No matter your interest or level of experience in smart homes, you probably know it’s possible to use specialty apps to control your smart devices individually.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow (analysts predict that the $85 billion sensor market alone is expected to grow to more than $115 billion by next year), reliance on voice assistants like the Echo and the Google Home are likely to increase as well. After all, nobody wants to toggle between a dozen different apps to control their smart gadgets when they can just ask Alexa to do it for them, right?
Instead, use the tips below to integrate all of your smart home tech with the Echo so you can use it as the central hub of your smart house.
Pair Alexa with your home’s lighting
You likely turn the lights off and on dozens of times per day. Synching compatible smart lights like Philips Hue with the Echo lets you do that without having to move from the couch.
First, launch the Alexa app and tap the menu icon at the top left. From there, choose Smart Home. You’ll then see a text-and-icon list of any currently connected home devices.
There’s also an Add Device option accompanied by a plus sign (+). Tapping Add Device triggers Alexa to search for new Wi-Fi enabled smart home products. Soon, you should see your new lights (assuming you already have them up and running) appear on the list.
If you have more than one smart light in a room, it’s a good idea to set up lighting groups. To do that, go back to the Smart Home section of the Alexa app. Then, tap the Groups header near the top of the screen. Next, choose Add Group, then Smart Home Group and give the group a name.
Select all the devices that belong to the newly created group, such as the smart lights in one room. Then, tap the blue Save button.
After that, you can use Alexa voice commands that include an individual light or all in one group. For example, you might say, “Alexa, dim the lights in the office” or “Alexa, turn on the light in the bedroom.”
Connect your Alexa device to your smart lock
There’s one consistent characteristic about the leading smart locks on the market today, and it may seem counterproductive at first: Alexa cannot unlock your front door. But the fact that they can only lock it is presumably to prevent a criminal from shouting a command to gain access or otherwise making a burglary easier to pull off.
So, assuming that isn’t a deterrent for you, here’s how you can sync your smart lock up with Alexa.
In this case, we’ll focus on the Schlage Sense Deadbolt. If you have a different kind of smart lock, the steps to set it up with your Echo should be similar.
The first step involves installing a Wi-Fi adapter within 40 feet of the smart lock. Next, download the Schlage Sense Android or iOS app and create an account. Use the app to connect the Wi-Fi adapter to the lock.
After that, enable the Schlage Sense Alexa skill. Just launch the Alexa app, choose Skills from the menu on the upper left and search for the one you want. Now you’re set to use the skill to make Alexa lock the door, check the lock’s status or manage access codes.
See security camera footage with Alexa and the Echo Show
If your Amazon Echo model is the Echo Show, it has a video screen. That means that depending on which smart security camera you have, you’ll be able to see footage from a security camera through your Echo Show.
Ring and Netgear are two of the many companies offering that technology with their products and have created specific Skills to facilitate it.
After purchasing a smart security camera that works with the Echo Show, activate the associated skill. Then, you can say a command such as, “Alexa, show me the front door camera,” to see who’s responsible for the knock you just heard. It’s as easy as that.
Adjust the temperature in a room
Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell are some of the top brands that offer smart thermostats controlled by your Amazon Echo. All those companies have Alexa Skills to enable, and if you purchase an Alexa-enabled thermostat from a different brand, expect to go through these same steps.
Launch the Alexa app, then tap the menu located in the upper left. Select Smart Home, then choose the Get More Smart Home Skills option, which is visible after you swipe down. Find the brand name of your smart thermostat and tap it. Then, select Enable Skill.
The extent of voice command functionality varies depending on the thermostat you buy. However, in most cases, you can raise or lower the temperature by a specific number of degrees or set it to a particular temperature reading. Depending on the skill, the commands can be more vague, such as “Alexa, cool down.”
Talk to almost any device connected to a smart plug
Forecasts predict that there will be 50 billion internet-connected devices by 2020. Smart plugs and outlets are a great way to smartify your home without making major investments or home alterations. They enhance the capabilities of almost any item plugged in to them. In addition to buying devices with built-in smart functionality, you can pair older, standard devices with smart plugs to unlock voice control features.
The setup process varies slightly by smart outlet brand, but you can get started by purchasing a type of smart plug that works with Alexa. The TP-Link Smart Plug is a great example.
Next, follow the manufacturers’ instructions, which may involve downloading a product app to initially set up an account before syncing to Alexa or downloading an Alexa skill.
You’ll also need to name each plug or address them by referring to a group, the same way you would when setting up lights.
Consider naming each plug to represent both the room name and gadget name, such as “living room floor lamp.”
After that, just insert the name of the plug into your voice command when talking to Alexa, such as “Alexa, turn on the living room floor lamp.”
Whether you’re just beginning to set up your smart home or have more smart devices than you know what to do with, using your Echo as a smart home hub can simplify the experience. Before you know it, you’ll to talking to yourself, er, we mean Alexa, in no time.