With a few months of use behind me, my feelings about Belkin's WeMo switch are just as conflicting now as I was dismantling this. On paper, the idea of a switch that you can use to make it intelligent is fantastic. In fact, I struggled to find many, if any honest, devices I wanted to use with WeMo. But that's not my flesh problem with the WeMo switch. Their connectivity is very fragile, the app is quite old, and integration with other smart home devices is very stuck and missed, mainly because of the above connectivity issues.
But to be correct, your mileage will vary. Some users do not report any issues with many WeMo switches in their home setup, while others like me with just one or two. This is an inconsistency in the experience that makes it difficult to recommend Belkin's solution.
As it stands now, I find it hard to justify using the WeMo switch with anything after I drop the Christmas tree at home and work. As I mentioned before, making the tree intelligent is one of the best use of switches with Google Home and it's easy to solve this problem for a few weeks when you can say, "This is Christmas time!" and may your tree light up ... when my House sees it available. But beyond that, frustration is enough that I might be packing WeMo until next Christmas.
Hardware and setup
Since I live in Lebanon, the EU compatible 220V and Type C switches are what I will see. But Belkin makes this also for the US (including the newer Mini smart plug), UK, Australia, as well as some European countries (eg France). Applications and experiences should be the same, regardless of the type of plug you buy.
The first thing I noticed when opening the box was that the switch was very large. After using the super smart Smart Aeotec 6 before, this is rather surprising. I understand that WiFi module and smart built-in may require more space than Z-Wave radio which does not need to do anything except connect to the hub, but when Galaxy Note8 or Pixel 2 XL can be under 1cm thick, there is no reason. to have very large buttons. Forget about making the plug next to it unavailable, this can easily block some wall switch modules when installed. And yes, I know this switch is several years old now, but it does not confirm that Belkin has not released a newer one yet. version with smaller size.
Regular switches are the largest of both. This giant is really as tall as 13cm, 8cm wide, and 4cm thick. Fortunately it is tilted at the top if it will not even look much bigger. The top also has a manual power button and indicator light. It costs € 49.99 or $ 39.99, but can often be found less.
The Insight Switch, which can calculate your power consumption, is newer and smaller than both. Its size is only 10cm high, 7cm wide, and 4cm thick. The MSRP is € 59.99 or $ 49.99, but again, it can also be found less.
It also has an indicator at the top that turns green or orange depending on the signal and its connectivity. It can also be suppressed, which I found due to errors because dark circles do not look like buttons, but clicks that you hear in response are very satisfying although not much pressing. Like a regular Switch, this works as a manual on / off button.
Both switches are well built though only made of white plastic, I have no complaints there. All you have to worry about is that you stay on your TV or tree.
Prepare them, however, is a completely different story. This should be easy but it needs some effort to complete the whole process. Your phone needs to connect to WiFi network while WeMo and then teach it to your WiFi password. However, regardless of my turning off WiFi scanning on my phone as suggested, the switch continues to unplug and fails to finish the setup before it finally works. This app lets you save the WiFi settings even if a new plug you connect should not last long.
Please note that it is useless during the setup you are required to create an account. Only your email is required for important communications from WeMo, but nothing more. You may be wondering how you might control the switch remotely: they are tied to your phone, the app only needs to be set while on the same network, then you are authorized to control your switches even while you are away. .
One of the sad parts of the WeMo experience is the application. It looks old, Ice Cream Sandwich is old, and it's clumsy and slow. I often have to wait while the Froyo-style spinning circle is loaded on the screen for a few seconds ... sometimes even more. The interface is not perfect, but I think it's functional. You see the name of your switch, the quick on / off power button, how long the time is on or off, and for the Insight Switch you also get the estimated monthly and daily usage. Status is not quickly updated in apps, so you need the reload button to show the correct status sometimes. That's if your switch is detected. Sometimes, even if installed, the app will not see it.
Tapping on the edit button opens a list of all the transition options, such as renaming it, adding images for it that can be useful if you have multiple switches for different devices, as well as power consumption and cost for Insights. You can export the data into .csv via email and even automate reports that will happen daily, weekly or monthly.
Some other options available are the settings for the thresholds on which the Insight switch is considered or inactive, and the cost per Kwh where you can determine what the price of electricity in your neck is from the forest. This is required for all cost calculations.
I imagine this can be very useful if you want to reduce the cost or if you are trying to see if certain tools go wrong and use too much power. Since I only use switches on my christmas tree, I find little use for power monitoring. But the WeMo switch technically has to handle up to 15A, which means you can put some great equipment in there without worry. I have read reports from people who use them with a washing machine, so you do not have to limit yourself to lights and small devices. And in that context, monitoring power consumption makes more sense.
The WeMo app lets you set some rules for your switch so you can automate some things directly. That's functional enough if you do not want to use IFTTT integration or other smart home hub.
