Leviton Decora Smart Wi-Fi lighting review: No hub needed, but too few features

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Leviton is the latest connected lighting company to loosen its dependence on the hub, and it’s about time.

Leviton’s Decora Smart Wi-Fi dimmers and switches connect directly to your wireless network, letting you control the lights with a smartphone app or with a digital assistant (the Amazon Echo and Google Home are both supported). By sticking with plain old Wi-Fi instead of smart home-specific protocols such as ZigBee or Z-Wave, Leviton’s in-wall and plug-in modules eliminate the need for a hub or bridge.

But while ditching the hub reduces the cost and complexity of smart home lighting, it also means Leviton must work harder to connect with other smart home ecosystems. Right now, the Decora Smart Wi-Fi series is currently detached from nearly all of them, severely limiting how you can control your lights.

In-wall or outlet?

Leviton’s Wi-Fi range includes a pair of in-wall dimmers (in 600W and 1000W configurations) and an in-wall switch for ceiling light fixtures. There’s also a plug-in dimmer for lamps, and a plug-in outlet switch for small appliances or anything else you might want to turn on and off.

The plug-in modules are easy to install. Just insert one into an outlet, and then plug a lamp into the module’s two-prong receptor. You then use Leviton’s iOS or Android app to join the module’s temporary wireless network on your smartphone and enter your regular Wi-Fi network’s login credentials. The app then lets you control the lights at home or remotely through a Leviton account.

levitondecorasmartplugdimmer Jared Newman / TechHive

Leviton’s Decora Smart Wi-Fi plug-in dimmer adds smartphone and Amazon Echo/Google Home controls to lamps.

Setting up the in-wall units is much more daunting. This requires shutting down the circuit or removing the fuse that powers your existing switch, removing and unwiring your old switch from the wall, and rewiring the new switch or dimmer in its place. Leviton’s printed instructions assume a working familiarity with electronic circuitry, and doesn’t mention that you might have to splice in some additional wires (hot, neutral, load, and ground wires are required).

You’ll probably want a voltage tester to ensure the proper connections, and you must always be mindful that any misstep could cause a fire or a serious injury. This is true of any in-wall installation. For three-way lighting, where the circuit is controlled by more than one switch, you’ll need a matching dimmer or switch remote (as well as a traveler wire). If you’re uncertain about what to do, it’s best to hire an electrician.

If you’re replacing a toggle-style switch, you’ll also need a new wall plate for Leviton’s rocker switch. Leviton includes interchangeable white and light almond switches in the box; other colors are sold separately.

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