With this review of the Kwikset SmartCode 916, we have entered the world of networkable smart door locks. This Kwikset lock supports Z-Wave or Zigbee, depending on how you set it up. We’re using a Z-Wave network for this review, with a Nexia Bridge Z-Wave controller.
The SmartCode 916 is the second review we’ve done of a smart front door deadbolt lock. Perhaps more noteworthy, this is the first of two directly competing Z-Wave based smart locks. Next up is one from Schlage, another major brand.
The Kwikset Smartcode 916 is also our second review of a lock from Kwikset, but the SmartCode 916 is very different from the Kevo we reviewed last fall.
As of the time of this publication, we’ve had it installed on our front door for approximately two months. Later in the review, I will also briefly discuss the rather significant differences between the SmartCode 916 lock and the Kevo as they offer very different choices of capabilities.
SmartCode 916 Lock Overview
The MSRP of the SmartCode 916 is $249, with most internet pricing between $200 and $249. The lock comes in three finishes (as shown): Polished Brass, Satin Nickel, and Venetian Bronze. When tied to your home network, the door lock can talk to your alarm system (if supported by your Z-wave controller). It will always track each locking and unlocking of the door, and tell you which users did it (by their unique security codes.)
Security codes can be put in when setting up the lock, but once tied to the network, additional codes can be added remotely. There’s actually a whole additional suite of smart features, which together, Kwikset calls HomeConnect.
Kwikset is a US company located in Foothill Ranch, CA. Foothill Ranch is located in south Orange County, about 20 miles from us here in San Clemente.
The SmartCode 916, once installed, offers three ways to operate it.
- Traditional Key: It can be opened (or locked) with a traditional key. Yes, you can re-key it to use an existing key, such as the one in your current door lock that you are replacing.
- Touch pad on the outside face of the lock.
- From “Software” you can lock and unlock, from your Z-Wave iOS or Android Apps, or Z-wave controller software.
The Smartcode 916 runs on batteries. Four AA’s to be precise. Based on our usage for the last couple of months, it would seem that the batteries will last well over one year. The software says there’s 70% left, but we pulled these four batteries right out of the Kevo, which had been installed last October. Between these two Kwikset locks, that’s about 9 months of use, with 70% left. As to which lock draws the most power – which lock goes through batteries faster, that’s something I can’t answer. The lock will warn you of low battery situations by a flashing indicator light, and also via the software.
This review will focus first on using the SmartCode 916 lock once installed and set up. We are now very used to using the lock. I’m pleased to report there don’t seem to be any idiosyncrasies.
After I discuss using the SmartCode 916, it will be time to look at installation, and configuring to Z-Wave.
Using the Lock the Old Fashioned Way: With a Key
Controlling the SmartCode 916 lock with the keypad
To bring up the display screen there are technically three options:
- Touch a large area of the screen (palm, or back of hand) until it lights up
- Touch the lower left area of the screen where the checkmark is, and hold until the screen lights up
- Touch the screen with 3 or more fingers until it lights up
I now use the second option most often. When the numeric keypad appears the numbers appear as a soft near white on the black screen background. They are large enough and easy to read, day or night.
When I configured the lock for our family’s use, I put in several four digit codes, one for each person. If you are paranoid, so that a four digit “pin” isn’t secure enough, know that you can use up to 8 digit long codes. Hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. If you have a really large family, or are using this lock at a business, you’ll be pleased to know that the SmartCode 916 allows for 30 different active codes (and, of course, it separately tracks each user’s locking and unlocking of the door).
Locking the Door Using Codes
To lock the door once the keypad is displayed, just touch the little picture of a lock found in the lower right corner of the display. You almost immediately hear the lock turning to secure the door.
OK, that can’t get any easier. Now let’s unlock it!
I want to put in my four digit code to unlock it. First I touch to activate the display pad (when it’s locked). Here I had a surprise, the first time I tried locking it:
When the display pad turns on, two numbers are already lit up. Press each number that’s already lit, and they go out. At that point the whole numeric pad appears. Now all that’s left to do is put in the code. As soon as my four numbers are in, the door unlocks.
After encountering these two (random) numbers a few times, I finally figured out what they are all about: Extra security!
We’ve all watched enough crime and adventure TV, etc: If you only press the same four numbers on a keypad, then there would only be fingerprints on those keys, drastically reducing the available code combinations. (If a pad uses hard buttons, it would show more wear on those buttons that you are using, than those unused.)
By randomly bringing up two numbers, at least all the keys are getting pressed at least occasionally, so they would all have fingerprints (and over time, minor wear). Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that first?
BTW, on checking the documentation, I did find a similar explanation in some tiny print on the fold out instruction sheet. I thought I had previously read everything important when first setting it up, but I had missed that! Oh well. One more point. If you prefer to turn off the two random numbers generated, so that you only have to put in your code, you can do that from the dip switches inside the lock (more on that later). Kwikset does not recommend that, as it lowers security. (If you have a family of say 10 people each with unique codes, then probably all of the buttons are getting pressed sometimes, so then you might rationalize not using that feature.)
Locking and Unlocking from far away!
Since this is a Z-wave network device, and your Z-wave network is talking to your Wifi, you have the ability to lock or unlock the door (or monitor activity) .
I’m currently using a Nexia Bridge controller. I open the app, or log on to their website, and I can see the SmartCode 916 as one of my Z-wave devices. On my particular app, to lock, or to unlock, I just slide my finger on the small slide provided under the lock’s icon, as shown in these images.
It’s that simple. Of course the graphics and layout will be different depending on who’s Z-wave controller you are using. But ultimately, it’s Lock, or Unlock.
Of note, our Nexia Bridge offers additional support for Schlage locks that it doesn’t offer for the Kwikset. While both brands competing locks offer the ability so that if you unlock the door, lights could go on, or if you lock the door, the rest of the home security system activates, our Nexia Bridge supports those features only for the Scalage. Of course a different brand of Z-wave controller could be supporting Kwikset, but not Schlage. And some controllers may support those feature sets on both brands and others.
There’s a lesson there – Z-Wave offers a lot of capability, but those making the controllers, need to support the full sets, or at least the major sets of features, for multiple brands. In the long run, I expect it will be those controllers with the most full support of other devices, that will become the most highly rated.
Naturally, I can lock or unlock the lock from inside my home, using my phone, etc., through my Wifi. But what happens if I get to work and am wondering “Did I lock my front door?”
Because my Nexia Bridge –click here for review – has a monthly subscription fee, which provides control via their website, (basically like IFTTT – IF This, Then That), I can log in, check on, and if need be lock (or unlock) the SmartCode 916 from work, the store, or while vacationing in Hawaii, etc.
For those not familiar, IFTTT “IF This, Then That!” is a common protocol for controlling your home when you are beyond your Wifi range. Basically it should work from anywhere in the world as long as you can connect to the web, allowing you to control your home automations manually. It also allows you to integrate multiple apps (without your direct manual intervention), so that as an example: if a motion sensor goes off (one app), it sends the command (using a different app), to have lights come on in the house. At this time IFTTT is still a free App available for iOS and Android. It is widely used. In other words, it allows much the same control remotely, as the control you have locally when in range of your Wifi.
That pretty much covers how you work your SmartCode 916 deadbolt lock.
You can use a conventional key (and Kwikset makes it relatively easy for you to re-key this lock so as to use the same keys you were using with your old lock).
Or use the touchpad to lock and unlock.
Or, lock and unlock from your Z-wave controller via Wifi.