Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set review: Belkin's WeMo LEDs were worth the wait

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.2
  • Features: 8.0
  • Usability: 8.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.8
Review Date:

The Good Belkin WeMo LEDs offer a well-refined app experience and top-notch ease of use. The bulbs themselves are also highly efficient and boast surprisingly high color-rendering scores.

The Bad There's no option for a physical remote with WeMo, and no Web interface, either.

The Bottom Line Smart LEDs are an overdue addition to the WeMo family of gadgets -- thankfully, Belkin did a nice job of getting them right.

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We first saw Belkin's WeMo LEDs back in January of this year, at CES in Las Vegas. At the time, Belkin told us to expect to see them on store shelves by spring, but delays pushed that date back by several months. Now the app-enabled LEDs are finally here, and at $100 for a two-bulb starter kit and $30 each for additional bulbs, they're even more affordable than originally planned.

That price cut likely stems from new rivals that have emerged during Belkin's delay -- most notably the similarly priced white-light Hue Lux LEDs from Philips. In that same period, we've also seen the less expensive, US-only Connected by TCP LEDs integrate with SmartThings and Wink, upping their appeal even further. With competition like that, Belkin might have missed its chance to get out in front of the pack.

Still, there's a lot to like about these lights, especially if you've already bought into the WeMo family of switches and smart devices. Like the Hue Lux LEDs, the WeMo bulbs are IFTTT-compatible and boast a full suite of well-designed, easy-to-use app controls. Smarts aside, they're highly efficient and stronger than Philips or TCP when it comes to color rendering. With those sorts of specs, Belkin's smart bulbs are certainly better late than never.

belkin-wemo-led-lighting-starter-set-21.jpg
Ry Crist/CNET

Design and usability

Belkin didn't go out of its way to make its LEDs stand out from the crowd. With a traditional A19 shape and a white-bodied base, they follow a trend we've seen other LEDs tack recently, with space-age looks eschewed in favor of less-conspicuous builds.

The starter kit will set you up with two bulbs and the WeMo Link that you'll need in order to control them. While the LEDs aren't available in Australia or the UK yet, other WeMo products are. That $100 price point for the starter set converts roughly to AU$110, or a little over £60.

The WeMo Link is a small plug-in device that's just slightly larger than a typical phone charger. The plug will receive data over Wi-Fi (such as you turning the lights on from the WeMo app), then relay it to the bulbs via ZigBee, the same standard used by Philips Hue and Hue Lux LEDs.

Those Philips bulbs, however, require you to plug a hub directly into your router. That can lead to clutter on the router shelf and fierce competition for those Ethernet jacks, something we've certainly experienced here at CNET Appliances HQ. I much prefer Belkin's approach, which lets you plug the Link in wherever you like.

belkin-wemo-led-lighting-starter-set-9.jpg
Ry Crist/CNET

Like we've found with other WeMo products, getting started is relatively simple. After plugging the Link in, it'll flash green and orange. Pull out your smartphone and you'll be able to join up with the Link's Wi-Fi network. Once you do, screw in the bulbs, turn them on, and open the WeMo app. It'll detect your bulbs automatically then pop you back onto your home Wi-Fi network, and you'll be ready to go.

If you're already using WeMo products like the WeMo Light Switch or the WeMo Switch + Motion, you'll be able to control your bulbs right alongside them in the WeMo app. This includes rule creation, which means you'll be able to do things like turn your lights on by triggering WeMo's motion detector.

Belkin WeMo LED Connected by TCP LED Philips Hue Lux LED
Lumens 800 800 750
Watts 9.5 11 9
Efficiency (lumens / watt) 84.21 72.73 83.33
Color temperature (claimed) 3,058 K (3,000 K) 2,603 K (2,700 K) 2,640 K (2,700 K)
CRI score 88 80 79
Dimmable range 3.8 - 100% 1.2 - 100% 0.5 - 100%
Lifespan 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Starter kit price $100 $80 $100
Bulbs per starter kit 2 2 2
Additional bulb price $30 $20 $30

Back to the bulbs, though. At a power draw of 9.5 watts, and with a light output of 800 lumens, they're slightly more efficient than the competition. Belkin also settled on a color temperature of 3,000 K, just slightly hotter and less yellowy than the 2,700 K light put out by Philips and TCP.

The bulbs are also fully dimmable through the WeMo app -- though you'll want to be sure not to use them with in-wall dimmer-switch setups, as the two dimming mechanisms will clash, causing terrible flickering. In the app, though, dimming is smooth, simple, and flicker-free, with a slider bar that lets you dial the light up from 0 to 100 percent in 1 percent increments.

In front of our spectrometer, we detected increasing levels of light at each and every percentage point. That's an especially nice level of dimming control if you're picky about the brightness of your bulbs. My only complaint: that minimum, 1 percent level of brightness puts out about 4 percent of the bulb's total light output. That's probably plenty low for most purposes, but both Philips and TCP can dial down even lower.

wemo-led-cri-graph.jpg
The WeMo LEDs have noticeably better color-rendering scores than the competition. Ry Crist/CNET

One of the WeMo LED's strongest specs is its color-rendering score, which averages out to 88 out of 100. Most 60W replacement LEDs will struggle with red tones, and sit at an average score right around 80, which is where you'll find both the Philips Hue Lux LED and the Connected by TCP LED.

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Where to Buy

Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set

Part Number: F5Z0489fc
Pricing is currently unavailable.
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