Belkin WeMo Switch

No-fuss home automation

Home automation is finally plug-and-play. Setting up this wifi-connected box takes minutes:

1) Plug the WeMo into a three-prong outlet

2) Download an iPhone app (Android is rumored to be on the way)

3) Type your wireless password into the app to connect the switch to your home network

4) Plug a device into the WeMo (lamp, TV, fan, etc.)

That’s it.

You can toggle the switch on/off by pressing a button in the app. You can also quickly set an automated timer that automatically turns the switch on/off at different times on different days.

My WeMo Switch controls a huge floor lamp in the corner of our living room. It’s programmed to shut off every night at 9pm. No more playing footsie with the floor dimmer! Also, a nice reminder to stop watching TV and go read in bed. Typically, we turn on the lamp via an iPad in our kitchen. Dinner guests love it.

$50 isn’t cheap. The company sent me a complimentary switch to test, because I write about technology. That said, I’m buying another switch at the full price for my office. I don’t mind paying for the convenience.

If you’re handy with a soldering iron, go ahead and hack your own Arduino-powered switch. Or, assuming you don’t mind playing with wires, you might find a cheaper alternative in the Smarthome catalog. Up until now, most of the previously-available gear I’ve seen has been a combination of too complicated, cost-prohibitive, and/or aesthetically blah.

This thing works. It looks cool. And whenever my lamp automatically turns on, it feels magical.

-- Steven Leckart 01/28/13

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