Kwikset Kevo
GIF: Whitson Gordon

Most smart home gadgets have similar benefits: set up automated tasks, then control them remotely with your phone, or activate them with your voice. The Kwikset Kevo can do all this, but it takes convenience to a whole new level by essentially reinventing the lock. You just walk up to it, touch it, and open your door.

I own a lot of smart home tech, and it’s all great—but the Kevo has had the biggest impact on my day-to-day life.

How the Kevo Works

The Kevo uses a touch-sensitive case that allows you to unlock your door just by making contact with your body—no need to fumble with your keys or phone. This is perfect if your hands are full of groceries, Amazon boxes, or small children. You can just walk up to the door, touch the lock with your finger (or elbow, or whatever), and as long as your phone is in within range—even in your pocket—the door unlocks for you.

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Installing it is a bit more complicated than a regular deadbolt, but even if you’ve never installed a deadbolt before, you should be able to do it on your own thanks to the Kevo app’s interactive setup guide. In most cases, you’ll only need a screwdriver—though things might get more complex if your current deadbolt is unique or non-standard in any way, so be prepared to call in a professional if need be. You can even re-key it to match the other Kwikset locks in your home, thanks to their SmartKey Security—no locksmith required.

Once you’re set up, just make sure the app is running in the background on your phone, and touch the door to lock or unlock it. In my experience, it works remarkably well, and while it uses Bluetooth, it keeps the range short: you have to be right next to the door for it to open, so no one can unlock your door unless you’re standing there with them. (Note: You’ll definitely want the second gen version of the Kevo, as it’s said to be much more reliable than the first generation lock.) The Kevo does have some negative Amazon reviews, many of which seem to stem from compatibility issues, software quirks, or just user error. Remember Amazon’s generous return policy and try it out for yourself—I’ve had nothing but good experiences with two of these locks in my home, and I won’t be going back anytime soon.

How to Make the Kevo Even Better

On its own, Kevo is crazy convenient. But there are two add-on products and a few tricks that, in my opinion, make it better.

Kevo Fob
Photo: Whitson Gordon

First is the $25 Kevo Key Fob, which attaches to your keys and performs the same function as your phone. If you touch the lock, and the fob is in close range (e.g. in your pocket), the deadbolt will unlock. This may seem silly to some—why buy a second accessory to duplicate what your phone already does?—but for me, it’s a must-have. Not only can it act as a backup when you don’t have your phone, but it allows you to quit the Kevo app so it isn’t alays running in the background, draining your battery. Smartphone battery is as precious as water in a desert, so I’d rather just pay the $25 and use a fob. It is a bit bulky, though, which is its biggest downside.

Second, the $99 Kevo Plus hub adds some extra smarts to your Kevo locks. On their own, Kevo locks use Bluetooth for all their functionality—there’s no Wi-Fi built in. If you want to control your locks from afar, though—say, if you’re out of town and want to let your neighbors in—you need them connected to your home Wi-Fi network. The Kevo Plus hub connects to your locks over Bluetooth, and connects to your router via Ethernet, essentially adding Wi-Fi capability to your locks. That way, you can control them away from home or unlock them with Alexa. It unfortunately can’t unlock multiple locks at once (my dream feature), and it needs to be within 100 feet of all your locks to connect to them over Bluetooth, so you may have to do some finagling to find the right spot. I haven’t used the Kevo Plus myself, but if you’re looking for true smart home integration, you’ll probably want one.

Lastly, I recommend playing with Kevo’s different settings to get the most out of your lock. If you find that it’s being unreliable, you should run through the in-app calibration wizard to fine-tune its range. You’ll also be able to alter certain settings via the physical switches on the control panel. For example, flipping switch #3 turns off the annoying beeps that sound every time you lock and unlock your door. Flipping switch #4 auto-locks your door after 30 seconds. The right combination of settings can really help tweak the lock to your typical usage.

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Lastly, remember that the Kevo is not an excuse to leave your keys at home. Technology isn’t perfect: if your phone dies, or if the Kevo runs out of battery while you’re gone, you’ll want your physical key to get into your house.

You Must Be Crazy, What About Hackers?

Photo: Whitson Gordon

I can already see some of you rolling your eyes as you read this: “Yeah right, I’m not going to put a Bluetooth-connected lock on my house that someone can just come along and hack!” But this worry ignores one very important fact: hacking someone’s smart lock would be an incredibly dumb way to rob a house.

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Picking locks is stupidly easy. So is smashing a window. If someone really wants to break into your house, they’re more likely to do that than learn how to hack one very specific model of smart lock. Remember, most burglaries are teenagers from the neighborhood, not professional thieves. Unless you’re worried about Thomas Crown robbing your house, your smart lock is fine.

If you really want to stop burglaries, I recommend investing in a security system instead. You can have one professionally installed, or buy the pieces on Amazon yourself. As long as you get something with a loud alarm, no burglar will stick around for long.

You can buy the Kwikset Kevo in three different finishes on Amazon for around $210. It’s a bit pricey, but we’ve seen the Kevo go as low as $160 on a few occasions if you’re willing to wait for a sale. Just make sure you’re getting the second gen version, or the new Kevo Contemporary, which is the same tech inside a modern-looking square lock.