For Alexa, controlling the lights in your home is easy and fun and there are several general options for you to choose from. The simplest of them all is the smart bulb. These bulbs screw in to replace old standard bulbs and can be controlled directly by your Amazon Echo. Aside from automation capabilities, these bulbs are typically LED and so they are cool to the touch and use way less electricity than your old incandescent bulbs and even newer compact fluorescent bulbs.
If you have an Echo Plus, you’re ready to control smart bulbs throughout your house. That’s because the Echo Plus comes with a built-in ZigBee Smart Home Hub, opening it up to talk to a huge and ever-growing number of smart devices. Not only does the Echo Plus come with a ZigBee Hub but it also comes with a Philips Hue Bulb, to help you dip your toes in to home lighting automation.
Once you get used to telling your Alexa to turn on, turn off, and dim your new Hue Bulb, you’re going to want to get more smart bulbs to help set the mood throughout your house. While the Hue is great, it’s also one of the more expensive options. A less costly but very popular option is the Sengled Element Classic, available as an 8 pack which go for less than $10 a bulb.
To control these bulbs across several areas of your house you can augment your Echo Plus with a few Echo Dots. These smaller devices cost less than the Echo Plus and can work together with it by being placed in several places around your home.
Inside the Echo App, under Smart Home, you can create groups of devices. Our recommendation is that you create groups (in the app) for each area of your home with an Echo device including that device and the bulbs that light up those areas. That way, you can walk around the house saying “Alexa, turn on the lights” and the Echo device closest to you will know to turn on the lights in the room you’re in. You can also name your groups so from downstairs you can tell Alexa “Turn off the Children’s room lights” when its bedtime.
What about the wall switches? Your lights are likely controlled by wall switches and they will continue to work but in a slightly different manner. If you leave the light switch in the on position, you can turn the lights on and off using Alexa voice commands. If the switches are in the on position but the lights are off (turned off by Alexa), simply toggle the switch to the off position and back to the on position to turn the lights on. If the switch is in the off position, you can turn the lights on with the switch as usual. If you leave switch off though, you will not be able to use Alexa to turn on your lights. We think you’ll get used to leaving the switches in the on position, just using Alexa voice commands to turn on the light. No walking over to the switch or feeling for it in the dark.
What if you’ve already got an Echo but not the one with a ZigBee controller built in? That’s no problem at all. You can buy the Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit which comes with a Hue Bridge and four bulbs or the Element Classic by Sengled – Starter Kit which comes with Hub and Two Sengled bulbs. Both of these Hubs will allow Alexa to control your lights.
Whichever bulbs you go with, it’s a fun and easy way to start home lighting automation For Alexa.