deadbolt hardly a
I ran across yet another failed SmartKey lock today.
The cylinder had been turned part way and then failed. No key was able to open it. Fortunately there was another way to get into the house. In any case this failure did cause a lockout. I was able to do a lock repair by replacing it with a pin tumbler lock. This was a good lock change.
Website claims Kwikset SmartKey deadbolt can be opened with the help of a common screwdriver! Perhaps we should not have given up on the pin tumbler lock so soon!
I recently was called out to do my first Smart Key deadbolt lockout job. It was an early evening job so both myself and the client were in a hurry to get in. After trying the usual methods I decided that the best course of action given the circumstances would be to drill the deadbolt. Without going into detail, for obvious reasons, lets just say that most deadbolts require a great deal of knowledge, precision, and sharp drill bits to open. However, to my great surprise, I discovered that the Smart Key deadbolt requires none of these things. As a former machinist I have drilled a few holes in my life through metal. Lets just say that the Smart Key deadbolt could be handled by the guys in the woodshop as well. It is rather sad that in designing the new Smart Key system the engineers at Kwitset did not take this into account. It is even worse that they then market such a product by making claims about better security. The primary threat to a lock is not some fancy method of picking found on youtube but rather good old fashion forced entry. It looks like the people at Kwitset forgot about this when they made the "Smart Key" deadbolt.
I just helped a client today in the Los Gatos - Saratoga
area who had bought a Smart Key door knob from a local hardware store. Apparently after having installed the knob successfully and programing it to his key it just failed one day locking him out of his garage. I did a lock repair by replacing it the with a regular Kwitset knob and keyed it to his key so all is well now. This failure caused my client some minor distress. However, a Smart Key failure in certain situations could be life threatening (as the following article points out).
The new Kwitset Smart Key has been getting a lot of
attention in the media. It is the lock that claims to
eliminate the need for a locksmith by being able to do a
lock change or rekey itself. The system is revolutionary yet one must sometimes ask the question; "Are all revolutions good?"
The first problem I noticed with the system is that if one has lost the keys to the lock altogether, which I find to be the case about 50% of the time, the Smart Key lock cannot be serviced. This is because one must have the existing key in order to rekey the lock to a new key. What this has effectively done is to create a situation in which once you lose the key a lock repair is not possible so a full lock replacement must be done (which means more cost for you and more locks in the landfill for us all).
The other, more serious, problem is detailed in the video at the bottom of this page. Apparently the Smart Key system, in this case a double sided deadbolt, can decide to rekey itself randomly. This is not all that surprising given that every time the key is turned the system is just a gentle touch of the Smart Key away from resetting itself. The problem is that once the deadbolt rekeys it can either lock you out of, or worse, lock you into your house even when you still have your key right in your hand! (because this sort of deadbolt has a keyhole on the inside of the door as well).
The Smart Key is also being advertised as the solution to lock "bumping." The fact is that the whole "bumping" scare
was more of an Internet and media creation than a real
problem. Out of curiosity I actually tried the method myself
in the field a few times and never was able to open a lock with it. I have also found that the Smart Key is quite easy to drill. And a thief is much more likely to have a drill than a fancy lock pick.
In the end you still can not beat a good old fashion high quality pin tumbler lock with a machined cylinder for security and ease of service. And in this age of "green" awareness let us remember that a high quality lock lasts for
decades while a low quality lock gets thrown in the landfill every few years.