PC-Based Home Security: Do It Yourself

Surely there must be more to home security than cameras, right? Fortunately, there is. Famous lock manufacturer Schlage, now owned by Ingersol Rand, went far beyond what anyone else had on the market and in 2010 released the Schlage LiNK home management system. The core element of LiNK is its $299 Deadbolt Starter Kit.

 

The Starter Kit is comprised of the main wireless keypad lock, a wireless controller (also called the bridge module), and a remote control light switch. Schlage also sent us a WCW100 wireless camera ($179) and a Trane Remote Energy Management Thermostat ($149). We’ll discuss these last two in a bit. We’re going to give a little more space than usual to LiNK since it’s fairly unique in the mainstream home security market, plus we hope that by helping increase awareness of the product’s inner workings, other vendors may be inspired to follow suit.

Now, truth be told, there are other somewhat related options. For example, there’s Home Automation, Inc. (HAI, www.homeautom.com), but most of HAI’s products deal with lighting control and integrating with an existing security system. To give you an idea of pricing, HAI’s app for letting mobile devices (preferably based on Windows Mobile—yes, that Windows Mobile) currently lists for $115. Pass. Hawking Technology (www.hawkingtech.com) makes a series of far more affordable cameras, sensors, and controllers for home automation, but the company never returned our several calls and emails for more information (always a bad sign). X10 (www.x10.com), perhaps one of the oldest and most prominent of the consumer home automation companies is still around and still selling really cheap gear from a Web site buried under pop-up ads, but ultimately we passed on X10 as well because our goal was to cover security options more than home automation, and Schlage has the best kit available today. Kwikset (www.kwikset.com) seems to be the only company around with a motorized lock, but Kwikset lacks the broader, PC-based implementation of Schlage. It merely has a few models enabled with ZigBee.

We hope to show you more about ZigBee later in the year. ZigBee is a wireless mesh networking protocol that is designed to work alongside powerline networking protocols. Most of the attention on this technology now revolves around “smart energy usage” in homes. The idea is that you’ll be able to monitor and control most any electronic device in your house. However, ZigBee is still gathering steam and isn’t really a mainstream play yet. So today, let’s look at LiNK and hope for more similar offerings from other vendors soon.