Home automation controlled from a smartphone or tablet isn’t a novel concept now, but the way it’s implemented certainly varies. You have expensive systems that cover a lot of the home and can be controlled from within, but what if you had a less expensive way to control only the lights and appliances you really wanted to, even if you weren’t home? Belkin’s WeMo looks to be the beginning of such a strategy, especially since it’s designed to work with your iPhone or iPad.
Belkin has separated the two devices reviewed here, but they’re really just the same switch, only that one is the Switch + Motion that includes a motion sensor (more on that in a bit). The premise here is that you plug in a lamp, a fan, coffee maker, space heater, or anything that plugs into a wall straight into the Switch. The Switch has Wi-Fi built-in, and there’s a process on the WeMo app on your iPhone to help it connect. Once it’s connected, the Switch can then control the on-and-off for the appliance that’s plugged into it.
Belkin smartly designed this so that the three prongs are at the very bottom of the Switch, so you don’t end up covering the outlet on the bottom. It’s also nice that you don’t have to reconnect the Switch to your home network if you want to move it from one place to another within your home. Whatever “Rules” you’ve applied through the app also don’t change, and this is largely because the data is saved in the cloud, and not on the app itself.
For example, if you want a lamp to stay lit while you head out for the night, you can apply that to the Switch and tell it what timeframe you want. Same with a coffee pot, where you can turn it on and then off after the coffee’s done. I was asked by a friend if plugging in a power bar into the Switch meant that multiple appliances could work simultaneously, but in my testing, nothing worked at all, so power bars or adapters aren’t likely to work. It may even be a fire hazard, given that one adapter would be connected to another.
The Motion sensor works very much the same way. It has its own adapter that you plug into the wall, with a jack at the bottom that the sensor attaches to. Setup is pretty much identical, as is how you set the rules you want it to go with. For instance, if you connect it to a fan, you can tell it to stop working 10 minutes after it last sensed movement. With a lamp, you can have it turn on as soon as you enter a room and then off again when you leave.
The one caveat to the Motion sensor is that pets can easily trip it if you place it on the floor. The fact the connector cable is 6-ft. long definitely helps get around that. But the sensor isn’t just a unit that works on its own — you can tell it what to do remotely. You can adjust the sensitivity with which it recognizes motion, and you can even tell it what timeframe you want it to work. This is pretty cool, since you can have it on while you’re not home, and then off when you arrive based on a schedule.
The IFTTT (If This Then That) feature is neat in that it uses certain apps to tell you when something happens with either the Switch or Motion. So, for example, if the motion sensor is triggered for whatever reason, be it your kid just got home or, knock on wood, someone broke in, you could set up IFTTT to notify you by text or email. It’s still in beta, so Belkin will have some kinks to work out, but it’s super convenient to have that flexibility.
The biggest drawback that you might find with these is that they can’t control light switches. It’s one thing to remotely turn on a floor lamp or space heater, but when you can’t control overhead lights or ceiling fans, you might feel like something’s missing. Still, for the purpose of making it look like someone is home or turning on a fan or space heater in advance to cool or warm up a room, it’s undoubtedly convenient to do so from your iPhone. So long as you have access to 3G or Wi-Fi, you can do what you want with your connected appliances.
The price tag might seem a bit steep for what you get here, but that really depends on what your needs are. This is why Belkin sells just the Switch alone, or bundled with the Motion + Sensor (too bad they don’t sell the Motion + Sensor separately, too). It can be pricey to buy a few and deploy them around your home, but if you only need one or two, it might be worth it to you.
Belkin's WeMo Switch is a great way to automate and control electronics in your home from your iPhone or iOS device. Using your phone's internet connection and the Belkin app, you can control and schedule when your devices in your home come on. It's easy to use and easy to setup. And, if it plugs into your wall, it works with WeMo.
Belkin's WeMo Switch and Motion Detector is a great way to automate and control electronics in your home from your iPhone or iOS device. In addition to scheduling electronics, the motion detector can be set to turn lights and electronics on and off when entering or leaving a room. It's easy to use and easy to setup. And, if it plugs into your wall, it works with WeMo.
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