. Installing the door knob is relatively simple -- Schlage claims that the average consumer can install the system in about 30 minutes. To install the Bridge, the owner needs to use an Ethernet cable to connect the device to a router, cable modem or DSL modem.

The next step involves installing the software on your computers and Web-enabled cell phones. This software allows you to manage lock codes as well as enable other devices you've connected to your Z-Wave system. You use the software to create your initial lock code. You can even create multiple codes for the same lock, which might be useful if you want to keep tabs on who has been going through that door. It's a simple matter of assigning each person his or her own personal code.

It's also possible to manage multiple locks using the same Bridge. The LiNK software lets you designate each door with simple labels like "Front Door" or "Carport Door." You can create different codes for each door or use the same code for all of them -- it's up to you. Additional locks cost $199 each.

The Bridge relays electronic commands to the locks and receives information sent by the locks. It's the Bridge's job to take the instructions sent to it from your ­computer or cell phone and translate the information into commands sent via low-power radio waves. These radio waves have a limited range, so it's necessary to put the Bridge in a room that is central to all the doors you plan to equip with LiNK locks.

The system's software even allows you to set up special codes that expire after a preset time limit. This may be useful if you expect someone to stop by your house at a specific time. You don't have to give the person your main door code. Once the time limit is up, the temporary code will no longer work on the lock.