If you have read my LiFX reviews, you will know that one of the main things I want in a lamp is a timer. So I'm glad to see the auto-off timer in the WeMo app. You can activate it in certain periods, so I set the Christmas tree at home to go automatically after 5 minutes between sunrise and sunset. At night, if it is turned on, keep it on.
There is also a schedule rule to automatically turn on or off the keys at certain times of the day, on certain days.
and Away mode, which I think will first turn off all the switches automatically when I'm not home, but it turns out it's just changing some devices on and off to give the illusion that someone is at home if you're not at home. And finally, there is a notification rule if you want to know when a switch is active, inactive, or has been turned on for a while.
Unfortunately, there is no attendance mode set up, so if you want your switch to be turned on or off when you're at home or when you're away you have to use another app to do it (for example, IFTTT).
The last part of the WeMo app is for Settings. There you can enable or disable remote access for your switches, connect to IFTTT, Nest, and Alexa, and determine if your WiFi settings will be remembered to simplify future WeMo device setup. That's important, because as I said at the beginning, preparation may take a little effort.
The Setup section is also where you will find all the tutorials, preparation FAQs, and links to some practical and community support pages.
And to solve the problem, here's where you'll see the firmware version, MAC address and IP of your device, and your app's current connectivity status.
Smart home integration
The Google home and the Assistant
Since there are no WeMo accounts, adding a switch to Google Home / Assistant is a new process for me. I'm directed to an oauth page where the phone should see which WeMos is on the same network.
After verification, Christmas Tree appears in the list of my Assistant devices, under Household control, and I can assign it to a room or replace its nickname if I want it.
Unfortunately, Google Home / Assistant integration made me confused several times. One time out of two, I will ask Google Home to power / turn the christmas tree on and off. Another time, it will be said that the Christmas tree appears to be unavailable. When opening the WeMo app, I will see that the transition is available. This distrust made me injured several times in the last few weeks. If successful, it's magical, otherwise it's just frustrating.
IFTTT, SmartThings, Alexa
WeMo's SmartThings integration is still under the "Labs" section, and from my experience, it should stay there for a while.
When successful, my Christmas Tree appeared perfectly in the app with a recent log action and all of the SmartApps integration I tested worked out well (the timer when we left, goodbye on a regular basis to turn everything off when we left, and so on.)
But unfortunately, connectivity is no longer a problem here. This transition appears not available multiple times within SmartThings, although it can be accessed from the WeMo app. And the country needs some time to update (even the power refreshes will not work) when switching on or off the switch. So I'm stuck with a "back" message more often than I care about.
As for IFTTT, there are several different services for regular WeMo switches and Insight switches. Once connected through the WeMo app (not through the IFTTT app), you can add the applet you want. It opens the switch to be integrated with many other devices and services, but sometimes I respond slowly to IFTTT, and can not be trusted multiple times.
And finally, I did not test it but there's Alexa's expertise for WeMo, which is like all WeMo stuff, does not work well for some people having some problems for others. You may have seen a pattern there with switches that can not be found on networks or remote access that do not work from other services, regardless of where they are.
Utility, value, and ultimate thought
If the idea of a switch can change something that interests you, I suggest you stop and think a little before you plunge in that direction. For lamps and lights, buying smart lights from LiFX or Hue could be a better choice because of dimming, color, and at least a more useful app and a little bit of connectivity issues. For a coffee machine, a slow cooker, and a variety of other electronic equipment and appliances, check if it is enough to remove the plug from the outlet and reconnect the device on / off. If there are other buttons required, the smart key will not help at all. For example, I first thought that a smart switch would be great for turning on and off my DiskStation Synology when needed, as we were away from home almost all day long and hardly used it remotely, but because DiskStation had a physical strength button. , the whole strategy failed. And finally, if you just want to turn on / off your TV or home entertainment center, you may find better value in a universal remote or hub like Harmony Logitech, which can also control more devices.
As with stand, there are three obvious uses for smart switches that I can think of: monitor the power consumption of essential tools (washing machines, dryers, hairdryers or straighteners), seasonal lights and decorations like Christmas or Halloween, and fans. It's winter here but during the summer, turning on and off the fan with sound controls or app sounds like a good idea.
By saying that, there are many practical uses for smart switches. Sound controls and automatic schedules are just about comfort, but turn off the long-distance hairstyles if you think you're letting them light or divert your lights while you go on vacation for a few days to illustrate someone who's at home more about security and can justify placing some twenty dollars for a switch or more if you need some around the house.
But still, I can not recommend the WeMo solution. When successful and for the job, the average is bordering on the good. But for those who are not, the experience can be frustrating, from a seemingly annoying setup, to slow and annoying applications, to a number of connectivity and visibility issues. Either the app will not detect the WeMo occasionally, or even doing so, which will not carry over 100% of the time to other related services such as IFTTT or Google Assistant or SmartThings. Again, this will not be a problem for everyone, but the delta experience is the main reason I have a question mark around WeMo. Maybe you can start by grabbing one and seeing how well it works and then plunging more if you need it.