Yale Conexis L1 full review
I totally understand why so many people are reluctant to install a smart door lock. The humble key has been around for centuries and is well proven. Technology is well known for being temperamental and if you’re going to put a smart lock on your front door, it needs to work perfectly, as well as be secure.
Fortunately, the Conexis L1 ticks both boxes and is one of few options for those in the UK looking to put a smart lock on an uPVC front – or back – door.
It comes in white, chrome, satin nickel, brass and black finishes, so one of those should match your door or suit it.
You can unlock it using the supplied fob or card, or via the Yale Lock app on your phone. Out of the box, it doesn’t connect to the internet (so can’t be operated remotely) but you can install a module that enables remote access – this is inexpensive if you already have a Yale smart home alarm system.
Features & design
- Fits PVC / composite doors 44-70mm thick
- No drilling required
- Built-in tamper alarm
- 9V backup battery
The L1 is a bulky thing – the inside mechanism is considerably taller than the door handle you’re likely to already have. It’s quite heavy too, but this also makes it feel reassuringly well made.
Fortunately you don’t have to rely on feelings: the L1 was the first smart lock to be BSI approved. That means it’s durable, reliable as well as safe from physical and electronic attacks.
On the inside handle there are two removable plastic covers: the top one is where you can install one of the Yale modules (more later) and the button that’s used to configure new fobs, cards and phone access.
This image shows the relative sizes of the interior and exterior handles.
The bottom one covers the four AA batteries that are used to power the lock. You’ll get an alert when they’re running low (battery life really depends on how much the door is used).
If they did run out, you can touch a 9V battery to the contacts on the bottom of the outside mechanism, then use a fob or your phone to unlock it as normal.
- Requires just a screwdriver
- No drilling needed
You can pay an extra £109.99 when buying a Conexis L1 to get it professionally installed. But if you can use a screwdriver, it’s not difficult to fit it yourself.
Removing your current handles and lock takes about 2 minutes, and fitting the new one takes around 30-45 minutes simply because you’re following the steps in the manual, lining up the movable studs to match your existing screw holes and connecting the wire from the outside handle to the inside.
The manual is easy to follow, and there are different screw packs depending upon the thickness of your door.
There are a couple of pitfalls to avoid, which the manual warns of. One is installing the actuator tilted in the door when you tighten up the screw (the actuator replaces your old Eurocylinder, locking the door in exactly the same way it always has). Second, everything needs to be aligned with the alignment tool, and you need to be careful that nothing moves before you screw on the handle, otherwise it won’t work properly.
Finally, there’s a checklist to work through before you close the door -at which point it’s too late if you’ve done something wrong and can’t open it again.
Once it’s working you can pair either the card or tag with the lock, but to pair the other and any phones, you’ll need to install the Yale Conexis L1 app and set up a Yale account if you don’t already have one. Note that this is a different app to the Yale Sync alarm.
Locking & unlocking
- NFC fob and card included
- Can use phone app via Bluetooth
On the inside of the door, there’s a push-and-twist knob which unlocks the door, a process which takes the same amount of time as you’re already used to with a key.
When you’re outside, you just tap the NFC fob or keycard to the area just below the Yale logo and it takes a second or two to unlock.
Locking is as simple as lifting the handle on either side. This causes the motor activate the lock, which is one of the only negative aspects: it’s quite loud and high-pitched, and runs for a good few seconds before a beep and a flashing LED confirms the door is locked – there are LEDs both sides, as you won’t hear the beep on the outside.
Of course, you can physically check it’s locked by trying to push down on the handle.
When you unlock the door with your phone, you need to have the app open, within Bluetooth range, and press the invisible button just above the handle. The app doesn’t always remain logged in, so it can take time to key in your email address and password before you see the Tap to unlock button.
It’s easier to keep the fob on your keyring, or the card in your wallet than to use the phone app.
- No keypad option
- 5 virtual keys included
One of the great things about a smart lock is that you can give anyone the ability to unlock the door via the app. Unfortunately, this is also where the L1 falls down a bit.
For a start, unlike the newer Linus model, there’s no keypad available, which means you can’t send an access code to friends, family or visitors which expire after a certain time.
You can send virtual keys to contacts via the app, but they have to install the app, create an account and only then can they receive and use the virtual key.
Worse, you only get five of these virtual keys. That’s enough for a family, but not for extended family, friends, the cleaner or any other guests. You can buy more key credits at £9.99 for five, £6.99 for three or £2.99 each. This seems cheeky considering the price of the lock.
Paying for extra fobs and cards is more reasonable, and these cost about £6 each on Amazon.
- Modules add remote access
If you want to be able to unlock your door remotely, you’ll need to buy and plug in a module. One is available that’s compatible with Yale Sync alarms and another for SR alarms but if you don’t have one of those, you’ll need the Z-wave module and a compatible Z-wave hub (such as Samsung SmartThings) for internet access.
Finally there’s a remote fob module, which is much like a car key: it works up to a distance of about 10m and also requires a hub.
Price & Availability
If you’re ok with buying smart security kit second hand, prices on ebay are a lot more reasonable, at well under half the new price.
If you live in the UK and have a multi-point ‘lift-to-lock’ door, then your choice of smart locks is limited.
Yale’s Linus isn’t compatible, and the Ultion (while a good option) won’t fit a lot of outward-opening doors where there’s less than 35mm between the edge of your existing handle and the doorframe.
Not yet on sale, but launching soon, the Blusafe Origin is another option.
This makes the Conexis L1, even with its drawbacks, just about the best smart lock simply because of the lack of competition.
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