Wemo WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug review: This plug’s performance problems kill it from the start

Scheduling is in the Wemo app is dead on arrival with this outdoor smart outlet.

wemo outdoor smart plug
Belkin/Wemo

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At a Glance
  • Belkin Wemo WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug

Here’s the tl;dr on Wemo’s new outdoor smart plug: Skip it. Here’s why.

Wemo is a longstanding and respected name in the smart home space, but the new Wemo WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug simply doesn’t do the brand—or existing Wemo users who want to extend their smart home into the yard—any favors. Let’s start with the hardware, which feels solid but is lacking in features.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart plugs, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

The 2.4GHz Wi-Fi device boasts two outlets, but they can’t be individually controlled by hardware or software: Both are either on or off. Its IP44 weatherization rating indicates you’ll want to keep its captive rubber plugs installed when either socket is not in use, as its protected only from particulate matter larger than 1mm (i.e., there isn’t enough dust protection to prevent failure).

It’s better protected from water and should withstand being sprayed with a garden hose. (You can read more about IP codes in this article.) A small LED illuminates on the single power switch when the device is active, but LED can’t be disabled.

wemo outdoor smart plug stock.installed Belkin/Wemo

The Wemo WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug’s pigtail allows it to dangle from the outlet and avoid blocking the outlet above it.

On the bright side—for iPhone users, at least—this smart plug is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem (Android software is also available). iPhone users are directed to begin setup in the Wemo app, then wait to be transitioned over to the iOS Home app to complete the setup process by scanning the HomeKit QR code on the back of the device.

wemo link error message Christopher Null / IDG

If you buy a Wemo WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug, be ready to encounter this error message frequently.

When I first attempted to set up the plug with an iPhone, this part of the setup stalled out, with Home repeatedly giving me an “Accessory Not Found” error, even after resetting the device. I ended up enlisting Wemo’s support staff to find a fix, and eventually a factory reset did the trick, allowing the setup process to complete. There was no clear answer on what wasn’t working the first time around, but Wemo’s technicians did note that resetting this particular device can be difficult, and that perhaps my earlier attempts to do so hadn’t succeeded (despite LEDs flashing in a particular pattern, suggesting the contrary).

Once the device was set up, I was able to interact with it normally—that is, turn it off and on—through the Wemo app, at least some of the time. Unfortunately, I found the plug to be distinctly prone to dropping off my Wi-Fi network without warning, sometimes taking a few seconds and sometimes a few minutes to recover and be accessible again. (The switch was more reliable when accessing it via the iOS Home app, which I’d recommend using as a primary interface if you end up purchasing this device.)

The frequent disconnects on the device seem to have a worse side effect than simply creating lag when trying to interact with the device: They also kill the Wemo app’s scheduling system entirely. I never once got a rule or automation created in the Wemo app to work with this plug, although I don’t have trouble with other Wemo devices. Scheduling within the iOS Home app was also successful.

As always, your mileage may vary depending on the specifics of your infrastructure, but I’d argue that there are other outdoor plugs in its $40 price range that will give you far fewer headaches.

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At a Glance
  • Wemo’s outdoor plug lacks any special features to make it a compelling smart home device, and the performance problems we encountered leave us hesitant to recommend it.

    Pros

    • Includes a randomized Away mode (if you can get it to work)

    Cons

    • Outlets can’t be control independently
    • Troublesome setup process
    • Scheduling system was completely defunct in our testing
 
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