No More Coming Home to a Dark House – My Favorite Christmas Present

How many times have you been out later than expected and come home to a dark house? Have you ever worried that you left the iron on? I am always forgetting to leave the lights on, especially in winter when it gets dark early especially now that my daughter is involved in more after-school activities. My mom was the one always worried about having left the iron plugged in. Even when my daughter and I are home, my husband typically comes home after dark at this time of year. The configuration of our light switches means that I have to go into the garage to turn on the outside lights for him.

In the past, I have considered installing lights that utilize light sensors, but I wasn’t a fan of the style available and the wiring would have been complicated by the layout of our lights and switches. Then in November, I found Belkin WeMo Switches which you can operate from your smart phone. They connect to your home’s WiFi network and can be programmed to turn on and off at certain times or turn on manually with your phone. They also work at the switch, so they are seamless for at home users. I knew this was going to be a great solution for us and asked for one for Christmas.

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My husband bought me one and my sister gave us a second switch. Since our front door light and our garage lights are on separate switches, having two works for us. They were easy to install in our existing box (a box for 2 in the garage and 3 at the front door). We did need to get new faceplates as the switch is a rocker style that requires a large rectangle instead of a standard toggle switch.

My favorite feature of the switch is that you can use sunset or sunrise as your settings. It will use your WiFi network to lookup your daily local sunset time and turn the lights on. No need to reprogram throughout the year. You can also set your switch to operate differently on different days. We have ours turn off later on weekends than on weekdays. The switch can always be manually operated to turn it on or off sooner than the schedule. Even if you have manually turned the light on early, it will still automatically turn off at the scheduled time.


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Before you buy a WeMo switch, you need to see if they will work for your home. A Wi-Fi network is required as is a mobile device (phone or tablet). They will only replace a single on/off switch. They will not replace a dimmer switch or work on lights that can be controlled by multiple switches (i.e. at the top and bottom of the stairs). They recommend plastic faceplates as metal or wood faceplates can interfere with the WiFi signal.

Amazon is offering a Gold Box Deal of the Day Up to 33% off Belkin WeMo Home Automation. The Belkin WeMo Light Switch (which I have described above) is regularly $49.99, but is on sale for $39.99.

They also offer several other devices. A Belkin WeMo Switch plugs into a standard outlet and can control any plugged in electronic device. For example, you can use it to turn a table or floor lamp on/off at certain times of day. We currently use a standard timer on a table lamp in the family room and we are constantly having to adjust it’s time as the seasons change. Since the outlet is behind the sofa, it is not easy to make the change. A WeMo Switch would also be great for someone who is concerned that they forgot to unplug a device such as an iron or a curling iron. Even after you’ve left the house, you could use your phone to check the status of the outlet and turn it off if need be. I am strongly considering this device to replace our timer.

Belkin also offer a Belkin WeMo Switch and Motion Sensor Bundle so that you can turn a lamp on when the switch detects motion, for example when someone enters a room. They also sell just the Belkin WeMo Motion Sensor which will work with a light switch or so that you can receive notification of motion.

border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;” width=”1″ /> Finally, the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch will not only control your electronics but will also monitor your energy usage. The WeMo Insight Switch is available for $59.99.

Beyond lights, the Belkin WeMo Switch would be great for a second home where you could control appliances such as a water heater or even a heater on before your arrival.

PS If you need a new faceplate to use with your switch, I recommend buying one from Amazon. We tried several local stores and were unable to find the combination plates that we needed.

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Ann Arbor with Kids is your go-to source for Ann Arbor Family Fun. It got its start in an activity list that I was compiling for the playgroup I ran at our church. When my daughter started preschool, the other moms were thrilled to hear about my list. I decided to take the list public in 2009.

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