Leviton Decora Smart Zigbee dimmer (model DG6HD) review

 techhive.com  10/27/2020 10:00:00   Christopher Null

Levitons new in-wall dimmer is Zigbee 3.0 certified, but judging from the aesthetics you wouldnt know it was new, or even a smart device at all. The full-size paddle design aesthetic is decidedly classic, so users who dont want their wall switches to stand out in any way have a compelling option here.

The DG6HD hardware features my least favorite design for wiring connections: Screw-down posts similar to those youll find on many old-school switches. Because so many wires must be connectedfour at a minimum, five if youre using it as a three-way switchit can quickly get crowded when youre trying to maneuver around the receptacle with a screwdriver. (Note: Youll need Levitons DD00RR companion switch for a three-way installation.)

This review is part of TechHives coverage of the best smart switches and dimmers, where youll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyers guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Making matters worse is that youll also need a pigtail to connect to the neutral (white) wiring bundle. Leviton includes one in the box, but I strangely had a lot of trouble with it. The wire was very stiff, and wedging it into a wire nut along with three other wires was difficult, as one of them would invariably slip out of the bundle when trying to tighten it. After about 10 minutes of trying and failing to get a solid connection, I finally gave up and dug up a more flexible pigtail I had laying around, which worked perfectly on the first try.

leviton dh6hd installation Christopher Null / IDG

The screwposts on Levitons Decora Smart Zigbee dimmer can be tricky to work with in the tight space of an electrical box.

Once installed and wedged back into the receptacle, I moved on to pairing the unit with an Amazon Echo Plus. (This switch is also compatible with the new fourth-generation Amazon Echo and Comcasts Xfinity Home Touch Screen, but Samsung SmartThings certification was still in process as of this writing.) The pairing completed quickly, and within a few minutes I was able to control the dimmer via voice or the Alexa app. With my Echo Plus just a dozen feet away from the wall switch, I never encountered any trouble with disconnects, and both on/off and dimming operations were responsive.

Naturally, you can also control the dimmer via the switch itself, and Leviton makes this easy and intuitive courtesy of a slim, second paddle to the right of the primary switch. Just hold the side paddle up or down to brighten and dim; the primary paddle only serves to toggle the power on and off. Having the secondary controls doesnt really mar the switch aesthetic, and its arguably more convenient than having the main paddle do double duty. A row of green LEDs to the left of the paddle illuminate to give you a visual guide to the overall power setting, but they go dark after a few seconds.

leviton dh6hd leds Christopher Null / IDG

Green LEDs on the left of the dimmer indicate brightness level when switch is activated, and then go dark after a few seconds.

One unusual feature to note: While both a white paddle and beige paddle are included in the box, only a white cover plate is included. At a price of $43the most expensive Zigbee dimmer Ive encounteredLeviton would be wise to throw in some additional extras to improve the value proposition. If you dont need dimming, a Zigbee on/off switch (Leviton model DG15S) is available for a few bucks less.

The bottom line: This is a functional dimmer option for those with a Zigbee environment, but theres really nothing much in the way of extras to merit spending extra for it. Jascos Enbrighten Zigbee dimmer is one alternative you might want to consider.

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  • This Zigbee dimmer has a classic designand a top-shelf price tag.

    • Clean, simple hardware layout
    • Quick pairing and operation with Amazon Echo models with Zigbee radios
    • Hardware design makes it difficult to wire
    • Not SmartThings certified (as of review date)
    • Very expensive
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