The WeMo Dimmer is the latest gadget in Belkin’s likable lineup of smart plugs and switches. At $80, it’s essentially a fancier version of the originalthat adds in a few new features — namely, the ability to dim your lights up and down as you see fit.
Like other WeMo gadgets, the WeMo Dimmer uses Wi-Fi to connect directly with your home network, which means you won’t need to plug a special hub into your router. For some, that’ll make it a more appealing option than Z-Wave switches from names like GE, or even iDevices Dimmer Switch (the non-dimmable version of that switch already sells for $100). And, with , it can claim compatibility with just about all of the major smart home platforms, as well as the top three voice controllers: Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant.. At $80, it’s also very likely to be less expensive than the soon-to-be-released
All of that positions the WeMo Dimmer pretty nicely here, and after testing it out in the CNET Smart Home, I’m convinced that there are plenty of reasons for WeMo loyalists and smart home newbies alike to give Belkin’s new smart switch a shot.
Lots of little things
The WeMo Dimmer is the best-looking WeMo gadget to date, with a premium feel unlike the bargain-bin basic design of the switches that came before it. Much of this is thanks to the new touch-sensitive dimming controls. Along with the on/off button at the bottom of the switch, you can glide your finger up and down the groove in the center of the dimmer to adjust the brightness, with tiny LED lights illuminating as you go. It looks modern, and feels fancy.
Belkin did a nice job with those indicator lights, too — they’re great for checking the approximate brightness level at a glance, but they aren’t bright enough on their own to be annoying. When you turn the switch off, a single light will remain lit to show you where you left the brightness. Turn the switch back on, and the lights will return to that same level. You can also use the dimmer’s touch slider to adjust that preset dimming point while the switch is off — another thoughtful touch.
Still, the touch-centric design might take some getting used to. While the groove and the LED indicator lights definitely help, fumbling around for touch-sensitive dimming controls in a dark room will never be as comfortable as flipping a switch. To that end, I wish that the on/off button was a bit more pronounced.
Before you begin using the WeMo Dimmer, you’ve got to install the thing. Belkin made the setup about as easy as hard-wiring a light switch can get. The Dimmer’s four wires — line, load, ground and neutral — are clearly labeled on the back of the switch, and the in-the-box instructions are a lot of help, too.
However, one of the clearly illustrated caveats in those instructions reveals what is arguably the WeMo Dimmer’s biggest flaw: It doesn’t work in three-way switch setups, where you’ve got more than one light switch wired to the same light or bank of lights. Multi-switch setups like that are fairly common in today’s homes, and while competitors like Lutron, iDevices and GE all offer smart switches that work with them, WeMo doesn’t. That’s a big, puzzling misstep.
I asked Belkin’s team about it, and a representative told me that they’re “actively looking for a way to support three-way switches,” but added that they have no details to offer at this time.
New features galore
Since the arrival of the original WeMo Light Switch back in 2013, users have been clamoring for a version that can dim the lights. Belkin could have released exactly that with no other changes and people probably would have been happy. Instead, Belkin has released a dimmer packed with additional features. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new: