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Leviton Decora Smart Dimmer review: A smart switch that may have a little too much missing

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The Good The switch is really easy to use and the simple design makes it hard to get confused with the controls. It also flows well with the Leviton Decora app and HomeKit, which give you greater control over brightness settings and, for $50 (roughly converted to £38 or AU$63), it's fairly cheap compared to most smart switches.

The Bad The physical controls are stiff and awkward and it can only work with HomeKit. Sorry, Android, Google Home and Alexa users. The design is also plain.

The Bottom Line The switch works well and it's easy to get running, but the clunky physical controls, lack of compatibility outside Apple and plain design prevent it from being a really great product.

6.1 Overall
  • Features 4
  • Usability 8
  • Design 5
  • Performance 8

The Leviton Decora DH6HD Dimmer Switch, Leviton's newest, looks and works just like a regular light switch, but it also works with Apple HomeKit, letting you control it remotely from Apple's Home app on your iPhone or by using a Siri command. At $50 (roughly converted to £38 or AU$63), it's also one of the more affordable options on the smart switch market.

It isn't perfect, though. The physical controls feel stiff, and only let you change between seven dimming settings. It also doesn't offer as many features as you'll find with other competing dimmers. Unlike those competitors, the DH6HD won't work with Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT or anything else besides HomeKit. Plus, it really isn't much to look at compared with those other smart switches.

If you're in the market for a simple smart switch -- or just a relatively cheap option that works with HomeKit -- then the DH6HD is worth a look. Just don't expect it to look or feel any fancier than it actually is.

Hands on with a smart switch

Installing a smart switch usually isn't that much more complicated than installing a regular light switch -- just flip the breaker off, connect the wires (load, line, ground and neutral in Leviton's case), screw everything into place and turn the breaker back on. 

In our case, the Leviton switch was too big to fit inside the wall at the CNET Smart Home, so I had to install a bigger gang box in order to get it to fit. I also had a hard time finding the neutral wire, which made installation take a little longer. These kinds of issues aren't specific to Leviton, and they will vary from home to home, but Leviton at least does a decent job of walking you through the install process with the included instructions, and with helpful video tutorials online.

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Leviton's light switch is too stiff.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Once the hardware is installed, you can use the Decora switch just like any other light switch, although it didn't make a great first impression. The button feels stiff and extra-clicky when you press it, there's a slight delay whenever you turn it on and off and the fades are a little choppy as you dim it up and down. Lighting purists especially will prefer a fancier smart switch that turns the lights on immediately, or at least one that has a smoother fade effect. 

The dimmer is by far the worst part of the physical workings of the switch. Like the main switch, it also works like a button so there's not a whole lot of fine control when you're trying to dim the light. It should be noted that there is a Leviton Smart Switch that comes without a dimmer, but still has the same HomeKit capabilities. It's a few dollars cheaper and eliminates the stiff dimmer switch altogether.

How smart is this switch?

While other switches have multicolored light bars or touchpad interfaces, the Leviton smart switch has only the on/off button with a dimmer on the side. While some may see this as too simple for a smart switch, it actually provides a lot of advantages.

With Leviton's traditional switch design, it's easy to know right out of the box which button does what. With HomeKit support built into the Leviton switch, you also don't need any additional hardware beyond your iOS device. The switch also works in three-way setups, so you can connect more than one switch to the same light. This is a feature that the more expensive WeMo switch doesn't have.

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