Review: Belkin's new Wemo HomeKit plug is tiny in size and price

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 21
After debuting at CES, Belkin just started shipping its latest generation of it's small -- and inexpensive -- smart plug that supports Apple's HomeKit.

The new Belkin Wemo Smart Plug and its box
The new Belkin Wemo Smart Plug and its box


Wemo devices have been helping automate user's homes for many, many years. They previously were clunky, funky shaped adapters that were plugged into your outlets, with motion-sensing models that were connected by wires.

This was all before smart homes really started taking off. Clearly, some time has passed since then.

Belkin has minimized the size of the plug, making it not only the smallest Wemo plug ever, but the smallest HomeKit plug we've tested.

Wemo Smart Plug is smaller than AirPods Pro
Wemo is smaller than AirPods Pro


To put the size in terms Apple users may understand, the Wemo Smart Plug is roughly the same size as two sets of AirPods Pro stacked atop one another, just not quite as tall as the AirPods Pro. Hold those up to your home's outlet and you'll have a good approximation to the of the Wemo Smart Plug.

Thanks to its tiny size, there is no issue stacking two of these in a standard receptacle. That has historically been an issue with smart plugs, as they tend to be too large to fit together in adjacent outlets.

With the last-generation Wemo Smart Plug, Belkin got around that common issue by making the plug very skinny, but wide. This was an improvement, but that width could still be an issue in tight places, something the new model fixes.

Previously, the VOCOlinc SmartBar and the Eve Energy were the smallest outlets we had tested with HomeKit, but Wemo now takes the cake.

Performance as much as size

Performance is important when it comes to a smart plug, not just the size. After spending years honing the software on Wemo, Belkin has made a resillient smart plug that had no issues with connectivity or reliability during our testing.

It connects over Wi-Fi as well which makes it well-suited for any placement in your house.

Wemo Smart Plug and the Eve Energy second-gen
Wemo Smart Plug and the Eve Energy second-gen


The plug has a physical button on the right side which is very large so it is easy to find and depress when you need to manually toggle the power.

We don't particularly want to rehash all the benefits of a smart plug in your home, but whether you choose the Eve Energy, the VOCOlinc Smart Bar, the Wemo Smart Plug, or the pile of other available HomeKit options, they all operate the same way. They allow you to toggle, schedule, and automate whatever is plugged in.

Turn the lights on or off when you come and go from the house, or when someone walks into a room. Turn on a fan when the temperature gets too high, or turn off a fan when a window is opened. Turn on a humidifier when the humidity drops too low or turn on a dehumidifier when it gets too high.

All of these and more are possible with a HomeKit smart plug.

Should you buy the Wemo Smart Plug?

Belkin has impressed us here with the tiny size and power of the new Wemo Smart Plug. Our only criticism is, compared to the Eve Energy, Wemo Smart Plug doesn't track your energy consumption. But as a trade-off, it comes in at a much lower price.

A single Belkin Wemo Smart Plug is only $24.99, but a three-pack is also available that essentially gives you one for free at $49.99. That set brings the cost down to around $16 apiece. At that price for a Wi-Fi HomeKit smart plug from a large well-known brand, with its tiny size, is an absolute bargain.

It is easy to start automating more with such a low barrier to entry.

Wemo Smart Plug and VOCOlinc Smart Bar
Wemo Smart Plug and VOCOlinc Smart Bar


If you are looking to expand your smart home or just for new HomeKit plugs in particular, then the new Wemo is a great option. For reference, the previous generation Wemo Smart Plug sells for $29.99 on sale and a three-pack of those goes for $59.99. The new model is smaller and cheaper than the prior model.

Those who branch out from HomeKit may also appreciate the support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant as well, though that is something for them to explore on their own.

Pros
  • Compact size

  • Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth

  • Very affordable, especially in a three-pack

  • Easy to use and setup with HomeKit

  • Support for Alexa and Assistant as well

  • Many button is easily accessible
Cons
  • No energy monitoring

  • HomeKit pairing code is plastered on side

Rating: 5 out of 5

Where to buy

Pick up a single Wemo Smart Plug for for $24.99 or grab a three-pack for $49.99.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Scot1Scot1 Posts: 95member
    I can only hope that it’s better than their dimmer which continuously loses Wi-Fi connection and has to be rebooted often. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 15
    rgh71rgh71 Posts: 120member
    I’ve melted one of these (different brand) with a window A/C unit that It should have been Able to handle.  Will these be ok with a smaller (<7000 BTU) a/c?  What about a mid-sized 12,000 BTU a/c?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    A recent update to their app has left my Wemo devices totally useless - they worked fine for years. I repeatedly get a warning about the app being unable to connect to the internet. After contacting support, they said "new users are required to create an account through the app" - they made no mention of how they broke existing user's functionality. Terrible service and highly misguided decision to break the app and provide no insight to the user as to why.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    I have to agree with the above comment about their software app.  It is horrendous. While the UI is clunky the bigger problem is that it takes a long time for the app to recognize all your devices upon startup.  And that is in addition to an ongoing situation where the app will  occasionally decide to forget one/some of your devices and you have to go through the setup process again.


