Review: Kwikset Kevo Plus

Review: Kwikset Kevo Plus 1

Originally debuted at CES, Kevo Plus ($70) is Kwikset’s expansion on last year’s elegantly designed Kevo Smart Lock. This new optional expansion module fills in one of the main gaps in the company’s smart lock system — the ability to control the lock remotely from your iPhone or other iOS device from elsewhere in your home, or even anywhere in the world where you have Internet access. Kevo Plus simply expands upon the capabilities of the Kevo lock, so users who already own a Kevo or are familiar with the interface will find that Kevo Plus drops in seamlessly. Notably, the company has wisely dropped the annual subscription model that it originally proposed at CES in favor of a one-time purchase of the Kevo Plus device.

Review: Kwikset Kevo Plus 2

In a nutshell, the Kevo Plus is an Ethernet-to-Bluetooth bridge that interfaces with the company’s servers and companion iOS app to allow you to lock and unlock your door even when your iPhone isn’t close enough to the lock to actuate it manually. While Kevo in its original form required you to tap the outside edge of the deadbolt to initiate the locking and unlocking process, the company’s most recent iOS app update now allows you to initiate the process from a button in the app — provided you’re within Bluetooth range of the lock. Kevo Plus extends this functionality to anywhere that you have an Internet connection.

Review: Kwikset Kevo Plus 3

In the box you’ll find the Kevo Plus base station, a screw-on antenna similar to that found on many Wi-Fi routers, a standard Ethernet patch cable, and a power adapter. Setting up the Kevo Plus is a matter of plugging it into a free Ethernet port on your router, connecting it to power, and then loading up the Kevo iOS app and going through the pairing steps found in there. Kevo Plus should be placed within about 100 feet of any Kevo locks that you want to remotely control, and if you find your Internet router isn’t ideally situated, Ethernet ports on other devices that bridge back into your Wi-Fi network can also be used, such as an Airport Express base station. In our own testing, we found the Kevo Plus range more than adequate, even through walls, and it’s worth keeping in mind that Bluetooth Low Energy is not inherently limited to the shorter ranges people are used to with classic Bluetooth radios.

Review: Kwikset Kevo Plus 4

Once the iOS app has been paired up, the main screen for the lock should show “Kevo Plus” and a Wi-Fi symbol in the center of the screen. In place of the keyhole graphic, a colored circle will be displayed, indicating the current status of the lock — green for unlocked, yellow for locked, or red if there’s an error condition such as a bolt jam. Tapping on the circle will either lock or unlock the associated Kevo, and that’s really about all there is to it. Locking and unlocking can be done from anywhere that you have an Internet connection — via Wi-Fi at home or away from home, or even over a cellular data connection. The status will similarly be updated whenever you open the app to reflect the current state of the lock, regardless of whether it was last locked manually or via the Kevo app, and the access log within the Kevo app will also differentiate between locking and unlocking the Kevo by tapping on it versus remote lock and unlock operations performed through the app.

Review: Kwikset Kevo Plus 5

A single Kevo Plus can be used to monitor and control all of the Kevo locks within range, and as before, each Kevo gets its own set of “keys” that can be assigned separately, whether the Kevo Plus is being used or not. Although Kwikset still sells additional “full” keys as in-app purchases, the company has added the ability to create an unlimited number of 24-hour “guest” keys for each lock at no additional charge. Users who purchase a Kevo Plus, however, also gain the ability to create an unlimited number of admin, anytime, and scheduled keys (this third option also being a new feature added since we first reviewed the Kevo) for any of the locks associated with the Kevo Plus. Notably, however, only Admin keys get access to the remote Kevo Plus locking and unlocking functionality, allowing you to effectively limit who can lock and unlock your doors remotely. Again, this can still be assigned on a per-lock basis from a single Kevo Plus.

While Kevo Plus still omits any kind of HomeKit support, it’s far from alone in that regard. While some HomeKit compatible door locks were shown at CES, they have only recently seen official announcements and none are shipping just yet — probably not surprising considering that proper support for them was only debuted with iOS 9, and the very meticulous approach Apple has been taking regarding security devices such as door locks in general. That said, Kwikset and Unikey (the company behind the Kevo technology) were also listed as launch partners when Apple first debuted HomeKit in 2014, so it’s reasonable to assume this is being worked on. What form it will take in the future is anybody’s guess, but for now, the lack of HomeKit support is disappointing but not at all unexpected.

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In our review of the Kevo last year we noted the lack of remote access to the Kevo as being a reasonable tradeoff for battery life — maintaining a Wi-Fi connection from a lock that runs on AA batteries — as well as security. The Kevo Plus addresses the first consideration by providing a gateway that connects to AC power to handle the Internet connectivity while still using low-energy Bluetooth to communicate with the lock. As for the security factor, that comes down to a personal choice as to whether you want your door locks accessible on the Internet. Kwikset of course promises that its solution is secure with “multiple levels of encryption” and regular reviews by “industry-leading independent digital security experts.” Regardless, Kevo Plus remains an optional expansion module, and users who want to retain their non-Internet-connected Kevo locks can continue to do so without any issues.

For those who are willing to take the plunge into Internet connected locks, the appeal of Kevo Plus is fairly obvious: remotely unlocking a door for a family member who forgot their key, or a housekeeper or maintenance worker, or even just being able to pre-unlock your door before getting out of your car in the rain or while unloading your groceries. If you’ve already invested in even a single Kevo lock, the $70 upgrade to the Kevo Plus module is almost certainly worth it, and it’s even easier to justify the purchase if you’ve got two or more Kevo units installed in your home or office.

