Belkin continues to move away from being seen as a PC accessories company, largely famous for its WiFi routers, docks and computer cabling.
With its new focus in and around the smart home market, with a range of lighting, automation and home security products, it is looking to extend its brand. In this WeMo light switch review, we’ll look at whether it’s worth the hype, or not.
Tech-savvy buyers are natural adopters for smart home tech, and Belkin’s WeMo range offers the ideal range of easy-to-install and easy-to-use devices that can get people on the road to smarter systems in and around their properties.
At around $49 (see here for latest pricing), it is not the most expensive piece of smart home technology out there, but is a great product that can help show people the benefits of the concept.
And since the whole WeMo range is modular, it encourages customers to come back and pick up new units, switches, lighting and sensors as they gradually expand the smartness within a home.
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Key Features of the WeMo Light Switch
The WeMo Light Switch is a WiFi device that can be used to control one-way connected lights or other home devices around the house. Using WiFi, it can be managed remotely from an iOS 7 or Android 4.1 or higher device via the WeMo app.
The WeMo Light Switch can be controlled via a schedule to turn a light on at certain times, or it can control other wall-operated devices like ceiling fans. It requires a neutral wire to operate, but otherwise should replace any wall switch.
It has a neat backlight feature to make it easy to find in the dark, just a word of warning not to use a metal plate, as that could interfere with the WiFi signal.
Pros of the Belkin WeMo Smart Light Switch
No Minimum Wattage: Some smart home systems are rather choosy about the type of lighting they will work with. Not so the WeMo Smart Light Switch. It has no minimum wattage, so can work with all types of lighting including incandescent, halogen, CFL, fluorescent and LED bulbs.
Plays Well with Others: While Belkin is happy to sell you more WeMo products, the Smart Light Switch is happily compatible with a range of controlling devices including iPhone, iPad,
Android devices and Amazon’s own Echo speaker, allowing you to use voice commands to operate, which makes it ideal for those with limited mobility, or just their hands full.
Works with any Smart Phone Remotely: Using a phone, you can control the switch from anywhere there’s a signal, so you get the lights on if you are unexpectedly out late, or if you need to change the schedule.
Pleasant Design: In terms of design, there isn’t a huge amount you can do with a light switch, but the WeMo has a pleasant look and feel to it, with a sturdy and chunky button.
The glow-in-the-dark backlight is useful and there’s a small light to indicate if it is connected to the WiFi. If there is no WiFi, then you can still use it as a normal light switch.
IFTT Compatible: The WeMo is compatible with If This Then That (IFTTT) apps, allowing it to cooperate with other devices and perform actions based on their settings or sensor readings.
It also provides energy readings, so you can help keep a check on how much power you are consuming and fine tune the settings to reduce usage, not that most modern light bulbs are that power hungry.
Cons of the Belkin WeMo Smart Light Switch
There’s a few limitations on installing a WeMo Smart Light Switch that you’ll need to be aware of before buying.
Needs One-Way Wiring: It needs a neutral wire to work, and is compatible with one-way wiring systems, not three-way connections that some homes use.
Can’t Work with Two-Switch Lights: Also, it won’t work on lights that are controlled by two switches – for example stair lights with switches at the top and bottom.
Needs Frequent Firmware Updates: Typical of most smart home products there’s the odd firmware update to put up with when you first install them, and users have complained about slow updating, and trouble with some WiFi connections.
Is the WeMo Switch Worth Adopting Now?
As a gateway product into smart homes, the WeMo Smart Light Switch is a tantalising temptation. Relatively inexpensive, it lets anyone turn a boring light into a piece of smart tech. How many people will be running out into the street to try tuning the light on and off from their phone?
Once that novelty has worn off, there are several practical benefits including lighting management, and control through other smart devices.
Hopefully, Belkin will improve its compatibility with more complex home lighting systems and wiring solutions, but if you check that out beforehand you should have no trouble with such a simple and delightful device.
For anyone thinking about adding smart features to their home, this is a great first step, and as the product has been on the market for a while now, should prove no problem when it comes to reliability and any early tech issues should have been sorted.
Having started with the light switch, it should be easy to get the home updated with WeMo smart wall plugs to manage even more gear. Be sure to check this listing for any special deals/discounts.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!