Belkin WeMo Insight Switch review: control home appliances and electronics from your iPhone

By , Aug 26, 2014

Belkin-WeMo-Insight-Switch

Growing up as a child, anytime my family would venture out of town for more than a couple days, my father would run around the house trying to locate “the timers.” The timers, with which anyone is familiar, were the timer switches for the lamps in the house. They were old brown boxes with a beige turn wheel and a little switch, think I/O, for each of 24 hours. After manually selecting each switch to either turn on or off the receptacle, off you go for vacation. Now your lights magically turn on while you are away.

Even in the late ’80′s, I remember those timers looking dated, even acting dated. But, they worked and continue to be the same technology most people use today. Thankfully, Belkin is putting a stop to this archaic fumbling system with a modern appeal. The WeMo line of home automated devices gives you the power, literally, in a carefully crafted app and hardware unit.

WeMo

WeMo is not a singular device but a line of devices or compliant hardware, ranging from our current topic, outlet timers, to a Wi-Fi enabled Crock-Pot, which I took a fancy to at CES in January. Belkin touts WeMo as a “growing family of innovative, easy-to-use products” that operate within your home’s personal wireless network.

Ultimately, with a range of growing devices, WeMo can really be thought of as a standard or protocol system that interconnects many different devices. Home automation is becoming more desired by the mainstream consumer, as high speed internet and smartphones become the standard expectation.

WeMo Insight Switch

The Insight Switch is Belkin’s answer to dear old dad’s fumbling. Insight becomes a hub for several different opportunities. At the core, the device is a timer, complete with scheduling. Instead of flipping 24 tiny switches this way or that way, Insight Switch is app enabled. Belkin’s simple app allows the user to set reoccurring schedules based on weekly or a daily routine. For example, I have my living room lamp turn on at different times, on different days. How about, if it is sunset, turn on the light! Another trick your old-school timer cannot do, is turn on by command.

Insight Switch has a touch sensitive button, located on the devices top. Tapping the button, switches the power either on, or off. More conveniently, the WeMo app will allow control of the switch from anywhere in the world with internet connection. One night we heard something downstairs and were able to turn on the light from my phone, before venturing down into the darkness.

Bringing the modernity home, Insight Switch is named “insight” for a great reason. Home energy consumption is becoming a more sought after analytic by home owners. With the advent of Nest, home automation and energy usage is a new realm. The switch will allow you to set a usage cap on appliances to help save money. For example, if you have a window AC unit that needs monitoring, use the Insight Switch and set a power usage limit over a certain time span. Additionally, it allows you to see if any other items are still on at a quick glance.

WeMo App

Notifications

To pause quickly, I was a little thrown by the notifications. In the app, you can receive notifications for actions. I was particularly interested in knowing my lamp actually turned on and off. This is considered an “event” in the notification settings. After spending a few minutes on the phone with a helpful IT person, I figured out my understanding of the notification was incorrect… not that WeMo was acting incorrectly.

An event, in this case, is triggered if the hardware button is pressed, on/off. It does not consider automatically turning on/off an actual event. I can see where it is annoying to get a push notification every time a lamp turns on/off, but it would give a little peace of mind if you are traveling.

Conclusion

Belkin’s WeMo Insight Switch is a great product. I have been using it for a few months now and it has actually come to great benefit. Setup was very easy, easy enough not to bother mentioning it in the review as a separate section. Utilizing the WeMo app, it did not take more than a few minutes to have a schedule set.

Considering the line of products, even lights, cameras, and wall switches, WeMo should have a bright future – pun intended. Although, I am not particularly interested in energy consumption by my living room lamp, I can see where people with other appliances could find the report useful. Most intelligently, Belkin teamed up with IFTTT, to provide third party trigger and action integrations with other services.

At $59.04 via Amazon, the Insight Switch is not the most affordable home accessory. If you are looking for a remote way to control outlets in your home, it is arguably one of the most user-friendly options on the market. Still, the price is a little high for the common user and may limit the device to hobbyists with extra dollars or people truly needing a solution of this type. It is not an instant or impulse purchase at the current price range. But if you do find one in your shopping cart, it will not let you down.

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  • Ethan Humphrey

    I need one for my robe lights on my bed, (to turn them off you have to unplug them) but at $60 I might look into them in the future (or ask for as a gift).

  • http://R0Fleming.tumblr.com/ R0Fleming

    Cool, I could use IFTTT to automatically tweet when I turn on my lights! This could be useful…

    But other than that, this actually looks/sounds really cool. I might wanna try it out in the near future.

    And did you just say WiFi-enabled crock pot?

  • Gate

    This looks like an awesome product!
    I might look into it when the prices for these are more in my range. :)

    Thank you Jim for the great article, I find your writing style a pleasure to read.

  • Rupinder S

    I don’t care about how much time this will save me as much as I care about whether this thing will suck electricity 24/7 or not.

  • joe reid

    If you use the Launch Center Pro app you can turn switches on/off with the built in IFTTT trigger function. Bonus, you get a notification from IFTTT that the action did run, scheduled or not :)

  • Judge

    I found 3 of these at walmart for $30.00 a piece I replaced my X-10 devices with them. I also use IFTTT to control my WEMO’s I can turn the lights on and off using Siri and #’s which is pretty cool and also can send an email to IFTTT to turn the lights on and off.

    • coLin

      thanks for sharing. can you use a smart-watch with IFTTT?

      • Judge

        I’ve been told with Android smartwatches you can do this easily. I have a pebble and so far no go I’m told there is a work around but no native app as of yet

  • -= J$@ =-

    These gadgets are great. I have a Wemo switch hooked up to trigger my garage door through IFTTT so when i’m approaching my house, it automatically opens my garage door!

    • hoho

      Do you have the recipe?

      • -= J$@ =-

        This how I have achieved this:
        I have 6 volt power plug pack connected to the wemo switch. The output of this 6 volt power plug operates a 6 volt relay. The output (or contacts) of the relay is connected across the switch of an extra remote for the garage door, which is situated within range of my gargae door receiver ie. anywhere in the house.
        I use IFTTT to with the recipe: If I ‘Enter an area’ (my home address) then ‘Turn Wemo on then off’.
        So when I enter the area specified using IFTTT, this then triggers the wemo switch ‘On’ momentarily then ‘Off’. This then momentarily powers up the 6 volt power plug pack, which in turn operates the relay by closing contacts on the relay, which simulates pressing the button on the extra garage remote…and it opens the garage door.
        Initially I had issues with it triggering, but by widening the ‘Entered area’, solved this problem.
        I can also manually open/close the door remotely from anywhere I have internet access, which is also pretty cool. This is done using IFTTT by ‘Email’ or ‘Yo’ing the wemo switch to ‘Turn on then off’.

      • joe reid

        Have a link to any pictures maybe of the connection to the WeMo switch?

      • -= J$@ =-

        It’s pretty crude but works well & hasn’t failed yet…