How can Alexa control my smart home?
Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant is well-versed in home automation.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
What is Alexa?
Alexa is a virtual personal assistant developed by Amazon for its Echo line of smart speakers. Using cloud-based voice recognition algorithms, Alexa can understand and act upon a variety of spoken commands. These can range from reading out the latest news headlines and advising you of upcoming calendar events to playing music and adjusting the brightness of your home's smart lights.
Along with the many devices in the Amazon Echo family, Alexa is also available through the Amazon iOS and Android apps, as well as on third-party hardware thanks to Amazon opening up the Alexa Voice Service to all who want to use it, free of charge.
Sick of Spotify? Get 30 days of Amazon Music Unlimited for free from Prime Video
If your music streaming provider can't keep up with your eclectic tastes, try out Amazon Prime Music for 30 days completely free.View details
How can Alexa control my smart home?
Any Alexa-enabled device can be used as a central hub for automating your smart home. By simply telling Alexa to "discover my appliances", she will scan your home Wi-Fi network for compatible smart devices and add them to her internal register. Once that's done, you'll be able to ask Alexa to "turn on the hallway lights" or "stream House of Cards on the living room TV" instead of manually controlling each smart device through separate apps.
For many smart home devices, especially newer product lines, you'll need to enable the relevant Alexa Skill before Alexa can control the device. Alexa Skills are self-contained updates that expand Alexa's capabilities, allowing her to perform functions she can't out of the box.
To enable a particular Skill, you can search through the Skills section of the Alexa mobile app or browse the Alexa Skills store on Amazon's website. For example, if you wanted Alexa to work with your Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, you would search for and enable the iRobot Home Skill. Alexa will then understand commands like "Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning" and "Alexa, ask Roomba where it is".
Some smart home devices aren't directly compatible with Alexa and require a separate hub to enable voice control. Kwikset smart locks, for instance, will only work with Alexa via a Samsung SmartThings hub, a Wink Hub or an Iris smart hub. These hubs expand Alexa's device support, but they can also introduce delays and other inconsistencies as a result of the additional command processing involved.
Once Alexa and your smart home devices are chatting happily with each other, you can start creating groups and scenes through the Amazon mobile app to further automate your home. Groups are simply a way of tying multiple smart devices together: you could combine the smart locks for your front and back doors into the "all doors" group, and you'd only need to tell Alexa to "lock all doors" to secure your house with a single command.
Scenes are similar to groups, except they let you specify different actions for Alexa to perform with each device. A "bedtime" scene, for example, could include locking the front door, turning off the living room lights and turning up the heat in your bedroom. However, scenes can't be created through the Amazon mobile app; you'll need to import scenes from an existing smart home hub or a specific device's app.
What smart devices does Alexa work with?
Alexa is compatible with a variety of lights, locks, security cameras, thermostats, power outlets and many other categories of smart devices. You can determine whether a device supports Alexa by looking for the "Works with Amazon Alexa" badge:
Some of the most popular Alexa-compatible product lines include:
- Philips Hue
- LIFX smart lights
- GE Link smart lights
- TP-Link Wi-Fi light switch
- Insteon SwitchLinc dimmer
- Lutron Caseta lamp dimmer
- Nest learning thermostat
- ecobee3 Wi-Fi thermostat
- Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat
- Schlage Connect
- Kwikset SmartCode
- August Smart Lock
- Ring Video
- Nest Cam IQ
- Arlo Pro
Alexa can also control Haiku ceiling fans, Logitech Harmony remotes and select Sony Bravia TVs. .
Latest Smart Home headlines
Snap up some of Amazon's most popular Echo devices at bargain prices for a limited time.Read more…
Ring's updated low-cost video doorbell is easy to install and provides great video monitoring, but the switch to a fixed battery makes it somewhat a downgrade as well.Read more…
Laser's smart light bulbs are certainly inexpensive and they're a good starting point for cash-strapped consumers – if you can get past the set-up process.Read more…
The most functional Amazon smart display yet, the Echo Show 5 is also the cheapest.Read more…
The Ring Door View Cam adds another layer of visibility with a door camera suitable for people who also need a door peephole.Read more…
If you've already got a good set of speakers that lack smarts, Amazon's Echo Input makes it simple to add Alexa to them.Read more…
More guides on Finder
Finder Daily Deals: The 5 best online deals in Australia today
Today's best Finder Daily deals include: 78% off Electric Treadmills, Xbox Series X, 75% off Shiraz wine packs.
The best Sony PlayStation 3 games of all time
While it’s only recently retro, the PlayStation 3 is home to a lot of really great games – but which ones are the very best?
Where to buy retro consoles online in Australia
Start building your retro console collection today by visiting these Australian online stores.
The best Nintendo Wii games of all time
Nintendo’s Wii is famous for its waggle controls, but which games are still great in the modern context?
Best kitchen scales in Australia
We read hundreds of customer reviews to find the best kitchen scales you can buy online in Australia.
Best retro game consoles in Australia
Whether you’re looking back on the games of your youth or picking up retro game collecting as a hobby, here’s the best retro games consoles in Australia.
Best cheap massage guns
We’ve rounded up all the best budget-friendly massage guns.
Best massage guns in Australia for 2021
Looking to buy a massage gun? We’ve rounded up the best ones to try.
Best password managers for Mac 2021
With so many password managers available, find out how to select the best one for your Mac.
Best free password managers for 2021
Protect your online identity and get peace of mind with these free password managers.
Ask an Expert