A few months ago, I moved into a new house on a couple acres with a few outbuildings. I don’t know why the person who built the place did this, but they put both a deadbolt and a locking door handle on every building door (sheds, barn, coop), including multiple outside doors on the main house. The locks were from all kinds of different brands and there was a separate key for each lock.
I don’t know what’s weirder, the fact that someone put a deadbolt and a locking door handle on a chicken coop, or that we had a new pile of 12 different keys with at least one lock we couldn’t even find a working key for. Ideally, my dream was one key for the whole property, so that every lock on every door was keyed off a single key in my pocket (I hate carrying keys and change, one key is enough).
I researched getting a locksmith to come out, but it would run hundreds of dollars in their time plus you can only re-key locks to a key made by the same manufacturer, and by my count we had at least four different brands of locks spread among all the doors. I could save money by bringing the locks to a locksmith’s store, replacing off brands with a single brand and re-installing myself, and there are esoteric expensive kits on Amazon for locksmith-style rekeying, but each brand requires it’s own $80 box of materials plus many hours of practice to master.
While researching the options, I kept coming across the Kwikset line’s “Smart Key” feature that offered simple re-key abilities built-in for homeowners. About 2/3 of my locks were by Kwikset, and the main front door lock was Kwikset, so I decided to see if I could do this myself.
First, here’s a great demo at 1m 25s into this video of how easy it is to rekey your locks with the feature. It literally takes just a few seconds to do it:
Going into this, I’d never replaced a full doornob and deadbolt before so I watched a few videos about it. Here’s a basic one featuring a child replacing a lock that I followed to the letter. If a child can do it, surely I could too:
My first door took me about a half hour to replace but my second took maybe five minutes and my third and fourth doors took just a couple minutes. I can swap door hardware in my sleep now.
Bonus: If you have doors that don’t quite shut right, or locks that don’t quite align, or an IoT door lock that doesn’t run reliably, you can make a few very easy small tweaks to get your doors working better. I used the lessons in the following video and adjusted a couple door strike plates and hinge screws so they all close and lock buttery smooth now.
To convert all my doors to Smart Key, I bought 3 sets of these ~$36 combo kits, plus a couple designy deadbolts for doors where it matched some nicer hardware (like my front door). In all, I had to spend about $170 total to replace every lock on my property with a Smart Key variety.
After I swapped in each new door handle and lock, I took each new key, turned them 90º, then used the special tool to insert my existing front door key, and in a matter of minutes, I rekeyed every door in every building all to the same key. The best part was my original key wasn’t even a Smart Key, but the existing Kwikset key that came with the house.
I know there’s a security weakness in having multiple buildings all use the same key, but I can change every door on the property to a new key in a matter of minutes, plus the Smart Key tech claims to be more secure than a typical lock tumbler, and resistant to basic lock picking techniques.
I went into this knowing even with security drawbacks, the convenience of getting everything down to one key on my keychain instead of a pile of unlabeled keys was a big win, and I’d always have the option to update my entire property’s locks in a few minutes.
There aren’t a lot of products that live up to their claims. “Liquid Plumber” drain cleaner that has saved me from calling a plumber on multiple occasions, and totally lives up to its name. Kwikset’s Smart Key is just that like that: you actually can rekey your own locks and you may never need to pay a locksmith again once you’ve installed them.