Picture this scenario. You’ve just been to the grocery store and spent eleventy billion dollars on Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and BBQ potato chips. You get home and are one of those people who can’t make multiple trips to the house with your bags. You MUST carry in all the bags at once or something horrible happens to you… not sure what that is, but it WILL happen. You get to your front door and you need to unlock it, but the keys are in your pocket and your hands are full of grocery bags. What do you do? If you had the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock, the crisis would be averted because you would only need your pinkie finger to unlock the door. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
What is it?
The Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock is a deadbolt lock that uses Bluetooth to wirelessly lock and unlock using an iOS or Android smartphone when you touch the lock with your finger. If you don’t have a smartphone, the Kevo deadbolt lock can be locked and unlocked using a small keychain fob and also comes with 2 standard keys. You don’t need to press a button, launch an app or tap the fob on the lock to unlock it. You just tap the lock with your finger.
What’s in the package?
Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock hardware
2 physical keys
1 electronic key fob
4 AA batteries
Installation and setup
Installing the Kevo is simple as long as you already have a door with a traditional deadbolt installed. If your door doesn’t have a deadbolt, you’ll need to modify the door by cutting a hole and a slot for the bolt. Installation for me was easy because my front door already had a deadbolt.
All I needed to do was remove two screws holding the old deadbolt and then followed the step by step instructions to install the Kevo. The whole process took about 20 minutes give or take.
The hardest part (and it wasn’t really that hard) was plugging in two cables from the Kevo to the interior locking mechanism and routing the wires so they would not be pinched when attaching the interior part of the Kevo lock to the door.
The interior locking mechanism has three buttons that are used to program your phone and the included key fob. Once the fob and your phone have been programmed, you can snap the cover in place. There are only two things about the Kevo that disappointed me. The first one is the interior locking mechanism. The deadbolt on the exterior of the door has a metal shell which is available in brass, bronze or satin. But the interior mechanism shell is made of plastic which just feels cheap.
Does the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock work as advertised?
After the hardware is installed, you will need to install the Kevo app on your iOS or Android device. Be aware that you may NOT be able to use your phone to control the Kevo deadbolt if it’s an older Android device. I tested the lock with my Nexus 6P which worked fine, but Jeanne’s three-year-old Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was not compatible with the Kevo so I had to give her the included key fob to use instead. I also gave both of us one of the standard keys that were included with the lock as a precaution.
The Kevo app is used to register your phone as an eKey, to setup/send eKeys to others, and as a local lock status indicator and toggle, and shows a history of lock usage by eKeys (fob access does not show up in the history listing). I had no issues using the app to setup my phone as an eKey, but using the app to see the status of the Kevo lock was hit and miss. Mostly miss. Note that the status feature only works locally when you are within Bluetooth range of the lock. It will NOT work when you are away from home. But I could only this feature to work a handful of times even when I was standing within a couple feet of the lock.
The way it’s supposed to work is that the app will search for your Kevo lock and then show the status like you see in the screenshots above. The app on my Nexus 6P was only able to connect to the Kevo lock a couple of times. I worked with Kwikset tech support for an hour one day doing all sorts of troubleshooting gymnastics with no luck. They ended up sending me a new lock which I had to install, but it had the exact same issue.
Not being able to check the status of the lock when I’m at home doesn’t really bother me, but it’s important to mention that there may be issues with the app and this particular feature.
Setting up eKeys
To give someone access to unlock your Kevo lock, you send them an eKey by using the app which sends an email to the person to tell them to installs the app and create an account. Once all this is done and they accept the eKey, the original Kevo account will receive a notification that the eKey has been accepted. Then the person can use unlock and lock the Kevo Smart Lock with a touch of the finger without needing to pair the phone to the lock or even launching the app when they get to your house. As long you have the device with the app on your person and have Bluetooth enabled, the Kevo will unlock.
It’s important to note that the Kevo only comes with 2 additional eKeys other than the main eKey that you create during setup. Temporary 24-hour eKeys are free and unlimited, but if you need more than 2 permanent eKeys, you’ll be charged $1.99 for each one. Just like real keys, eKeys can be recycled by deleting existing eKeys and sending a new one to someone else.
I just don’t understand why Kwikset charges you for eKeys, but since the Kevo comes with 3 eKeys, 1 electronic fob and 2 standard keys (which can be copied if you need to), I’m not too bent out of shape about it.
See it in action
As you saw in the video, locking and unlocking the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock is quick and easy. The LED ring on the exterior deadbolt gives you an indication of what just happened when you touch the lock. An amber LED and one beep means the Kevo has locked and a green LED and two beeps mean it unlocked.
It’s also interesting to note that the Kevo knows if you’re inside or outside. For example, you can stand inside your house with a fob or phone with an eKey and if someone outside the door touches the lock, it will NOT open. This is an important security feature if you happen to set your phone or hang your keys (with the fob) right next to the door.
Jeanne and I have been using the Kevo Smart Lock for a few weeks now and other than an occasional need to tap more than once, it’s been working great. There’s only a slight 3-5 second pause before the lock reacts to your touch which is not a big deal because I can now keep my phone and my keys in my bag when I come and go from the house.
The Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock is my first experience with an electronic lock and I’m hooked. Now I want one for my walk through garage door too. Other than the issue with the app not allowing me to see the lock / unlock status when I’m at home, the plastic shell of the interior locking mechanism, and the fact that they charge for more than 2 eKeys, I really like the Kevo.
The lock is still working very well. There are some times that I have to touch the lock more than once for it to lock / unlock, but it’s still faster than dealing with a physical key. However, the battery in the Kevo keyfob that Jeanne uses on her keychain because the lock won’t work with her older than dirt Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has already died after only 3 months. I’ve been too lazy to switch out the battery in the fob so she’s been using a key.
This lock is still working great, but the main module batteries died today. I’ve noticed that it’s been taking more than one try to lock/unlock the lock lately and the gear mechanism has sounded really slow. Since the 4 AA batteries are only lasting for about four months, I’ll be trying rechargeables going forward.
We’ve been doing some remodeling to the exterior of our house and detached garage and in the process of this update, I decided that I wanted a dead bolt lock on the walkthrough door on our garage. I put a lot of thought into whether I wanted to get another Kevo lock so both the front door to the house and the garage door matched and I ended up deciding to replace the Kevo lock with a “dumb” electronic lock. Why? Because it’s easier to punch in a 4-digital code than maintain an app on a phone, keyfobs for people who don’t have a compatible phone, etc.
I ordered 2 Schlage locks and they are working great. I especially like how smooth the lock works compared to the Kevo which always felt stiff.