Control & Automation

Leviton Launches Mass-Market Home-Automation Platform, Starting with Wi-Fi Lighting

Leviton launches ‘Decora Smart’ Wi-Fi lighting products, plus app and SHaaS (smart home as a service) platform to kick off new DIY initiative that could compete with Lutron's Caseta IoT ecosystem.

Leviton Launches Mass-Market Home-Automation Platform, Starting with Wi-Fi Lighting
Leviton's new Decora Smart Wi-Fi Lighting represents the company's first step towards a comprehensive home-automation line and IoT platform for the mass market, including DIY.

Through the My Leviton app, the products work out of the box with Amazon Alexa, although no smart-home hub is required.

Julie Jacobson · March 17, 2017

Privately held Leviton Manufacturing, a giant in lighting and electrical products, just launched its first Wi-Fi-enabled smart lighting products, including three in-wall and two plug-in switches/dimmers under the Decora Smart brand.

The 110-year-old company tells CE Pro the line is just the beginning of a complete Wi-Fi ecosystem for mass-market home automation, which includes a new DIY-friendly app called My Leviton, as well as a brand new SHaaS (smart home as a service) platform for integration and remote access.

At this time, however, the new ecosystem includes just the five lighting products under the “Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology” banner. Then again, that’s how competitor Lutron Electronics launched its successful Caseta/Smart Bridge line of connected DIY products.

Unlike Caseta (and other non-Wi-Fi devices), Leviton’s dimmers and switches don’t require a hub for automation. They communicate to Leviton’s cloud services through an existing home network (plus they have on-board intelligence like clocks that work even when the network is down).

“There will be organic expansion and partnership expansions. We want to go way beyond lighting control and voice control. … We want to provide options with best-of-breed providers.”
— Greg Rhoades, Leviton

For added functionality, though, they can be voice-controlled out-of-the-box via Amazon Alexa and (soon) other smart-home hubs.

Meanwhile, Leviton is lining up partners for its new products and platform, just as Lutron has done.

Integration with other smart devices and hubs is “on the roadmap,” says Leviton marketing director Greg Rhoades in an interview with CE Pro.

“There will be organic expansion and partnership expansions,” he says. “We want to go way beyond lighting control and voice control. … We want to provide options with best-of-breed providers.”

Apple Homekit Lighting Coming Soon

In a month or two, Leviton will launch a separate Apple Homekit version of the Wi-Fi products for integration with the Apple Home app. Hard-core iOS fans will want to stay in the Apple family, says Rhoades, who is “very confident in this [Homekit] solution in the long term.”

He thinks Apple Home has one of the easiest set-up processes for home automation, enabling the user to enroll products by simply taking pictures of them. The app even auto-generates recommended configurations for scenes such as goodnight.

“They’ve done a really good job curating the ecosystem to bring the Apple experience to the home,” Rhoades suggests. “That’s why it’s so important to have a dedicated product that is super-easy for the user.”

He adds that Leviton makes clear on its packaging which Wi-Fi products work only with the My Leviton app and ecosystem, and which work with Homekit.

What’s Special About Leviton’s Solution

These days, Wi-Fi-enabled switches and plug-ins are fairly prevalent from mass marketers like Belkin Wemo and TP-Link ($35 and up), higher-end players like iDevices ($99), and more niche developers like Plum, which incorporates extra intelligence into its powerful LightPad ($99).

Before developing the new products, Leviton took a good hard look at the marketplace, says Leviton marketing director Greg Rhoades: “We asked, ‘What is not being done in this space?’”

In fact, Leviton does stand out in this increasingly crowded space, not least because the company is a 110-year-old leader in the lighting category.

Leviton is already a leading provider of Z-Wave light switches, dimmers and accessories. The company also makes ZigBee devices, mostly for commercial controls. Recently Leviton launched Bluetooth (BLE) switches, dimmers and fan controls, as well.

