I never liked the idea of leaving a spare key hidden somewhere outside. Nor was I enthusiastic about passing out keys to friends, pet sitters, cleaning services and the like. A keypad lock with programmable codes was the obvious solution. The onmly thing holding me back was the expectation that electronic locks were expensive and that I would need professional help to get it installed.
Then I discovered the new SmartCode deadbolt lock from Kwikset, a keypad lock that has everything I wanted. It promised to be easy to install and program, it supports a second access code, and it was affordable.
Installation turned out to be smoother than I expected. The SmartCode lock fits the the standard holes for any conventional deadbolt lock and I encountered only one minor issue in my old door. The Kwikset cylinder that holds the bolt was slightly larger than the one I removed, requiring a little work with a one-inch drill bit.
Once that problem was solved, I had the complete lock installed in about 20 minutes. Programming was also fast and easy. Just push one button, enter between four and eight digits and press the Lock button. The system also has a switch that will automatically relock the door 30 seconds after it's been unlocked.
The SmartCode lock has a handsome metal keypad and lock on the outside that comes in three finishes: satin nickel, dark bronze or polished brass. The inside housing has a plastic cover that's colored to match. The system runs on four AA batteries that power the lock motor and also light the keypad buttons, a feature you'll appreciate when you arrive home after dark.
The lock sells for less than $100 at home improvement stores and at amazon.com. Kwikset also has a version that has a hand lever and a step-up version that communicates with the Z-Wave home control system.