Belkin’s WeMo Wall Switch appeared on home automation websites around mid-2013, when it offered a DIY-friendly alternative to home light control.
Belkin’s goal with the light switch is simple: Create a way for the average homeowner to remotely control and customize lights without the need to invest in new lights, pricey rewiring, or complicated control panels.
7 Things to Know About the WeMo Wall Switch
The result is a small switch that can revolutionize your home lighting — exactly as much as you want. Here are the facts behind this handy little innovation:
1. It Works With Any Typical U.S. Home Switch
The WeMo wall switch is designed to fit into a typical American outlet, with the same size and shape to match your other outlets (the color, on the other hand, remains a bright white). This makes it easy to set up, so easy that Belkin says the device is made for DIY installation.
Some knowledge of wiring safety and household electrical systems helps, though. When setting up, you will need to make sure the neutral wire is fully connected, since this connection will be used to power the Wi-Fi portion of the switch. If you feel a little nervous about this project, WeMo has a handy video that takes you through the process step by step.
2. It Uses Your Current Wi-Fi Network
You do not need to set up an extra network or create a new Internet connection. As long as you have a wireless network in your home, you can use the WeMo wall switch. This saves money when it comes to installation.
With all the work done through the wireless connection, you do not need to install any additional wiring or contact points. You do not even need to worry about checking batteries. However, this also means that when your wireless network goes down, you will not be able to remotely control the switch.
3. It Works Across A Variety of Operating Systems
The switch is designed to work with any Android smartphone and a variety of Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. If you have a Windows phone, you may need to wait for an upgrade. Using the switch remotely requires a download, but the WeMo app is free.
When it is downloaded and connected to your network, you can access a list of commands for all available WeMo devices. You can name specific outlets (dining room lights, kitchen, bedroom lamp, etc.) and turn them on or off with a few taps, no matter where you are at in the house.
4. You Can Set Schedules
The real usefulness of the WeMo light switch shows up when you start experimenting with the scheduling feature. This tool allows the network to automatically turn lights on or off at specific times. You can arrange for lights to turn on around your wake-up time in the morning, shut down when you leave for work, and turn back on again around the time that you arrive at home.
For more general automatic controls, you can choose to pick out your city’s location and have the WeMo app turn the lights on at sunset and off at sunrise, according to pre-made tables.
5. Motion Controls and Dimming are Possible
If you have a light that includes motion-control sensors or dimming, the app is ready to interface with these more complicated systems too. You will be able to dim lights with your smartphone and turn sensors on and off as necessary.
6. Other Options for Alternative Devices
The WeMo wall switch is eminently customizable. Buy a single switch (retailing at $50) for one array of lights, or by multiple switches to control all the lights around your home. But you do not need to stop at light control. The general WeMo switch lets you control a variety of devices that use common household outlets, such as fans, plug-in lamps, and kitchen appliances. You can control all these devices with the same app, allowing you to expand your home automation system in whatever direction you want – or keep it minimalistic.
7. Some Limitations Do Exist
The WeMo wall switch may not be applicable in every situation. For example, if you use metal face plates for your switches, you will need to switch to plastic — the WiFi signals cannot penetrate the metal casing. Likewise, if you have your lights controlled by more than one switch, the WeMo device will not be able to function properly. Your Wireless Network and smartphone operating system also need to be capable of handling the app.