Belkin WeMo Light Switches Arrive This Summer - A Competitor to Insteon?

We're just getting started with an Insteon home automation system.

There are a few light switches in our house that I'd like to be able to control remotely (for example, our outdoor lights are accessible only from the garage), and there are others that I'd like to be able to control in tandem - for instance, setting "scenes" in our living room, dimming certain lights and turning others off when we watch a movie. 

Just recently, however, Belkin announced some additions to their WeMo system - including light switches - that may make the system a plausible alternative to Insteon. Let's compare and contrast.

Until this recent announcement, WeMo was exclusively a "smart plug" system - you'd put the WeMo plug on top of an existing plug, and the lamp or appliance you'd plugged becomes controllable via the WeMo app. 

That's useful, but Insteon already offered that functionality - and what we're really interested in here is replacing light switches with a home automation solution. The new WeMo light switch (left, arriving summer 2013) would make that possible. The switch will retail for $49.99, which is in the general vicinity of an Insteon 2-way switch. 

Belkin WeMo uses your home wifi network. Insteon runs on a proprietary network, with each switch able to send and receive signals. Because every switch is a signal repeater, in theory, the Insteon system will become stronger and stronger as you add components. 

I'm not sure that the same will be true with WeMo. All of those devices will be utilizing the same wifi network - will 20 or 30 switches work well together, or will my system be overtaxed? What if I'm streaming a movie at the same time?

There's no question that Insteon is a more established product - it's been out for some time, while WeMo is still 6 months from launching their light switch. With Insteon, I'd be able to buy "toggle" style light switches,  which match my existing switches - WeMo appears to only be planning a "rocker" style switch. 

Insteon also has "6-button" style panel switches (right, $79.99 at Newegg), which allow for automated lighting control directly from the switch - without firing up the iOS app. 

For the moment, we're going to be sticking with Insteon (and investing in a few hundred dollars worth of switches, hopefully this month.) 

WeMo may ultimately turn out to be the better product - It may be that the Insteon network isn't as reliable as our home wifi - but for now, the versatility of the Insteon system is too much of a draw. It will allow us to approximate the functionality of more expensive Lutron systems, while growing at our own pace. 

I'll keep everyone updated as we build out our Insteon system.  We'll start by getting the outdoor light situation under control (which should only require 2 switches), and then we'll move on to the living room. 

1 comment :

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