Report: Weiser/Kwikset SmartScan biometric lock.


Senior Member
I recently replaced a damaged Weiser PowerBolt 1000 (Weiser brand in Canada; Kwikset in USA) with a Weiser SmartScan. The SmartScan is a biometric lock; it uses a finger-print scanner to drive a motorized deadbolt.

The lock is promoted as being able to enroll and recognize up to fifty fingerprints ("user accounts"). You unlock the deadbolt by simply swiping an enrolled finger across a sensor. Locking is simply a matter of tapping the sensor three times. You can create up to fifty user accounts and control each account's access period (i.e. service personnel may enter between 9:00-9:15 AM, exclusively). Configuration menus and and operating status are presented via a small LCD display. My expectations were high and, ultimately, so was my disappointment.

I tried two locks, hoping the first one was simply a dud, but they both demonstrated an acute inability to lock the deadbolt. "Tap the sensor three times" would occasionally open the first lock and performance was worse with the second lock (it worked once out of about 30 attempts). The first tap would often be interpreted as an attempt to open the lock despite my best effort to avoid swiping the sensor. Subsequent taps would result in the message "Try again (data)" and finally "Access denied". Denying access is what a lock should do except I was trying to close, not open, the lock.

To conserve its batteries, the unit switches to sleep mode. In theory, you have to hold the sensor for a second or two to awaken it. In practice, covering the sensor with one finger would rarely stir the lock out of sleep mode. However, covering the sensor and placing a thumb on the lock's shell seemed to awaken it with greater repeatability. I don't know if body capacitance, or "grounding" the sensor to the shell, is involved but the second lock refused to be awakened unless I used this technique. Unfortunately, it is also the recommended way to open the lock. Weiser suggests you place your thumb on the lock's shell to serve as a pivot when you swipe the sensor with your finger. All in all, locking the deadbolt by tapping three times did not work for me.

The lock's FAQ indicates that if the lock fails to awaken from sleep mode, you simply wait thirty seconds and try again. When covering the sensor did not awaken the lock I resorted to waiting for at least thirty seconds and then the lock would become responsive. However, thirty seconds seems like an eternity if you're trying to enter your home! If you are easily frustrated, this lock is not for you. The SmartScan lock does come with a traditional keyed lock and you may find yourself using your keys more often that you'd imagine.

Locking the deadbolt proved to be far easier than unlocking it. However, it took me over twelve attempts to enroll my fingerprint with the first lock. It took only one attempt with the second lock. The first lock was so ornery that I had to reduce its biometric sensitivity from the default setting of High to Normal. The second lock operated properly using the High setting. However, I often had to swipe my finger twice before the lock recognized it.

'Swiping your finger' sounds simple until you realize it involves being consistent with position, pressure, angle, and speed. When the lock was face-up on my workbench, it was easy to swipe consistently because you can clearly see the sensor "stripe". When the lock is installed in the door the sensor faces inwards. Without the ability to see the sensor, it requires more skill to ensure each swipe has the same position, pressure, speed, and angle.

I contacted Weiser's Customer Service department and after a very brief delay spoke to a friendly representative. She suggested I disconnect/reconnect the sensor cable. I asked her what was the lock's latest software revision number but she had no idea what I was talking about (the lock's "About" menu displays key operating parameters including the firmware revision). She apologized for not being more helpful and explained the SmartScan was a very new product. I tried her suggestion but the lock's performance was not improved.

If you purchase this lock, I suggest you perform a benchtest before installing it. Installation requires drilling three small holes in the door that will not be concealed by a traditional lock. Confirm the SmartScan lock works for you before you deface your door.

I returned the two SmartScan locks to Home Depot for a full refund. I purchased and installed a PowerBolt 1000 and it works flawlessly ... as a lock should.
This is a really great writeup, I was actually thinking about getting one of these for another project, and always wondered how well they work.

If you search YouTube you'll find a newstory about the lock (Kwikset; not Weiser) but it's highly promotional and hardly an objective piece of reporting. It piqued my interest and, seeing that I had to replace a damaged lock, I opted for the SmartScan.

