Smart locks have been growing in popularity over the past few years, because they are a simple and effective way to add some smarts to your home. They make it easier for you to choose who can get in and out of your house, and they help you keep an eye on when those people can come and go. The Kwikset Halo is the latest smart lock from the well-known lock company, and it offers a range of features that make it an attractive pick.
Available in both a contemporary and traditional design, it connects directly to your home Wi-Fi network, which is more convenient than the plug-in dongle of older models. It also includes the Kwikset SmartKey system, which allows you to rekey the lock, so you can change which keys open the lock.
That's easy to do: Just insert the old key, turn it 90 degrees, insert the metal rekey tool into the small hole above the key, pull out the old key, insert the new one and turn it back to the starting position. And bingo, the new key will open the door and the old key will not. That's why it's one of the best smart locks for rentals, where you want to control who has access with a physical key as well as virtual ones without changing the lock.
Kwikset Halo design: Smart simplicity
We tested the contemporary version of this lock in the Venetian Bronze finish, which has an attractive, clean, angular design with an illuminated touch-panel keypad. The lock is also available in Satin Nickel, Polished Chrome and Iron Black finishes. The traditional design is more rounded, with backlit buttons that would look attractive on a more ornate door. It is available in Satin Nickel or Venetian Bronze only.
Both designs come in two main parts: the front keypad and lock, and the back mechanism that fits behind the door. They are designed to replace an existing single-cylinder deadbolt lock (one with a single keyhole on the outside), although they come with the complete deadbolt mechanism so they can be installed on a new door if required. Both parts are significantly larger than the August Smart Lock Pro, our current top pick, taking more space on the back of the door and looking somewhat more conspicuous.
We did find that the touchpad was a little hard to activate sometimes. To extend the battery life of the four AA batteries, the screen is blank when not in use, and you have to touch to activate it. It often didn't notice a touch, though: We found that the trick was to touch the metal frame around the touch screen with one finger and touch the screen with another, so presumably, the mechanism that decides between a finger touch and a random piece of wind-blown debris is a bit too fussy. This is made worse if you enable the SecureScreen setting, which asks you to touch two random digits before you enter the code.
Kwikset Halo installation: Simple, but do the whole thing
We found that the Kwikset Halo was a pretty simple lock to install. It comes with all of the parts needed, including four AA batteries to power the lock and two keys: All you need is a screwdriver.
With locks like this that replace the front and back of the lock, it is generally best to replace the entire mechanism, including the latch mechanism that bolts the door closed. That's because different lock manufacturers use different incompatible shapes for the spindle (the piece of metal that goes through the door and rotates to move the latch). Even though the manual lock I was replacing was a Kwikset, I had to remove and replace the entire latch mechanism.
That isn't very difficult to do, and the PDF manual included in the app steps you through the process, but it is definitely more involved than the August Smart Lock, which fits onto the back of the door and does not need a new latch mechanism.
Kwikset Halo app & features
Although the Kwikset app (available for iOS and Android) lacks some of the polish of the August app, it is a cleanly designed, simple-to-use app. It allows you to easily check the status of locks, assign codes and add users, and it notifies you when the lock is used, even if a physical key is used. The app also has two-factor authentication, so when you first set up the app or change your password, it will send you a confirmation code via SMS or email.
The keypad on the front of this lock means that you don't have to give visitors a physical key, though: Instead, you can assign them a four-digit unlock code. Up to 250 codes can be in use at a time, and these can be set for unlimited or time-restricted use. You could, for instance, set up a code that only worked between noon and 1 p.m. for a dog walker or delivery person.
There is also an option called SecureScreen, which helps stop people from guessing the combination by looking at the keypad. With this enabled, the user has to touch two lit digits on the screen at random before the person gets to enter the key code, so there won't be a visible pattern on the screen. That isn't particularly obvious to a casual user, though; there is no on-screen explanation or guide.
Kwikset Halo smart home integration
The Kwikset Halo has decent home integration: It works with Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. Both of these systems allow you to use a voice command to set the lock or check its status. There is no support for HomeKit, Apple's smart home system, though, so the only option for iPhone users will be the Kwikset app.
The Kwikset Halo is an attractive option for upgrading an existing lock: it is pretty easy to install, has a simple-to-use app and works with most smart home systems. Plus, it has Wi-Fi built in, so you don't need to use it with a wireless bridge.
However, it is bulkier than the best smart lock, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, and takes longer to install, as you usually have to replace the entire latch mechanism. (The Level Bolt is even less conspicuous, but also requires taking apart your entire lock). While the August is still our best smart lock overall — and we can't wait to try out the updated model coming later this year — the Kwikset Halo is a good pick for those who want the flexibility that a keypad and a rekeyable lock offers.