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TechnologyTell Review: Belkin WeMo LED Starter Set

Sections: Green Home Tech, Internet of Things, Lighting control, Remote control, Reviews, Smart Home

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There are a lot of products coming out with a wireless feature for remote operation. Everything from sprinkler systems, AC units, thermostats, and fans can now come with an app for iOS and Android. More products are soon to follow – such is the nature of the Internet of Things.

While some of these wireless-enabled products may not be a necessary upgrade right now, you could benefit from new lighting options. Not only are smart bulbs much more energy efficient than traditional bulbs, but remote operation is both fun and convenient!

Design & Connectivity

The Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set has what you need to get your feet wet in the home automation scene. This modular system can control up to 50 WeMo smart light bulbs, but two is a good place to start. There’s nothing fancy about what comes in the box. All you have is a link box and a pair of 800 lumen bulbs, which are equivalent to traditional 60-watt incandescent ones.

Belkin WeMo LED bulb

Nothing fancy, just clean curves and shape

There’s nothing fancy or strange about the appearance of these Belkin WeMo bulbs. They look like your common household bulb with the standard A19 shape. If you were paying less attention, you might not have even noticed any significant difference.

While some of us don’t really care, many others prefer to stick to the tried and true. These Belkin WeMo bulbs are something I could slip past my aging parents with minimal complaint.

Installation is generally a quick and easy process. Install the bulbs in lamps and leave them on. Plug the Link in, wait a bit for it to power up, use a smartphone to connect directly to its network, and then open the WeMo app. From there, just follow the steps, which leads the Link box to identify and take control of the bulbs. That’s it.

While most installations should be a brief exercise in home connectivity, mine took a different turn. For some reason, I encountered a strange hiccup with the Link box and bulbs. Nothing was communicating properly with each other. Despite the repeat attempts and resets, it just didn’t click like it was supposed to.

Belkin WeMo LED bulbs

WeMo bulb, energy efficient bulb, outdated bulb

The documentation for the Belkin WeMo bulbs is sparse, however customer support was quick and helpful. A response came within 12 hours (times may vary, btw). The solution provided to me in the email involved hard-resetting everything: app, Link box, and bulbs. I won’t detail the steps, but will comment that it worked like a charm.

I find the Belkin Link box for the WeMo bulbs to be very convenient. It contains all the hardware necessary to wirelessly bridge the connection between bulb and app. The bulbs themselves are able to stay lean, and the Link box plugs into any open wall socket. No cables or hardwiring is necessary whatsoever. Easy.

WeMo App

The Belkin WeMo app serves all of Belkin’s connected devices (like the Belkin WeMo Crock Pot). Whether you own one or all Belkin products, it’s very convenient to have only one single app to control everything. As such, you can expect to have frequent updates to improve performance and squash bugs. The layout is simple and effective for monitoring and control. The app could use some pretty-ing up buttons, interface, and interaction. However, I appreciate how aesthetics takes a backseat to overall function.

Belkin WeMo LED bulb link

Small, inconspicuous WeMo link box

Once the bulbs have been installed and recognized, the WeMo app provides a few options and configurations to tinker with. This is a good time to rename each bulb so you can remember which one you’re dealing with.

Lights can be grouped together as well, so two in the same room can be linked and controlled all at the same time.

Keep in mind that power has to be going to the bulb in order for it to be detected by the Link and app. If the switch, either wall or lamp, is set to off, that particular bulb will appear as ‘offline’ within the app. If the WeMo bulb has been physically removed, then it won’t even show up.

A slider bar lets users adjust bulb brightness in 1 percent increments. Or, if you like what the percentage is set at, pressing the power button icon toggles on/off for each bulb. A ‘sleep fader’ function is available for those who want to set an automatic shutoff time anywhere between one and 60 minutes.

In terms of advanced control, the Belkin WeMo app provides the means to create rules as well as connectivity with IFTTT (if this then that) systems. I haven’t tinkered with the latter; the former has been sufficient for me. Individual rules can be created for each bulb. More than one if you wish. Essentially, these rules automate lighting patterns between set times. Whether you want lights lit prior to your arrival home from work, or to mimic living behavior while away on vacation, the rules let you set it all up.

Belkin WeMo LED bulb app

Front page with connected devices

Now, the Belkin WeMo app isn’t the quickest in terms of refreshing and identifying which bulbs are on. While everything functions correctly, the app itself can feel a little rough around the edges.

It could use a speed and accuracy boost, and I think that the interface can be streamlined some. Especially when it comes to setting rules for bulbs, and double-especially if there are a variety of rules you’d like to implement.

Sometimes the Belkin WeMo app thinks bulbs are on when there isn’t any power to them. Pressing the refresh button usually corrects the situation within the app, but not always. Sometimes you have to attempt to tinker with the bulb’s interface for the app to accurately refresh and and reflect correct detection.

Belkin WeMo LED bulb app 2

Easy controls

Although the Belkin WeMo app has it’s issues and quirks, updates come often. It’s a relief, since each tends to correct many minor bug fixes and improve the user experience. Could they do more? Well, sure, but the pace is pretty good as it is. I’ve had (and still have) some mobile apps that have all but forgotten about updating.

As an example, the most recent v1.9 update fixed an interface issue with the bulbs. Prior this update, opening a bulb’s brightness slider would take multiple presses. It felt spring-loaded to click the icon and open it up, only to have it shut right back up. It was bordering annoying-infuriating. Seriously. But, thankfully for Belkin, it has been fixed. So this aspect gets a thumbs up from me instead of the hammer of doom (haha).

Aside from the random bugs and dearth of beauty, the Belkin WeMo app functions well and gets the job done.

Performance

These Belkin lights provide an output equivalent to a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb of 3000k warm light. I’ve swapped our bulbs in and out; there’s no perceptible difference whatsoever.

Belkin WeMo LED bulb lamp

Let us all bask in the bulb’s warm glowing warming glow

My wife is very particular about lighting and how rooms look (especially when it comes to her morning makeup routine), and she couldn’t tell anything had changed. Only when I started to screw around with the brightness via the WeMo app did she know we had new bulbs (haha).

Regardless of what the app has brightness set at, manual operation of the Belkin WeMo bulbs work at 100 percent. You can turn them on and off like any regular bulb. The light emitted from these Belkin bulbs are even and steady with no flickering.

The only minor quibble is that setting the brightness to 1 percent doesn’t really feel like it. I think it can/should be dimmer. If I had to guesstimate based on output, 1 percent feels more like 4 to 6 percent.

The ability to create and implement lighting rules through the WeMo app is very convenient. Having lights imitate the patterns of how we’d normally use them when home adds an extra layer of security for when we’re gone on trips. The rules perform exactly like you’d expect them too; I checked on them with our home surveillance just to be sure.

Verdict

Although not the first wireless-enabled LED smart bulb, Belkin’s entry into the market is solid. If you own other WeMo products, having a single app control everything is very convenient. Sure, the app could use a good interface polishing, but once you get past the rough parts all the power and function is there. Updates come frequently too, which is also a positive.

These 800 lumen bulbs replace the traditional A19-shape, 60-watt incandescent. The Belkin WeMo bulb shines the warm 3000k light you want but with all the energy-saving benefits of LED technology. So if you haven’t had the chance to try out some automated lighting for the home, the Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set is a great way to start.

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