One of the greatest pleasures I have found with iOS is incorporating it into my everyday life. So far, iOS has incorporated itself into my kitchen and security system, and I am looking forward to its continued movements thoughout my house. The latest addition is through the Belkin WeMo Light Switch and the WeMo Switch.
The Belkin WeMo Switch plugs into an outlet and allows you to plug in a device which then can be controlled through the WeMo app. Recently, Belkin also introduced the WeMo Light Switch which replaces a light switch to allow control of the switch from the WeMo app. This type of home automation has been around for some time but never has it been this easy or affordable. Keep reading on to see if the Belkin WeMo is truly a contender for a home-automation solution.
Belkin makes several WeMo controllers, but the two we are going to focus on are the WeMo Light Switch and the WeMo Switch. The WeMo Light Switch is a replacement switch for your current light switch, and comes with a switch and a faceplate. This needs to be hardwired into your electrical system, so you may want to get help from an electrician. While the wiring is not hard, there is an instructional video on their site that you should watch before purchasing to make sure it is compatible in your home.
Before purchasing the WeMo Light Switch there are a couple of things to consider. The first problem you can run into is adding it to a switch with more than one light switch in the same faceplate. Due to the size of the switch, it will not sit flush into a regular multi-switch faceplate. You can find custom multi-switch faceplates at your local hardware store. The other item to consider is that due to restrictions in the switch, it will not work with a three-way light switch.
If you are comfortable wiring a ceiling fan, the WeMo light switch shouldn’t be any harder.
If you are not comfortable with wiring or you would like to control an item which plugs into the wall, the WeMo Switch might be a more appropriate way to go. The switch plugs into the wall and has an outlet to plug an item into. The biggest complaint with the switch is the bulk as it does add some size to your outlet. Positioned correctly, the switch will only take up one slot of your outlets, but that also depends on the size of the other item which is plugged in. Also, due to the size it will take up more than one plug if you are using a surge protector, so keep that in mind.
In order to connect these switches to your Wi-Fi network, you first need to connect to the Wi-FI network which is created by each new switch from your iPhone. Once joined to the switches’ network, you can search for your own wireless network and enter your credentials in the WeMo app. At this point the switch will change Wi-Fi networks and reconnect your iOS device to your original network, which allows you to control the device.
Home Automation Benefits
So maybe you are reading this and you are wondering why? Why would I want to do all of this or pay this much just to turn on a lamp. The WeMo switches can also utilize rules. These rules are switch specific, and allow you to turn the device on or off. Therefore, your device can also be utilized as a timer switch as well. One rule that runs everyday on my switches includes turning off all switches at a certain time of the night. I use this rule to make sure I do not leave a light on all night because I have forgotten to turn it off. I also have rules setup to turn on lights when I am away, to give the appearance that someone is home.
Probably the most unique characteristic for the WeMo switches is the ability to connect them to IF This Then That(IFTTT). Using IFTTT you can create internet recipes to further enhance your WeMo’s. In the WeMo app you can generate an IFTTT pin which allows you to connect your switch to the service. Once connected you can set up rules such as using Siri to turn on your light.
Watch amazement enter over a kid’s face when they tell Santa to turn on the Christmas lights using this instructional article!
Another IFTTT rule I have setup is to turn on our bedroom light at sunset. This way, every night my bedroom light is already on when we walk in. More examples and documentation for WeMo recipes can be found on the IFTTT website. The possibilities are nearly limitless.
Let Me Get The Light For You
Once you have connected the switch to your Wi-Fi network, a list of all connected switches shows up in the WeMo app.
It is important to note that controlling your devices will work from anywhere your iPhone has a connection, including on cell networks.
In order to better identify each switch a custom picture can be taken and custom name can be given to each switch. To either turn or off a device, pressing the circle next to each item will activate it. If the device is currently on, the power icon will light up green.
As previously mentioned, rules related to each switch can also be setup from within the WeMo app. Rules can have more than one action, such as turn on then turn off, or just one action, such as turn on at 9am or at sunset. Rules are easy to understand, but setting them up does require more work than it should. For example, after choosing a switch and the action it should complete, the user is forced to press back multiple times to get back to the main screen to enter the rule’s name. I wish the screens would automatically load forward after the user has made their choice on each screen.
The WeMo family of products really make it easy and affordable to add some home automation to your house. The controllers and app have worked well on a continuous basis. Also, Belkin has pushed out updates during the last few months which seem to have gotten rid of several bugs by making the connection of switches more stable. By connecting a switch to the power of IFTTT and your personal preferences, the Belkin WeMo Switches and app is a great and easy way to bring home automation to your home.