If you’re really into smart home products like Belkin WeMo Smart Plug & light switch offerings, then today’s your lucky day because I have 3 different items to review for you. Let’s get started!
Pictured above are the WeMo Insight Plug, the WeMo Smart Plug Mini, and the WeMo Light Switch in their individual packages. Each of these products makes use of the free WeMo App to control whatever you wish to use them with. The first 2 products that I will discuss today are the plugs (outlets), which are most definitely the easiest ones to install. It’s mostly just a matter of plugging them in and getting the app up and running. The third product, the WeMo Light Switch, takes a little bit more work to set up as you actually have to wire it into your home’s electrical grid. Still, installation is a relatively quick process that will ultimately provide you with greatly enhanced control over the light fixture (or any other device) that’s wired into the upgraded switch.
Note about the WI-FI Light Switch: You needn’t be an electrician nor a handyman/woman to get this light switch installed and working, but please do take care to ensure that you first turn off the breaker for to the switch that you’re going to be swapping out. With just a little bit of care and just a few minutes work, you’ll open your home to a world of modern conveniences the likes of which haven’t been seen since the last Star Trek series went off the air. Read on for full product descriptions and my own experiences with them.
Testing the WeMo Smart Plug Mini
First up is the WeMo Mini Smart Plug. The beauty of this product is that it turns any standard wall outlet into a smart outlet. The implications of this are many and varied. For instance, you can turn plugged-in devices/appliances on and off from virtually anywhere, you can set schedules of when you want lights (etc.) to come on or go off, or you can play around with your lighting schedule so as to make it look (to potential intruders) that you’re at home when in fact you’re not even in town. What’s more, because of the size and shape of the WeMo Smart Plug Mini, you can put more than one unit into a 2 plug outlet—a single unit won’t take up the entire space by itself. This is a very useful configuration that is not true of the Insight Plug (covered below). The reason that all of this works is the amazing (and free) Belkin WeMo App, which works with your existing WI-FI network & smart phone or tablet. You’ll need to make sure that you’re running either iOS 8.0 and up (for Apple users) or Android 4.1 and up for those with Android based devices (Note: The Insight Plug has lesser minimum requirements).
My experience with this plug was pretty good overall. Even though the setup process is described as being super straightforward and easy, I did have a couple of hitches. While it’s true that the steps required for setup are simple enough, for some reason I kept getting errors and connection problems. This was mildly annoying for a while, but when the app and the switches finally did decide to begin cooperating, everything just kind of fell into place at once. I wasn’t even quite sure what had changed that made everything now decide to work. So, while getting these units up and running wasn’t as simple as intended, it also wasn’t so bad as to put me off recommending the product. If you have any issues getting started, just hang in there and keep trying. The system might be a bit glitchy in the beginning, but once I downloaded and installed a firmware update, it was all smooth sailing from there. Everything has been behaving as expected since going through the initial setup process.
Testing the WeMo Insight Smart Plug
Next we have the Belkin WeMo Insight Wi-Fi Smart Plug. Aside from having pretty much the same features as the WeMo Smart Plug Mini, the Insight Plug also gives you the option of choosing to regulate appliances or devices that are plugged into it. Want to limit a particular appliance to a pre-specified amount of power? No problem! It’s music to the ears of the energy conscious! Also notable is the fact that the Insight Plug is IFTTT (If This, Then That) compatible. In fact, each of the products I’m reviewing today is. What this ultimately means is that you’ll be able to integrate them all into your larger smart home setup. It’s pretty handy for those who want a fully connected smart home!
The Insight WI-FI Plug is easy to install and to use. To install, simply plug it in to any wall outlet, download the WeMo App, use your device’s Wi-Fi settings to connect to the WeMo network, and then launch the app to complete the setup process. Once you’re up and running, you’ll have complete control over whatever is plugged into your Insight Smart Plug right through your smart phone. I found this process mostly easy to do, although I never have my WI-FI network password handy, so this did create a bit of an annoyance while I went and tracked it down. If not for this slight hitch, I likely would have had the plug fully set up in under 3 minutes. For those that are good with these types of gadgets, it should be a breeze getting started.
Testing the WeMo Wi-Fi Light Switch
Finally there’s the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Light Switch, which replaces standard light switches in your home, thus allowing you to turn your lights on and off from anywhere. There are 2 key things you need to know about this switch. First, it has to be hard wired it into your home’s electrical system, meaning you’ve got to be mindful when installing the switch, taking care to turn off the power to that outlet before getting started. I cannot stress this point enough!!! And second, this switch cannot be installed in any location where the same light fixture (or whatever happens to be controlled by that switch) is controlled by multiple switches. In other words, if control of the light/device in question is shared by 2 or more switches, then this switch cannot be one of them. Once you know these 2 basic rules, you’re ready to go.
Installation of the WI-FI Switch is simply a matter of cutting power to the switch you’re replacing, removing the screws from the old switch’s panel/covering, taking the old switch out and disconnecting its wires, replacing the old switch with the new switch (wiring it in), and replacing the old wall panel with the new, included one to finish off the look. Once this brief process is complete, it’s just a matter of following the basic steps involving the WeMo App to get the switch working. The entire process takes only a few minutes and can be done by pretty much anyone. You hardly even need any tools, and the end result is an IFTTT compatible switch that’s easy to use and super convenient. The WeMo App is essentially a hub for all of your WeMo products, so the same app easily controls all of the items discussed in this review.
Examining the Video Evidence
Please take a few minutes to watch my brief video overview of all 3 WeMo Smart Plug & Light Switch products:
If you enjoy having the kind of control over your electrical outlets and light switches that the above WeMo Smart Plug & Light Switch models offer, then I certainly don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of these offerings. While I didn’t personally find them to be as easy to install as they were meant to be, they certainly did work as advertised once they were up and running, and the process of installation wasn’t really all that difficult. If you do choose to give these products a try, just keep in mind their unique characteristics: The WeMo Smart Plug Mini can be stacked (doubled up) in a 2 outlet port, the Insight Plug can track your power consumption and allows you to set limits on its usage, and the Light Switch has to be hard wired into your home’s electrical grid. Those are the key points to know for each unit. Good luck and enjoy your smart home!