7 Tips To Connect Alexa and Your Smart Home
When Alexa stormed the scene back in November 2014, we had no idea just how widespread this digital assistant would become or the extent to which voice control would penetrate home automation.
Today, we’ve got 7 tips to connect Alexa and your smart home so you can get more from your virtual butler than just asking a couple questions about the weather or reading out your calendar.
Before we serve up those handy hints, why should you bother linking Alexa with your other devices in the first place?
Why Connect Smart Home Devices To Alexa?
While asking for quick weather or traffic report, or perhaps calling for your daily to-do list might be entertaining the first few times, you’re buying into a smart home for more than just that.
By connecting Alexa to other devices in your home, you can use voice commands to control everything from the temperature and lighting. Whether you connect directly through an Echo device or using a hub like SmartThings, we’ve got plenty of options for you across the full spectrum of the smart home.
And we’ll get straight down to it now…
7 Tips To Connect Alexa and Your Smart Home
Although we could produce a book on how to connect Alexa and your smart home, we’ve curated a selection of tips so you can get up and running beyond the basics and get a taster of what a digital butler could do for your life.
1) Start Simple: Hit The Lights With Alexa
If you want an easy entry point to integrating your digital assistant with your smart home, why not get Alexa to turn your lights on and off?
Luckily, that’s easily accomplished. Enable the skill for your particular smart light than say, “Alexa, discover devices.”
Enabling a skill really is child’s play…
- Go to Menu > Skills
- Find the skill for the device in question
- Complete on-screen instructions for linking
Connecting your smart bulb in-app is a breeze. We’ll assume your bulb is Alexa compatible and set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll need to connect to the same WiFi network as your Echo device the follow these simple steps:
- Hit Menu > Smart Home
- Select the Devices tab then Add Device
- Tap the named device to complete set-up
If you’ve got smart switches rather than smart bulbs, follow the same procedure to enable you to take voice control of your lighting.
With Philips Hue lights, just enable the Alexa skill then you’ll be able to power the lights off or on while doctoring the brightness settings using voice commands. You’ll also be able to create a variety of scenes making Hue the go-to choice for many people starting out with smart lighting. Adding Alexa just makes things even smarter.
If you’ve already got a home embedded with smart lights, command them using the same names they have in-app for a streamlined experience.
Once you start getting Alexa involved with your lighting, it’s easy to roll out her helping hands across multiple other devices in your smart home so next up in our 7 tips to connect Alexa and your smart home, we’ll look at the convenience of smart thermostats when married to your favorite digital assistant.
2) Regulate The Temperature Without Getting Out Of Your Seat
The weather is often changeable, and it can be tough to regulate the temperature indoors to keep pace with these fluctuations.
Smart thermostats allow you to automate and optimize temperature control, and if you’ve got an Echo device, you can use Alexa to layer convenience on top of convenience.
The classic Nest Learning is the benchmark for smart thermostats and just keeps getting better as it enters its third iteration.
As with all attempts to sync Alexa with your smart home, you’ll first need to enable the skill. This is quick and easy to do even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.
Then just imagine being curled up in bed with a book or snuggled up on the couch watching a movie and being able to edge the temperature up or down to suit using nothing but a simple voice command. Whether it’s ramping the temperature up downstairs or making the bedrooms a little cooler, take your smart lighting to new levels with Alexa hooked up.
3) Control Fire TV With Alexa
Whether you prefer the original and first-generation Fire TV Stick or the newest 4K-enabled Fire TV Stick, using Alexa can put an end to scrolling through endless menus or dealing with fiddly keypads giving you a deeper, richer home entertainment experience.
Although you will need a little savvy and patience to get the most out of the voice-activated TV, it’s not rocket science.
All models except the first generation Fire TV Stick comes with a remote. All you need to do is depress the mic button and speak bark out any commands. If you want complete hands-free control, you’ll need to invest in an Echo device or a soundbar.
If you keep things simple with a single Fire TV Stick, pairing is automatic.
Adding more devices requires just a few quick steps:
- Hit Menu > Music, Video, and Books
- Select Fire TV from the Video sub-section
- Tap the named device to complete set-up
- Manage Devices > Link Another Fire TV
- Select the device and allocate one control of the television
Once you’re up and running, Alexa will work with most but not all apps. From Amazon’s own mighty Prime through all the usual suspects like Netflix, ESPN, and Starz, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to ask Alexa for help tracking down what to watch next.
