Using an August Lock With a Frontpoint Home Security SystemBy - 08/09/2018
Traditional alarm companies are facing heavy competition from companies offering a fresher perspective. Companies like Nest Secure, Ring Alarm, and abode offer home security and automation without contracts and yet provide homeowners with ways to integrate all of their favorite third-party products.
Alarm.com is slowly catching up. In June, they announced a partnership with August, adding to their ever-growing list of third-party integrations which currently includes Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Skybell. Today, we’re going to focus on the latest integration: the August Smart Lock Pro.
Getting Started With an Alarm.com Company
For those who aren’t familiar, Alarm.com is not an alarm company, but rather a provider of cloud services for other alarm companies. This means that if you are using an Alarm.com-based system, your system now works with the August Smart Lock Pro regardless of the company you use. I’ve reviewed several Alarm.com companies, including Frontpoint, Link Interactive, and Brinks. I happen to use Frontpoint, so for this article, that’s the company I will focus on. However, it’s highly likely that directions and performance will be the same regardless of the company you choose.
To get started, you’ll need three things:
- Service with an Alarm.com Company
- A Service Plan That Supports Lock Automation (Frontpoint Ultimate is $49.99 per month.)
- An August Smart Lock Pro
While August makes two different locks, only the Smart Lock Pro uses Z-Wave Plus, which is required to connect it to your Z-wave-enabled alarm panel. You’ll also want to use the included August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge, which allows you to control the lock even when you’re away from home.
Connecting the Lock to Your Frontpoint Panel
With your August Smart Lock Pro installed and the right plan in place, connecting the lock to your panel is simple. In my opinion, installation is best performed using the control panel (assuming you have a touchscreen control panel). If you don’t have a touchscreen control panel, I suggest you call Frontpoint or your selected service provider and ask them to walk you through the pairing process.
To pair the lock using your touchscreen panel, you must plug the panel in and place it within 5 feet of your August Lock. Next, follow the steps below.
- Click Settings
- Advanced Settings
- Enter Code 6827 (this is the installer code for the Frontpoint panel)
- Click Installation
- Add Device
At this point, your panel will start searching for available Z-Wave devices, and it should find your lock.
Using August With Your Frontpoint System
According to an August press release, the partnership between August and Alarm.com allows you access to five distinct features:
- Timed Auto-Lock
- Location-Based Locking Reminders
- One-Touch Remote Locking
- Unexpected Activity Notifications
- Integration into Alarm.com’s Scenes Feature
Auto-Lock is a feature that will automatically lock your door if it’s been closed for a specific duration as set by you. You can set the lock to instantly lock when the door is closed, or you can create an Auto-Lock timer.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make this happen using the Frontpoint app. I tried calling into Frontpoint support for help, but we weren’t able to figure out the issue, and I’m still waiting on a follow-up response from them. I will update this article should I receive a response.
Though I wasn’t able to perform a Timed Auto-Lock using the Frontpoint app, I was able to do so using the August app. From the app, head to the lock settings page and look for an option labeled “Auto-Lock.” You can set the timer between 30 seconds and 30 minutes.
Using the August app isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the app is pleasant to use, but the rule worked using the August DoorSense™ versus relying on data sent by my Frontpoint contact sensor, defeating the purpose of the integration.
Location-Based Locking Reminders
Next up, Location-Based Locking.
To get location-based locking reminders, you will need to add a new notification using the Frontpoint app. From the notifications tab, click “+Add” and then click “Lock Left Unlocked.” From here you can decide if you should receive a notification when the lock is left unlocked for a specific duration or when specific people cross a geofenced location. You can also choose for this rule to run all of the time or only during specified times.
One-Touch Remote Locking
Locking and unlocking August can be done right from the Frontpoint app.
In theory, locking and unlocking should be one of the easiest features to use, but for me, it didn’t work so well. After testing for nearly two months, I was able to boil the issue down to the fact that I have door armor installed which makes it difficult to shut my door completely. While this is a unique problem and self-created, it did help me to identify two potential issues with remote locking/unlocking.
The first issue is related to Alarm.com, not my door armor and not August. The process of locking and unlocking the door using the Frontpoint app can be slow, often timing out before doing anything at all. If I lock/unlock the door using the August app, the response is nearly instantaneous, but if I use the Frontpoint app, it takes a while, often timing out (screenshot above). In fact, I tried to use it to unlock the door for guests several times and never once was I able to unlock the door in a reasonable amount of time.
Second, I had trouble with the status of the lock updating. If the status in the app showed as unlocked, and I locked the door the old fashioned way, the app would often continue to show as unlocked. Worse, there were times when I would send a command through the app to lock, the Frontpoint app would show locked, but the lock wasn’t actually locked. In checking my history tab, I could see that there was an issue (screenshot above). It was clear in the history that the door wasn’t locking because the deadbolt was jammed due to my door armor. This failure was concerning as I wouldn’t have known there was an issue unless I checked the door, which defeats the whole purpose of having a smart lock.
The problem with all of this is that it led to distrust of a feature that is the backbone of a smart lock. That distrust kind of rendered all of the other features irrelevant.
Unexpected Activity Notifications
Unexpected Activity Notifications is an Alarm.com-specific feature. According to an Alarm.com blog post,
They’re a new type of proactive, intelligent protection powered by our Insights Engine, which looks out for your family by learning your everyday behavior patterns and letting you know when something out of the ordinary is going on.
Using machine learning capabilities, Alarm.com’s Insights Engine should learn your habits over time. For example, if your door is usually locked by 8:00 pm, Alarm.com might choose to send you a notification if it’s still unlocked at 10:00 pm.
In using the lock for two months, I either failed to do anything unusual, or the feature doesn’t work. I reached out to Frontpoint for more insight and am waiting to hear back.
Integration into Alarm.com’s Scenes Feature
My favorite feature is the ability to integrate the lock into my Alarm.com Scenes. Alarm.com Scenes allow you to take multiple actions with one click or via a spoken command as you can use your Amazon Alexa-enabled device to activate Alarm.com Scenes.
From the Frontpoint app, you can click into the “Scenes” menu to edit your existing Scenes (Home, Away, Sleep, Wake Up) or to create your own. You can then add multiple actions. For example, my Sleep Scene arms the system Stay and locks my August Lock. Depending on the connected devices you own, you could potentially take this even further by also turning off all of your lights or setting the temperature on your connected thermostat.
Using the August Smart Lock Pro with Alarm.com almost ruined my opinion of what is one of the highest-rated smart locks currently sold. The integration slows down remote locking/unlocking and makes using the lock confusing. And then there’s this:
After using the lock for a couple of months, I’ve found that I prefer using the August app to control the lock. It’s easier, faster, and more trustworthy. In my opinion, the sole value of the integration between Alarm.com and August is Scene integration.
While I still love my Frontpoint system, this experience only reinforced my opinion that the Interactive plan is the best choice. I suggest using Frontpoint for security monitoring and creating a smart home system that you can manage independently.
*August provided my lock for testing.