• Our review of the Belkin WeMo Motion and WeMo Insight Switch

    The WeMo Motion from Belkin is available separately for $59.99 or part as a combo pack with the WeMo power switch which I reviewed a while back for $79.99.

    The Motion consists of the motion sensor and the power brick which are permanently connected via a 6ft long power cable.

    Officially, it has a range of 10ft but I observed that itís actually closer to 13ft.

    The idea is that you put the sensor in one spot while the switch goes elsewhere.

    You set up rules to tell your other WeMo switches to turn on (or off) when the Motion senses movement.

    You can choose what time of the day and which days the rules are active, plus you can choose how long you want the switches to stay on for.

    I tested the WeMo app with my iPhone 5s. It also works with Android devices. The app is able to alert you when you the Motion senses movement.

    While I can control my WeMo devices while Iím out, Iím not sure if you can have two WeMo devices which located in two different physical locations on 2 separate WiFi networks.

    Setup is easy; First, download the WeMo app for Android or iOS. When you first plug the Motion in, it broadcasts a WiFi access point. You go to your phoneís WiFi menu and connect to it.

    Next, you launch the WeMo app and it automatically sets it up. Just make sure you know your WiFi password because I donít think you can use WPS. Only 2.4Ghz WiFi is supported. I didnít really test the range but my HTC One gets a signal of around 65dBm where I plugged it in.

    Iíll be honest, at first, I couldnít really find any where to use the Motion. While my house has lots of lights, none of them except for the lamps on my night stand plug into the wall. I tried putting it on my aquarium so that it would light up whenever someone was near it but the 10ft+ sensor range is too great - It was constantly turning on.

    Now I have a double car garage with two door openers. The door opener consoles on my wall have motion sensors built into them so that they turn the lights on when they sense motion. However, Iím not happy with the amount of light from them. Further, they donít seem to like the CFL light bulbs I have screwed into them, 2 out of 4 of them failed after a year.

    Hereís where the Motion comes in: I taped it to my ceiling (actually the joists) in my garage.

    The motion faces the back of my garage where the door we use to enter the garage is.

    It triggers a WeMo switch which is located on another outlet on my ceiling which has four dual T8 fluorescent light fixtures.

    When the Motion senses movement it will turn on 256 watts of mercury powered light for 5 minutes - thatís almost 23,000 lumens of un-natural looking fluorescent light compared with the 6400 lumens I get from the four 100 watt equivalent CFLís I have screwed into my openers (3200 since 2 died). Donít forget, anything worth doing is worth over doing so Iím thinking of adding a few more fixtures.

    If you keep moving around, the Motion will sense this and wonít turn the lights off till it doesnít sense any movement for 5 minutes.

    Now my garage is so bright I can really see just how dirty it is. My cars will never look clean again.

    Before I continue, let me tell you about IFTTT, it stands for If This Then That. Itís an automation service where you have a Trigger (WeMo power switch turns on, You send a Tweet, etc) and then an action (If switch turns on, add a line to a Google Doc spreadsheet).

    Initially, I wasnít sure if the setup was working, I can check if the lights are turning on by going into the garage but I didnít have an easy way of checking if they turned off. Hereís where the built-in IFTTT support comes in. I setup my WeMo switch to automatically add a line to a spreadsheet in my Google Docs whenever the light switch turns on or off. Sure enough, the lights turn off when theyíre supposed to.

    Whatís really cool is that the WeMo Motion can act as an IFTTT trigger. When it senses motion you can have it tell IFTTT to send a text/tweet/whatever. Now, if all you want is a motion sensor you donít even need WeMo switch to go with it.

    Anyways, Iím pretty happy with the setup. Now my garage is blindingly bright but only when it needs to be. The motion sensor is pretty accurate - it doesnít turn unless there really is motion. It doesnít get fooled by light from outside the garage like my IP cameras do.

    It also seems more accurate than the motion sensors built into my garage door opener consoles - those seem to turn on randomly throughout the day.

    So is the Motion cost effective?

    Right now a WeMo Motion and light switch cost $79.99 (iíve seen it go on sale for $59.99). Belkin does sell the WeMo Motion by itself for $59.99 and the switch for $49.99 (on sale for ~$39.99). So if youíre thinking of getting a switch, think about picking up a Motion while youíre at it.

    Is it good value? Letís use the example of my garage; For $79.99 I have a motion sensor and something that will turn my lights on. I could have purchased a 3 way switch with a motion sensor but then I would have had to mount it high enough to see over my cars. I would also have to re-wire my garage and then wire all the lights. I might save a few bucks doing this but setting it up would be a big hassle. Iíd also lose the ability to have my garage lights connected to the internet.

