The actual issue this lock has is the likely hood of dead batteries. I have not had it long enough to experience this, and the lock does warn you when they are low. But if they die and you are out, you have to go through an awkward process of providing backup power via a 9V battery.
The physical installation of this is easy being slightly more involved than replacing the cylinder. I am terrible at DIY, and I managed to fit everything within 30 mins.
It takes a little longer than fitting old fashioned mechanical hardware because this lock comes with the ability to fit most door widths and hole fittings. So you have to select the correct fixings and also the tailbar that goes into the actuator. There are also some lugs that will then fit into your existing holes on the door; these can be moved up and down allowing this to fit most existing fittings.
A critical aspect of the installation is not to turn the thumb turn when the install is complete. Me being me and not reading instructions, I did not do this and messed around with it. Which I think caused me to have issues getting it to work at first.
With it all set up, you can power it up via the 4 AA batteries and start the pairing process. The first part seems to be for the lock to learn the movement and requires you to press the pairing button then lift and lower the handle.
You then need to pair your fob which is done by holding the sync button, waiting for the light and tapping it on the front of the lock. The light on the front is not very bright, and it was a little confusing if it had worked or not at first.
Once you have the first key set up you can set up the app, or other accessories. The app is very basic and looks quite dated, whereas the other Yale apps look a bit more modern. It is functional though, pairing it up only took a couple of minutes.
Before you use the lock, you should follow the checklist Yale provides to make sure everything works. When I did this, I found that everything did not work. The lock would lock and unlock with the thumb turn, but lifting the handle did nothing. Similarly when locked the keys did nothing. After quite a while of testing it, I reset the unit and redid everything, which led me to notice that I should have not turned the thumbscrew before completing the setup.
If something bad happens and you need to reset the lock, it is quite a convoluted processes that requires you to remove the internal hardware, detach its cable then power it up while holding the sync button.
Once you have it all working the lock does work well. While it is fantastic to be able to use my phone to unlock the door, in most scenarios, it is less convenient than using a key fob. They do however sell phone tags for £6.58 for a twin pack, it means you will end up with an ugly Yale logo on the back of your phone, but this is a far more straightforward way to do it. You also then don’t have to worry about a dead battery on your phone or deleting the app by mistake.
The Yale Conexis L1 is missing what I think of as important functionality for a smart lock. There is no remote unlock by default, you need a Yale Module 2 which then also needs a Yale Smart Home Alarm System to enable remote unlock. Alternatively, if you have a Z-Wave gateway, you can use the Z-Wave Module 2. To be fair, Nuki does this too, you have to buy the gateway separately for around £50.
Apart from remote unlocks the two different options also allow audit trails, which could be viewed as creepy, but it is a good way to keep track of children, cleaners and other temporary visitors.
While remote unlock is not available by default, you can send keys to people. These can either be permanent keys that always give access, or temporary keys that are restricted to a weekly schedule (day and time) with the option of setting a valid date range, too. Keys can be deactivated, so you remain in full control of your lock at all times.
Yale Conexis L1 vs Nuki Smart Lock 2.0
Yale and Nuki are two entirely different products achieving the same function, and they both have pros and cons.
The Yale is by far the better made and better-looking product, it looks and feels premium and will suit a mansion just as well as my semidetached. However, the design is somewhat flawed as highlighted with the setup issues. There is no mechanical backup, battery failure means you have to go through an awkward process with a 9v battery. The 9v battery trick isn’t the end of the world though, and you shouldn’t have to do it often/ever, but the issue is what happens in the event of an actual electrical or software failure of the device? It most likely won’t happen, but what if it does, and you only have one entry point? That’s going to be an expensive fix.
The Nuki, on the other hand, can eliminate this issue depending on how you set it up. If you use a thumb cylinder or a two-way cylinder, you can fall back to a physical key. Technically, you can have a mechanical failure too, but this is less likely and probably less expensive to fix.
Personally, I am hoping that Yale launch a new version that (somehow) uses a traditional style cylinder, but that can be turned electronically, allowing you to use any option you please. Cars have done something similar for years, so I don’t imagine it is impossible to achieve.
I love the idea of the Yale Conexis L1 Smart Lock and once set up correctly it does appear to work very well. It feels and looks like a superb product, and I also think it is priced very well, considering what you are getting.
Once set up properly I suspect you will have no issues with it in the long term, and since getting it to work it has performed flawlessly. However, for me, there will always be that niggling worry at the back of my head of failure. As I have two entry points, this is less of an issue for me as I can always fall back on to the door in the back garden, if I lived in a flat with one door I think I would be too paranoid of being locked out. This is a common issue with new technology though, people don’t like to abandon tried and tested systems, and it can take a long time for trust in more modern options to build up.
Overall - 80%
Premium design and build
Cheaper than Nuki
Plenty of unlocking options
Modules to improve functionality
Works well when set up properly
Set-up can be tricky
Awkward battery backup option
No fallback to a physical key