In this article, I quickly cover my recent experience in installing and configuring an Amazon Dot with a Wemo Smart Plug.
It begins with a Black Friday sale
Ok…I’m a sucker for techy/geeky sales.
The problem (granted first world problem): I’ve had three lamps in my office which I’ve had on a timer for a very long time. The timer has been useful from an energy efficiency point of view, but it wasn’t ideal. I thought that a better solution would be to be able to turn the lights on/off via Alex. So when I saw the Amazon Dot and Belkin Wemo Smart Plug for sale – I hopped on that deal.
I’ll admit that I had significant hesitation in buying a Belkin product
I’ve never heard really good things about Belkin products. And this was confirmed when looking at the WeMo reviews as well as Belkin in general. So while the Amazon Dot was a no-brainer in terms of purchase, the Belkin Wemo gave me significant pause. Without the $10 reduction in price, I wouldn’t have bought it.
The Amazon reviews of the WeMo Switch
Almost 5,000 reviews where 22% were 1 star. Granted the top review was a 1 star from 2013 – looking at the rest of 1-star reviews showed significant connectivity issues.
Belkin the company
Belkin, as a company, does not fare much better.
Installing the Amazon Dot
The installation of the Amazon Dot was “easy breezy.” Granted – I’ve installed it’s bigger sibling so maybe it’s my familiarity.
Installing the Belkin WeMo Switch
Like the stories of other WeMo users – installation was not as smooth as the Amazon Dot.
The WeMo Quick Install Guide
The WeMo switch comes with a quick install guide. The how to geek site describes the instructions (though in much better detail). I followed the instructions, downloading the WeMo iOS app, connecting it to the switch initially, and then configuring a wifi network for the switch (MAC based access to no password needed). At this point, it looked like the WeMo app was reconnecting to the WeMo Switch via my wifi network but then nothing. It kept trying to connect but no connection was established – so I could not see (and control) my WeMo Switch through the app (i.e. so nothing like the picture that you see below).
I did lots of searches for what to do next
I’m a techie, but I found it difficult to find reset instructions.
Getting support from Belkin
When I initially looked through Belkin’s side – “premium support” popped up, so I kept looking around. I didn’t even see the “please call 877-318-6620” that I now see on the support page.
Getting instructions to reset WeMo Switch
When searching for reset instructions for the WeMo Switch, I found lots of instructions for the WeMo Light Switch (i.e. the wall switch) rather the the plug-in switch. Looking on Belkin’s site was of no help even using their actual product name – “WeMo Switch Smart Plug.”
I finally found reset instruction at…
I finally found reset instructions at: http://www.belkin.com/us/support-article?articleNum=123734
But the reset instructions were confusing
So the above instructions say to hold down the “Restore button (labeled on top).” I stumbled on a YouTube video that showed that the reset (not Restore) button was at the bottom of the switch. Holding this button while plugging the switch into power did reset the device…sort of.
The WeMo Switch reset sort of worked
When I triggered the reset, I could reconnect to the WeMo via its wifi SSID. I left everything as default (originally I had changed the name). It did not let me select a network since it already knew about the wifi network that I had previously set up (that’s why it’s a “sort of” reset). I disconnected from the WeMo, and it now showed up on the WeMo app (finally).
Connecting the Amazon Dot and the Belkin WeMo Switch Smart Plug
Belkin’s connection instructions were pretty good this time, but step 4 was a doozy
The connection in instructions were here: http://www.belkin.com/us/support-article?articleNum=157351
When I got to Step 4 – nothing happened. I turned the WeMo switch on and off like a crazy monkey (you know the one – the one that is part of a group of monkeys typing for an infinite time and writing Shakespeare’s works).
I retried the connection instructions several times and then it finally worked
This reminded me of the “Then A Miracle Occurs” cartoon. It “magically” started to work but it was uncomfortable magic.
Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/347832771194748926/
The Amazon Dot worked perfectly. The WeMo Switch was a struggle. I’m not sure how reliable it will be – I’ll update this post if it goes bad within the next year.
Knowing what I know now – would I buy the Belkin WeMo Switch? No – I wouldn’t buy it. I would look for alternative switches that work with Alexa. The frustration, uncertainty, and occasional magic are just not worth it. I suppose that $20 is well worth the lesson about Belkin’s home automation products.
Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter.