Kwikset is a well known lock manufacturer with a big presence in the home automation industry, thanks to their smart lock technology. The Kevo Plus is an accessory for the Kevo smart lock which we previously reviewed, and which makes the mundane task of locking and unlocking your door an innovative and – dare I say it – an exciting experience.
In this review, we are focusing on the Kevo Plus, which works with the Kevo, and just released Kevo 2 locks.. This little device is a Bluetooth gateway that gives users remote access to their lock, from anywhere – a big upgrade from its predecessor. We will discuss setting up the Kevo Plus, as well as its range and compatibility with other smart products. If you haven’t already read our review of the Kevo Lock, check it out here.
Setting Up Your Kevo Plus Device
The Kevo Plus comes in a small white box with the device clearly pictured on the front. Neatly packed inside, you’ll find the Kevo Plus, a detached antenna, and some cables. Tucked away under some cardboard packaging is the power cable – USB to 5V DC/0.5A – and its power cube with a USB port. One of the things I noticed about the power cube is that it’s not as adept at saving space as the Apple USB cubes, as its USB port is on the side instead of the top. I had to unplug a few things in order to fit it into my power strip. Not really a big deal – just a minor annoyance. Also included is an ethernet cable, which measures approximately twenty inches long, so your Kevo Plus and your router are about to become best buds.
Setting up the device is simple enough. Attach the antenna by screwing it into the back of the Kevo Plus and leave it in an upright position. Then, put the power cable’s USB end into the USB port of the power cube, and plug into a wall outlet or power strip. Fit the other end of the power cable into the small hole on the back of the Kevo Plus – and viola! You’ve got power. Kwikset advises that the device be kept off the ground, at least three feet above the floor, for best connection results. I would have to second that, for an entirely different reason. If you’ve got any pets – say, a cat – your furry friend may take a liking to the antenna and try to bite it off. I had to rescue the Kevo Plus from my cat seconds after I set it up. The Kevo Plus should be kept near the router and it is not recommended that it be placed in a cabinet with closed doors, as the doors will act as environmental noise and potentially disrupt the signal. This will shorten the range, so best to listen to Kwikset on that one, especially if your router is far away from your smart lock.
The app is straightforward and easy to use. On the opening screen of the app, “My Locks & eKeys,” you can add a lock by touching the “+” symbol in the upper right hand corner. Choose “Set Up A Device,” then “Pair A Device.” We used a Kwikset smart lock, but there are two brands to choose from (the other is Weiser) – choose your brand, and the next screen will have options for specific locks with photos to choose from. Follow the easy instructions to set up your lock. If you already have a lock set up with your existing Kevo and are simply upgrading to the Kevo Plus, disregard this paragraph and move on to the next one.
The Kevo app truly is user-friendly. You’ll set up the Kevo Plus Gateway much in the same way you would set up a lock. Back on the “My Locks and eKeys” section of the app, touch the “+” symbol, “Set Up A Device,” “Pair A Device,” and choose the Kevo Plus from the images. You will be prompted to answer questions using the green or red buttons in the app. To pair the Kevo Plus, you lay a case-less smartphone on the top of the Kevo Plus. At this point, it may or may not update the software. If it does, the process is quick and painless. I dusted my living room and by the time I came back, the software update had completed. Once the Kevo Plus Gateway is set up, you will now be able to control your smart lock remotely.
My door is approximately fifteen feet away from my router, and the signal has to pass through several walls and possibly even my TV. The signal was strong and the lock responded instantly when I used the Kevo App to unlock it. I do not have the lock installed on my front door, as the purpose of this review was to test the range. Instead, I walked around with the lock in my hand while triggering responses via the app. What a sight for my neighbors to behold.
I walked outside and across the street of my community, with plenty of walls, a garage, and a car for the signal to pass through, and I found that the lock stopped communicating with Kevo Plus after about 75 feet. Since range is environmentally dependent (stone, tile, mirrors, and large metal surfaces tend to interfere with wireless communication), and the way I tested its range was by physically taking the lock with me outside and down the street, environmental factors were definitely at play. I could see the Kevo Plus potentially reaching its promised 100 feet of range. I would, however, recommend that your router and Kevo Plus be relatively close to the lock (upstairs should be fine, if that’s where you keep your router), and, as mentioned before, it is recommended that you keep your Kevo Plus about three feet above the ground.
Now that’s the range between the Kevo Plus/router and the lock itself. With the Kevo Plus, we gain the ability to lock or unlock from anywhere in the world with WiFi or your phone’s internet on. You can check who has used the door via the History section of the app, as well as issue eKeys to anyone using the app. The Kevo Plus does not have scheduling capabilities, so you cannot set a schedule to have your door lock at 8:30 pm, nor can you set it to unlock at 5pm, or anywhere in between. There are simply no scheduling capabilities yet – it seems as though it would be as simple as a firmware update. I wouldn’t hold thy breath – Kevo had the opportunity to add scheduling when they came out with the Kevo Plus, so it is likely that we will have to wait for capabilities such as that. As of now, the only scheduling you can have is for eKeys, which allow you to give access to friends, family, neighbors, pet sitters and handymen for a specific time, say, between the hours of 8am and 6pm – or whatever you like. That’s a good feature to have, and, if you’re away on a vacation and you need to let someone in the house you can simply issue an eKey. That’s right, no more hide-a-keys.
The Kevo Plus works with a variety of Kwikset smart locks and Weiser smart locks. It also works with the Nest Learning Thermostat, some smart Honeywell Thermostats (RTH9590WF, RTH9580WF, RTH8580WF, RTH6580WF models), the Ring Video Doorbell, Skybell Video Doorbell, and IFTTT Applets and Services. The device is compatible with several Apple products including the iPhone 4S and up, iPad 3rd Generation+, iPod Touch 5th Generation+, and Apple Watch (you can only receive notifications with the Apple Watch). Compatible Android devices include the Nexus Tablet (5X, 6, 6P, 9), Samsung Galaxy (S5, S5 Active, S6, S6 Active, S6 Edge, S7, S7 Active, S7 Edge, Note 4, Note 4 Edge, Note 5), HTC One M9, and Android Wear.
Availability and Pricing
The Kevo Plus is available online on the Kwikset website for a mere $99. You can upgrade from Kevo to the Kevo Plus there as well. There is no subscription for this device, and all you need is a compatible smart lock, an internet connection, router with an open ethernet port, power, and, of course, the Kevo Plus itself.
The Bottom Line
Kwikset’s Kevo Plus is a great buy for anyone who is looking to upgrade to a smart lock, but doesn’t care about its lack of scheduling capabilities at this time. The ability to check if you locked your front door when you’re on the go provides peace of mind that your memory can’t give you. Being able to issue eKeys is a desirable trait as well – you don’t even have to get up to answer the door for your friend if they’ve already got an eKey. Personally, I don’t think that’s good manners, but to each their own. The fact that you can do that is pretty cool. The fact that I could issue an eKey to a handyman or pet sitter and set a schedule so they couldn’t enter or exit again without my permission is a huge plus for me. The Kevo Plus has an impressive physical range, and the remote locking/unlocking capabilities from anywhere with WiFi could prove to be extremely useful to you one day.