Our Rating

B+
Recommended

Company and Price

Company: Kwikset

Model: Kevo Plus

MSRP: $70

Compatibility: iPad (3rd/4th-Gen), iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhone 4S/5/5c/5s, iPod touch 5G

Total
4
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14 comments
  1. Am I losing my mind or are the Schlage Sense and August locks both coming out next week and both home kit compatible? This article seems to ignore them.

  2. You’re not, actually. Something got missed in the edit, although the market for HomeKit compatible door locks still remains running behind what we would have expected. We saw quite a number of HomeKit accessories at CES that have not made it to market at all, and none of them appeared as promised – as suggested in the article this appears to have been as a result of many having to wait for features that didn’t arrive until iOS 9 was released in September, since Apple wanted to ensure that door locks had provision for additional security considerations, such as proactive notifications.

  3. Trust me, I know! My house is currently stuck waiting for home kit compatible accessories for that very same reason! 🙂 Where’s my MyQ garage door opener? 🙂 Not to mention the idea that devices could work together and (dare I dream) a smoke detector / CO2 detector could also tell other devices if a room is occupied and send IFTTT triggers (plus, dare I REALLY dream) send data to my Ecobee3 so it can take that room’s results into account in the algorithm. 🙂

  4. Yup, I know what you mean. It seems that iOS 8’s HomeKit implementation left a lot to be desired, and many of these limitations have only been fixed in iOS 9.Currently, what we have here is the iDevices Thermostat and Switch (reviews coming soon), iHome SmartPlug, and Elgato Eve Room, Weather, and Door sensors, and while they’re all great for individual control and reporting, about the only HomeKit advantage right now is that they can all be monitored and controlled from a single app, which does have the advantage of manipulating them through rooms, scenes, and zones from a single Siri command or using any of the available HomeKit apps from each vendor. However, that’s about all that HomeKit in iOS 8 could really do.iOS 9 offers HomeKit Triggers that are supposed to provide the ability to build more sophisticated rules to allow devices to interact, but nothing has been updated to support it yet, although Elgato tells me they’re working on it. On the other hand, iOS 9 HomeKit Push Notifications will only be supported for a very limited set of accessories such as door locks and not door sensors, so for example Elgato’s Window & Door Sensor won’t be able to take advantage of these courtesy of iOS limitations.To top it off, however, there are so many other companies – like Kwikset, Belkin (WeMo), and Netatmo to name a few off the top of my head – that were supposed to be on board with HomeKit by now but are “still working on it.”I think we’ll see this change as more devices get updated to handle iOS 9 and get with the program, but it’s been a much slower development cycle than I would have expected. To make matters worse, many of the companies we see with HomeKit accessories out now – those who had something to show us at CES, basically – are only where they are because they were invited secretly to the table by Apple before HomeKit was even announced in June 2014. In other words, some of these companies have been working on their HomeKit accessories for almost two years now before they even saw the light of day.

  5. I’ve had the kevo plus for a week and I’ve found It unreliable. It losses its connection and then can’t be reached, which really defeats it’s purpose. It’s possible that it’s a router issue, but I haven’t had problems with other attached devices, so I’m assuming it’s the kevo plus.

  6. While it’s possible it’s a defective unit, I’d suggesting trying to at least reboot your router with the Kevo Plus connected, or if that doesn’t work, try a hard reset on the Kevo Plus and repairing it.I’ve had it working here flawlessly since last week. When I first received it and set it up, I was having some serious reliability issues as well — it worked about 25% of the time, but once I rebooted my router it began working fine and has worked flawlessly for the past week, even after subsequent router reboots.This is why with accessories like this we generally put them into testing through normal daily use for at least a few days before we actually publish a review on them.In my case, I had assumed the initial problem was a fluke, since it worked so flawlessly otherwise with no other special effort on my part, which is why I didn’t point it out in the review, but since you seem to be experiencing the same problem, that might be worth a try on your part as well.

  7. You mean like a Nest Smoke Detector that can detect if a room is occupied and send that data to the Nest Thermostat which both work with IFTTT trigger? I have an IFTTT trigger that tells Nest Thermostat to turn the fan on if CO2 levels exceed 1000 ppm.

  8. Yup, and that’s great within the Nest ecosystem. Other products can do similar things in their own ecosystems as well… and those that have IFTTT support can sort of talk to each other, subject to IFTTT’s polling cycles. For example, Belkin’s WeMo switches have IFTTT support, so a long press on a WeMo Light Switch can trigger another action, but it can also take up to 15 minutes for it to happen.The promise of HomeKit is to provide similar functionality across devices, with more real-time triggers and Siri support, not to mention common app support (right now, for example, I can use the Elgato Eve app to control not just my Elgato accessories, but also my iHome and iDevices units), and the likelihood that far more devices will be supported than those that plug into IFTTT.

  9. The appeal to us is to be able to *check if we’ve locked the door* – after we’ve left the house.I don’t know how many times my fiancée & I have argued about whether we locked the back door, as we are driving away. To be able to glance at our phone, and discover that we left one of the doors unlocked, press a button, and lock it remotely – is the holy grail.

  10. it did. I was having router issues which kept disconnecting the kevo. Since rebooting I haven’t had any problems, its been pretty reliable

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