I'm in the planning process of making an automated door unlocker for my home. The process for most of these is straight forward, but I'm having a problem creating a solution for my door type and was after some advise.

My door uses a key on both sides "multi-point locking system". This means to unlock the door, you need to have the key in, and turned. This applies to inside and outside. There is no pull-down dial or "rim automatic deadlatch" like a lot flats/apartments have. If a key is in the door one side, then a key won't fit fully in the lock at the otherside. A lot of locks are like this in the UK.

The problem I have is how to fit the hardware without changing the locks (rented property). The obvious first thought is to place the key in the lock and just drive a servo to turn it. But this would mean if it ever fails I would be perminantly locked out of my house! (no backdoor at my property...).

Can anyone think of a solution which could unlock the door without protentially "bricking" the door lock?

  • Customisation like this is also against your rental agreement. You cannot change the locks or change the way they work because you invalidate both your and the landlords insurance! The reason, well if you mess up you either lock your self out or let people in with ease. Maybe best not mess with access doors. You have already worked out how all this works.. so the only answer is to replace the lock with something that will make it work as you planned. But is really that safe? – Piotr Kula Dec 21 '15 at 14:41
  • If this was your own property you could consider replacing the lock cylinder with a thumbturn version, and drive that with a belt drive. You could then still use a key if the power failed. However you'd be increasing the risk of someone who broke in (through a window) being able to open the door and walk out with your stuff. This makes insurance companies unhappy and less likely to pay out. – Chris H Dec 21 '15 at 15:32
  • I wouldn' t try this in "production" (your front door) until I had tested it in development (somewhere less critical where you could, e.g., make it possible to take apart from both sides). – goldilocks Dec 21 '15 at 15:37
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    @ChrisH Very off-topic but do they really encourage systems by which, from the sound of things, you could end up locked inside your own potentially flaming residence? This does not sound like it is in anyone's best interest, insurance companies included. I believe it would in fact be illegal many places. – goldilocks Dec 21 '15 at 16:56
  • @goldilocks when in the property it might be reasonable to leave the key on the inside of the door (or nearby). – Chris H Dec 21 '15 at 16:59

If it is NOT your property you will really have to convince your Landlord to allow it - it isn't your lock to begin with. Even changing the lock is a no-no if I understand it correctly. A thumb-lock type cylinder on the inside is not really going to be much help IMHO.

If you are fantastically persuasive you theoretically might be able to persuade the owner to the fitting of a door with something like a Winkhaus AV2 or Cobra lock (and then get the electronic lock upgrade to the AV2E "Bluematic") or a GU Secury A-Opener. I am fortunate to be in my own place and am about to have one of the former fitted in the New Year.

The complete locks are a lot more costly than normal ones IME - and they are the type that LOCK (not just Latch) shut when the door is closed - the outside handle is a pad (fixed) and the inside is usually a "crash" handle, you just pull it down (in an emergency or otherwise) and the door unlocks (unless manually deadlocked). On the other hand for the Winkhaus one the Electric Motor bit IS available as an add-on that could be "taken away" when you end your rental.

It would not be as elegant, but would one or two (electro)-magnetic lock assemblies be something that you (and your landlord) could live with - for everyone's safety - all must be happy that what ever you do is secure when it needs to be and safe all the time. To be honest though - I do not think there is anything that you will be able to do to achieve your desires in this (unless, perhaps, the Landlord is a close relation!)

For doors that are not multi-point locking Composite or uPVC ones but are the more traditional wooden ones you will probably find electronic locking easiest with an electric strike combined with a conventional (possibly dead-lockable) lock.

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  • Thanks for the advise SlySven. I understand peoples concerns, especially around safety etc. and I get it. The aim is less of to make something really cool than an education tool. I'm hoping to move into an owned place of my own end of next year, so I think I'm just going to hold off until then. A future me will revisit this post then :) – kirgy Dec 22 '15 at 9:26
  • Hopefully I can share with those interested my eventual success when I have it of this sort of thing, I had to work at it to get the Glazing company to not use their normal supplier who wasn't willing to do the extra work needed to fit the electric version of the Winkhaus lock that they were offering anyhow - guess they were unhappy to do a "special" because it would stop the "production line" and the Glazing company wouldn't offer their normal 10 guarantee on a lock that wasn't installed by the manufacturer... – SlySven Dec 22 '15 at 17:47

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