Belkin Wemo LED Lighting Starter Set full review
Just like smart thermostats, there's another race to replace dumb electrics in your home: smart lightbulbs. Belkin is the latest manufacturer on the scene, following Philips and LIFX with their colourful bulbs.
The Wemo LED set, however, doesn't let you choose which colour you want your lighting. Instead it's meant as a direct replacement for existing 60W incandescent bulbs, or the energy saving fluorescent equivalent.
The kit includes two bulbs: you can choose between bayonet or Edison Screw varieties. Each is rated at 800 lumens which may not be as bright as your old-school incandescent but it's still impressive compared to many competing LED bulbs.
You also get a Wemo Link in the pack, which acts as a bridge between the bulbs and your Wi-Fi router. It's a fairly small plug which you leave turned on somewhere in your house that has good Wi-Fi coverage.
Setup is fairly simple using the free Wemo app which is available for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire tablets. At least it should be simple. As with many wireless smart home products, you need to first switch Wi-Fi networks and connect directly to the Wemo Link in order to configure it to work on your home network. That went fine, but once connected it found our bulbs and proceeded to update their firmware.
After the promised 10 minute wait, the Wemo Link failed to find the bulbs and only by quitting the app and unplugging and re-plugging the Link was the system able to communicate properly and work.
Fortunately, that was the only hiccup and the easy-to-use app allowed us to set the bulbs to work exactly as we wanted. You can install them anywhere you like: in a ceiling fitting or a desktop lamp - it really doesn't matter.
You create 'rules' for the lamps to work and these can be for them to turn on and off at sunset and sunrise, or at times you choose. They can be named and controlled individually and you can even set a dimming period so the lamp fades in to your set brightness over a few minutes (or even up to 30 minutes). You can also define a sleep period, so the bulb will turn off after a set time, just like a TV or radio.
The ability to dim the bulbs is great, as it means you don't need a dimmer switch: you simply use the app to make the light brighter or dimmer as you like. You can set a brightness value between 0 and 100 percent for each rule, so it could be dimmer late at night and brighter at other times.
You could use the rules for various things: switching the lights on and off when you're not at home to simulate occupancy, dim the lights while you're watching TV, automatically turning on at sunset throughout the year or gently waking you up in the morning with a slow fade in to full brightness at the time your alarm usually goes off.
The only things you can't do (yet) is to use geo-fencing rules to turn on the bulbs when you return home, or turn them off when you leave, nor is there integration with IFTTT (yet). That's an advantage Philips currently holds, although its app isn't as streamlined as Belkin's. Plus, unlike Philips, Belkin doesn't make you create a Wemo account: you can use the app to control your bulb - and any other Wemo products - whether you're at home or away.
There is, of course, the question of value. At £80, the kit is hardly cheap - single bulbs cost £25 each which is a lot if you just have a mind to replace inefficient old bulbs with LEDs. But as far as 'smart' bulbs are concerned, they're the same price as Philips' Hue Lux, which produce 750 lumens. Bear in mind, though that the 3000K colour temperature of the Wemo bulbs is cooler than the 2700K of the Philips: it may not sound like a big difference, but 2700K is what you want for a traditional warm white glow that's practically indistinguishable from incandescent light.
Belkin Wemo LED Lighting Starter Set: Specs
- Kit includes 2x LED bulbs with E27 or bayonet fit
- 800 lumens
- 2 year warranty (bulb life expectancy 23 years)
- Compatible with Apple (iOS 6 and higher), Android (4.0 and higher), and Kindle Fire (Fire OS 3.0 and higher