Belkin WeMo Light Switch – Smart and Simple
Belkin’s WeMo Light Switch, smart by way of Wifi, is the first piece of home automation to be installed in our Dream Home “Smarter Home Automation” Project. That means we started it this past weekend. March 8th to be precise. I’m calling it a two year project. We’ll see how that plays out. But, back to the this cleverly named WeMo “Light Switch.”
I am going to write up a full review with images of the installing the WeMo, and more, in review format, but here’s a taste to get you all excited.
The WeMo Light Switch as Belkin calls it, communicates with your iPhone or other iOS device, or the android equivalents. It accomplishes this by talking to your Wifi.
Several of Belkin’s WeMo devices arrived last week while we were on vacation, waiting for my return. I got back Friday night. Saturday I woke up ambitious and decided to install some.
Belkin sent me three different WeMo devices, the Light Switch which replaces the usual flat toggle light switches, The second item is an external outlet that plugs into a wall outlet to give control of whatever’s plugged into it. It comes with a companion piece that also plugs into a wall outlet. That piece has a motion sensor attached. No doubt with great resolve, Belkin risked it all to come up with a mind blowing name for this device. Not to be outdone by the brilliance of Light Switch, Belkin came through with: Switch + Motion. Simple, says it all. Using the two components you could plug a lamp in to the outlet and control it, schedule it, or trigger it with the motion sensor.
In box number three was Belkin’s Insight Switch. Which looks much like the Switch + Motion, without the Motion piece, but Insight reports to you on the energy usage and costs for whatever is plugged into it. It will show you about what you are spending monthly.
I’ll blog and review those others soon, but let’s finish up talking about the Light Switch.
I’ve long wanted a remote controlled wall switch, that is, I had a problem looking for a solution. In my theater, the main light switch by the entry doors near the back controls my lights. It’s almost opposite where I sit, about 15 feet away. I’m always getting up and down turning them on and off when watching, reviewing, etc. How nice it would be to turn it on and off from my phone or iPad, both always next to my captain’s chair which is ground zero for writing, and watching. Hey, I probably need the exercise of getting up and down a lot, but sometimes it’s a pain. Here comes WeMo.
I powered down the appropriate circuit breaker, removed the wall plate over the existing rocker switches (2). I unscrewed the switch I was replacing, paying attention to what would be hot, and ground, etc. The WeMo has four wires coming off of it, including positive, ground, etc. The Light Switch wires up typically with 3, but that depends on what your wiring looks like.
I replaced the wires, put on the screw caps on them, tightened in the new switch, and put on the wall plate.
Moment of truth time: I flipped the circuit breaker back on, and voila, the power icon (soft green) on the Light Switch glowed. Eureka, I wired it up right.
Next it was time to configure the Light Switch.
Off to the Apple App store, a quick search, and the app was quickly downloaded and updated, in just a few minutes.
Belkin keeps the instructions very basic, but that’s all it takes. First try and I was able to get the Switch to talk to my wifi network, and have the Light Switch show up as a device on the WeMo App. (The review will show the various screens of the app, in sequence.)
I can turn it on, or off, or set a schedule for the switch.
Perhaps some of us will simply think of the Belkin Light Switch as a next gen replacement for the Clapper. But it does a lot more. And you can work it while holding a full drink in your other hand.
I’ll go into more details in the review, but folks, let me just say, again, this is really nice and simple.
Let me mention that all the WeMo devices I install show up on the same App. That’s nice. As I put in a few more Belkin pieces I’ll let you know if its easy to navigate through them all. Renaming helps of course, so I labeled my first Light Switch “Theater Lights”.)
All considered, I think Belkin has a pretty cool product in terms of the Light Switch, and it’s just one of Belkin’s first solutions to ship. They’ve got more WeMo products coming, as well as smart lights (Zigbee compatible) and more. The obvious strength is that Belkin really made things simple.
I realize there are going to be lots of different competing products, although most most devices are designed to work with systems such as Z-wave and Zigbee Alliance, which use controllers. In this case, though, most of us can just buy a few WeMos and quickly be up and running thanks to already having wifi in our homes – or businesses. The Belkin Light Switch in just 3 days has already delivered on the Smarter. It’s saved me time (and effort), and I know that I’ve already checked and once turned it off remotely, from elsewhere, so it’s saving me some pennies too. -art