Belkin WeMo Insight Switch Offers Great Intro to Smart Home

I haven't exactly been an early adopter when it comes to iPhone-powered home automation systems. Most iPhone-connected home products require a lot of effort to install, especially for someone like me, who thinks changing a light bulb counts as a home project. That's why I'm so excited about Belkin's line of Wi-Fi-connected products—dubbed WeMo—that require little to no setup. Last year, I took my first step toward creating a smart house with Belkin's WeMo Crockpot, which let me control the cooking temperature of the device from the WeMo app on my iPhone while I was at work. It's a fantastic product, and I've enjoyed many stews since thanks to its ease of use.

This year, I decided to test out Belkin's WeMo Insight Switch ($49.99). The beauty of this switch is that it allows you to turn any appliance into a smart home product. I used it to help keep my office warm this cold winter month. My office mate Rheanne and I are notoriously cold blooded,  and we had been shivering through the first hour of work while our space heater warmed up. Now, with the Insight Switch, I can create a heating schedule from my iPhone to make sure the space heater powers on before we arrive in the morning and turns off at the end of the day.

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For setup, all I did was plug the outlet into the wall and then plug the space heater into the Insight Switch. Next, I downloaded the WeMo app (free) on my iPhone (the same app I used to control my crockpot). The app led me through a simple process to connect to the smart switch. Once connected, the switch showed up in the app's Devices tab, where I could manually turn it on and off. If you tap the down arrow, you can also see how much energy your device expends on average and how much you're spending to power it. I plan to use this in the future on my TV and desktop computer just to get an idea of how much energy it's using. The best part of the app though, in my opinion, is the Rules tab. With Rules, I can set the exact time and days a week I want the switch to be turned on. This way, I'm greeted by a warm office each morning and can also feel confident that we haven't accidentally left the heater running all night. While I'm not ready to invest in a full-blown home automation system, the WeMo Insight Switch has let me experience some immediate benefits of having a connected home.

 

Pros:

  • No installation
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Tracks energy usage
  • Lets you set a schedule for your electronics or appliances
  • Lets you control from anywhere with your phone

Cons

  • Only includes one three-prong plug to support one device

The Final Verdict:

I would recomment the Belkin Insight Switch to anyone interested in smart home systems but who's new to the game. It's easy to use, unintimidating, and works like a charm.

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Donna Cleveland's picture

Donna Cleveland is the Editor in Chief of iPhone Life magazine. After a stint as a newspaper reporter, she became web editor at iPhone Life, where she continues to pair her penchant for storytelling with her love of Apple products. Donna holds a masters degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication. She also hosts a feminist podcast called Thread the Needle (theneedle.co).