Sleek and Stylish Smart Lock – the Kwikset Obsidian
We upgraded our smart home recently with a sleek and stylish keyless smart lock from Kwikset – the Obsidian.
When we first starting looking at different smart locks for our home, we were convinced that we needed to have some kind of offline backup – so we could always get into our house even if the technology failed. We were also afraid that if our lock was connected to the Internet, we could risk getting hacked or that it would probably take longer to unlock our door than just using the key, making the whole project a waste of time and money.
Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains links that may earn us a commission from Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. We received a Kwikset Obsidian Lock for this review. Opinions and conclusions are our own.
Considering the state of connected devices in 2014, we were not too crazy – all of our first DIY smart home devices started out slow and often buggy. While we loved the technology, sometimes we just craved our old doorbell or lock or light switch.
Based on our requirements and fears, we decided to install the Kwikset Kevo Touch to Open smart deadbolts with Bluetooth to allow us to unlock with our iPhones. It was an easy choice since we already had a Kwikset lock and could use our same house keys to open the door without the technology, which was great, since our housekeeper didn’t have a smartphone.
We now have Kevo locks on three doors in our house, all first-generation, and they have served us well over the years. In late 2015, we installed the Kevo Plus bridge to allow us to lock and unlock our doors over the Internet, and some time later Kwikset started supporting Alexa. So now we can lock and unlock the doors anywhere we are or by asking Alexa, and most importantly for us, we can check to see if we forgot to lock the door.
Upgrading to Touchless Entry
Thanks to our friends at Kwikset, we recently we had the opportunity to try out the Obsidian touchscreen smart lock with Home Connect on on of our doors. While the technology has certainly improved, we were still skeptical about a keyless lock, but when we saw how nice it looked, we couldn’t wait to try it.
Since we were replacing our Kwikset Kevo, we were able to install the Obsidian lock easily. The touchscreen fit in place of our existing lock outside and we replaced the inside panel from our old lock with the new one in the same footprint. For homeowners replacing an existing lock, it should be almost as easy to install in most standard lock enclosures. The Obsidian uses four AA batteries installed within the back panel. Kwikset provides comprehensive install guides and videos for the different variations of locks, and hardware to accommodate varying door thicknesses.
After we installed the lock and the batteries, it was time to set up the door handling for the Obsidian. This process helps your lock understand the orientation of the door so it can operate properly. We were somewhat familiar with this process from our Kevo experience, so we expected it to be pretty simple. With an open door, we inserted the battery pack into the lock, then the latch bolt retracted and extended until it figured out our door’s orientation. The Obsidian panel indicates success or failure with patterns on the touchscreen.
We stumbled a bit with the door handling because while the lock moved in and out and the panel flashed success, the bolt did not pull all the way in to be flush with the door. We were concerned that it was not actually going to unlock. We tinkered with it for a while and wound up re-installing to try to get it right, but after a couple of rounds we finally just gave up, shut the door and unlocked it, and it worked fine. While the printed instructions didn’t mention this, the video clearly shows the lock sticking out during the process. Since we wasted a lot of time on this step, we definitely recommend you watch the video to help you with your installation.
Setting the User Codes
Our Obsidian lock with Home Connect does not use a separate app. Instead, it uses Z-Wave Plus to communicate with compatible smart home hubs. Depending on your smart home hub, you may be able to add and delete codes through your controller app. We use Wink, and while it does a great job locking and unlocking, we can’t change the codes from their app. So we set the user codes to unlock the door manually.
You can set up to 30 different user codes, between 4 and 8 digits each, as well as an optional mastercode for enhanced security over your lock. Adding codes this way was simple, but if you plan to do this for yourself, we recommend thinking through and adding all your different codes at once because after you replace the back panel, you probably won’t want to pull it off to add more.
Adding the Obsidian Lock to our smart home
We connected our lock to our Wink Hub, following the instructions right through the app, which were very comprehensive and included an embedded video. We have the Z-wave model and it connected quickly and easily, and now we can see whether or not the door is locked, lock and unlock from the Wink app and see the log of our usage.
Compared to our other two Kevo locks, it’s great that the Obsidian does not require a separate app. Now that this lock is connected to our Wink hub we can set up robots to have it interact with our other lights and motion sensors. However, we do lose some of the extra features of the Kevo app, such as setting up temporary keys and tracking different users entering the house.
We were also able to add the Obsidian to Alexa and control it by voice. For extra security, Alexa requires a passcode to unlock the door, which seems smart in theory, but if someone is already in our house I’m not sure if we would really care if they unlocked the door. We see ourselves mostly asking Alexa if the door is locked or not. Because we have two Alexa accounts in our household, we had to add the lock to both accounts in order to use it, which seems strange since all our other devices connected to our hub are available to both of us.
Using the Obsidian Lock
Now that the lock is installed, we love it and we wonder why we hesitated so long to get a keyless lock. It locks and unlocks much faster than our Kevos and we don’t need to worry about things like whether the Bluetooth on our phone is on or our Kevo app is running when we are trying to operate the lock.
We were a bit worried about the security of the touchscreen, but Kwikset has a clever SecureScreen feature that randomizes your fingerprints every time you use it, so you don’t wind up with an obvious pattern on the lock. Their website has a great demo that shows how it works.
As for our worries about having a backup plan to get in the house, while there is no longer a key, the Obsidian has two 9 volt terminals at the bottom of the lock, allowing you to power up the lock with a battery if needed. We don’t expect to keep a 9V battery in our garage, but it is good to know if we get locked out we can use this method. With our Wink app to remind us if the battery is low, we don’t expect this to ever happen.
We are really happy with the Kwikset Obsidian Lock so far. It looks great, is much faster than our older Kevo lock, and it’s reasonably priced. It comes in many different versions to meet almost any homeowner’s needs – in two finishes, without any connection, and with Home Connect with ZigBee or Z-Wave to connect to most all smart home hubs, as well as a version that works with Amazon Key. We would recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade a front door.