It was two or three years ago at CES where we started to see home automation really begin to take off. The thing about home automation, besides how incredibly cool it is, is the fact that is has to be easy. Cutting holes, digging in walls, running cables, etc. Who wants that? Belkin’s relatively new WeMo line is a group of products designed to make your life easier. From outlets to motion sensors, baby monitors, and light switches, the WeMo line is easy to install into your home and easy to set up, with zero mess and zero frustration. If you’ve been looking for an affordable way to put the control of your house into the palm of your hand the WeMo line of products might be the best way to start. In this review we’ll take a look at one of the more complicated products from the WeMo line, the Light Switch. Complicated not because it’s difficult to use but more so because it requires a bit more when it comes to installation. Don’t be scared though. I had my WeMo Light Switch up and running in a few minutes, with some help.
Read on through for my full review and be sure to catch my video at the end for a more up close and personal look at the Belkin WeMo Light Switch.
Inside the packaging you’ll find the WeMo Light Switch and plate cover along four wire nuts and a set of instructions.
Here’s what Belkin has to say about the WeMo Light Switch .
The Wi-Fi® enabled WeMo Light Switch allows you to turn lights on and off from anywhere–from across the house, from the backyard, or from the other side of the world. WeMo Light Switch replaces a standard light switch in your home and can be controlled remotely with an Android smartphone or tablet, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It works with your existing Wi-Fi® network and anywhere your smartphone or tablet has an Internet connection (3G or 4G LTE). Easy for most Do It Yourselfers.
- Turn room lights on and off from anywhere with your smartphone
- Works with your existing home Wi-Fi network and mobile Internet
- Set up rules for lights going on and off at Sunset and Sunrise
- Set a schedule for lights in different rooms
- Replaces your existing wall switch Subtle backlighting makes the switch easy to find at night
- Works with the entire family of Belkin WeMo products
- Works with IFTTT, connecting you to a whole world of Web apps
- Installs quickly and easily for Do-It-Yourselfers
- Free WeMo App for Android and iOS
- Decorative face plate included
- One-year limited warranty
The most difficult part of the WeMo Light Switch install happens way before the install begins. It’s finding a spot to place it! First off the switch comes with only a single faceplate. In my home there are very few light switches which are single switches. The only single switches I could find are in closets and that just didn’t make sense. Second, Belkin says that the WeMo Light Switch can not be placed on any switches that are 3-way (two switches control the same light from 2 different locations.) My home is 7 years old. Almost every switch in my house is a 3-way, which I imagine is true of many newer homes.
In the end I ordered a new face plate so that I could place the WeMo Light Switch in a place that made sense, on the switch that controls the light at my back door.
The Belkin web site states that the WeMo Light Switch is perfect for “Do It Yourselfers.” I’m the first to admit I’m not one so I hired my local electrician to perform the installation. The first step in the process is to remove the existing switch.
With the old switch out of the way the electrician could begin attaching the leads coming from the WeMo Light Switch to the wires in the wall. This was fairly straight forward and the entire process took less than ten minutes.
The Belkin web site has a great video which goes over the WeMo Light Switch installation process. Even though I wasn’t installing the switch myself I watched the video several times just to familiarize myself with how it went. You can check out that video here. The electrician didn’t need the video to complete the installation. He described the process as being the same as any other switch. He’d never installed one of the WeMo switches before.
The WeMo Light Switch does ship along with a white faceplate that matches the switch. However, I opted to place the switch along side another light switch, therefore the included face plate wasn’t going to work. I found a replacement face plate, which matched the one I had previously on for under $10. Also note. Belkin says the WeMo is not compatible with metal face plates as these might interfere with the WeMo’s WiFi signal. The face plate I’m using is in fact metal and so far I’ve not seen any issues. It is however relatively close to my router.
After the switch was set up I was ready to configure it using the WeMo iOS application available from the iTunes App Store here (link opens iTunes.) Android users click here (link opens Google Play Store.)
To use the WeMo Light Switch with your iOS device you first connect to it under WiFi in Settings. Once the connection has been made you can launch the WeMo application to begin the set up process. The first step in the process is to connect the WeMo to your actual wireless network. If your network is password protected you’ll have to enter your password, so make sure to have it handy. You can assign the switch a name, give it a location and even take a custom photo of it. In the case of this switch a firmware update was also required. This reset the WeMo and took about five minutes to complete. Once the firmware update was complete the WeMo Light Switch was ready for use.
As far as functionality goes the WeMo Light Switch looks and acts like any other switch. Press it once to turn on your lights, press it again to turn them off. However, the beauty of the switch lies in what you can do with it from the app. For starters you can turn lights on from your phone. Last night my family was out on our patio enjoying a fire and making S’Mores. When it started to get dark and it was time to cleanup I took out my phone and had the back light turned on in under a minute without ever leaving my chair.
If you enter your location into the app you can set it up so that it turns your lights on automatically at sundown and off at sun up. If you use the popular IFTTT service the list of options that you can play with is virtually endless. For example, you can set up IFTTT to turn on your WeMo Light Switch every time you Foursquare checkin at home. Or use Siri to turn off or on your Lights by sending a text message. Cool stuff right?
Check out my full video review below…
It was but a few hours after I’d had the WeMo Light Switch installed and setup that I’d found a use for it. I’d say that’s a pretty fast #win. Home automation is certainly exploding and Belkin has found a way to bring it to the home owner in a simplified and easy to manage fashion. If you’ve been thinking about bringing some home automation into your house but have been scared off by difficult to use products or messy install, be scared no more! WeMo is here, it’s easy to set up, mess free and just works.
You can learn more about the Belkin WeMo Light Switch by visiting this page on the company’s web site.
PROS: Easy to set up for DIYers. Tons of custom options.
CONS: May not work in every location in your house.