Belkin has been a name in consumer electronics for decades and over the past few years has thrown their hat in the budget home automation space. Their Wemo Switch was one of the early entrants into the smart plug genre and has been a popular option for consumers. While reliable, it unfortunately had a glaring flaw, it’s size. Belkin realized this and in early 2017 shrunk the smart device down to give us the Wemo Mini Smart Plug. This Wi-Fi enabled plug could now provide the functionality users wanted without hogging all the outlet space.
The Wemo Mini Smart Plug is a rather simple device with one primary function, turning on and off an existing outlet in your home. The new and improved design fits snugly into an outlet while leaving the other free for other devices. If you want to double up, two plugs can work off the same outlet and fit perfectly together. It comes in a glossy white exterior with an on/off button to the right with a tiny LED indicator to let you know the switch is on.
The setup process for the Mini is pretty straightforward for those with experience configuring smart devices. You’ll first need to install either the Android or iOS app. This is the general Wemo app that lets you control other devices in their product line. This makes the Mini a bit more appealing if you already own for instance their Insight Switch or WeMo Light Switch. The app will walk you through the familiar steps of connecting your phone to the Mini’s private wireless network. Once connected, you’ll be able to configure the smart plug to your home’s Wi-Fi by choosing it and entering the password. Now that you’re connected, we recommend proceeding with any firmware updates the app tells you is needed. After that, you should be ready to start using the plug.
How Did it Perform?
Once connected to the home Wi-Fi, the smart plug worked as intended. The app doesn’t offer a lot of bells and whistles, but it doesn’t need to. Upon plugging in a table lamp, we were able to turn it on and off with ease in the app. There is about a half second lag when on the same network. When switching our phone off Wi-Fi and on to a cellular network, the lag did increase slightly but wasn’t that noticeable.
The range is better than most on the market. In our testing we found that it could remain connected at some considerable distances. It worked well a couple rooms away as well as on a floor above and below the router. It even held up in the garage where my wireless signal is spotty.
The app does offer some advanced features if you’re looking to do more. A rules section allows you to set a schedule for the plug to go on and off. Perfect if you’re on vacation and want to give the appearance someone is in the home. You can also create a rule to turn it off after a certain period of time effectively creating a sleep timer for your “dumb” appliance. Ideal for an old fan you like to keep on in the bedroom that you don’t necessarily want running the entire night. While the rules did work on basic levels, I could see how the app would get cumbersome if you had to create settings for multiple Wemo products. The more complex you get with rules, the more prone to conflicts you are which will cause issues.
Perhaps it’s most important feature is its compatibility with other platforms. The Mini can sync with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home to allow voice commands on whatever device you have plugged in. We found it simple to connect to both platforms and turn our lamp on and off with the voice commands. It has stayed connected through multiple weeks of use.
A recent firmware update has also given it Apple HomeKit compatibility. Setting this up is incredibly easy using the Home app on you iOS device. Apple users will relish in the simplicity of connecting the plug to other HomeKit-enabled devices in your home and creating scenes. Lag was non-existent when using Siri and it was a joy to use on this platform. So much so that we listed it as the best HomeKit-enabled smart plug on the market.
IFTTT (if this, then that) functionality is also supported and there are already a number of triggers and actions that can be used. And finally, the Mini works with Nest. This allows your home and away settings to automatically go into effect when Nest’s home and away function is triggered. You can also use it when certain environmental triggers are detected. For instance if the humidity drops below a certain level on your Nest thermostat, you can have a humidifier in your room turn on automatically.
For some negatives, we can nitpick that the app occasionally has responsiveness problems (the app has vastly improved over the years). It also doesn’t have the energy monitoring capabilities of the iDevices Switch or it’s sister product, the Insight Switch.
Is it secure?
Belkin has had some slip-ups in the past, most notably a vulnerability to their Wemo line in 2016 that could have potentially affected 500,000 users. Fortunately swift firmware updates fixed the issue and Belkin has been much more aggressive in their security since. On top of the regular firmware updates, WeMo transmissions are encrypted using standard transport layer security (TLS). Devices are hidden on the local network and do not change any of the existing firewall or port settings on your router. We feel Belkin products are safe to use although users should be attentive when firmware updates do come out.
The Belkin WeMo Mini is the best smart plug on the market. Some plugs excel in one ecosystem like the iDevices Switch for Apple HomeKit or the Amazon Smart Plug for Alexa. But this little device handles them all well. This provides more versatility in an ever-changing smart home landscape. All told, it hits our sweet spot of quality, security, and price.
This review was originally published on October 28, 2017. It was updated on August 4, 2018 to reflect an update that added Apple HomeKit support.