    watto_cobraGraeme000
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Scot1Scot1 Posts: 95member
    A recent update to their app has left my Wemo devices totally useless - they worked fine for years. I repeatedly get a warning about the app being unable to connect to the internet. After contacting support, they said "new users are required to create an account through the app" - they made no mention of how they broke existing user's functionality. Terrible service and highly misguided decision to break the app and provide no insight to the user as to why.
    Same issue for me but once I signed up for an account everything reconnected
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    I’m shocked AI rated these 5/5. The user reviews on this product report strong dissatisfaction with the app, and a worrisome trend of frustrating connectivity issues even when just using the Home app. 
    watto_cobraGraeme000
  • Reply 7 of 15
    I've got 3 of the older, larger ones that I've been using for a year or so with no connection issues. I primarily use them from the Home app and have no real use for the WeMo app except for periodic firmware updates. I'll probably pick up a couple of the new smaller models.
    gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,016member
    rgh71 said:
    I’ve melted one of these (different brand) with a window A/C unit that It should have been Able to handle.  Will these be ok with a smaller (<7000 BTU) a/c?  What about a mid-sized 12,000 BTU a/c?
    While the smart plug is rated to meet the typical power rating of the A/C unit, the published power draw of the A/C usually doesn't specify the peak power demand. A/C units have a much higher peak power consumption when the motor(s) first kick on. It's not unheard of to have the starting current 5x the normal current.
    watto_cobradewmeStrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 15
    rgh71 said:
    I’ve melted one of these (different brand) with a window A/C unit that It should have been Able to handle.  Will these be ok with a smaller (<7000 BTU) a/c?  What about a mid-sized 12,000 BTU a/c?
    Most window AC units specify that they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. You're not even supposed to use a surge protector in combo with them, so I think the smart plugs would fall into that same category. In general, using any type of intermediary connection with major appliances is a bad idea. 
    watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    rgh71 said:
    I’ve melted one of these (different brand) with a window A/C unit that It should have been Able to handle.  Will these be ok with a smaller (<7000 BTU) a/c?  What about a mid-sized 12,000 BTU a/c?

    I use mine (the Wemo Mini) with a 16,000 BTU thru-wall a/c. Compare the max current/amp rating of the A/C to the spec on the Wemo, which I believe is 1800W/1.5A.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    giraffe said:
    I have to agree with the above comment about their software app.  It is horrendous. While the UI is clunky the bigger problem is that it takes a long time for the app to recognize all your devices upon startup.  And that is in addition to an ongoing situation where the app will  occasionally decide to forget one/some of your devices and you have to go through the setup process again.



    The app works great for me, all the devices pop up instantly. Also works excellent with HomeKit.Was having the problem somebody mentioned. Once I Set up the set up an account everything worked fine.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,824member
    I've found the Wemo smart plugs to be pretty good and more reliable than Amazon's "Basics" cost-comparable model.

    I'd be hesitant to use any of these devices with an appliance like an AC unit that has an electric motor unless it was sanctioned by both Wemo and the maker of the AC unit. As one poster correctly said, all electric motors exhibit a very large current surge at startup. The electrical components inside the smart switch must be rated to handle this temporary current spike as well as handling the maximum continuous power draw of the unit, i.e., the 1800W rating.

    It is impossible to make a blanket statement about whether the smart switch will handle all appliances, like AC units, without knowing the specific electrical characteristics of the appliance such as the type of motor used and whether the unit employs, for example, a soft starter for the compressor motor to limit the current spike seen during motor startup. The air conditioning/thermal characteristics (BTUs) of the unit aren't necessarily the determining factor if the unit employs circuitry to manage startup current spikes. Sure, larger thermal capacity units will have greater current (and thus power) requirements but not all units with the same thermal ratings will necessarily have the same transient and even steady state current/power requirements. So one brand/model AC unit with a certain BTU rating may work fine with a particular smart switch and another AC unit with the same BTU rating may totally fry it the very first time you use it.
    edited August 2020 StrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    dewme said:
    I've found the Wemo smart plugs to be pretty good and more reliable than Amazon's "Basics" cost-comparable model.

    I'd be hesitant to use any of these devices with an appliance like an AC unit that has an electric motor unless it was sanctioned by both Wemo and the maker of the AC unit. As one poster correctly said, all electric motors exhibit a very large current surge at startup. The electrical components inside the smart switch must be rated to handle this temporary current spike as well as handling the maximum continuous power draw of the unit, i.e., the 1800W rating.

    It is impossible to make a blanket statement about whether the smart switch will handle all appliances, like AC units, without knowing the specific electrical characteristics of the appliance such as the type of motor used and whether the unit employs, for example, a soft starter for the compressor motor to limit the current spike seen during motor startup. The air conditioning/thermal characteristics (BTUs) of the unit aren't necessarily the determining factor if the unit employs circuitry to manage startup current spikes. Sure, larger thermal capacity units will have greater current (and thus power) requirements but not all units with the same thermal ratings will necessarily have the same transient and even steady state current/power requirements. So one brand/model AC unit with a certain BTU rating may work fine with a particular smart switch and another AC unit with the same BTU rating may totally fry it the very first time you use it.
    One point that sold me on the A/C unit I bought last year was that they claimed to work with smart outlets. Current/wattage requirements aside, this A/C will come back on to its last state after a power loss. Since all these outlets are killing power just like unplugging and the A/C's controls are not mechanical switches, this allows the A/C to work with with these outlets. My older A/C unit also had electronic switches, but would not turn on with the Wemo because when you restored power, it just stayed off.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,583member
    I just bought a Friedrich Chill Premier thru-wall A/C in part due to it being wifi-enabled. It’s not HomeKit, but it will give me more options than standard. 
  • Reply 15 of 15
    A recent update to their app has left my Wemo devices totally useless - they worked fine for years. I repeatedly get a warning about the app being unable to connect to the internet. After contacting support, they said "new users are required to create an account through the app" - they made no mention of how they broke existing user's functionality. Terrible service and highly misguided decision to break the app and provide no insight to the user as to why.
    Gods, I hate this "you must created an account for our hardware to work" crap.  Baloney.

    Whenever I see one of those, I take a second and third look at the device to decide if I really need it.  Often times, I don't.
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