Belkin WeMo Ecosystem
elkin has been a long-time player in the computer accessory business. So it’s no surprise that it has become a signiﬁcant player in the home automation game already with its WeMo line of products. We’ve installed several around our home. Rather than reviewing each one separately, we’re going to look at life in a home that’s been given the WeMo treatment. The WeMo product ecosystem is very extensive. There are light bulbs, that come with both screw and bayonet ﬁttings, smart switches that replace your existing switches or work off existing power points, security cameras and motion sensors, as well as appliances from third parties that integrate WeMo’s automation smarts. We set up our place with a WeMo LED Lighting Starter Kit, a WeMo Insight Switch and a WeMo Switch.
IT STARTS WITH THE APP The thing about home automation is that it’s easy to get drawn into thinking purely about the hardware. But real automation needs an intuitive software system that makes it all hang together. The WeMo app – a free download from the App Store, or Google Play Store if you’re an Android user – makes it easy to carry out most activities.
The app is critical, as it’s needed whenever you add a new device, as well as when you want to control something. For the most part, the app worked perfectly, but we did encounter a few hiccups. We started our setup by installing one Smart LED Bulb to a light ﬁtting. That went smoothly. A day or two later, we added a second bulb. The ‘Add a new device’ option took a couple of goes before it worked and the second lamp was online. Similarly, we hit some glitches when added the two switches we set up. Like any connected device, there are ﬁrmware updates that were needed. Although the process was automatic, we found there was a day or so when we were informed that new ﬁrmware was available. This occurred a couple of times, but we had no easy way of knowing if different devices were being updated or whether previous updates hadn’t worked correctly. The app also makes it possible to create rules and even work with IFTTT (If This Then That) so your lights and other devices can interact with non-WeMo systems. For example, we used a recipe (an IFTTT set of instructions that’s been saved) that automatically turned the lights on when we get home by using location services on the iPhone and switched them off when we leave.
All of those functions can be controlled either while you’re at home or remotely if you allow remote access to the WeMo ecosystem.
WEMO LED LIGHTING STARTER KIT Price: $179.95 (additional bulbs $59.95) The Light Starter Kit includes two Smart LED Bulbs and a WeMo Link. The WeMo Link is the hub of the lighting network. It can connect up to 50 bulbs to your WeMo setup. We plugged it into a power outlet in the centre of our home – a medium-sized three-bedroom unit. It can be used with the supplied bulbs as well as many other options from WeMo’s range, including spots, garden lights and the Osram LIGHTIFY Flex strip lights. The Smart LED Bulbs we tested came with screw ﬁttings. In order to use one with an existing light ﬁtting, we used a bayonet to screw adapter. These cost about $5 each from many lighting retailers. It’s worth noting these adapters add a few centimetres to the distance the bulb protrudes from a light ﬁtting. In our case, this meant the class cover no longer ﬁtted over the bulb. WeMo does offer bayonet ﬁttings for both single bulbs and the Starter Kit – just make sure you buy the right ﬁttings for your home.