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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.

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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

{pagebreak} PRESS RELEASE

Leviton Delivers New Wi-Fi Lighting Automation Solution with Voice Control, Scheduling and Remote Access

Leviton announced today the release of a ground-breaking “hubless” home automation solution, Decora Smart™ with Wi-Fi Technology, offering remote access, app-based scheduling and voice control. The new product family simplifies home lighting control from anywhere by automating interior and exterior lights using the free My Leviton app. The devices can also be connected to Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap or Alexa-embedded products, like the Nucleus touchscreen intercom, to provide voice control through commands such as “Alexa, turn living room lamp to 33%.” The Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology product family includes both 600W and 1000W in-wall dimmers and 15 Amp switches that are all multi-way capable, as well as plug-in outlets and plug-in dimmers.

Read CE Pro's feature story on Leviton Smart Wi-Fi

Leviton devices are connected to a home’s Wi-Fi network as well as to Amazon Alexa-enabled products via the My Leviton app. In the app, users can easily add a new home, device, room, activity or schedule at any time from an iOS or Android device. Users can also create schedules and activities based on specific times or events. For example, “Outside Lights On,” can illuminate a front porch light every night at sunset, and “All Lights Off,” can make bedtime considerably easier, especially for older residents and multi-level residences. Advanced settings are also available to adjust fade rates, brightness levels, bulb types and more, to precisely customize the right ambiance for every room.

“The Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology product line is a revolutionary innovation that brings affordable automation to the masses,” said Richard Westfall, Vice President and General Manager of Leviton Energy Management, Controls & Automation. “With nothing more than a new Leviton device, your Wi-Fi network and a smartphone, homeowners can have a smart home with remote access, scheduling and voice control. Add multi-way capability, advanced technology for low wattage bulbs, plus multiple color options and wallplates to the offering – and this is the most complete and advanced IoT lighting control on the market.”

The Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology devices support LED, CFL and incandescent bulbs and have also been engineered for compatibility with sensitive low-wattage LED bulbs. With standard dimmers, these bulbs can glow even after lights are turned off, but the new compatibility feature will eliminate this in most bulbs, so off really means off. All Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology devices are supported by an industry-leading five-year limited warranty.

In addition to advanced functionality and compatibility features, the product line features the new in-wall Decora Smart aesthetic. The dimmer hardware features a dim/bright bar placed vertically alongside the on/off rocker paddle while the vanishing LEDs on the left side of the paddle show current and target light levels with real-time feedback. Both white and light almond faceplates are included with the in-wall devices, and color change kits are available in black, red, ivory, gray and brown.

Optional screwless Decora wallplates are also available to ensure a sleek, matching appearance with existing Decora dimmers and switches in a home. The following products in the Decora Smart™ with Wi-Fi Product Family are now available for sale in all channels: 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 and the DW15A Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology Plug-In Outlet.


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About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson

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