With new smart locks hitting the market at a dizzying pace in 2019, finding the right model for your needs is a far greater challenge than back in 2013, when only a few were available and the first Kwikset Kevo lock was announced. Since those early, pioneering days, the company has launched a greatly improved second-generation device and, most recently, a stylish Kevo Contemporary lock, delivering smart security with a swagger.
All of these locks require a full disassembly and replacement of the deadbolt, incurring the hassle of replacing your front door keys. One of the reasons we’re big fans of competing devices like the August Smart Lock is that it fits over your door’s existing deadbolt – making your existing lock smarter.
It’s no surprise to see Kwikset respond with the $149 Kevo Convert lock, which is designed to upgrade compatible cylinder deadbolts you already own with enhanced features. They include smartphone access, automatic locking, and, with the addition of the optional $100 Kevo Plus gateway, remote access and monitoring.
Check your compatibility first
While the Kevo Convert Kit has been designed with simplicity in mind, before jumping in, you should be aware that it’s not compatible with all deadlocks. Common cylinder deadbolts from Kwikset, Weiser, Schlage, and Baldwin are invited, but if your front door’s rocking a rim cylinder design, mortise or integrated deadbolt, then you’ll need replace the lock entirely. On the plus side, you can take advantage of Kevo’s touch-to-open feature, which isn’t available with Kevo Convert.
Available in polished brass, satin nickel, or venetian bronze finishes, the kit includes the same elegant rear housing you’ll find on standard Kevo locks. Powered by four AA batteries, the lock mechanism is a little chunky, but Kwikset’s designers have managed to imbue the casing with a little style. Build quality, like all Kevo locks we’ve tested, is first-class. We’d like to see a design variant that mirrors the more modern Kevo Contemporary design, though.
Super simple installation
Installation is easy thanks to three separately-bagged assortments of brackets, screws, and other parts that match the design of various deadbolts, just like you’d find in a large Lego set. You’ll have the lock fitted in minutes, thanks to friendly, east-to-follow guidance available from the Kevo app.
Simply select the manufacturer of your existing deadbolt and you’ll be shown step-by-step instructions on how to remove your lock’s backplate, fit the appropriate mounting bracket and deadbolt adapter, and complete conversion. If it takes longer than 10 minutes, something’s gone wrong.
Build quality, like all Kevo locks we’ve tested, is first-class.
Pairing your phone to the lock is a simple matter of pressing a button on the rear of the lock, then holding your handset to the housing. We needed a couple of attempts to pair our smartphone, but realized its protective case may be preventing a strong connection. Once naked, pairing was successful.
One minor frustration, if you’re not using the Kevo Plus Wi-Fi gateway, is that firmware updates for the lock have to be transmitted via a phone’s Bluetooth connection, and that can take up to 30 minutes. A first-world problem, admittedly, but one to bear in mind.
Smarter than the average deadbolt
With the lock installed and calibrated, you can test out its features. Kevo lacks the sheer number of features that you’ll find on locks from August (and now some Yale locks, thanks to their acquisition of August), so you shouldn’t expect fireworks. That said, compared to a traditional, “dumb” lock, the features that are present add real convenience.
The simple, neat Kevo app makes it easy to see lock status at-a-glance, while a large circular button allows you to toggle the lock with a tap. Keeping in mind that Kevo Convert’s network connection to your phone is via a Bluetooth network, you’ll obviously need to be within 20 feet of your door to access the lock, but we found controls to be reasonably speedy.
While key fob and touch control aren’t available with Kevo Convert, the lock does support the company’s eKey feature, which opens access to family and friends with a smartphone. Simple controls allow you to set up scheduled or unrestricted lock access, while guest keys can be created providing 24-hour access – perfect for babysitters or neighbors popping in to feed the pooch.
The simple, neat Kevo app makes it easy to see lock status at-a-glance.
Once you’ve spent a little time testing out Kevo’s features, you’ll soon find life with a smart lock becomes second nature. Throughout our tests, we found Kevo Convert to be reliable and simple to use. It’s somewhat of a shame that you’ll have to spend the extra $100 on Kevo Plus for remote access, but once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s an easy and attractive upgrade.
Nowadays, it’s rare to find a smart home product that isn’t integrated with a phalanx of third-party devices, and Kevo Convert is no exception, but once again, you’ll have to invest in Kevo Plus for full compatibility. Pair your lock with thermostats from Nest or Honeywell, Ring or Skybell door-dingers, Amazon Alexa devices, and a host of additional devices and services courtesy of IFTTT. While Kevo Convert may initially offer entry-level smart lock features, there’s much to explore once you invest in the gateway.
Kwikset Kevo Convert is supported by a two-year warranty covering manufacturer defects.Our Take
If you’re seeking a quick and easy way to smarten up your deadbolt, the Kevo Convert is a cinch to install and use, with a basic set of features that any smartphone user can embrace. The ability to convert your lock allows you to retain existing physical keys, limiting disruption for older family members or friends while boosting access options for others. It’s the best of both worlds.
That said, $149 plus an additional $100 for the Kevo Plus gateway is a bit expensive, especially with an August Smart Lock and Connect gateway combo currently available at just $179. If you’re determined to go with Kevo, then look online for discounts. Otherwise, Kevo Convert is a simple, smart, and solid pick.
Is there a better alternative?
We love the third-generation August Smart Lock which edges Kevo Convert on looks, features and price. Ultimately, it’s a better pick.
How long will it last?
As one of the early pioneers in smart locks and an established home security stalwart, you can buy with confidence. The company has continued to refine and enhance the Kevo line and should be around for many years to come.
Should you buy it?
If you’re seeking a smart and simple way to upgrade your door lock, Kwikset Kevo Convert delivers with aplomb. Overall, you can’t go wrong.