Energy Saving smart home project

A while back I decided that I would start to get into the smart home and energy saving devices, Belkin and Lightwave RF make some of the devices I have been fitting and testing and this post is on the Belkin Devices.

While this weekend I was to set up both Belkin and LightwaveRF devices but due to a small configuration issue on my router I was only able to get the Belkin Wemo devices set up and working. LightwaveRF is to be done next weekend when I get a switch for more Ethernet connections.

Ok with that said Belkin Wemo – what is this Wemo stuff? Wemo is a range of home automated products from Belkin from coffee makers to slow cookers and LED light bulbs. The idea that you plug in and control the devices via a smart app on your phone or set up rules to run the same appliances.

The good folks over at Belkin sent me over a Wemo Insight Plug and LED bulb starter set. The Insight plug is unique and performs some great stuff for the energy conscious among us. It is a WiFi plug that enables you to plug your home appliance into it and gives you the ability to control so long as you have a data connection on your phone.  Its ultra simple to us in that you plug the Insight into a outlet socket then plug in your device or as I did the extension lead that has all my home media gear on it. Try as I might when I head into bed I just tell the XBox One to turn off, great but this puts everything into stand by mode.  TV, XBox One, Sky Box, Surround Sound, NVidia Shield are left in stand by mode sucking down power and it cost me money. So with this I have set up a simple rule, Turn off at 23:30. Its as simple as that, each night at 23:30 the device cuts all power to these devices and it saves me having to worry about cost.

However the fun does not stop here and as the name implies the Insight provides you insight into power usage. In its first day after I made a few configuration changes I was able to see that my media set up would draw down about €13 a month in power charges.

So how is this done? In short the Insight will monitor the power drawn from the devices its connected to and then relay this information to you in a usable fashion. The key here is you need to set up the app on the IOS or Android phone to the correct settings. This means finding out your electricity price per kilowatt and then inputting your local currency. Once done you are set. The basic approach is for you to have a good idea and what you are using and how much it is costing you. You can then export this information via CSV and this captures 30 days of history at 30 min chunks.

Take it a step further and you can then set up rules in IFTTT that will shut down the device if usage goes above a set threshold, there are a lot more rules you can set up for example you can set up a rule that alerts you to when the power is turned on, great for knowing if the kids have decided to play the XBox or watch TV when homework should be on the agenda.

Some among you reading will no doubt point to the old style anolouge timer that can pretty much do the same thing as the update Insight, true but think for a moment, your out and decide you want to stay out a little longer as the night was just getting started, however you wanted to turn a light on in the house to make out there is someone in?, simple just take out the phone, open the app and hit the on switch.

So is the Wemo Insight worht thr €50 or so purchase price. Well that depends, for me there is a great insight into seeing the amount of power my media hub draws down and the ability to better control this was very handy. You would need to make an awful lot of savings however to recoup the cost. I would purchase the Wemo Switch that would do the same thing with out the monitoring ability but would move the Insight around the house to get a good overall feel of power usage and then use the WeMo Switch to regulate the device based on cost.  Thus keeping the Insight to one but load up on Switches.

Useful and insightful with out a doubt and opens your eyes to the power being sucked at all levels from all devices but you need to use this to change the culture in the house to switch of devices when not in use. My kids were very interested in the new gadget and was interested to see how much power we use so hoping this leads on to better education from me to them about being mindful of devices sucking down juice when it is not needed.

Set up included adding the Insight to the Wifi network, then a firmware update, this did not go as planned and sucked the life from my iPhone. However a restart and try again on Saturday morning and all was well. From then on it is been pretty simple all round.  I can even tell when the Insight is feeding power to charge as iPad and not powering the TV etc.

Screen Shots below

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Belkin LED Starter light set.

So onto the LED light set, You get two LED light Bulbs at 60w each and then a link plug. To set these up you need to get the lights into the sockets, plug in the link add to the Wifi and update the firmware. Once done you can turn on and off the lights at will and set the brightness of each.  These have a lifespan of approx 22.8 years on 3 hours a day usage. Now why do you need a light controlled? Well for me there are two key areas,

  1. Landing between bedrooms, this light we have left on all night for a few years so it lets the kids get from them to us with light, now I have replaced this with the LED bulb with the following rule in place, Turn on at 15 mins before sunset (bulb ref internet time to find sunset) at 80% brightness then off at 22:59 – On at 23:00 at 1% brightness off at sunrise
  2. Porch light – on at Sunset + 15 same as above and off at 23:00 then on at 5:50am and off 10 mins later – allows me out of the house for work with a little light to get out by.

The first rule in place for the landing light has as a side effect allowed me to sleep better as there is less light coming into the room. Some might say why not replace with a dimmer years ago…. good point well made sir……………………..


In any case these lights and rules now form the basis of my smart house project – highly recommended and long term savings to be had with some culture shifts in the household.

Next phase in the project is LightwaveRF and really looking forward to this as it requires me to rewire a few plug points and light switches.

The Working Dad

The Working Dad

The Working Dad is a regular guy called Darren, Working as a senior manager for a leading NGO I have two kids and happily married. This is my blog about the life and times of being a dad today..
The Working Dad

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