In Let there be light (part 1) I played with Phillips Hue home automation and in Let there be light (part 2) I tried out the WeMo Light switch. Both solutions work well where they are used in my home. In this post, I’m going to compare the two and mention some things I like and dislike about the different approaches.
Retail for the Phillips Hue starter set (a hub and two bulbs) is about $70 and an Amazon Dot costs $50 so it would have cost $120 to do Boy #1’s room, but Amazon had a Black Friday deal and so I got everything for $90.
The WeMo switch is around $40, so that paired with a Dot would normally be $90, but I managed to save $20 on the Dot during a special promotion so my actual cost was $70. Had I gone with Phillips Hue (even without needing to purchase another hub) I would have had to spend about $14 for each of six bulbs meaning it would have been $84 without the Dot.
The WeMo switch is a cheaper initial investment. Also, assuming that switches last longer than bulbs, I think maintenance costs will also be lower.
The installation of the Phillips Hue doesn’t require messing with any wiring which is nice, but it does require setting up the hub. The hub needs power so it has to be plugged into an outlet and it also requires a physical (wired) network connection. Putting the bulbs in place is just like changing an ordinary light bulb.
The installation of the WeMo switch is just like swapping out any other light switch. The switch does require having a neutral wire (not to be confused with a ground which is optional)–since my house has the neutral wire it isn’t an issue, but some homes are wired differently.
If you already have a hub in place, it’s definitely easier to screw in a new light bulb than to install a new switch. It is also safer and requires less skill. However, having a hub does mean one more device in the home that requires power and a physical (corded) network connection. I think Phillips could have done better and put everything into the bulbs and not require the hub at all.
- Manual switch: With the Phillips Hue bulbs, the existing light switch can function normally, but if you use it to dim the light, that becomes the new 100% for the bulbs. Also, if you turn it off, than the bulbs are unable to work at all via voice control. The WeMo switch works as one one expect and doesn’t have any conflicts with voice control.
- Dimming: The Phillips bulbs allows dimming, but the WeMo switch is only on or off.
Overall, I like the WeMo switch better than the Phillips Hue bulbs. However, there are two reasons why I’m not adding many more switches to my home. The first is that the switches do not support multiple switches controlling the same circuit (ie they cannot work as three way switches)–compared to all the functionality already crammed into the switch, it seems to be as though it wouldn’t be overly complex to add support for that. Also, the switches do not have dimmer functionality.