Home Automation Reviews

Kwikset SmartCode 916 Review

Home automation and connected devices offer lots of convenience and occasional additional entertainment. But sometimes a device can rise above trivial matters and offer a life-saving level of practicality and usefulness. Such is the case with the Kwikset SmartCode 916 smart deadbolt lock. At least, it has been for this reviewer.

First, let’s talk about what the SmartCode 916 from Kwikset is. The 916 is the latest electronic deadbolt from renowned lock maker Kwikset. Many electronic locks offer a keypad, in addition to a standard keyed lock, for gaining quick and easy access to your home. In the case of the 916, it replaces the common ugly physical buttons with a beautiful touchscreen. It’s also equipped with a Z-Wave radio, so it can be tied into a home automation system.

kwikset-smartcode-916-outsideTouchscreen

The touchscreen on the SmartCode 916 is one of the key features that separates it from other electronic locks. In ditching buttons it offers a much sleeker design. Fortunately, the touchscreen only lights up when it’s tapped, so you don’t need to worry about an illuminated screen drawing attention to your front door all night long. Using it is simple too: tap the screen to turn it on and tap the numbers that correspond to your code, and it unlocks. Locking it is even easier. Pull the door closed, tap the screen, and then just tap the lock icon. It’s far faster than using a key to lock the door behind you.

Anyone who has ever watched an espionage thriller knows the primary downside to touchscreen locks: smudges. If you only ever touch the same spots on the screen someone could potentially figure out your code by just looking to see what numbers are smudged. Fortunately Kwikset came up with a smart solution to the smudge attack with the SmartCode 916. You can enable a feature that requires one more minor step in getting into the house. With the anti-smudge attack feature turned on, you won’t see the entire keypad illuminated when you first tap the touchscreen. Instead, two random numbers will light up. Once you tap those two numbers the rest of the keypad is illuminated. This means that every time you use the lock you’re getting your smudges over more areas of the keypad. It’s such a simple and thoughtful solution. It solves the problem while only adding an extra second or two to the process of entering your home. If you find it too burdensome you can disable it entirely.

Home Automation

Another feature that I like about Kwikset’s SmartCode 916 is the ability to integrate into my home automation system with it’s built-in Z-Wave radio. Z-Wave technology is supported by many home automation systems, but for our review we paired it with the Staples Connect. If you’re a Connect user you might notice the 916 doesn’t show up in the supported devices list. You can just tell the Staples Connect that you’re using a SmartCode 910, and it will work.

Pairing the SmartCode 916 with a home automation system opens up a lot of use cases. You can remotely lock or unlock the device. You can easily set up multiple codes so that everyone in the family can use a code that is easy for them to remember. You can schedule the lock to open or close at different times of the day and set up notifications of when the lock has been used.

I used a few of those features when my family left the country for three weeks this summer. We needed someone to care for our cat while we were gone. I used the Staples Connect to setup a new user on the lock with a new code. I gave this code to a friend, so that they could pop in daily to feed and care for our furry feline friend. I also setup the system to email me whenever the lock was unlocked from the keypad. It seemed like a fool-proof plan for caring for our kitty without needing to deal with the potential risks, and hassle, of copying keys.

Unfortunately, in my haste to get out of the country, I incorrectly wrote down the code for my friends. They couldn’t get into my house, and I had foolishly left the rest of my contact information in the house. Fortunately, due to the lack of emails that I expected from Staples Connect, I knew right away that my friends hadn’t been able to get into the house. We were then able to contact other neighbors, and get them the proper code to our house. It was so easy to get someone else access to our house, despite being on the other side of the planet, and it saved our cat’s life.

When considering a lock to integrate into your smart home, consider that most of the competing Bluetooth enabled locks don’t support many of the features we’ve described with the SmartCode 916.

kwikset-smartcode-916-insideDesign

When it comes to smart home products, the design of a device is absolutely crucial. Nowhere is that more true than with a device you’ll be installing on your door. Every single person who visits your house will see your lock, so it better look nice!

