If you’re reading this blog, my bet is that you have both an Amazon Echo product – either an Echo or it’s smaller sister, the Echo Dot – and some smart home gear you’d like to connect and control via Alexa.
We’ll go through the setup in the Amazon Echo app, which is pretty straightforward, and it will allow you to be on your way to controlling your smart home devices with only your voice!
Download the Amazon Echo app and sign into your Amazon account in the app. The app doesn’t need to be used much beyond for set up and adding “Skills” (more on that in a bit), but you still want to have it on your phone.
After you sign in, click the three lines on the upper left corner to pull up the full menu, and click “smart home” to get started with your integration.
The first part will show you “Your Groups” which is where you can pull all your devices together by room or by desired action and give them a name. This comes in handy when you want to say “Alexa, turn off the living room (as the lights in my living room are all collectively called in this group)” instead of individually turning each light off in the room.
The next thing you see on the screen is “Smart Home Skills” – a skill is Echo lingo for an integration or connection your Echo has with an outside device or service. This is where you’ll want to enable the “skill” for whatever brand of products you have. With Z-Wave, you only have to enable the “skill” for your hub, the rest of the devices (lights, thermostats, locks) are controlled through there. In my case, I have a SmartThings hub, so I only had to enable that skill to get everything working.
Continue to scroll on the screen and you’ll see the “discover devices” button. Once you have all your smart home gear set up, you can hit this button and Alexa will go into discovery mode to find each individual smart device you have connected. You can click them and change the name – remember to name the devices something easy to say, you’ll have to call the device this out loud to Alexa when you want her to take action.
Control your devices! If you have dimmable smart bulbs, for example, you can say “Alexa turn on the living room lamp” but you can also ask her to set the lamp between 0 and 100 to create a better ambiance in the room. I like to set the living room to 10% first thing in the morning as it gives me some light with my coffee without waking me up too fast.
Whenever you add more devices to your home, just revisit these steps to get them connected to your Echo ecosystem. And you only have to do this one time – even if you add more Echo Dots to your home, the information is in the cloud and accessible on the app, so you don’t have to setup every device. When you go to speak a command, the Echo device that is closest to you will respond.
Enjoy your new voice assistant! And remember, you don’t have to say please, although I’m sure deep down Alexa appreciates it.