From search through to elements of playback, you might not consider voice control of your TV a strict necessity, but once you’ve given it a shot, you’ll kick yourself for not investing earlier. Search functionality is neither as honed or as developed as we’d like, but the Alexa experience keeps on getting smoother across the board.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can also control set-top boxes from some TV providers while some TVs now come with integrated Alexa support. Failing this, you can use something like Logitech’s legendary Harmony Hub to connect other TVs.
For a near plug-and-play solution, though, get Alexa acquainted with Fire TV, and you’ll never look back.
4) SmartThings and Alexa Hand-in-Hand
If you’re committed to building out a comprehensive smart home, a dependable and flexible hub serves as the baseline.
The Samsung SmartThings hub works with Echo, Echo Dot, and other Alex-enabled devices, so you’ll be able to start taking charge of other devices in your connected home hands-free. You’ll be able to control your smart light bulbs and switches. For reasons of security, Alexa will only support Routines with switching or lighting devices.
Getting started is a cinch:
- Download SmartThings app on iOS or Android
- Create an account following on-screen prompts
- Set up your Alexa device per instructions
- Download Alexa app
That’s the groundwork in place on the Alexa side, so it’s time to get some communication going…
To connect Alexa to SmartThings, head to the Alexa app then perform the following steps…
- Hit Menu > Smart Home
- Smart Home Skills > Enable
- Type SmartThings in the search box > Enable
- Enter email and password associated with the account
- Log in and select your location using From menu > Authorize
With that taken care of, you’ll be greeted with a message telling you Alexa has been successfully linked up to SmartThings.
To discover devices, carry out the steps we outlined in the lighting section.
With all those bases covered, you should now be well-placed to roll out voice control of assorted third-party devices thanks to a smart hub like SmartThings.
5) Harness Your Hive Ecosystem With Voice Commands
You’ve got Nest dominating the smart thermostat vertical while Yale and Schlage slug it out on the smart lock front.
Hive is a massive player with a broad spread of products crying out for Alexa. From light bulbs and security cameras through thermostats and motion sensors, imagination is your only limitation.
Enjoying a robust working relationship with Amazon, you can now connect your Hive products directly to Echo or Echo Dot so you can manage your smart devices directly using nothing but your voice. It’s never been a better time to buy smart home products, and if you invest in the Hive Active Thermostat, you’ll get a free second-generation Echo Dot thrown in.
To get started, just enable and link the skills as above then you can start barking out commands to make things a little cooler in the dining room or to adjust the lights as the evening draws in without getting up out your seat.
6) Expand Your Security Camera With a Separate Monitor Using Echo
Whether you want Nest or Netgear, Logitech, Honeywell or TP-Link, the market is absolutely saturated with security cameras.
Since you have the safety angle covered, it’s a smart move to harness Alexa to make your life easier.
Alexa is supported across all major brands, but if you starting hunting down more obscure products hoping to shave off a few bucks, you might end up with sorely limited functionality and instructions limited to turning your lights on and off or merely monitoring their status.
To get your security camera to show up simply say Alexa show [camera name] and Alexa hide [camera name] when you’ve had enough.
The camera stays on for around 30 minutes depending on the brand.
From monitoring your surveillance footage in real time to communicating with your security camera using voice commands, Alexa can help you optimize your home security the easy way.
7) Think About Alexa-Compatible Smart Locks
If you think back to the infancy of voice assistants, the execution was often flawed. The same could be said differently for smart locks…
One of the inbuilt issues with smart home technology is the fear of the security system you have in place to protect you becoming compromised in some way, whether by hacking or any other form of ill intent.
With smart locks, you’ll be able to get your door to lock behind you using nothing but your voice. Whether you’re heading out to the car with your hands full or coming back home tired after a long day at the office, voice recognition integrated with smart locks makes for a winning combo.
When it comes to unlocking, though, you’re out of luck. But let’s face it, it would just be too risky for anyone to sing out a command and enjoy full access to your front door.
If you haven’t yet got started down the home automation route, why not consider an August Smart Lock so you can update your home’s entry system while enjoying all the convenience of hands-free voice control rather than grasping for a bunch of keys?
We’ve only scratched the surface with these 7 tips to connect Alexa and your smart home.
What we’ve tried to show you is that seamlessly integrating your voice assistant with the other devices and appliances throughout your connected home is actually very straightforward.
Many of the tips above can be rolled out across some platforms and applications, so you’ve got a great base to operate from.
The only question is, what are you going to treat yourself to first?