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 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.
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.
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.