The new Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch with Thread is for Apple’s HomeKit only

The new Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch with Thread is for Apple’s HomeKit only

Wemo, Belkin’s smart home arm, this week announced an updated version of its wall dimmer switch. The new Wemo Smart Dimmer with Thread ($59.99) is a wired smart switch that lets you remotely dim and turn lights on and off. It works exclusively with Apple’s HomeKit platform via Thread or Bluetooth and is available now from the Belkin web store (and coming soon to Amazon).

This approach to HomeKit follows a recent trend from the company, whose latest products — the Wemo Stage Scene Controller, Smart Plug and Video Doorbell — only work with Apple’s smart home platform. This means the new switch will use the Apple Home app exclusively (and not the Wemo app) and will work with Siri for voice control.

Despite using Thread, the primary wireless protocol for Matter, and publicly announcing that it would launch new Matter-ready devices this summer, Wemo says that Smart Dimmer will not be updated to support the upcoming smart home standard.

“As of now, the Dimmer with Thread will not be upgradeable to Matter via a firmware update when the new standard is released later this year,” said Cassie Pineda, a Belkin spokeswoman. the edge in an email. “When Matter launches later this year, we will bring new Matter over Thread compatible switches/dimmers to market.”

While it seems redundant to launch two nearly identical versions of the same product in the same year, Pineda said the rationale is that the dimmer launching today is HomeKit-enabled over Thread, “providing consumers with a more responsive smart home experience, reliable and secure without the hassle of third-party apps,” he said. Matter’s delay (it was originally scheduled to launch this summer) may also have contributed to this divided ecosystem.

The new $60 Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch will work with Apple’s HomeKit.
Image: Belkin

The new Smart Dimmer does not replace the current Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch, which is still available and works over Wi-Fi. It’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit, and it only costs around $40.

The biggest change in the new version, beyond being exclusive to Apple’s platform, is the use of Thread instead of Wi-Fi for connectivity. Thread is a wireless protocol created specifically for smart home devices; it’s designed to be faster, more reliable, and consume less power than Wi-Fi.

Because Smart Dimmer uses HomeKit over Thread, you need an Apple HomePod Mini or Apple TV 4K (2nd generation) to act as Thread’s edge router for the switch. An upcoming Thread update will open up border routers from different manufacturers to work together, but the Wemo Switch can only work with Apple border routers.

If you don’t have an Apple TV Mini or newer, you can still use Smart Dimmer via Bluetooth. For this, you would only need an iPhone for local control and an Apple Home hub (an iPad or any model of Apple TV or HomePod) if you want to control the switch when you are away from home and set up automations in the home app.

In addition to Thread and Bluetooth, the Smart Dimmer also has NFC technology for faster pairing setup.

The new dimmer has two buttons to dim the lights.
Image: Belkin

A hardwired switch, the dimmer fits into a recessed wall electrical box.
Image: Belkin Wemo

A wired switch, the Smart Dimmer works with or without a neutral wire, making it compatible with new and old homes. There are only a few smart switches that work without a neutral wire: GE Lighting’s Lutron Caseta, Leviton, Aqara and Cync offer some of the more popular options.

The Wemo Smart Dimmer is not compatible with three-way switches (lights that are controlled by switches from two locations). It can only replace single-pole switches (Wemo sells a Wi-Fi 3-way smart switch). It can be combined with the Wemo Stage Scene Controller to recreate a virtual three-way setup. Wemo says the switch has flicker-free technology, so it works with standard and dimmable light bulbs without creating a flickering effect at lower light levels.

While it’s nice to see more Thread products coming to the smart home, launching new Thread devices that won’t upgrade to Matter today and then promising the same device will arrive later this year with Matter support is going to cause some confusion. Smart home confusion is one of the main things Matter is supposed to fix.

The main takeaway here is that Wemo’s new Smart Dimmer is designed for those who are fully into Apple’s HomeKit and have no plans to try any other smart home platform. If you’re planning to adopt Matter into your smart home, which brings with it the promise of controlling your home across multiple platforms if you want, then wait for the next release.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.