On the drawing board, the Smartscan is a much better lock than the PowerBolt. It is built like a tank and meets a locksmith's definition of Grade 1 lock. It is discreet and looks like a traditional deadbolt, albeit with a snout. The Powerbolt has none of the above. In addition, the SmartScan has Weiser/Kwikset's SmartKey feature where you can quickly re-key the lock yourself. Plus the lock mechanism is supposed to be "bump-proof" (easier to Google "lock bumping" than have me explain it).

All in all, it is very well designed and I had high hopes that this would be a superior replacement for the old PowerBolt. Sad to say but it just didn't work for me.
I saw this review and started to wonder. I know my Home Depot sells the Kwikset brand in the red box as mentioned. Is that the one you tried, or was yours the Weiser branded one in the blue box. The reviews seems to be mixed with some people thrilled and others disappointed, but most people get a very well working one in a few attempts.
The rating of this item depends on the brand of the biometric scanning lock. There are two different brands out there, and the vendors selling them are not doing much to separate the two brands. For example, the Amazon item here is calling this a "BIOLOCK Smart Scan". This is, in fact, a merging of the two products. The two brands are:

Sequiam Biometric & Weiser Lock's Biolock (in a blue box)
Kwikset's SmartScan (in a red and white box)

Oddly enough, Weiser Lock and Kwikset are both owned by the same parent company, Black and Decker. Due to a mix-up with ordering, I accidentally ordered two different brands from two different online stores. I installed the Biolock first, and received the SmartScan a day later.

The Biolock gets one to two stars. The SmartScan gets five stars. Why?

The Biolock comes with a non-standard, square-cornered strikeplate and boltplate. I had to chisel out the rounded corners off of my door and frame just to make it fit. This was highly annoying and damaging to my door. The SmartScan uses standard round corners, just like every other door.

The Biolock covers with a gaudy white plastic control panel, despite being a satin nickel finish. (The lock was still nickel.) After seeing the Kwikset satin nickel control panel, I removed my plastic one and replaced it with Kwikset's version. This is where I discovered the software issues:

The Biolock does not use its green and orange LEDs, despite the mention of them in the manual. This makes it very annoying to identify the different states of the lock. The Kwikset uses all three LEDs as specified in the manual.

Worst of all, the Biolock's fingerprint identification software sucks. I found myself swiping and reswiping my finger all the time just to get it to work. The Kwikset, however, was amazingly simple.

Also, Biolock's support is a long-distance number to some guy's voicemail. What kind of support is that? I talked to Kwikset (an 800 number; with an actual person on the line) to try to identify this confusion, and though the rep wasn't aware of the two brands, she was very helpful and willing to probe the matter further.

So, beware of the Biolock. While I highly praise the Kwikset for being an outstanding biometric lock, I recommend that you make sure that what you are buying is a Kwikset SmartScan in the red box. Any bad reviews for this product is likely because of this brand name confusion.
I had seen the same review before buying the Weiser branded lock. As far as I know, the Kwikset brand is not available in Canada (at least not in Quebec). I don't remember the box's colour. The Weiser SmartScan lock I tested was more like the Kwikset unit described in the review and not the Biolock. It did use the coloured LEDs effectively and a person answered my phone call.

I bought the brass-finish lock and the control unit's casing was made of ivory-coloured plastic. However, if you buy the nickel-finish lock, its casing is nickel-finish as well.
When we moved in, I replaced the locks with Kwikset locks. Three years later the key started sticking and stopped working. They were replaced with better models (Schlage), but I personally would not buy something from them again.

This looks a little higher end (but if you have problems on the low end, they may translate to the high end), but I was not pleased with my experience (and I don't think it is unreasonable for these to last more than a few years). Just my experience.
I just went through some training on Bio Metric Access products. I'm going to start carrying several different products. I found alot of the issues has to do with cheap scanners and the way it handles it.

I've just added this product.

What's neat is soon there is going to be a wifi enable add on for them.

Although most is geared towards commerical applications.
Ok, I have to share my story/experience with this. I had a perfect door for one of these - a 'cabana' bath (a bathroom with a door to the outside pool/patio area). Quite handy for having to use the bathroom when in the pool area, etc. I actually have had a Powerbolt on the inner garage for many years, I don't know why I never did anything about this door though. But this thread got me motivated to do something because that bathroom was never utilized because we never remember to go unlock it before going into pool (or locking it after). Anyway...

