Why Kwikset Electronic Deadbolt Locks Will Have You Ditching Your House Key

SSI’s test found the SmartCode 916 and Signature Series Deadbolt to be extremely reliable.

IN June 2014 we reviewed the Kwikset SmartCode electronic door lock models 912 and 914. At the time we started out less than enthusiastically – in an industry full of high-tech toys, it was hard to get excited by a couple of locks, right? Sure, everyone has locks on their doors, but they are “just” utility devices. Still, we were impressed, giving them high scores, more so for their ability to secure your home than the connectivity features that were just coming into their own at the time.

Boy, what a difference two years can make in terms of perception. We received the SmartCode 916 about a year ago and put it into service, testing all of the bells and whistles and integrating it into two different home automation systems over the course of a year. We recently added the Signature Series Deadbolt to our test system, and can speak to the incremental improvements made to the product line along the way. We were impressed when we put it in, and have remained impressed throughout a year of real-world usage. How impressed? Read on …


The SmartCode 916 Touchscreen Deadbolt (916) is a motorized deadbolt with a touchscreen keypad for control. It is a very elegant design and practical as well. In the timeframe in which the numbers have begun to wear off a pushbutton lock from another manufacturer, the touchscreen design still looks new. The 916 allows for entry utilizing a key or the touchpad while the Signature Series deadbolt has just the single cylinder deadbolt. They otherwise function identically and are extremely similar, so we’ll combine the reviews, pointing out the differences where applicable.

Both locks fit standard thickness doors (1 3⁄8 — 2 1⁄8 inches) with no screw holes needed and are available in three finishes including a polished brass, Venetian bronze (dark) and the one we tested, satin nickel. The Signature Series is available in the same three finishes but adds a twist: you can get it in either a traditional (round) or contemporary (square) design. Outwardly the backs (interior side) appear the same at first glance but there are some differences.

Related: Kwikset Releases New Line of Signature Series Deadbolt Locks With Home Connect Technology

The deadbolts will fit either a 1 1⁄2- or 2 1⁄8-inch cutout and come with an adaptor ring for use in the later. Either a 2 3⁄8- or 2 3⁄4-inch backset is acceptable and the kit includes an adjustable deadbolt, with an optional drive-in deadbolt available. One thing that stands out about the deadbolt design is that it is tapered with rounded edges, unlike standard deadbolts with sharp faces.

This allows for some play in the door closure and allayed one of my concerns; what if the motorized deadbolt hangs up in the doorway if the door isn’t perfectly aligned due to seasonal variances? In over a year, this hasn’t been a problem as the tapered deadbolt moves the door into perfect alignment.

As with the previous Kwikset locks we reviewed, both units also feature the SmartKey cylinder, a patented technology that allows the cylinder to be rekeyed without removing it from the lockset. This utilizes a side locking bar, with the bar, racks and pins made out of stainless steel for strength and smooth, corrosion-resistant durability.

The locking bar technology replaces the traditional pin tumbler design, making the cylinder both pick and bump resistant. The cylinder also incorporates steel balls inside the face of the cylinder to resist against drilling. To rekey my old locks, I called a locksmith or took them to Home Depot. To rekey these, I put the key in, rotated it so it was parallel to the ground and pushed the included tool into a special slot. I then took the key out, put in the key that I wanted to rekey it to and turned the key. It was as simple as that.

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About the Author


Bob Grossman has held positions in all areas of the security industry — giving him plenty of opportunity to learn from his mistakes! Bob has authored articles for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION and other publications and has spoken at numerous industry events both internationally and in the United States. Currently the founder and president of R. Grossman and Associates, a consulting firm, he divides his time between project-based work for large integrated systems and product consulting for a variety of cutting-edge manufacturers. For more information, visit www.tech-answers.com.

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