Product Review: Kwikset SmartCode Devices

Do Kwikset’s SmartCode electronic lever and the SmartCode electronic deadbolt make the grade? Find out with this product review.

In our industry we deal with technology constantly. So, sometimes it’s hard to get excited about a lockset. Big deal, right? But with keyless entry, user-changeable rekeying (for when you do need a key), advanced automation and communication features, the Kwikset SmartCode electronic lever (912TNL TRL ZW 15 SMT) and SmartCode electronic deadbolt (914TRL ZW 15 UL) are locking devices to get excited about. And they’re fun to play with, too! Kwikset is a familiar brand to most people when it comes to traditional residential locks. The company has been manufacturing residential and light-industrial locking devices for more than 60 years. At one point or another, most, if not all of us, have operated a Kwikset doorknob, lever or deadbolt to enter a home or office. And in recent years the manufacturer has also offered electronic locks that no longer required us to carry a traditional key.


The SmartCode lever is recommended for single cored doors; a double cored door would require an additional deadbolt to cover the top bore. It fits standard thickness doors (13⁄8 to 21⁄8 inch) with no screw holes needed and is available in three finishes including polished brass, venetian bronze (dark) and the one we tested, satin nickel. The SmartCode electronic deadbolt 914 is very similar to the SmartCode lever and provides the added security of a deadbolt lock in a more robust metal housing that appears to be heavy duty. The deadbolt will fit either a 11⁄2- or 21⁄8-inch cutout and comes with an adaptor ring for use in the latter. As with the SmartCode lever, either a 23⁄8- or 23⁄4-inch backset is acceptable, and the kit includes an adjustable deadbolt and optional drive-in deadbolt. Both 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.

The newest of the SmartCode electronic series is offered in a lever lock and as a deadbolt. Both offer touch-button access with the patented SmartKey rekey technology cylinder as a backup or override. What makes these different – the models reviewed are not available at traditional retailers and are meant for professional installation – is the added Z-Wave or ZigBee technologies for wireless integration into home automation systems. This allows the locks to be remotely locked/unlocked via a home automation controller, either through preset parameters such as time of day, and/or alarm conditions detected by the home system, or through the use of remote software or smartphone apps.

Kwikset is working with suppliers like AMX, Control4 and Crestron to enable seamless integration of home automation and security products across a range of platforms. When locking and unlocking with the touchpad, a motor mechanically turns the actuator and the interior thumb-turn in the handle. Locking from inside or outside is accomplished by the touch of the lock button. Use of a key locks and unlocks the lock from the outside in a traditional manner. The deadbolt features a 10-button keypad which, while recognizing personal preference may be at play here, we far prefer to the five-key version on the lever lockset.

According to the easy-to-follow Quick Installation Guide, the only tools needed for the installation, other than the 3⁄32-inch hex wrench included with the lockset, are a ruler (to measure the backset of the mounting hole in the door in order to set the adjustable latch to the right length) and a Philips screwdriver. We found that a #2 Phillips worked fine for the two screws that attached the mounting plate to the exterior keypad, but we found a #1 Phillips fit the interior assembly screws better. Not a big deal, these two sizes are the most common household-size Philips screwdrivers and can be found in most toolboxes. Typical of Kwikset and many other brands, these locksets come with an adjustable 23⁄8- to 23⁄4-inch latch, with a 1⁄2-inch throw, and feature a deadlatch to resist “shimmying” or slipping the latch back to force entry. It is easily adjusted to fit either size standard backset without the use of tools. Latch installation was simple and no different than any typical door lockset. An optional drive-in latch is available as well.

The 3⁄32-inch hex wrench (included) is used to install/remove the battery cover to access mounting screws, battery pack, the program button and to tighten/loosen the lever handle set screw. We would have preferred a more standard screw for changing the battery to prevent inconveniencing the end user if they lose the supplied hex wrench over time. The battery pack, which takes four AA alkaline batteries (not included) slides in/out easily and is stamped on the top “Door” with an arrow on either side of the stamp pointing to the side the door should be on. This makes installing the batteries almost foolproof. We also preferred the all-metal construction of the 914 deadbolt over the plastic construction used on the interior casing and battery cover of this model.

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