Besides their feature sets – we’ll get to those – here’s what makes Leviton’s new product line stand out from much of the competition.

1. Lighting history. After 110 years in the lighting, infrastructure and controls business, Leviton knows a thing or two about the category.

2. Automation history. In 2012, Leviton acquired Home Automation Inc. (HAI), a smart-home pioneer with more than three decades in the business, so Leviton knows a thing or two about the category.With HAI, Leviton is a leading supplier and innovator in professionally installed security systems, energy management, multiroom audio, access controls and other popular subsystems.

While its existing smart devices such as thermostats don’t employ Wi-Fi, there’s no reason why the company couldn’t develop versions with Decora Smart Wi-Fi (or Homekit). In fact, IP thermostats most likely will be the next product for the new ecosystem.

3. Decora. You know Decora  switches – the design standard for light switches, outlets and faceplates? That’s a Leviton trademark. Besides incorporating the design into its light switches, Leviton uses the Decora look-and-feel in its numerous other product lines including electrical outlets, Ethernet and coax jacks, dumb faceplates, home-automation keypads, audio controls and more.

“We took the de facto standard for lighting [aesthetics] – Decora – and made it smart,” Rhoades explains. “It can harmonize with other Leviton Decora devices in the home, all blending seamlessly.”

Leviton makes Decora products in scores of different colors and finishes.

4. Warranty. Leviton offers a category-leading five-year warranty on its lighting products, which is about five times more generous than everyone else’s.

5. Worldwide network of installers. Leviton has a very large following of professional installers – both line-voltage electrical contractors and low-voltage integrators – that can provide automation services around the products, which is something you won’t get with DIY offerings from Belkin Wemo and others. The products are available at reduced prices from a number of wholesale distributors.

While the Wi-Fi products and My Leviton app are meant for the mass market, including DIY, the products no doubt will be embraced by Leviton’s home-automation and electrical-contracting dealers – just as we have seen with Lutron’s Caseta ecosystem (gateway/hub required).

“What’s really cool for us,” says Rhoades, “is that it lets individual consumers toe their own way into the automation world, and then provides broader opportunities for pros to build and tailor automation systems for a larger audience.”

[continues]

My Leviton app for Decora Smart Wi-Fi lighting.

Decora Smart with Wi-Fi: Features, Advantages

As mentioned above, Leviton’s new Wi-Fi-enabled devices don’t require a home-automation hub, as they simply use the home’s existing network for integration and remote access. This is the case with most Wi-Fi devices.

The Products

The following products in the Decora Smart Wi-Fi product family are now available for sale in all channels, including DIY and pro. 

DW1KD Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology 1000W Dimmer

DW6HD Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology 600W Dimmer

DW15S Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology 15 Amp Switch

DW3HL Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology Plug-In Dimmer

DW15A Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology Plug-In Outlet

More product details in press release.

Unlike many smart switches, though, Leviton builds in some extra intelligence, such as a clock for controlling devices on a schedule, even if the network goes down.

Here are some other useful features of the product and the Leviton ecosystem:

1. Low prices. Retail pricing on the new products are high competitive, ranging from $40 for a plug-in switch to $50 for a 1000W in-wall dimmer.

2. No service fees. There is no charge for the My Leviton app, and no recurring fees for remote access. Of course, that could change if Leviton builds out the ecosystem.

3. Support for multiple load types. Decora Smart dimmers and switches support LED, CFL and incandescent bulbs and have also been “engineered for compatibility with sensitive low-wattage LED bulbs.”

4. Advanced settings. In addition to creating and controlling scenes, users can use the app to adjust fade rates, brightness levels, bulb types and the behavior of the LEDs embedded in the switches.

5. Off means off. Most dimmers don’t actually turn bulbs “off” when the off button is pressed and the room goes to dark. They just go imperceptibly dim. In the case of Leviton’s products, “off means off.” Leviton actually kills the connection to the load.

