The Fastest Way to Join the Internet of Things? Belkin WeMo Home Automation

Do you want to take advantage of the Internet of Things today? The Belkin WeMo Home Automation line of products is perhaps the easiest and fastest way to do it.

You may know Belkin for making great consumer accessories, however the majority of their business is probably that of being a supplier the electronics and electrical industries. for many decades. I know that as a lifelong musician, getting a guitar or microphone cable that featured Belkin components was always a good sign. So it was with interest that we had a chance to use the Belkin WeMo Home Automation family of products. In particular, the WeMo Switch,  Insight Switch, and WeMo Light Switch.

We’ve seen many reviews of these, including the ones on Amazon. Most people are thrilled with their performance and ease of use. A few people have reported issues with setting up the devices initially. From what I can glean from these frustrations, it is either because the person didn’t understand the requirement necessary for proper installation or they didn’t allow the devices to automatically update themselves first to the latest firmware before attempting to use them. From my point of view there is not much that can be done about those cases. Whether on a retail website like Amazon or on Belkin’s own website, great care has been made to alert consumers about how to use them. I’m not sure how much more Belkin can do. There will always be people who just won’t read a manual or watch a video no matter how simplified and accurate they may be.  That said, I found the Belkin WeMo Home Automation line of products easy to set up and consistently performed as advertised. Here’s a look at the big three that I’ve used in the series:

Belkin WeMo Switch

belkin-wemo-switch-qtoothThe Belkin WeMo Switch is the most simple device in the series. Looking like a single outlet plug adaptor, you simply plug it into your wall outlet and then plug whatever device you want to control into the WeMo switch. Setting it up to communicate with my home WiFi network was pretty routine and the instructions on how to do so were quite clear. Then, using the free app that is available for the iPhone, I was able to remotely power the outlet on and off, thereby turning the floor lamp that was plugged into it on and off. Voila! Simple. As long as my house has power, the WiFi is turned on, and I have my cell phone, this can be done from virtually anywhere in the world. There are also options to program when there is power to the outlet by using the app’s scheduler. Perfect if I want to automate lights to turn on or off when I’m away on vacation or if I want to turn the lights on from my car before I come into the house (handy when carrying armloads of groceries).

Of course this can be used with any device that plugs into the wall, stereos, TVs, space heaters, coffee maker, holiday lights, air conditioners, etc…  Limited only by your imagination.

Belkin WeMo Light Switch

belkin-wemo-light-switch-qtoothThe Belkin WeMo Light Switch is probably the second most popular unit in the series. It takes a bit more to use because it actually requires replacing your current light switch. This involves a bit of know-how when it comes to wiring, If you are not comfortable with this, and fear the risk of getting shocked with the full electrical current from your house’s wiring, you should really look into hiring a professional. Or, at the very least, ask your more tech or handy-oriented friend or member of the family. Since I grew up in a house full of master tradesmen, this was a piece of cake for me. The Belkin WeMo Light switch is perfectly designed to replace the stock light switch in the majority of cases. There are two tips that Belkin tries very hard to make clear: the wiring in your wall MUST have a neutral wire and you should use the included faceplate if the current one is made of metal. This last tip is there because a metal faceplate might block the wireless WiFi signal. Makes sense! Once installed, these work great and can be overridden remotely at anytime. No need to worry if you last left the switch in a certain position that might inhibit remote access.

Belkin WeMo Motion

belkin-wemo-motion-sensor-qtoothThe Belkin WeMo Motion is a motion detector that hooks into one of their WeMo Switches. That said, the first tip would be to make sure you understand that the WeMo Motion will NOT work without buying a WeMo Switch to go with it. Luckily they are mostly sold a s apackage deal and it is likely that you’ll end up with exactly what you need. Besides that, there are plenty of uses for this and I found that it worked really well. Great for security purposes, it can also be used so that environmental controls or entertainment devices can cycle on and off as you move room to room.

Although I haven’t tried them, there are other members of the Belkin WeMo Home Automation family. There is the WeMo Insight Switch that allows you to track your electrical usage per outlet and the WeMo Baby that acts as an update on the classic baby monitor.

belkin-wemo-phone-app-qtoothAll of this is pretty powerful stuff and can all be controlled on either an iOS device or an Android device using Belkin’s free apps. I find the aesthetic design of these to be spot on and should meld well with just about any decor. Conclusion? Love it, and am looking forward to maybe hacking a few of these for my own nefarious IoT (Internet of Things) purposes. Especially when by writing a few controller scripts on IFTTT. Mwahahahahaha…!