So I went to Home Depot and picked one of these up with a 10% off coupon. I actually went to 3 stores before I found one that did not look like it was already opened. I tried a dry run on the bench and it worked for me 99% of the time. Had the wife try it a few times and it looked pretty good for her too. So with that I installed it on the door (replaced a regular deadbolt). So after it's installed I get it all programmed and it worked great for me, but wife and son had ALOT of problems. Was like a 10% success rate. Tried all kinds of settings and fiddling, etc but could not get it working right for them. I was still tempted to keep it since it worked great for me and I figured maybe I could just open the door for anyone (trying really hard to like it). Well, as luck would have it, I came out of the pool and tried it with a wet and bit of a shriveled finger and guess what, I could not get in. Well, that night it came off the door and packaged for return to HD.

So, actually anticipating possible problems and dissatisfaction, I also picked up one of these at the same time since I had the coupon - I figured I could always return one easily enough. I liked the design better than the Powerbolt. So, I installed that instead and it was a much easier and simpler install and it works perfectly. Wife and kid love it and its just so easy and foolproof. My only concern is how well the keypad will hold up since it is exposed to the sun and rain. It is a manual turn knob (the knob spins freely until the code is entered which engages the knob to lock, unlock) you just press the Schlage button to engage). The rest of the locks are Schlage as well, so hopefully this will hold up well and be a keeper. May not be as cool or as hi-tech, but very functional.

Now for the funny/sad part! So I returned the Kwikset to HD and was asked 'Is there anything wrong with it'? I said that it did not really work too well as the mixed reviews kind of said. Obviously that statement would indicate I had used it. I did put it back pretty well but obviously the screw packets and stuff were opened and I was missing a cardboard insert. Anyway, so I am walking around HD after I returned it and about 10 minutes later I was actually back looking at some doors which is across from where the locks are. I see an old guy (employee) walking around putting back what appeared to be returns (a cart with lots of misc items in it). I can't help but notice a box that looks like the Smartscan so I watch the guy and he places it back on the shelf right in front of the others. As he moves on my curiosity gets the best of me so I grab that box and look inside and yes, you guessed it - it is the one I just returned! complete with open screw packages, etc. I thought for sure these got sent back or at the very least were repacked with new hardware, but nope. That probably explains alot of the ones I saw that looked like they were open, albeit still had sealed screw packages. It's no wonder I open all packages before I buy stuff (anything that readily opens, not the sealed plastic stuff). I just feel bad for the next guy that buys it and is either pissed off when he gets home to see it was used, or tries it anyway and had the same luck and brings it back again. I wonder how many times it gets resold (I should have put a tracking device on it). At least I erased all the memory before I repacked it!

Edit: Typos
steve, that sounds like typical employees, lol. i doubt its company policy. i would tell the managment and i'd bet it gets pulled back off the shelf.
When I returned the two biometric locks, I did my best to ensure all of its hardware was present and in good condition. We have three major home-renovation chains in our area and I suspect they all restock some of their returns. I normally skip anything that shows obvious signs of re-packaging.

I really wanted this gadget to work because the concept is great. I guess you fell into the privileged category of "it works for me" (given the right conditions) whereas I and my wife joined your family in the "this frustrates the heck outta me" group. And so, these wonky locks go back on the shelf to frustrate future customers. :(
I bought one of these last year and finally got around to installing it, and contrary to reports here, once you figure the operating procedure, it actually works very well..

Using the lock body as a pivot is key to getting a good read of your fingerprint.. One tip for those having problems opening the lock is to register your finger several times as multiple users (make sure you make all of them administrators just in case), but the real key is to use the lock body to help you scan consistently. I initially had problems locking the door, but this turned out to be because the manual's description of how to lock is too general.. I ended up going to the Kwikset web site and watching the video, which solved the mystery.. Like unlocking, you need to use the lock body as a pivot point, and instead of just touching the sensor, which makes the lock think you're trying to unlock, you quickly and *FIRMLY* squeeze the lock 3 times.. Once you figure this out, you can lock deadbolt as consistently as opening it..

You do have to be aware of the limitations of the fingerprint sensor and how they work.. Anything that distorts your skin (long soaks in a swimming pool for example) will cause a recognition failure.. On the other hand, I find that dirt and small scratches and scars don't have any effect on recognition..