Poly-Control Danalock review: Poly-Control's Danalock won't enhance your smart home

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

The Good Poly-Control's Bluetooth or Z-Wave-only Danalocks start at just $159, £200 and you can get a Bluetooth and Z-Wave version for $179, £250.

The Bad The installation was challenging, the app was difficult to navigate, the Bluetooth tech wasn't responsive, I never received an alert and the knock-to-unlock feature didn't work at all.

The Bottom Line The Danalock's many inconsistencies make it less convenient than using an actual key, and therefore, very tough to recommend.

5.3 Overall
  • Features 6
  • Usability 5
  • Design 5
  • Performance 5

The $179 Poly-Control Danalock (available in the UK for £250 including VAT, not yet available in Australia) comes with both Bluetooth and Z-Wave capabilities. And although Z-Wave integration is limited to the Vera Gateway home-automation hub, Danalock's closest competitor, the $250 US-only August Smart Lock , doesn't currently offer remote access at all.

Even with this additional feature, the less expensive Danalock falls short at every step. It looks similar to August, but feels significantly less sturdy; it was more difficult to install; the app isn't especially intuitive; I never received a notification, and its knock-to-unlock feature, a setting that's supposed to let you "knock" on your smartphone to unlock your front door, never worked. These factors make the Danalock difficult to recommend, especially when stacked against the highly rated August.

A note on installation

Danalock is designed to work with most existing deadbolts, so it should be as basic as removing the thumb turn from your current lock and attaching Poly-Control's version. That's part of what gives this lock -- and August -- so much appeal; you don't have to mess much with the hardware guts at all, you're really just adding additional stuff to your current setup. And that's exactly what we experienced with August, but it wasn't so easy with this lock.

The Danalock site boasts a four-step process that's supposed to take you from start to finish -- unmount the current lock, mount the adapter plate, mount Danalock and download the app. Although unmounting my old lock and downloading the app were straightforward, the adapter plate and Danalock mounting were much more involved.

I first tried to install this lock at our office on a door that we use specifically for this type of testing. After following the quick start guide and installing the lock, everything looked right, but the deadbolt wouldn't turn. It sounded like it was trying to turn, but wouldn't budge. I confirmed that the deadbolt itself wasn't faulty and read through the more detailed user manual to find that the tailpiece was the culprit.

The tailpiece is a skinny piece of metal that rotates when the key is turned -- or when the motor inside a smart lock turns it -- and is a major deadbolt component. As part of the existing lock, I wouldn't have expected to run into an issue with the tailpiece.

Peering inside the Danalock. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

However, the Danalock manual does specify that, "Many doors have tailpieces that extend 10-15mm from the doorplate, and are more than 5mm wide. These will fit the Danalock without adjustments." However, "other doors have tailpieces that are square-shaped or less than 5mm wide. For these types of tailpieces we strongly recommend you cut the length so the tailpiece aligns with the door surface," and it is implied that this type of tailpiece also extends 10-15mm from the doorplate, although that wasn't directly stated. The manual continues, "You then need to insert one of the tailpiece extenders you find in the Danalock package."

Aside from the somewhat confusing language, I measured the tailpiece to find that it did fall between 10 and 15mm, but was just shy of 5mm wide. That means that I would have needed to use a separate tool to cut down the length of the tailpiece. Although this could be an easy enough fix for some, most households don't have the right tools for this sort of adjustment just lying around. And since a lot of folks would probably enlist the help of a locksmith at this point (making it a bit more than a basic DIY installation), I decided to uninstall the Danalock and try my luck on a different door.

The second attempt went much more smoothly, as the tailpiece was wider and flush with the door. I was able to add one of the plastic extenders included in the kit and get it working without having to perform surgery on the tailpiece itself. Even so, the adapter plate's holes were somewhat wonky (as in, they didn't line up with the screw locations well in either install) and the location of the screw holes for mounting the Danalock to the baseplate were not especially easy to reach.

In short, August's sturdy build, intuitively designed baseplate and various adapters made for a much simpler setup.

August and Danalock side-by-side. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Unlocking the Danalock

After getting Danalock up and running, I ran into a variety of other issues. While there's a log in the app that notes when you lock and unlock the door from the app, it doesn't list manual adjustments. The log is the only way to see your lock's current status -- if it's either locked or unlocked -- but it leaves out those times when you use a physical key from outside or manually lock or unlock the door from inside.