Cold MN Temperatures & Deadbolts/Locks


(THE Erkelbot) #1

So, I love me some Smartthings. I have the basics, and so far I have been very happy with how they’ve complimented my home. So much so that I am considering integrating locks into the equation. The concerns I have though are as follows:

  1. Since all smartthings are battery powered, I’m concerned the extreme cold of MN winters may cause issues. Specifically, the lock I am considering starting with is an external door that will be steel and may not have a storm door. That’ll leave it open to the elements.

  2. How strong are those electronic motors? If frost gets in the deadbolt tumbler, will it even be able to open (assuming it even has power in the cold).

So, does anyone have experience with swapping out the locks in extreme temperature areas? I’m not so worried about the summer here – though it does get hot – but I am worried about the winter. Last winter we saw -30F a few times. The last thing I want is to rely on a battery operated lock that is problematic. Freezing to death ain’t cool…

Any advice or experience would help – noting that I understand the basics of battery operating temps, and that Li batteries are FAR less susceptible to shellacking than NiMH…But many experts say batteries as a whole (outside NiCD) become unreliable at -4F.

Is it just best to stick with a traditional deadbolt and lockset? Thanks!


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #2

I believe the batteries and motor guts are on the ‘inside’ side of the mechanism, so if inside is heated you should be ok. I also think the motor unlocking the door is not actuating the tumbler mechanism.


(THE Erkelbot) #3

Okay, that does help ease my mind a bit. That said, without a tumbler, what sort of mechanism is in place instead? Is it magnetic? Now I’m feeling like a real dummy…


(Chrisb) #4

As for Batteries, mine did fine last winter in West Michigan area. We had plenty of cold nights that dipped to the single digits and below 0 on occasion. My unattached garage sensors didn’t have a problem with the cold.

As for the lock… that’s harder to say. Because you don’t have a storm door you’ve obviously much more susceptible to moisture getting inside the lock. Again, my Kwikset did fine last winter, but that was with a storm door.

One thing to note: At least with my Kwikset, the motor is not turning the tumbler (where you put the key). The tumbler and motor are independent and both turn the lock (or deadbolt in your case). So if it’s just moisture that gets into the tumbler area and makes that hard or impossible to turn with the key, the motor should still work. Obviously different locks may use different setups, but for my Kiwkset lock this is the case.

I’d also submit that while half of the deadbolt is facing outside, the other is facing indoors. Unless you don’t heat the room on the other side of the door (like it’s it’s an unheated mud room or something) the lock itself will probably always be a little above freezing.


(Chrisb) #5

It’s mechanical as well, but each piece works separately on the bolt/lock.


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #6

I believe the Kwikset ones use a belt drive mechanism via the motor to retract the bolt via a pinion. It is separate from the tumbler mechanism (which is on the other side).

But if I were you, I’d contact the vendor of the locks you are considering to get their specified operating temperatures. Some may pay more attention to this than others.


(Jen S) #7

On the Kwikset motorized locks the batteries are in the inside however the motor is not insulated from the elements as metal doors transmit the cold quite well and there is that large 2’ bore to consider. I have a western facing metal door without a screen/glass door and the lock on that door is failing. I have an identical lock installed a year prior on a wooden door with a glass screen door under a porch and that lock is faring much better. The batteries on the exposed door last only a few months vs almost a year on the protected door. The lock motor itself AND the finish on the lock look MUCH worse on the exposed door. This is not unexpected given the amount of weather it is exposed to but that the Kwikset lock (910 series) is giving up the ghost in less than two years is not acceptable. I had to remove the zwave daughter board recently because the batteries were dying within a week, Thia is a relatively recent development (post winter). I haven’t had any trouble with the motor even in super cold temps with the protected door.


(THE Erkelbot) #8

Hmmm… The room it will be protecting is absolutely heated, but given the transmission of cold through steel (albeit insulated steel) I may run into an issue. Plus, as @jensed pointed out the weather may get the best of the lock much quicker.

If the locks were cheap, that’d be one thing… But they’re not. They’re $150 on the low end, and I can get a substantial – and reliable – traditional lock for $50.

I guess I’m not sold, and I’ll just have to suck it up and look like a janitor carrying a few more keys for another couple years while they perfect the technology. Again, the last thing I want is a buggy door that could fail on me.


(Chrisb) #9

Hmm… Maybe Lockitron is the answer for you? Resided completely “inside” the house? Still going to be cold, but not as cold and because it’s a completely separate part from the deadbolt it’ll be less likely to be “contaminated” by outside moisture.


(THE Erkelbot) #10

August is intriguing too, though like most new things I’ll squat on that idea for a while until they’ve proven themselves.


(Andrew Urman) #11

get on that Minnesota level bro, thats a brisk day in Minneapolis.


(Andrew Urman) #12

also @erkelbot there are locks that just have locking mechanisms and not motorized deadbolts. Like this guy.


(THE Erkelbot) #13

Thanks. I’m looking for non-handle version if possible. It’s for a door that frankly won’t get used often for entry. I think – and perhaps this is just me – but handles beg to be tried – and give leverage to someone prying on the door. If I go with only a deadbolt I think it’s less inviting for money shines.


(Andrew Urman) #14

The way the handles work is they move a mechanism in place for the handle to actually turn the lock or not. If its locked you can move the handle up and down all you want, but it won’t move the lock.


(Chrisb) #15

Yeah but… we still get more snow than you do (usually). Lake effect can be fun!


(THE Erkelbot) #16

Totally get that. I just prefer not having a handle at all on the outside for people to move ‘all they want’. Nothing says f*ck off like a simple keyed deabolt and a steel door…


(Chrisb) #17

FWIW, most doors push in, not pull out. So a lever should provide much in the way of a pry location… I mean it does, but pulling on the lever is going the wrong way for the would be ne’er-do-well.

Let me ask you this: If this is a rarely used door, does the lock need to be usable on the outside? Could you in some way cover/insulate it on the outside part of it? I guess it might look really ugly doing that.


(THE Erkelbot) #18

Yep, it opens inward. I suppose the handle can get in the way for someone wanting to pry with a bar, but I don’t think either option protects against a pry situation like that. Meaning, if they want in they get in…

I suppose I could fabricate something to cover over the keyhole and number pad, but doing that relies even more heavily on the proper operation of the lock via ST. That is to say, if that goes out…the door doesn’t operate at all from the outside.

I like the look of the Kevo (aside from the blue “I’d rather be out raving” ring). Simple, traditional-looking, but functional for remote access if need be. BUT, seeing as they get fairly poor reviews and are still stupidly expensive, I think I’ll just deadbolt it up in the traditional manner. Standard ought do it.


(Ben Edwards) #19

As @urman linked to, some locks don’t need the motor to turn the bolt. That one is my favorite.


(Joshua Laymon) #20

I have a lock on my workshop that is battery powered (Kwikset) but doesn’t have the guts to connect to my smart things. I have had it for longer than I even knew about smart things by several years. I am now on my 4th year with it totally exposed and all is well. I don’t think it has ever frozen. This last year I ended up with a 3 foot snow drift in front of the door and it opened right up. The locks with the z-wave are basically the same as this one so I would not worry about it. I have seen my garage down to -10 and right now its about 130 in there and it opens right up still.