The Internet of Things or IOT is a buzz word we’ve all heard over the last year but we’ve also probably heard the criticisms – it’s insecure, overhyped and most things on it just aren’t useful. I’d have to agree that this is the case for a lot of things but today I’ve got an exception. The Belkin Wemo Insight Switch is one of Belkin’s Wemo range and has two abilities – turning your appliance on and off remotely or on a schedule and monitoring energy usage and the cost this means to you.
The remote on and off goes from a very simple to quite automated. At the simplest level the app is just a remote button for the switch, it can be set to go on and off at specific times or it can be tied in to IFTTT and added to a recipe. Examples of what it could then do include switching on (or off) when you leave home, turning on and off on a weekly schedule, blinking on and off at a specific notification – for example a goal in a football match, turning off after a specific amount of power has been used or a number of other possibilities.
Monitoring energy usage is the Insight’s other ability – it records the amount of power that flows through it and if you enter the cost of your electric supply also lets you know how much this costs. This information can be recorded in the app of using IFTTT tracked into a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel.
Included in the box: Wemo Switch, Quick Install Guide
Belkin started with the founder Chet Pipkin making computer cables out of his garage in 1983 California and has quickly grown to encompass the well known brands of Belkin, Linksys and WeMo. It currently employs over 1000 people and is still run and owned by Pipkin. The company has been involved in controversy several times over the years including accusations of man in the middle attacks inserted into their routers, paying bloggers for reviews and attacking competitors.
Physically the Insight is a normal if somewhat curvy looking extension plug. It has a single button on the top that lets you manually switch the power and a reset switch on the side that faces the wall. The first time you plug the Insight it creates it’s own wifi network which you connect to with the app on your phone and it then joins your home network. It took me several goes to get them connected – my phone decided that as the wifi network it was creating did not have an internet connection it wasn’t worth connecting to it.
Once you’re setup the Insight can be controlled from your phone, automated via IFTTT or just set to collect data on how much power you’re using.
- Target age range: Adults
- Target gender: Unisex/neutral,
- Optimized for ambidextrous use and controllable via software.
The Insight is available on Amazon for £37 which is considerably more expensive than any unit that contains either one of its functions. It’s possible to buy a switch to monitor usage for around £15 and remote switches for £15 to £20. The extra cost gets you the whole thing in one package and the automation features. If you need both abilities it’s worth paying the extra.
Product dimensions: 10 x 7.6 x 7.9 cm
Extends from wall plug: 5.5cm
Overhangs from wall plug: 3.2cm above, 2.4cm below, 1.4cm on both sides
Capacity: 240V 13A 50Hz Maximum
Plug Style: UK 3 Pin Standard grounded and fused
Item Weight: 160g
Colour: Off white/cream with black switch
UK Plug and a smartphone to control and monitor usage. Belkin’s apps are compatible with Android 4.0 and higher or iOS 6 and higher and there is a third party Windows Phone app. Each plug can be controlled by multiple phones.
The plug requires something to actually plug into it. When setting it up I used a lamp as the simplest solution that could be turned on and off easily but beyond that anything that can handle being turned on and off at the mains can be used.
The Insight is what at first look appears to be a sensible union of two products. Electricity monitoring and remote controlled and timed switches. I found in my testing that it was quite rare that I actually needed both abilities at the same time but that I needed them irregularly enough that the two in one solution worked. In other words I needed the power monitoring when I got a new device to see how much power it used and the remote and timing was great for when I was away from home and wanted to keep lights turning on at random times. Recommended for those wanting to dip their toe in the IOT sea.
The review is based on the Belkin Wemo Insight. Click to read more about our eco icons and access icons used in this review. This article was first published on 18 September 2016.