Wemo Smart Plug with Thread review: Easy home automation

Upgrade your HomeKit setup with this Thread-compatible smart plug [Review]

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Wemo Smart Plug with Thread
The Wemo Smart Plug with Thread is both simple and advanced, offering home automation with mesh networking.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Insert the Wemo Smart Plug with Thread into any wall socket and you can use HomeKit to control any plug-in appliance with your iPhone. It’s easy. Plus, this gadget (obviously) offers Thread mesh networking, the future of smart home tech.

I tested in my own home. Here’s why there’s a lot to like.

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Wemo Smart Plug with Thread review

Home automation is convenient and even kind of fun. It beats the heck out of walking over to a switch on the wall. And a smart plug is the easiest way to get started.

The Wemo Smart Plug with Thread takes care of the hardware side. Simply insert it into any wall plug, then plug in a light, fan, A/C unit, heater etc. Voila, you now have remote control over that appliance.

And that includes using voice commands when you enter the room, or using the Home app to set up automations for when you’re in Paris.

Insert the smart plug into any outlet

There’s a standard 3-prong socket on the front of the Wemo Smart Plug with Thread, and equivalent prongs on the back. It’s 2.1 inches by 1.8 inches by 1.3 inches, which means it’ll share a wall socket with another gadget.

This product handles up to 120V or 15A. That’s enough for a small space heater, but you still should be careful to not overload it.

Happily, you don’t always have to depend on HomeKit and your iPhone. A power button on the right side gives you manual control.

Wemo Smart Plug with Thread has a power button
The Wemo Smart Plug with Thread includes a button on the side for manual control.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Benefits of a Thread smart plug

Wemo put “Thread” in the name of this product because it’s a big deal. Thread is a low-power mesh networking standard. It enables devices to communicate with each other, instead of each having to talk directly to the hub. That means devices need a lot less power. For a real-world example of the benefits, the Wemo Stage uses Thread, and it runs about half a year on a tiny battery.

But don’t get the idea that this is proprietary tech. Thread is being adopted by many companies. That includes Apple — both the HomePod mini and the latest Apple TV 4K support it.

In the mean time, in homes without any other Thread accessories, the Wemo product uses Bluetooth.

Real-world Wemo Smart Plug uses

I set the accessory up in my bedroom where it would have to go through the Wemo Stage to communicate with my hub in the living room, which is a HomePod mini.

This setup works flawlessly. There’ve been no problems communicating with the smart plug. I even tried putting it behind furniture and a closed door — it continued to work perfectly.

And response time to verbal commands is quite good, even though the hub has to relay through the Wemo Stage to tell the Wemo Smart Plug to turn on or off.

HomeKit 101

HomeKit is built into iOS and iPadOS. With it, you can control accessories like the Wemo Smart Plug with Thread via Siri commands. It’s as simple as “Hey Siri, turn on lamp.”

But the real value is in controlling multiple lights and other appliances with a single command. For example, “Hey Siri, good night” can turn off every light in your home but your bedroom.

And HomeKit offers automation. Lights can turn themselves on at a specified time, or exactly at sunset/sunrise. Or lights, fans, etc. can turn themselves off when you leave the house (they’ll know to do this because you took your iPhone with you).

Control your HomeKit accessories with Apple’s Home App
Configure your HomeKit accessories with Apple’s Home App.
Screenshots: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

To find out more, read Cult of Mac’s guide on how to get started with HomeKit home automation.

Final thoughts

I love smart plugs because they’re so simple: plug and play. They also have the advantage of being nearly universal. Because there’s no wiring, you can put them in rental homes and apartments.

This one from Wemo is very forward looking. Thread is the future of smart home tech, not Wi-Fi. The sooner you get in, the easier the transition will be.

That said, those without a HomePod mini might prefer the Wi-Fi version instead. Or this could be the excuse you’re looking for to get Apple’s smart speaker or a new Apple TV 4K.

Pricing

The Wemo WiFi Smart Plug with Thread costs $24.99 on the Belkin website. It’s also available on Amazon.

Buy from: Belkin

Buy from: Amazon

Belkin provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.