As the latest addition to Belkin's line of home automation products, the WeMo Insight Smart Plug ($49.99), is one smart power outlet. Like its predecessors, the WeMo Light Switch($69.99 at Amazon) and the WeMo Switch + Motion($69.99 at Amazon), it connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can turn your devices on and off remotely using an iOS or Android device. It also allows you to create schedules for every day of the week, and it supports IFTTT (If This Then That) recipes. Belkin made the Insight even smarter than its siblings (and most other connected power outlets) by adding power monitoring capabilities that tell you how long the outlet has been on each day, how much power you're using, and what it's costing you—all of which earn it our Editors' Choice for smart power outlets.
Design and Installation
Measuring just 2.8 by 2.8 by 1.5 inches (HWD), the WeMo Insight($69.99 at Amazon) is the smallest smart outlet we've seen to date. In comparison, the outlet from the WeMo Switch + Motion bundle measures 4.5 by 2.9 by 2.2 inches. The Insight has a matte white housing with a single three-pronged outlet on the faceplate and a three-pronged plug on the back. A Wi-Fi indicator on top glows green for 30 seconds when the switch is connected to your network, and stays green when the switch is powered on. A solid amber light means you have a poor connection to the network, and a blinking amber light means you have lost the connection altogether. There's also a reset button at the top of the switch, and behind that is a mini USB port reserved for future use, possibly with a motion detector add-on.You Can Trust Our ReviewsSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
Installation is relatively easy. All you have to do is plug in the Insight switch, go to settings on your iOS or Android device, and connect to the Insight's Wi-Fi radio. Next, launch the free WeMo app and tell the outlet to access your router, connect to your wireless router again, and then go back to the WeMo app where the Insight will be listed as a device. After that, you can name the switch and enter your email address for notifications.
App and Performance
The Insight uses the same iOS and Android app as the other WeMo devices, which lists each device in your network with an on/off button next to it for instantly toggling them. Tapping the down arrow on the Insight tab opens the power usage screen where you can see how long your device was on the last time it was used, and how long the Insight has been on standby (with the device turned off). You can also see how long your device has been on over the entire day, your daily average "on" time, your (estimated) monthly and daily power costs, and your average power usage in watts. By default, the estimated power costs are calculated using a $0.111 per kWh estimate, but you can change that to reflect your state's average cost in the Edit screen. The Insight captures up to 45 days' worth of energy usage data, which you can export in CSV format through email.
You can program the switch to turn on and off at sunrise or sunset or at specific times of the day, on either a daily basis or on individual days of the week under the Rules tab. The Insight's Sensing Power feature lets you create additional rules to notify you when the device has been on or off for a specific period of time, or when power usage exceeds a predetermined threshold. This can come in very handy for parents who want to monitor TV or game console usage while they're not home. The notifications are sent to your smartphone and are viewable in the WeMo app, but if you want email alerts you'll have to use If This Then That (IFTTT).
Like earlier WeMo plugs, the Insight supports IFTTT recipes, which adds a slew of programming options to the mix. IFTTT recipes can interact with 80 different Internet services like ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, Date & Time, Craigslist, Foursquare, or your own email account. This lets you create a trigger based on an event like a new email, a friend request, a sports score, or a tweet, which can turn the switch on or off. There are dozens of shared recipes on the IFTTT site, but you can create your own as well. One of my favorite recipes has the Insight turn on and off when ESPN posts a final score for the Knicks.
The Insight plug worked flawlessly during my testing, but the app would misbehave from time to time. Every so often it would indicate that the Insight plug was not detected when it was indeed fully operational according to the LED indicators. Fortunately, this only happened twice within a two-week period and was easily resolved by restarting my iPhone. Also, if you unplug the Insight for any reason, be prepared to wait several minutes for it to be recognized by the app. I waited close to five minutes to reconnect each time I removed the switch from a wall outlet.
I created several rules for the Insight; I plugged my floor lamp into the switch and had it turn on at sunset and off at 11:00pm, Monday through Friday. It followed this rule without issue, every day. Next, I plugged my coffee maker in and set up a rule that had the switch turn on at 6:30am weekdays. I also set up an IFTTT recipe that turned the switch off when it was on for more than 60 minutes. Like clockwork, the coffee started brewing at 6:30 am every week day and turned itself off at 7:30am, a nice feature if you don't have a coffee maker that already does this. Finally, I set up a rule to be notified if the switch was powered on for more than four hours during the day, and received the notification around 20 seconds after the Insight hit the four-hour mark.
The Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug brings new meaning to the term "smart device." Sure, it lets you turn your electronics on and off using a smartphone, and can be programmed to activate by sunrise, sunset, and time of day, but there are plenty of other products out there that offer these features. What sets the Insight apart from the pack is its ability to tell you how much power your device is using, how long it's been on, and how much money it's costing you to run that device, which is why it earns our Editors' Choice for smart power outlets.4.0Editors' ChoiceSee It$69.99 at AmazonMSRP $49.99View More
The Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug not only uses your home Wi-Fi network to turn devices on and off remotely, it also has scheduling and IFTTT recipe capability, and it can tell you how much power you are using.
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