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Kwikset SmartCode 888 Deadbolt In-Depth Review: Pros and Cons

by | Security Hacks

Home security is a top priority for me. That’s why I’m constantly searching for the best solutions to burglar-proof my house. When it comes to locks, Kwikset is one of my favorite manufacturers. The company was established more than 70 years ago, so they must know something about door locks. If someone needs a reliable traditional deadbolt, I usually recommend Kwikset 980 that is a secure but affordable ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt.

However, this article is about a smart lock, namely the Kwikset SmartCode 888. Smart locks are getting more and more popular, so I’ve done extensive research on the topic before writing this review. Here’s what I’ve found.

Features and Appearance

Kwikset SmartCode 888 appearance

The Kwikset SmartCode 888 comes in three different colors: satin nickel, polished brass, and Venetian bronze, so you can choose the one that matches your door.

You’ll find six buttons on the keypad, five for the numbers and one for locking the door. The keypad is backlit so you can easily find the buttons at night.

To improve security, Kwikset uses the patented SecureScreen technology to prevent burglars from figuring out the code based on smudge patterns and fingerprints left on the touchscreen. SecureScreen requires you to enter a two-digit number generated randomly and highlighted by the device before you enter your own code.

Another useful feature is SmartKey Security that makes the Kwikset 888 much more resistant to picking and bumping attacks and other common break-in methods. It also allows you to re-key the lock easily so you can replace your current key with a new one in no time. This feature can be very handy in many situations: for instance, if you need a key for a temporary period of time or if there’s a chance that an unauthorized person has acquired a key.

The Kwikset SmartCode 888 comes with two keys, however thanks to the SmartKey re-key technology you can use any compatible key, even your existing house key, to open the door.

You can set up to 30 different user codes, so you can give access to family members and guests as well. Codes can be added (and deleted) in two different ways. You can either use the keypad (first you have to press the program button under the black RF window) or if Kwikset is connected to a SmartThings hub (or another compatible Z-Wave enabled home automation system), you can easily add a new code using your smartphone.

Being a smart lock, Kwikset 888 allows you to remotely control it (when connected to a Z-Wave base), so you can unlock and lock your door using a smartphone (or tablet) connected to the internet, even if you are thousands of miles away from your home. It also sends you notifications whenever someone unlocks or locks the door. If you often forget whether you locked the house or not, you’ll love that you can check the lock status on your phone at any time.

You can also set your Kwikset deadbolt to automatically lock itself after a certain period of time. This feature is called Auto-Lock and the default time period is 30 seconds but you can change it to another value (up to 3 minutes) that best suits your needs. The countdown is triggered when you unlock the deadbolt.

Kwikset 888 runs on 4 AA batteries that last for about a year, depending on the usage. If the batteries are low, the lock will notify you with audio and visual signals. To replace the batteries, you just have to slide off the black RF window (don’t forget to remove the security screw first) and then you’ll have access to the battery pack.

Living in an apartment? Make sure you check out our best tips on how you can improve apartment door security here.

How Does the Kwikset SmartCode 888 Work?

Basically, you can use the Kwikset SmartCode 888 in two different ways:

  • You can connect it to a SmartThings hub (or another Z-Wave enabled base) so the Kwikset will be online and you can remotely control it using your smartphone (or tablet, etc.). Of course, you can still use the keypad whenever you feel like it.
  • Another way to use the Kwikset 888 is to leave it offline. In this case, you will be able to control the deadbolt with its keypad (and its keys) only.
    If this is what you want, and you can live without controlling the lock remotely, then I suggest you consider Kwikset SmartCode 909 instead. It doesn’t feature Z-Wave but it’s a very reliable and durable deadbolt. Also, it’s cheaper than SmartCode 888 (check out the current price on Amazon here).

Kwikset 888 is an electronic motorized deadbolt. So if you enter the correct code, the motor inside will unlock and drag in the bolt automatically for you. If you want to lock it, you just have to push the button in the middle (the one with a padlock on it) and you’re done.

There’s a normal keyhole, so if you want, you can use a physical key to open and lock the deadbolt. Sometimes it can be comforting to have a normal key with you if smart locks are new to you, and you don’t fully trust in the technology yet. However, the main purpose of a smart lock is that you don’t have to keep a key with you.

It also features Home Connect technology that allows the door lock to wirelessly communicate with other devices in your house. So you can easily lock or unlock the door and check the lock status remotely. It also allows you to receive notifications. So, for example, you’ll know when your child arrived home.

If you use SmartThings (or another compatible system) you can also connect your Kwikset 888 to Alexa. Then you can control your smart deadbolt by speech. Here you will find detailed instructions on how you can do that.

Did you know that most burglars get into a house through the front door? We’ve collected all the best ways you can reinforce yours in this article. Make sure you check it out! 

What Does Z-Wave Plus Certification Mean?

