It wasn’t all that long ago when images of the Jetsons receiving phone calls by video and the ability to tell your house to open the curtains, seemed a little fantastical. But in 2019, that’s become a way of life as our homes get smarter and more connected each year.
Many people tout the time saving features of smart devices, with about 57% of Americans saying they save them about 30 minutes per day, which equates to 3.5 hours per week.
From smart locks to smart thermostats to voice enabled assistants that play our favorite music, we’ve definitely come a long way in the last decade and much of the advancements in smart home technology are thanks to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
Alexa first came out in the Echo device in 2015, designed for voice commands and with the ability for music playback, getting weather reports, and similar functions. Today, Alexa’s connective capabilities have branched out to just about any smart device you can imagine, so you can use it as a central control hub for an entire smart home set up.
Steps for Setting Up an Alexa-Powered Smart Home
The possibilities are nearly endless for the types of connections you can make between Alexa and other smart home devices, and recently Amazon added even more possibilities by introducing new Alexa powered options, including a smart oven, eyeglasses, and a ring.
So, let’s get down to the steps for building your dream smart home.
Choose an Echo Device
You’ll want to start with at least one Echo device that you can command by voice. There are multiple to choose from and even some designed just for kids.
- Amazon Echo (2019)
- Echo Plus
- Echo Studio
- Echo Show
- Echo Dot or Dot with Clock
- Echo Glow (designed for kids)
- Echo Flex (looks like a plug-in air freshener)
- Echo Loop (new wearable ring that talks to Alexa)
If you want to use Alexa like an intercom for your home, then you’ll want to have Echo devices in the appropriate rooms.
Add Other Devices Using Skills
We’ll get into more detail about the types of devices you can use with Alexa in the next section. Here we’ll discuss how you connect a device.
You have two ways to connect Alexa-enabled devices, one is by using “guided discovery” and the other is by using “smart home skills.”
For guided discovery:
- Use your Alexa app and from the menu, choose “Add Device”
- Select the type of device you want to connect
- Select the brand and then follow the on-screen prompts
For smart home skills:
- Use your Alexa app and from the menu, choose “Skills”
- Find the skill for your device and select “Enable”
- Following the on-screen prompts to complete the linking process
- Ask Alexa to discover your device
Test Your Connections
Once your devices are connected, you’ll want to test them out to make sure they respond correctly. For instance, you may tell Alexa to turn on your lights or set your thermostat to a certain temperature.
Next, let’s look at some of the cool smart gadgets that Alexa can control in your home.
Choosing Alexa-enabled Devices
Due to the popularity of Amazon Alexa, many manufacturers of smart home products make them compatible to be manipulated through voice commands made to Alexa.
Here is an idea of how you could build out your smart home with Alexa at the center.
Video Doorbell & Security Cameras
Many people are enjoying the ability to see who is at the door before getting up to answer it. Ring is one of the most popular video doorbell and security camera systems and it’s compatible with Alexa.
You can do things like ask Alexa to stop or start the live feed or show recently recorded video.
Using smart thermostats without c wire allows you to save energy and automate heating and cooling according to your family’s schedule.
Some of the Alexa-enabled options you have are:
- ecobee SmartThermostat
- Google Nest
- IDevices Thermostat
Another way you can save on energy costs and do cool things like turn on colored outdoor lights that match your mood music is by using smart lights. If you want to get even fancier, connect a room sensor device and have Alexa handle the command to turn off the lights when no one is in the room.
One of the most popular smart lighting brands is Phillips Hue, for which there is an Alexa Skill.
Home TV/Game/Stereo System
Alexa can handle all your entertainment needs when paired with a smart TV, stereo and Xbox. You can ask it to power on or off your system and do things like launch Netflix on your TV.
Amazon Smart Oven
If you want Alexa to help you cook dinner, Amazon has just made it easy with the release of their new smart oven (Available Nov. 14, 2019). This Alexa-enabled kitchen appliance is a 4 in 1 that acts as a:
- Convection oven
- Air fryer
- Food warmer