I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. The best smart home devices integrate into your life without much hassle. You shouldn’t have to remember how to use a smart device, nor go out of your way to use it. It should simply make your life easier, without requiring anything extra out of you.
That’s one of the things I really like about the Leviton switches. You can use them as regular dimmer switches when you want, or you can geek out like me and set different scenes for when you wake up in the morning, are going to bed, watching a movie or even automatically adjusting throughout the day.
Unlike smart light bulbs, these switches don’t confuse my wife or guests. Smart bulbs require you to keep their switches turned on at all times so they could be controlled from your phone or smart assistant. This was confusing for people who didn’t know, because they’d walk into a room and flip the switch on, when it was actually turning them off.
With a smart switch, there’s no confusion, and unless they knew better, wouldn’t even realize all the features it’s hiding inside it’s plastic shell.
Now on to the smart features…and there’s a lot of them. Leviton has it’s own app that allows you to customize each individual switch or plug. You can adjust the built in LED, customize the power based on the type of bulb you’re using (Incandescent, LED, CFL, etc.), set the fade in rate when it turns on and fade out rate when it turns off, and even set an auto shutoff timer, which is great for entryway lights or bathroom vents you always forget to turn off.
If you’ve ever experimented with dimmable bulbs, you know that each can be dimmed to a different % before they turn off. That means one may still be bright at 10%, while another may need 13% to even power on.
With normal dimmers, this can be confusing, which is why Leviton let’s you set the maximum and minimum dimmer power for each bulb. We’re using 5 different types of bulbs in our bathrooms, kitchen, bedroom, etc, and we’ve found the lowest setting on some is 12% while others get as low as 3% without turning off. It’s one more area that really shows how much thought Leviton put into the features.
Another option worth mentioning is the option to have the lights come on at the last brightness used or the same one each time. This is another great feature I like to use in my 10 month old daughters room, because we have to sometimes go into her room and feed her at night. We have the bulb set to the lowest dimmable setting, so we can see what we’re doing, but we don’t wake her up more than we need to. If it only relied on the previous used setting, we’d never know how bright the lights were going to be and would inevitably end up turning them on full blast causing a babypocalypse, and no sleep for the rest of the night (if you’re not a parent, you’ll have to trust me on this)
Extended Features and Integrations
The Leviton Switches have even more features to geek out on if you want to integrate it with either Nest, Alexa or IFTTT.
Let’s start with Alexa.
If you’re going to outfit your entire house with these switches like we have, I’d highly recommend getting an Alexa. We have a few spread through the house, so we can turn on and off lights anywhere in the house with our voice. You can even set scenes so you can control multiple rooms at once. Two of may favorites are a “Turn all lights off” command I use whenever I leave the house, and a “Headed to bed” command that turns off most of the lights, leaving a dimmed light path to my bedroom, and turns on my bedside lamp.
Not having to walk through both floors of our house searching for all the lights my kids have left on every time I leave the house is amazing. The bigger your house, the more you’ll enjoy this feature.
If you have Nest cameras in your home, there are some other cool features you can do as well. You can set the any light to turn on when your cameras detect motion, turn certain ones (or all of them) on and off when Nest senses you’re at home or away, and blink certain lights when they detect motion (to alert you to someone in your driveway, etc)
If you haven’t heard of IFTTT, it stands for “if this then that.” It’s a free platform that allows different types of software, smart devices, and a host of other things to work together.
There are a ton of different “recipes,” which is what they call the different actions you can do, that you can create.
Some of the more interesting ones are:
- Turn on lights, and set a lighting scene, when Domino’s pizza is out for delivery
- Such as turning your outside lights on and setting your living room lights for movie time.
- Set Logitech POP buttons to activate your Leviton scene
- This lets anyone in your house run different light scenes. For instance, you could put a POP button near your garage door, so when you leave you can press it to turn off every light in your home.
- Turn on a light when your Ring Doorbell rings
- You know where this is going… it lets you turn on your outside light on for guests when they arrive.
- Turn on or off lights when you arrive home or leave home.
- Using your phone’s location it can tell when you arrive home, so you can have the outside and entryway lights come on as you arrive home, or as I mentioned above, turn all of your lights off when you leave.
These are just a few examples of how powerful the features on these lights switches can be when you integrate with other devices. What’s great about IFTTT is that others users create new “recipes” all the time, so the types of things these lights can do will just continue to grow.
Installation of Leviton’s smart switches is about as easy as installing any other type of switch, and if you’re going to be using their Smart Wi-Fi Plug-in Outlet or Plug-in Dimmer, it’s as simple as plugging it in and connecting it to the app.
For the actual switches, I average about 10 minutes per switch. I was extra careful, and my breakerbox is almost completely unlabeled, which made finding the right switch a lot of fun.
Even if you don’t have electrical experience, which I didn’t, it’s easy. As long as you can assemble IKEA furniture from the instructions, this shouldn’t be hard at all. Depending on if your current switches have a neutral wire hooked up, you may need to add a little patch wire (I did).
To ensure there’s no power running to the switch before you change it you ‘ll want a voltage tester (Here a cheap on I used from Amazon).
Being as how often light switches are used, they’re a great candidate to upgrade with smart tech.
I’m a big fan of these switches, because they’re simple enough to serve both regular consumers and feature filled and expandable enough to satisfy the tech savy, early adopters who want to tinker and create their own automations.
I was provided Leviton switches free of charge. All opinions are my own.