Design is one area where Kwikset clearly spent some time. The SmartCode 916 is beautiful! On the outside of the door the touchscreen looks simple and elegant. The inside of the door looks nice too. Another nice feature of the SmartCode 916 is that it’s physically smaller than most other electronic door locks on the market. After all, you don’t want some huge monstrosity dominating your door. It’s also available in three finishes: satin nickel, polished brass, and Venetian bronze. In most cases one of those will match your other door hardware.

Installation

To some, installing a new door lock might seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, Kwikset has over 60 years of experience in this industry. The SmartCode 916 can be installed in under 30 minutes. The only tool you’ll need is a screwdriver, and because it’s battery-operated, you won’t need to worry about any wiring.

Even with all of the convenience and features an electronic lock can bring, sometimes it’s still nice to have the ability to use an old fashioned key. With Kwikset’s SmartCode 916 you don’t even need to replace your keys! The lock includes their SmartKey feature that, depending on the shape of your keyway, allows you to re-key the lock in seconds. The SmartKey feature is so easy and fast it almost seems too good to be true.

Usage

Daily use of the Kwikset SmartCode 916 is very easy to get used to. It does change the way your entire family leaves and enters your house, but almost entirely for the better. The simple two-tap process to lock the door on your way out makes rushing out the door a lot easier. There are a lot of locks being released that rely on Bluetooth and smartphones to unlock them. The simple keypad on this lock means that anyone can use it though. I gave my seven year-old her own code, and now if she beats me to the door when returning home, she can unlock the door for the family. She doesn’t need a phone or a key to get in. When I go running in the morning I can leave my keys at home too. In fact, since installing the SmartCode 916, not a single person has used a key to gain access to our house.

It’s hard to find faults with the SmartCode 916, but there are two small ones. The first is that some may not like the anti-smudge attack feature that requires you to push two random numbers prior to your code. It’s hard to really call this a fault though, because if you dislike you can turn it off. The other problem, which is really more of an annoyance than a problem, is what happens if you mistakenly push the wrong code. If you accidentally push the wrong number in your code you need to just keep pushing numbers until it realizes you’ve entered an incorrect combination. Then five of the numbers will flash, and you can start the process over. This can add about ten seconds to the process of getting into your house. I’ve only run into this issue about five percent of the time I’ve unlocked the door.

Conclusion

When choosing an electronic lock for your home there are myriad options. The Kwikset SmartCode 916 offers a huge list of features, including Z-Wave home automation integration, in a device that looks great. The $249.99 MSRP isn’t the easiest price to swallow, but it’s actually pretty comparable to some of the competitors. It can be found on Amazon for about $200. If the price is still too high, and you don’t want the added features that the keypad provides, Kwikset does have a brand new line of locks. The Signature Series keeps the Z-Wave functionality, but ditches the keypad. It’s available now for $149.99.

In my extended use of the lock, there really isn’t anything I didn’t like. If you’ve already decided to use Z-Wave technology as the basis of your home automation system, there isn’t another lock that we at the DMZ would recommend higher than Kwikset’s SmartCode 916. Even if you’re just getting started with home automation, or just looking for an easier way to get into your house, we’d recommend the SmartCode 916 over the Bluetooth locks that are getting so much attention.

Thanks to Kwikset for providing a device for review purposes!

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About the author

Josh Pollard

Josh has been writing software since his parents brought home their first computer. His love for gadgets and technology eventually spurred a passion for home theater technology. After starting the DMZ, he received Microsoft’s MVP award for Windows Media Center. Even though the beloved home theater PC platform is all but dead he continues to tinker with consumer entertainment technology. He’s a life-long gamer and DIY smart home enthusiast. He co-hosts the Entertainment 2.0 podcast with Richard Gunther and the DMZ’s gaming podcast, Story Players, with Joe DeStazio.

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  • […] From the line of deadbolts by Kwikset, The smartcode 916 is a digital deadbolt lock that does away with the need to have a physical key and has a touchscreen keypad to entire a unique code to lock and unlock a door. Previous versions of the smartcode had rubber keys that would wither over time after continuous usage; the new version does away with that problem by using a small touchscreen. The lock also comes with a new feature, which is called SecureScreen technology, which adds a layer of protection in the form of random digits entered before your code to make it harder to pick or bump the lock. The lock is completely independent and only requires 4 AA batteries to work. For more on this product, including a detailed review, check out Digital Media Zone. […]