There is no denying that Alexa is one of the best and most popular digital voice assistants out there. Generally, Alexa has changed how smart homes function by adding a touch of elegance and versatility.
Nowadays, there are even more devices compatible with Alexa, which means you can now purchase smart devices based on the features and functionality rather than worrying about their compatibility.
If you’re building up your smart home, Alexa and the Amazon Echo are bound to give you the best experience in your connected home. Even though the process of setting up your Alexa is very simple, there are still some smart devices you should consider.
There are some key smart devices you might need to buy to perfect your Alexa-controlled smart home.
Below is the guideline of everything you might require to get started with your Alexa smart home.
Which Echo Should I Get?
Echo models are the perfect fit if you want to incorporate Alexa into your Amazon smart home. However, there are different Echo models to choose from, all with different features.
The good thing about all Echo models is that they support Alexa and have the same skills and voice controls. Here is a breakdown of the different echo Models;
The best thing about this Echo model is that it comes with a Zigbee controller, which means you won’t need an additional hub or another app for your smart devices. This model features a great sound compared to other Echo models from before.
Here are some features in the Echo plus that will appeal to your smart home;
- Stereo pairing.
- 360º degree sound.
- Rubberized base to prevent slippage.
- Comes in multiple colors to fit your home décor; heather grey, charcoal, and sandstone.
- All button controls.
Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 10
These Echo models are unique from the Echo plus because they feature a display. This means if you’re setting up your smart home, you get the full interior and exterior scope of your home because they can show video footage from all the connected cameras.
One of the best aspects of these devices is that they give you the freedom to use touch controls, meaning that you do not need to use an Alexa home assistant. For example, you can turn your lights on or off without the need to give a voice command.
Setting Up Your Smart Devices on Alexa
Before setting up your Alexa, you’ll need to set up the smart devices in your possession first. This ranges from smart lights, smart speakers, smart plugs, smart locks, smart heating, and even smart doorbells.
To set up these smart devices, you’ll need to follow all the guidelines and instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Since not all of these smart devices are compatible with Alexa, you want to ensure that they are plugged in first, and you’ve installed their respective apps and made sure that they’re working well.
This is mostly required for all the smart devices that are not manufactured by Amazon. Below is a breakdown of some of the popular smart devices which are easily compatible with Alexa;
- Smart Lighting – Hive Lights and Philips Hue Lights.
- Smart heating – Google Nest Learning thermostat, Hive Active Lighting, and Tado smart thermostats.
- Smart cameras – Ring Video Doorbell and Arlo.
- Smart Plugs – WeMo, Hive plug, TP-Link.
Do I Need Every Smart Device On The Same Platform?
Before more advanced features were included, adding devices to Alexa was a bit complicated. Nowadays, Alexa is more versatile with its functionalities, and it doesn’t matter if you’re mixing or matching your smart devices; it will still give you the results you need.
In recent times, this has become the feature that puts Alexa above all the other digital voice assistants. However, there are some benefits that come with pairing smart devices with other devices from the same brand.
For example, if you match your smart lights and smart plugs from the same company, you won’t need to get an additional hub because they’ll all use the same hub and app for control. This makes things a little bit tidier during the setup process.
Why is Zigbee in The Echo Plus?
Zigbee is a wireless controller or standard that is used in several smart devices. This controller helps set up most of the smart devices that are to be linked with other devices from different brands.
With the Zigbee controller in your Echo plus, you won’t need to go through the process of following the guidelines and instructions as stated by the manufacturer when setting up your smart devices.
Since Echo plus can directly communicate with Zigbee, you’ll be able to set up your smart devices without the need for an extra hub or app for those smart devices. This is because all the controls and procedures for that device are already provided.
However, you might need to use the Zigbee controller for the smaller and more basic smart devices. This is because you might miss some key features when you use the Zigbee controller for the more complex devices.
For example, if you use Zigbee on your Echo plus for the Philip Hue lights, you won’t need the Hue hub or app when setting up the lights.
However, you might end up missing some of the advanced controls of the smart lights, such as firmware updates, Hue scenes, or custom colors. Zigbee controller is more suitable for basic smart devices such as white light bulbs since they do not have any alternate features.
Using Alexa Skills for Your Smart Home’s Connection
Alexa Skills are the programs that complete Alexa. They inform Alexa what smart device it’s looking for and everything that the device can do. If you want to enable Skills in your Alexa, you have to follow a few steps.
First, you need to search directly on the Alexa app on your mobile phone and enter your relevant account details.
Here is a simplified breakdown of how you can enable Skills for any of your smart devices;
- Open the Alexa app on your phone.
- Click on the hamburger menu on the top left corner of the app.
- Select Skills from this menu.
- You can open the smart home category or search directly for the brand you want to enable skills for. For example, Nest, Hive, Hue.
- After you’ve found the Skill you require, click enable.
After you’ve enabled the Skills you need for your smart devices, you have to enter your account details associated with that device. For example, if you enable Skills for Philips Hue smart lights, you’ll need to use your MyHue ID.
It’s important to note that after enabling Skills for specific smart devices, you can create unique phrases that will perform the functions you require from the device.
Scanning For Devices
This is normally the last step you take when setting up your Alexa. After you’ve set up all the smart devices compatible with Alexa and enabled the specific Skills for them, the last part is to scan for all these devices.
This step is very important because it informs Alexa and your Echo device of all the smart devices they will be controlling and will take you less than a minute to complete.
If you add another smart device to your Alexa smart home, you’ll need to scan for the devices again to include it in the system. During this step, it’s not necessary to enable Skill for the device again; all that is needed is for you to set up the device and connect it to its hub.
How to Control Your Alexa Smart Home
After setting up your Alexa, now the next thing is to control and manage your Alexa smart home. The Alexa app provides a wide range of controls for your smart home with its specific section on the app.
All you need to do is open the Alexa app, click on the hamburger menu and click on the smart home option. This section will show you all the smart devices in your home that Alexa recognizes.
It’s important to go through all of them carefully to check if there are any duplicates that might have happened due to the setup changes.
Getting rid of the duplicates will help you get better service from your Alexa smart home devices without the digital voice assistant constantly asking ‘which one?’ whenever you’re trying to enable a particular device.
After you’ve set up your Alexa smart home and began enjoying all the features that come with it, you can also trigger some improvements to it. You can begin by renaming your Alexa smart home devices to give more personalization.
You can also create an Alexa group for your smart devices so that you’re able to control them all at once. There are endless adjustments and additions you can get for your Alexa to fit all your preferences. The secret is to research them and enable them for an even greater experience.
If you are still feeling a little muddled up and looking for some help, then check out my Smart Home in 8 Weeks course designed to take you from zero to a fully integrated smart home!