6. Comprehensive lighting line. As Rhoades explains, none of the other providers of Wi-Fi-based lighting controls offers the breadth of products as Leviton. For example, some companies offer switches but not dimmers, or plug-in devices but not switches, and vice versa. Most don’t offer solutions for multi-pole lighting (e.g., three-way switches) or support for multiple load types like Leviton does.

If you consider “multi-way capability, advanced technology for low wattage bulbs, plus multiple color options and wallplates to the offering … this is the most complete and advanced IoT lighting control on the market,” says Richard Westfall, VP and GM of Leviton Energy Management, Controls & Automation.

That may very well be the case.

Decora Smart Press Release - next page


  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

Follow Julie on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Julie also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Julie Jacobson's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Lighting · Whole House Control · News · Products · DIY · HAI · Leviton · Lutron · All Topics
CE Pro Magazine

Not a Magazine Subscriber?
Subscribe Today...It's FREE!!

Comments

Posted by Fins on March 20, 2017

Julie, you forgot a third option. They had people in charge of programs that didn’t have a clue what they were doing but kept telling their bosses everything was fine, just keep spending.

I’m still trying to black out the memories from attending the only Armada training ever held.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on March 20, 2017

You have every right, Fins! Leviton has sure tried a lot of things. Either they were the wrong things to try in the first place ... or Leviton simply didn’t invest long enough or hard enough or correctly enough. I believe this one here is the right one, not least because they seem to have integration partners lined up. Already they are packaging Vizia Z-Wave switches with SmartThings hubs. They are responding to the existing marketplace, rather than trying to invent something new. I like their chances on this one.

Posted by Fins on March 20, 2017

Why am I having Armada flashbacks?

Posted by antoniohardeman on March 20, 2017

Wifi for lighting in a home control system is like walking on the razor’s edge.  However, I say the more options for consumers in this arena the better.

Posted by hmurchison on March 18, 2017

I see the market eventually distilling down to a few basic flavors.  RF for great range, Bluetooth for basic installs and something like Thread for more complex systems.  The Hub situation was predictable.  Until Home Auto reaches critical mass and we have general accept of a few protocols there will be a proliferation of hubs/bridges.  Consumers won’t spend say $199 or $299 for a solid controller that has actual processing power largely because they don’t really exist.  Thread being based upon IP means it can be rolled into routers pretty easily hopefully negating some of the cost or kludge of bridges.  Most of the experienced HA users I’ve run across are tired of cloud solutions that diminish the functionality of their homes if say AWS is down.  That’s going to require more local processing.  Leviton could make a play off of their structured wiring platform much like they’ve done with their Z-Wave modules.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on March 18, 2017

Lutron definitely sets the standard, but there is something to be said about standards-based solutions, especially for simpler installs like a couple of switches, where no hub is needed. One problem in the mass market is the confusion over hubs.

Posted by hmurchison on March 18, 2017

Caseta is tough to beat.  Lutron’s integrations are solid and they work. Leviton is going to be serious about this product line.  @WhyReboot great question. No need for a Neutral is a great feature when you don’t know what’s in a clients wall box.  I’m glad Leviton is entering the game and Legrand is looking at Thread and more HA stuff but they need to know Lutron is nimble and efficient.  I welcome them all.

Posted by Niko on March 17, 2017

Lol does anybody take Leviton seriously in the Automation market? Come on, it’s Leviton. They make decent outlets, GFCI plugs, and switches if you want them in the usual bland colors. They have no history of home automation products, history of support, and there is no telling how long it will be before this first product gets discontinued.  That is if the product itself was worth anything which judging by the use of wifi, I’m going to guess not. 

For many people, their router comes from their ISP and gets replaced as often as they change their TV/Phone/Internet package and even if they do it themselves, it doesn’t have proper reach throughout the house.This means that when you try to turn a light on, if you didn’t set up your router just as it was when you set up your lighting, the lights will likely not work right.  Why would you choose a system that relies on wifi for lighting?

