- Compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Nest, and IFTTT
- Slim design doesn't obstruct adjacent outlet
- WeMo app works with other WeMo products
- Not compatible with Apple HomeKit (Siri)
- Occasionally struggles to find home network during setup
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 mini smart 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 the WeMo 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.
In our testing we found this worked seamlessly when the plug was placed in the same room as our router. When it was a few rooms away, it didn’t always find the home network. That’s why we recommend setting up the device in the same room as your router. You can move it to your room of choice later.
How Did it Perform?
Once connected to the home Wi-Fi, the Belkin WeMo Mini 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 and it had no issues working three rooms away.
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 affectingly 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. 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 WeMo Mini works with Nest. This allows your home and away settings to automatically go into effect when Nest’s home and away functionality is triggered.
With such a simple device, there aren’t a ton of negatives to pick from. Perhaps most glaring is that there is no support for Apple HomeKit at this time. This does put them at a disadvantage against the iHome Smart Plug and iDevices Switch. It also doesn’t appear that a change is coming anytime in the near future. Other than that, 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 it’s sister product the WeMo Insight Switch.
Is it secure?
Belkin has had some slip-ups in the past, most notably a vulnerability to their WeMo line in 2014 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 Smart plug is a great choice for both smart home novices and more advanced users. If you’re just looking to control a lamp while you’re away, the WeMo app will get it working to your liking just fine. And if you’re someone rocking Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Nest, even better. This is a definite pass for Apple HomeKit users, but everyone else should feel confident in a product that hits our sweet spot of quality, security, and price.