If you are into home connectivity, I have the perfect product review for you. For the last eight months I have been using the Kevo Smart Lock and its iOS mobile application. Before I go further, I want to clarify that I make no money from posting this review and the links I post to products are not affiliate links where I earn commissions. I am just a junky for technology and like to share my findings with other people, even if the technology isn’t that useful.
Now, I waited roughly eight months to post my review because I wanted to get a feel for how it worked in the real world and how consistent the application was as a whole. If you don’t feel like reading the whole review, here’s the summary below:
The Setup - Kevo Smart Lock, Kevo Plus (Wi-Fi hub) and iOS app
I picked up the Kevo locks from Best Buy for $199.99 each and the Kevo Plus hub from their web site for $69.99. The iOS app was free. I picked up three in total, for the front door, back door and garage door. I figured why not try using it as a default to get a full experience. I had my general contractor set it up and this wasn’t too difficult. You don’t actually have to use the app to unlock it as it comes with keys you can re-program using a nifty tool they have. This was a nice addon.
I didn’t have too much trouble here except for the fact that how your door closes (and how snug it is) impacts whether it works reliably. You have to close your door completely in order for the bolt not to get stuck. Surprisingly, this was a bit of an annoyance because I had to instruct people to slam my doors shut to make sure they were tight. I ended up replacing one of my doors anyway and the newer one closed tighter so this problem partially went away.
The Wi-Fi hub was easy to set up and required just a few minutes of updating software and syncing it to my Wi-Fi. You need the hub if you want to remotely unlock the doors. The included fob is another way of getting in and you have to calibrate these by turning on bluetooth and teaching the fob what is considered inside or outside of your home. You have to do this, otherwise anyway can just open your door.
From a design standpoint, these are really beautiful products. You cannot really tell the difference between a Kevo lock and a standard one because they look identical.
The system works as intended for the most part. You just have to have bluetooth enabled and either the phone or fob on you. Then, you just click the door lock and it opens like magic after the blue light starts spinning. With the app, you can give people different types of access to your home. This requires sending them an “eKey” via the app and having your guest make an account. Kevo used to charge $.99 for an additional key, but they have since removed this extra cost.
I gave the eKey to several guests that were staying and most of them were able to set it up quickly and use it.
Remotely unlocking my doors was the killer feature of the hub. If my contractor or someone else stopped by and they didn’t have a key, I could unlock it from my app really quickly. I ended up using this feature a lot and it saved the day in some occasions. This feature alone is what generally separates it from a standard lock and key.
This system does integrate with my Nest thermostat and sets it to away when I leave. This is a really cool feature and I use it regularly.
With that being said, the Kevo lock system had some issues and bugs that were really annoying.
Issue #1: It doesn’t always work
Yes, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes there is just a communication error, whether remotely or on-site. The unlocking process through the app alone takes about twenty seconds and seems to time out occasionally. Also, many people reported the app not working properly. Some users for Android couldn’t download it or didn’t have compatible versions. This was extremely annoying and partially defeated the purpose of having a modern lock system.
Also, there were many occasions where the bolt jammed up when trying to open it. This was incredibly frustrating and I had to use the back door to get in on a few occasions. Also, working other people through this debugging remotely is a huge hassle in general because you have to explain them the nuances.
If I unlock it remotely and it says it “failed,” I can’t go home to troubleshoot it right away all the time. This left me in various situations where I was not sure if it was locked! There were even times when the app said “locked” but it was indeed unlocked. This can be a pretty scary.
Issue #2: Accidentally triggering the lock
As I learned the hard way, many people touch the door lock without thinking about it. This sets it off even when you don’t want it to. Every time I had a guest I had to explain this. Even when my friend was staying with me for some time this was a recurring issue for us.
The Kevo system does work as intended, but keep a backup key either in your car or your keychain. I only locked myself out once and the fob batteries do need to be replaced at some point. I would surely recommend this system to other people, but I hope that the company can fix some of the software related issues with it. The hardware all works and looks amazing, but it’s really the app that could use work. It’s worth the price tag and I am optimistic about the technology moving forward to make it even better.