Why would anybody choose them over Lutron when their Caseta system is already undercutting their higher end systems and uses the same technology? 

Stick to dump electrical devices Leviton.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on March 17, 2017

WhyReboot—That’s a very clear advantage for older homes.

Posted by WhyReboot on March 17, 2017

Boooooo.  Score one for Lutron.  My house has a combination of switches that have a neutral wire and ones that don’t.  I have so many light switches I’ve been looking for a solution for a while but I think I’m going to end up going with Lutron eventually.  My wife knows what all the switches do but I still fumble every day.  It’d be nice to finally put that to bed, that’s why I asked.

View all comments.

Posted by WhyReboot on March 17, 2017

Do the switches require a neutral wire?

Posted by Julie Jacobson on March 17, 2017

WhyReboot, I was just informed a neutral is required.

Posted by WhyReboot on March 17, 2017

Boooooo.  Score one for Lutron.  My house has a combination of switches that have a neutral wire and ones that don’t.  I have so many light switches I’ve been looking for a solution for a while but I think I’m going to end up going with Lutron eventually.  My wife knows what all the switches do but I still fumble every day.  It’d be nice to finally put that to bed, that’s why I asked.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on March 17, 2017

WhyReboot—That’s a very clear advantage for older homes.

Posted by Niko on March 17, 2017

Lol does anybody take Leviton seriously in the Automation market? Come on, it’s Leviton. They make decent outlets, GFCI plugs, and switches if you want them in the usual bland colors. They have no history of home automation products, history of support, and there is no telling how long it will be before this first product gets discontinued.  That is if the product itself was worth anything which judging by the use of wifi, I’m going to guess not. 

For many people, their router comes from their ISP and gets replaced as often as they change their TV/Phone/Internet package and even if they do it themselves, it doesn’t have proper reach throughout the house.This means that when you try to turn a light on, if you didn’t set up your router just as it was when you set up your lighting, the lights will likely not work right.  Why would you choose a system that relies on wifi for lighting?

Why would anybody choose them over Lutron when their Caseta system is already undercutting their higher end systems and uses the same technology? 

Stick to dump electrical devices Leviton.

Posted by hmurchison on March 18, 2017

Caseta is tough to beat.  Lutron’s integrations are solid and they work. Leviton is going to be serious about this product line.  @WhyReboot great question. No need for a Neutral is a great feature when you don’t know what’s in a clients wall box.  I’m glad Leviton is entering the game and Legrand is looking at Thread and more HA stuff but they need to know Lutron is nimble and efficient.  I welcome them all.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on March 18, 2017

Lutron definitely sets the standard, but there is something to be said about standards-based solutions, especially for simpler installs like a couple of switches, where no hub is needed. One problem in the mass market is the confusion over hubs.

Posted by hmurchison on March 18, 2017

I see the market eventually distilling down to a few basic flavors.  RF for great range, Bluetooth for basic installs and something like Thread for more complex systems.  The Hub situation was predictable.  Until Home Auto reaches critical mass and we have general accept of a few protocols there will be a proliferation of hubs/bridges.  Consumers won’t spend say $199 or $299 for a solid controller that has actual processing power largely because they don’t really exist.  Thread being based upon IP means it can be rolled into routers pretty easily hopefully negating some of the cost or kludge of bridges.  Most of the experienced HA users I’ve run across are tired of cloud solutions that diminish the functionality of their homes if say AWS is down.  That’s going to require more local processing.  Leviton could make a play off of their structured wiring platform much like they’ve done with their Z-Wave modules.

Posted by antoniohardeman on March 20, 2017

Wifi for lighting in a home control system is like walking on the razor’s edge.  However, I say the more options for consumers in this arena the better.

Posted by Fins on March 20, 2017

Why am I having Armada flashbacks?

View all comments.