These days, it seems like everything we purchase has become “smart”. We’ve got smart TVs, smart appliances, and even smart toasters. Today, there’s another smart product on the market – the Bluetooth-enabled smart lock.
In a lot of ways, a product like this makes sense. There are several problems we face in daily life that are directly resolved by this deadbolt. Maybe your in-laws are coming down for a visit, and they’re set to arrive just before you get off of work. Why try to race home through rush hour traffic only to find them outside, waiting in the cold? Instead, just get them to install a simple app and give them the key yourself, through a quick email.
Have you ever had to fumble with your keys when arriving home after dark? Or even worse, have you ever been surprised and the ridiculous amount of manual dexterity required to pull off the “key-in-lock” maneuver after one too many wobbly pops? The Kwikset Kevo 2nd Gen promises to fix all of that.
At first glance, the Kevo 2nd Gen doesn’t look much different from any other deadbolt. It’s made from a durable metal, comes in three pretty standard colors and has the usual key-slot. The backside does look a little fancier, somewhat like those “pin-pad” style locks, without the buttons. But the one feature that does stick out is the blue LED ring around the lock. Although it’s normally off, it flashes blue anytime that you touch it. The same light will flash red if an unlock attempt is rejected, or green when it is accepted.
Before we were able to make any judgement about the performance of the 2nd Gen Kevo Smart Lock, we had to get it installed. If you’re anything like us, you’re a tech person first and trades person last. A project like this can seem a little daunting at first. When you first open the box, you won’t feel any better. The lock comes with a huge array of hardware. Your first impression is going to be something along the lines of “how is all of this supposed to fit in my door?”
Fortunately, the install was actually very simple. See, the Kwikset Kevo 2nd Gen is designed to work in almost any type or size of door. The hardware that’s included with the lock is simply to make sure that everything you need is included in the box.
The first step of the installation process is to remove a couple screws and take out the old lock. With an electric screwdriver, the process took less than two minutes. With your old lock off, you can simply just match the mounting hardware from your old lock to a similarly shaped mount from the included hardware. If you have any trouble with this, there’s a page in the included manual that shows you exactly which hardware fits with which type of door.
Next, you just need to install the deadbolt, which takes about thirty seconds. You can then place the outdoor portion of the lock through the door, pass the wires under the deadbolt, and screw on the mounting plate. The inside portion of the lock clips right on to the mounting bracket, and the cables are easy to route. The entire process took us less than ten minutes. If you have any trouble, there’s a video on their website that shows the installation process in greater detail.
Once the lock is installed, you can start using it immediately with the optional (sold separately) key-fob. If you want to sync the lock with your mobile phone, you just need to download an app and spend a minute or two entering all of your information and syncing with your lock.
With so much media coverage on hackers, wouldn’t a digital lock like this be dangerous? It’s certainly possible for the Bluetooth protocol to be hacked, but fortunately Kwikset designed the Kevo 2nd Gen to be virtually bulletproof. To understand just how secure this system is, you’ll have to understand the E-Key protocol.
In a way, your key fob is just sending a password to the door that tells it to unlock. But if this password remained the same, an unscrupulous person could just listen in on the Bluetooth frequencies and save your password for their own use. That’s why the Kevo changes its password every single time the lock is accessed. When you go through the syncing process, the lock gives a special mathematical formula to your phone. This allows the phone to generate a new password every time the lock is used. Even if somebody managed to overhear one of the passwords, it’s depreciated the second it’s being used.
What about sharing keys? One of the biggest features of this lock is that you can simply send an email to one of your friends if you want to give them access to your lock. These can bet set to work on a certain time frame, so if you have friends coming down for the weekend the key can automatically de-activate after they leave.
Another great security feature of the lock is that it can determine the location of your phone. If you leave your phone inside, it will know now to allow the door to open from the outside. It does have a somewhat short range of about two feet, so this prevents your lock from being activated if you’ve just left the house.
Is the lock completely bulletproof? Of course not. Somebody could probably still knock down your door, or break a window and manually turn the deadbolt from the inside. But the Kevo 2 is just as secure, if not more secure, than a standard deadbolt.
Ease of Use
You really cannot get much simpler than the Kiwkset Kevo. As long as your phone is in your front pocket, you just walk up to the lock and touch it anywhere around the frame. Boom, the lock is open. The short range, however, does mean that there are a couple considerations. If you keep your phone in your backpack, you might not be close enough to open the lock. This also means that the lock needs to be opened by the person holding the key or mobile phone. If you’ve got a load of groceries in your hand and you’ve got your girlfriend trying to open the door, she’ll need to physically have possession of the key.
Beyond this one minor consideration, the lock is a dream to use. Giving keys to your friends and family is as simple as sending an email. Hooking the lock up to your phone is a two-minute process. And if for some reason any of that is inconvenient, well you still have a key that you can use.
The Kevo 2 works with pretty much any modern smartphone. iPhone 5 and above is supported, as well as most Android phones with 5.0 and above. We say most, because your phone needs to support ULV (ultra-low voltage) Bluetooth. Most modern smartphones do, but a few of the bargain models do not. It would be nice for the lock to support every smartphone on the market, but sadly the technology used by its advanced security protocols is relatively new, so full device compatibility is a reasonable trade off. Remember, you still have the included key fob!
The latest 2nd generation version of the Kevo even adds a ton of great compatibility features for smart homes. For example, it will connect with your NEST thermostat to drop the heat while you’re out of the house, and turn it back on when you arrive. It can also communicate, out of the box, with Apple’s HomeKit, the Ring Video Doorbell, Android Wear devices, and Honeywell Connected thermostats.
Should I Buy the Kwikset Kevo 2?
Whether you’re a smart home enthusiast or simply want to get in and out of your home a little easier, the Kwikset Kevo 2 is a great purchase. After just a few short days, you’ll wonder why you ever fumbled with keys. The lock opens with the touch of a finger, and closes just as easily.
If you are wired into the smart home industry, it almost becomes a must-have. Now that the latest model syncs up with the most common smart home equipment, this lock becomes the best way to transition your house from “home” mode to “away” mode.
The only disadvantage of the Kwikset Kevo 2 is that you will get used to it. You’ll walk up to your friends locks and tap them, while they cast you strange looks. If you can handle the disappointment that will come from wondering why the entire world hasn’t caught up to your high tech lifestyle, then it’s a purchase you’ll be glad you made.