"Kill the Keys" With Kwikset SmartCode 915 Touchscreen Deadbolt

Kwikset SmartCode Keyless Entry System
Kwikset SmartCode Keyless Entry System. © Lee Wallender

Buy on Amazon - Kwikset SmartCode 915

Kwikset SmartCode 915 is a keyless deadbolt that distinguishes itself from its peers by its smooth touchscreen technology.

Terminology first.  "Keyless" is a misnomer because every consumer-level keyless deadbolt will open with a key in case keyless operation ceases.  That aside, you just might find yourself delighted to come home to a pitch-dark porch and, instead of fumbling for keys, simply bump a touchscreen with the heel of your hand, illuminating it.

 Four digits later, the deadbolt slides open.  And in case you need visual reinforcement, the screen displays a friendly checkmark.  That's the SmartCode 915 in a nutshell.

Instructions say that it "installs in minutes," but true installation time is much longer.

Budget about one hour to install the Kwikset SmartCode 915, from opening the box to the moment the SmartCode automatically turns on.  This is for a previously drilled, deadbolted door.  If you need to create holes in the door, add another thirty minutes.

Begin by divesting yourself things you don't need.

To address all installations, Kwikset includes a lot of hardware that you may not need.  Assess your type of door and how much hardware is required.  

Where do you put that excess wire?

This is the hardest part.  Being an electronic deadbolt, there is a wire connection.  The instructions tell you to fold the excess wire into the bottom of the casing.

 Nice idea, except that's also where the mechanism turns.  It's impossible to shove the wire far enough away to keep it away from the mechanism because there is no space.  So, the mechanism rubs against the wire.

The 915's style is neither good nor bad.  It's neutral and it looks much like other keyless deadbolts.

The KwikSet 909 provides a straight-edged contemporary style, which is remarkably hard to find in the keyless deadbolt market.

 The 915 has a bit of a fancier look, with arches on both the top and bottom of the unit that have no functional purpose.  Stylistically, the 915's attractive sleek black screen greatly improves the look because this limits the ornamentation.  But it's not unattractive, by any means.

There is much to love on the SmartCode 915, starting with the easy-access battery door.

One flaw of that other Kwikset (the 909) is that for every battery-change, you need to unscrew the back panel with an Allen wrench.  The 915 still has three Allen screws (left, right, and bottom) for the back panel, but one section is manually removable for easy battery changes.

Also great:  the seamless, unified nature of the outside panel.  

It can be installed it on a back door that receives the brunt of rain and snow and still feel confident that water will not work its way into the unit.  

Screen visibility is fantastic.

The large crisp, white numbers against the black background allow you to see them even in direct sunlight.  SmartKey technology is also included, which allows you to rekey the door without calling a locksmith.

Advice:  SmartCode 915's "phantom floaters" are not a product flaw but a security feature.

Turning on the screen in order to key in the code requires you to use a flat part of your body, like the heel of your hand, palm, or even a forearm.

 Using a more forceful touch from fingers illuminates only individual numbers, not the entire 0-9 matrix.  Keying in those floaters will make them disappear and cause the entire matrix appear.  What's going on here?  Kwikset notes that "...this is an added security featured called SecureScreen. You can turn the feature off by turning switch #4 to the off position."  At the end of this article is more information about SecureScreen.

And those Allen screws that Kwikset loves so dearly really need to go.

Kwikset uses Allen screws to secure the panel on the interior side of the door because they lie flat.  But every time you need to access the unit (except for battery changes) you need to unscrew them.  The bottom Allen screw is difficult to access because the door knob is in the way.  That's one impediment that applies to all owners.

 

Battery life is estimated at 1 year.  Expect less than that and accept it as reality.

If you are an avid keyless entry owner, the best advice is to make sure you have AA batteries on hand at all times.  You're requiring a low-voltage motor to do the relatively tough job of sliding a deadbolt in and out several times a day.  This is no product flaw; this is just the reality of keyless deadbolt systems.  

So can you "kill the keys?"  Yes.

Other than for emergency use, you will never need keys for the SmartCode 915.  Going keyless means shrinking the load in your pocket or purse.  It also means that you can text the code to a friend when you're out of town.  

More on SecureScreen

SecureScreen as described by Kwikset:

SecureScreen technology helps prevent the problem of “smudge” attacks associated with touchscreen locks. With typical touchscreen locks, passcodes can potentially be jeopardized by unwanted guests detecting frequently used numbers and characters from the oily residues left by fingers on the touchscreen surface. With SecureScreen technology, users are prompted to touch two random numbers in order to display the full screen and enter the programmed access code. This industry-first technology encourages continuous use of the full screen to mask the correct access code.