Z-Wave technology lets you connect your Kwikset 888 deadbolt to your smart home system, so you can control it remotely from your smartphone. Z-Wave smart products have some unique advantages over smart devices that use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Z-Wave operates on a quiet frequency, so you get a more stable signal and it lets you control all your smart devices using a single app.

Z-Wave works with more than 2,400 products, including garage door openers, smart thermostats, window coverings, and, of course, smart locks. The vast majority of the leading security companies uses Z-Wave (source).

Z-Wave Plus is the improved version of the original Z-Wave technology: it provides faster and more reliable operation, longer battery life, extended wireless range, and easier installation. Z-Wave Plus certified devices use 5th generation Z-Wave (also known as 500 series) technology.

There are many ways you can improve home security. Installing a secure lock is just one of them. We share some simple DIY home security hacks in this article. Make sure you check it out!

Installation of the Kwikset 888: How Complicated It Is?

Here’s the quick answer: installation is not complicated at all and can be done under an hour, even if there’s an old deadbolt that you have to remove first (if you’re experienced, you can do it under 20 minutes). Kwikset doesn’t want you to have a bad experience with its products, so the guys at the company tried their best to make the installation process as easy and straightforward as possible.

In most cases, the whole installation process can be done using a single Phillips screwdriver (of course, if your door is brand new, you have to drill it).

The backset of the latch is adjustable (2-3/8 in. to 2-3/4 in.), so it fits standard door holes. After adjusting it, you can install the latch and the strike. When you position the latch, it’s important to make sure that the word “up” is facing upward.

The deadbolt comes with an adaptor ring that you have to attach to the backside of the keypad if the diameter of the door hole is 2-1/8 in. You won’t need the adaptor ring if the diameter of the hole is 1-1/2 in.

The whole installation process can be broken down into 8 simple steps. Make sure you read the official manual thoroughly and follow the instructions to avoid malfunctions.

If you’re more of a visual person, check out the official installation video from Kwikset below.

Pricing

I’ve reviewed many electronic deadbolts and I can tell you that Kwikset SmartCode 888 is on the cheap end. Most smart locks that can be controlled remotely are way more expensive than this one. It’s a really good value for the price, especially if you compare its features with the competition.

At the time of writing this review, it was cheaper (all three colors) on Amazon (where I got mine) than in Home Depot.

Check the current price on Amazon.

Pros and Cons of Kwikset SmartCode 888

Pros

  • It provides exceptional protection against picking and bumping attacks.
  • Advanced Z-Wave Plus technology.
  • The device can store up to 30 codes. It’s more than enough, even for Airbnb purposes. Adding or deleting code is quick and easy.
  • It uses 128-bit AES encryption (online banking platforms use the same type of encryption).
  • One-touch locking and auto-locking feature.
  • The SmartKey re-key technology allows you to use any compatible key and re-key the lock quickly and easily.
  • If you use SmartThings (or other compatible systems) you can connect it to Alexa. It also allows you to check and change the lock status and get notifications on your phone.
  • The batteries will last for about 12 months under normal usage and the deadbolt notifies you if you have to replace them.
  • Installation is pretty easy and there’s no need for wiring.
  • It’s a good choice for those who are on a budget but want an electronic deadbolt that can be controlled remotely.

Cons

As you can see, there are many advantages of having a Kwikset 888. However, no lock is perfect, and this one isn’t an exception either. Let’s the drawbacks.

  • It would be nice to have longer screws (however, you can replace the ones that come with the lock) and a little bit sturdier housing to make it even more difficult for burglars to drill through the lock.
  • Also, it would be welcomed if it had a bigger and stronger bolt (it’s the part of the lock that extends into the strike plate to prevent the door from opening). That would make the Kwikset more resistant to forced entries.
  • It’s ANSI (BHMA) Grade 3 certified that means a basic level of security. That’s not bad at all, especially in this price range, however, I think a Grade 2 certification would be more convincing for some customers.
  • If you want to enjoy the remote features, you will need a compatible hub, such as Samsung SmartThings, that is sold separately.

Prevention has a huge role in home security. We’ve collected some great tips on how you can deter burglars (even if you’re on a budget) in this article.

In Summary

Kwikset SmartCode 888 is a pretty good electronic deadbolt. Can you find a better one? Yes, of course, but not at this price. Actually, most smart locks that have similar features are significantly more expensive than this one. So, for the price you pay, I think you get a really good value.

As always, the proper installation is very important, so make sure you read the instructions carefully. I’ve seen some cases where the hole in the jamb the bolt extends into wasn’t large enough, so the motor struggled each time the owner pushed the lock button. The installation of SmartCode 888 is really easy, so chances are great that you won’t run into any issues. My experiences with this deadbolt are very convincing so far, so I would recommend it to anyone who wants to live a keyless life.

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is an avid DIYer, former healthcare professional and security manager. He is passionate about home improvement and teaching.