How to Make Alexa the Center of Your Smart Home

Alexa can control everything from your lights to your television

There are hundreds of smart home devices from connected lights to thermostats to wall outlets. To operate most of them you need to download a device-specific app. While that’s not a huge deal if you’re using just one device, the process can get increasingly complicated the more devices you install.

Once you pair your smart home device with Alexa, you can control everything using your voice. Rather than just being an addition to your smart home setup, Amazon's Alexa can (and should) be the center of it.

Instructions in this article apply to Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, and Echo Spot devices.

How to Set up Alexa to Run Your Smart Home

Unlike setting up other smart home devices, pairing connected devices with Alexa is a fairly simple process. To do so, you’ll need to launch the Alexa app on your computer, and then enable the skill for each of the devices you plan on using with your Amazon Echo Spot or Echo Dot. For instance, if you have smart lights and a smart thermostat, you need to enable the skill for both of them individually in order for them to work. Enabling a skill, in most cases, is literally as easy as pressing a button.

Once you enable a particular skill, some smart home devices also require you to pair your device with your Dot or Echo, a process that's done simply by saying "Pair Devices" to Alexa and letting her do her thing. She finds your smart light bulb, thermostat, smart smoke detector, or other devices and handles the connection process herself.

If you're just getting started building out your smart home, then here's a list of some of the smart home devices out there that are currently compatible with Alexa, as well as how to get them to work with the Echo or Dot in your home.

01
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Lock Your Front Door With August's Smart Lock

Woman with groceries coming into a house with a smart lock on the door

Amazon 

If you have an August Smart Lock, then you can use Alexa to lock your door. With this skill enabled you can ask Alexa questions like “Alexa, is the front door locked?” to make sure everything is safe and secure before heading to bed.

You can also use Alexa to lock your door once you’re inside. For security reasons, the feature doesn't work for unlocking the door.

02
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Power Your Lights On and Off

Philips Hue smart light bulb

Amazon

When it comes to smart lights, you need to not only enable the skill for them to work, you have to show Alexa where your lights are as well. 

Phillips’ Hue lights are arguably the most-used smart lights out there. Once enabled, you can both power the lights on and off as well as set different brightness settings or activate different scene settings you’ve already set up for the room.

If you have Kuna-Powered security lights, you can also use Alexa to power those on by simply saying the name you’ve given the lights within Kuna. For instance, you might say “Alexa, turn on my backyard lights.”

Alexa also works with Vivint, and Wink-enabled lights, as well as several others.

If you already have your smart lights installed in your home, then you can control them using the same names you gave them in your smart light's app. For instance, you can ask Alexa to turn on your porch lights or dim the lights in your bedroom.

03
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Control Your Television Using Logitech's Harmony Hub

Smart television with streaming options

Lifewire

 

If you have a Logitech Harmony Hub, you can use Alexa to control your home theater setup. The feature works with Logitech Harmony Elite, Harmony Companion, and Harmony Hub, and allows you to do everything from turn on your television to launching Netflix or a specific channel.

You can also use Alexa to power on gaming systems connected to the hub, such as Microsoft’s Xbox One, and turn off your entire entertainment center at once when you’re ready to head to bed.

04
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Control Your Thermostat With Alexa

Nest thermostat

Amazon

You’re already comfortable on the couch when you realize it’s just a little too warm. Rather than get up and turn the thermostat down, an Alexa integration can make it so you can just ask Alexa to adjust the temp for you.

Alexa works with a number of different thermostats including Carrier, Honeywell, and Sensi. The most well-known compatible thermostat, however, is probably Nest.

Once you have the Nest Alexa skill enabled, you can ask her to do things like changes the temperature on a certain floor of your home to something different, or bring the temp in the whole home down by a few degrees. If you’re just not sure whether it’s hot in your house or you’re having a hot flash, you can also simply ask Alexa what the temperature is.

05
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Connect Alexa To Your Sonos Speaker

Sonos speakers

 Amazon

Sonos is working on a software solution that allows you to use its line of speakers with Alexa, but for now, you can physically connect your Echo Dot to your Sonos speaker.

Sonos has detailed instructions up on its site explaining how the process works, but essentially you need to connect your speaker and Dot together using a stereo cable.

Once connected, whenever your Dot wakes up (i.e. when you say “Alexa,” "Amazon," "Computer," "Echo," or "Ziggy"), your Sonos wakes up as well. That means you can hear Alexa’s responses to general questions a little louder, as well as play your music at a much higher volume than is possible on a Dot or Echo on its own.

06
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Control Your Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Air Conditioner

Frigidaire smart air conditioner

Amazon

If you have a Frigidaire Cool Connect smart air conditioner, you can control that with Alexa. To do so, you first need to enable the Frigidaire skill within the Alexa app.

The app prompts you to enter your login credentials for the air conditioner, which are the same ones you use in the Frigidaire mobile application.

Once connected, you can do things like turn the air conditioner off and on, lower the temperature, or set the temperature using your voice rather than the app.

07
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Power on Anything Connected To a Wemo Outlet

Wemo smart outlet

Amazon

With Belkin’s Wemo switches you can literally control anything that you plug in. The switches aren’t powerful enough to do things such as changing the channel on your TV or dim your lights, but they can handle basic on/off functionality for anything that’s connected to them.

Try it with something like a fan in the summer or an electric space heater in the winter. The functionality with this one is only limited by your imagination, and much like the lights, you have to ask Alexa to search for your devices once you enable the skill.

More Amazon Alexa integrations and skills are being added every day. With Alexa as the hub of your smart home, you can get things done in twice the time with half the effort.

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