    So, in this case the motion sensor saves me a lot of time and is a good buy.

    Overall, Iím pretty happy with the WeMo Motion sensor, just make sure you have a use for it first.

    WeMo Insight Switch:

    Have you ever wondered how much power that extra fridge you have in sitting in the corner? How about your computer? Now you can find out with Belkinís WeMo Insight Switch.

    I was expecting the Insight to be like my Seasonic Power Angel (like a Kill-a-watt), but actually the Insight is a little different. While can display how many watts something is using, it doesnít display as much information such as the actual wall voltage (itís not usually exactly 120 volts), like my Power Angel does. Instead, it tries to help you make sense of the usage. Itís also able to tell you how much power itís using and when itís using which is actually more useful than youíd think.

    You can input the price you pay per kWh and it will provide estimates on how much it would cost to run whatever is connected to it per day and per month.

    The first thing I connected to the Insight is my desktop computer setup (computer, montior, UPS). As it turns out, my setup consumes around 270 watts when itís on which works out to around $15 of electricity a month. Next I plugged my desktop directly into the Insight. Turns out my gigantic, fancy UPS consumes 60 watts of power even when nothing is plugged into it - ouch. Note to self: donít leave the computer running 24/7 and buy a laptop next time.

    Next, I plugged an old bar fridge I stole from my in-laws house. I always suspected it uses a ton of power because itís old and some of the sealing around the door is cracked. Really, Iím looking for an excuse to replace it.

    According to the Insight, it normally runs for about 10 mins every hour. When itís not running it doesnít consume any power but when it does run it uses around 80W. That means it only uses around $1.50 a month worth of electricity. Guess Iíll be keeping it.

    If you regularly leave things that shouldnít be on all the time, on all the time you can log into the app to see if any power is being consumed. Now, youíll really know if you forgot to unplug the curling iron.

    Otherwise, the Insight is just like the Power switch I reviewed a while back.

    Setup is very easy; When you first power it on, it creates a WiFi hotspot, You download the WeMo app, connect your phone to the WiFi hotspot and thatís pretty much it.

    Once youíre setup you can use the WeMo app to monitor your power usage plus you turn the outlet on or off remotely. If you go to the Insightís settings on the app you can choose to email your power usage as a CSV.

    Hereís a sample CSV.

    The original WeMo switch is shaped such that you can only plug it into the top socket of an outlet because plugging it into the bottom one will block the top one.

    While the Insight is much smaller, itís still big enough that you can only connect it to the top outlet.

    The power button on the Insight is also different. On the regular switch, the power button is a physical button you can press to toggle the power. On the Insight the button is touch sensitive. When the power is on, it glows green.

    Like the regular WeMo switch, the Insight supports IFTTT. Hereís an interesting use: I noticed that the IFTTT app on my iPhone recently became location aware. If youíre constantly leaving appliances on you could create a IFTTT recipe which automatically turns off all your switches when youíre not home. Now you donít need to worry that portable heater jacking up your electricity bill.

    Other thoughts:

    If you want to know how much power multiple devices consume, save yourself a few bucks and just get one Insight and then take turns plugging them in. Once you get a feel for how much power something uses, you donít really need to keep using the Insight.

    While the WeMo app can give you estimates on how much money youíre spending on Hydro, the WeMo app only allows you to enter in one price for how much each kWh costs.

    I donít know about you but how much I pay for electricity depends on the time of day and the day of the week.

    One thing you can do to get around this is to have the WeMo app send a CSV of your energy consumption. Then you could dump it in a spreadsheet and massage the numbers until you get an accurate cost. However, this isnít a trivial thing to do.

    The CSV information is not easy to work with. If youíre an ace at Excel this shouldnít be a problem but Iím not and gave up after a few tries. Belkin really needs to give some options when you export. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future update.


    The Insight is an interesting device and true to its name, it will help give you some insight into your hydro bill. I do have an observation: I mentioned earlier you only need one Insight if you just want to know how much power your appliances are using. The thing is, if youíre going to move your Insight around, then the ability to control the switch remotely isnít quite as useful.

    Still, Belkin is taking WeMo seriously, they improve the app regularly and release new products so I donít have a problem recommending the WeMo system as a whole. In that sense, Iíd recommend you buy just one Insight which you can move around and then a bunch of regular switches for those appliances you want to control remotely. That way you can save a few bucks.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Our review of the Belkin WeMo Motion and WeMo Insight Switch started by howard View original post