How to Control Lights With Alexa

How does Alexa turn on lights?

Amazon Echo speakers aren't just for playing music and asking Alexa questions; you can use Alexa to control lights and other smart home products. If you want to add some Alexa controlled lights to your home, it's quite easy to do. Not only can you turn lights on and off by voice, but you can use Alexa to group lights and even have them work on a schedule.

How Do Alexa Controlled Lights Work?

There are a lot of ways to get started with smart lights. You can buy smart bulbs, plug an ordinary lamp into a smart plug, or install a smart switch on your wall to control ordinary ceiling lights.

There are two kinds of smart bulbs: bulbs (like LIFX) which have integrated Wi-Fi and work on their own, or bulbs that need to connect to their own smart hub (usually using the Zigbee wireless networking standard). Philips Hue is probably the best example of a hub-based lighting system.

Then there are smart plugs. If you want to control a floor lamp, for example, Kasa is one of a number of companies that sells smart plugs to remote operate anything you plug into it. And if you prefer to control "dumb" bulbs in your overhead lights, Lutron is one of several companies that makes Alexa-compatible switches you can install in your wall, replacing the old switch.

While all those options might seem confusing, it really doesn't matter which method you use (you can even combine multiple systems). Just make sure the packaging says that it works with Alexa, and you'll be in business.

How to Set up Alexa Controlled Lights

To get started with your smart lights, you need to first set them up with your Alexa using the Alexa app. Here's what to do:

  1. Install the bulb, plug, or switch following its instructions. You'll probably need to download an app, create an account, and set up the device. Your smart gadget should work on its own before you add it to Alexa.

  2. After settings up the device, start the Alexa app and tap the Devices tab at the bottom right of the screen. 

  3. Tap the + at the top right of the screen, then tap Add Device

  4. Choose the kind of device you're adding, such as a light, plug, or switch. The Alexa app will next ask what brand you're installing. Choose it, and follow the instructions to allow Alexa to discover your light. 

    Screenshots of how to add a new device on the Alexa app.
  5. Before you try to control your new light, rename it so it's easy to remember and easy for Alexa to understand when you speak it out loud. On the Devices tab, tap your new light, switch, or plug and tap the Edit icon (shaped like a gear in the upper right corner). Rename the light and save your changes. 

How to Control Lights With Alexa

After the setup is complete, there are two ways to control the lights:

  • Say "Alexa, turn on [name of light]."
  • Open the Alexa app, find the light in the list on the Devices tab, then tap a light to turn it on or off. 
Screenshots showing how to turn lights on and off in the Alexa app.

There are also a number of things you can say to control brightness, and if your lights support it, change their color. Here are some common commands:

  • "Alexa, dim the bedroom light." 
  • "Alexa, make the bedroom brighter."
  • "Alexa, set the bedroom light to 50 percent."
  • "Alexa, make the bedroom light blue."
  • "Alexa, turn off the bedroom light."

If you install more than one light in a room, you can group them so a single command turns them on or off together. In fact, the lights don't even need to be in the same room. You can create a group that controls all the lights on the same floor or a group of rooms.

How to Schedule and Automate lights With Alexa

Alexa gives you the ability to completely automate your lights. Lights can go on or off at a certain time of day, when a different device activates (for example, when you unlock your smart lock front door), or when your mobile phone leaves or arrives. You have a lot of options using a feature the Alexa app calls Routines.

  1. Tap the hamburger menu at the top left of the screen, then tap Routines.

  2. To create a new Routine, tap the + (plus sign) at the top right of the screen.

  3. Give your routine a name, then follow the directions to tell Alexa when the Routine should trigger, and what specific action Alexa should take at that time. You'll find the lights in the Smart Home section under Add Action.

    Screenshots showing how to add a routine in the Alexa app for lights.