If you are planning to do home automation with Alexa, then this post will help you on the same.
In this era of smart homes, more and more IOT devices are being introduced in the market. People buy these devices to automation various things in home.
Smart home makes your life simpler as you may be able to control all appliances, lights and Fans in your home even if you are not near to it.
Also, when it comes to safety and security, there are various IOT devices in the market which make your home safer.
Smart locks and CCTV cameras are some of the examples of such devices.
Using a mobile app is one way to control the devices, as each IOT Device comes with a companion Android or iOS application.
Problem here is that you may need to take your phone, unlock it, open the mobile application of that particular device and then give commands.
To make this process easier, we have smart home assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa.
Alexa being a more popular one of these for people who set up a smart home.
Why is Alexa more popular than Google Assistant for home automation?
Amazon introduced Alexa in their press event that occurred on November 6, 2014. Since then, we have seen many iterations of the Alexa smart assistant.
Alexa was integrated in a smart speaker with multiple microphones. Initially, when it was launched, there were some hiccups as the responses were not accurate or laggy.
Now, when you use the latest version of Alexa, you may notice that how this product has evolved with various bug fixes and features added.
As soon as Amazon launched their smart speaker, IOT devices manufacturer jumped into this segment and made compatible products for Alexa.
It started early and now the Alexa compatible devices list is much larger compared to other assistants like Google or Siri.
All popular IOT device manufactures have their skill present in the Alexa skill library.
What are the requirements to setup home automation with Alexa?
If you are planning to setup home automation, there are various devices that you can buy.
Before beginning with, you must decide as to which device or appliance you want to automate.
We can automate appliances like, water heaters, Electric kettles, Lights, Fans, TV, Robotic vacuum cleaners and so on.
If the device that you have purchased is already smart and can connect to the internet, you should check for the skill in Alexa for that particular device.
In case you found the skill, then the process is quite simple. We will discuss the process later on in this post.
There are certain devices that are smart and can be directly installed without any modifications
Some of the popular IOT devices
Philips Hue : Hue from Philips is the most popular smart lights available in the market.
They have a variety of models available starting from normal Smart bulb with Wi-Fi to Light strips and decoration lights.
In my personal experience, Philips Hue is one of the most durable and well-built IOT product in the market
Philips Hue light need a dedicated bright for it to work. The bright connects to the network and talks to Alexa using the added skill.
August Door lock: Another very popular IOT product available in the market is the August Door lock.
They are pioneers of door locks, and you can install August door lock in any door with deadbolt.
With a durable design and easiness of installation, August door locks are the best smart locks in the market.
Ring doorbell: Smart doorbells are popular nowadays as you can know who is visiting the home even if you are in a remote location.
Ring is the most popular brand in smart doorbell segment. They have the variety of options available in the market and can be easily integrated with Alexa and Google Home.
Thermostat from Nest: Thermostat is a very popular gadget that is used in western countries. It helps to control the temperature inside your entire home from a single location.
Nest is a brand from Google, and they are the best in this segment, the product is known for its build quality and also simplicity of use.
Smart speakers from Sonos: Sonos is a popular brand in the speaker segment. They have the variety of smart speakers that come built-in with Alexa.
You can use them as an alternative for Amazon’s own smart speakers like the Echo show, Echo Dot or Echo plus.
Types of devices that you can use with Alexa for home automation
Zigbee-These are low power consumption devices that run with a coin battery mostly. The list included sensors, temperature monitors and lights.
One thing to note here is that some Zigbee devices need a separate bridge to be connected to Alexa,
Latest generation Alexa speakers come with Zigbee built in, but still some manufactures are not supported.
Popular examples of Zigbee devices that work with Alexa smart speakers are Sonoff sensors, Philips and Mi Zigbee bulbs
Wi-Fi: This is the most common way to connect any smart home device to the network.
Connecting devices that ave Wi-Fi built in is comparatively easier than a Zigbee device.
They do not need any bridge in between
Basic things that you may need to do home automation with Alexa
- Alexa speaker or App installed in your phone
- Smart device like Light, Thermostat, Door lock or Door bell
- Skill present in the Alexa skill store so that we can add the device to the network.
How to do home automation with Alexa
Alexa is an assistant that would help people in home to control various devices with voice command using the smart speaker.
Also, people can integrate all brands of IOT devices to a single app. Alexa app can be installed in both iOS and Android.
Steps to install Alexa in iOS and Android
To begin with, we may need to download and install Alexa app in your Android or iPhone.
- Go to Apple Appstore or Google Play store.
- Search for Alexa
- Install the app.
- Once installed, the app should appear in your app drawer.
- Click on the Alexa app icon and login using your Amazon Account.
- You will be taken to the home screen of the app.
Now you are all set to start with automation using Alexa
To add devices to Alexa, you may need to first power ON the device.
Once powered ON, install the companion app for the specific brand of products in your phone.
Here we are considering an example of eWelink.
After the devices are added to the companion app. You need to add the skill to Alexa.
How to add a skill to Alexa for smart home device
All devices come with a specific skill that you may need to add to Alexa.
To add skill, follow these steps
- Open Alexa app
- Click on the More tab in the footer of the screen
- You will see various things that Alexa could do.
- Here there will be a tab called “Skills and Games”.
- Click on that button.
- This page will list out various supported skills.
- Search for the skill that the smart device manufacturer mentioned in the box.
- As we are adding eWelink, we need to enter that in search.
- Once done, you will see the skill listed.
- After you see the skill, click on Enable skill button.
- Here you may need to login with the credential of the eWelink app.
- Once you have enter the correct details.
- The skill will be enabled.
At this point, your devices won’t be added
Alexa should discover the devices, For this you can give a voice command to Alexa.
“Alexa, discover smart home devices”
You will see a blue ring in the Alexa smart speaker and once it goes off, Alexa would announce that the devices are discovered.
- Now you will be able to control the devices using voice command using the name.
Alexa, turn on living room light
The process is the same for adding any kind of smart home devices to Alexa.
What can you do after adding smart devices to Alexa?
Control device functions
The first thing that you can do with Alexa is to control various functions of a device.
Lights: we can control the Color, Brightness, Turn it On/Off etc
Thermostats : Can control the temperature of the entire home.
Vacuum: Give commands to Alexa to start the cleaning process using Robotic vacuum cleaner.
Routines are the best thing that you can create using Alexa.
To create routines for a specific device, we need to use the Alexa app.
A routine is an event that occurs based on various factors. It includes triggering an activity based on time, date, weather, trigger in sensor like activity detection etc.
Follow these steps to add a routine
- Open Alexa app.
- Click on More button at the footer.
- Select he routines button.
- Click on the “+” button at the top right.
- Here you will find three options.
How to create a routine in Alexa
- In the above page, first we need to enter the routine name.
- Then click on Plus button in the “When this happens” section.
- You will see a screen with multiple options
Here you can select to trigger a routine based on Voice, Schedule, Smart home, Alarms
- The routine could run based on specific time or Sunset and Sunrise.
I am using the sunset and sunrise trigger to close and open my blinds.
Based on your preference, you can create a routine.
Advantage of setting Home Automation with Alexa
Can save electricity
If you have created an automated trigger for lights and fans, Alexa can turn them off without you manually doing it.
This could save energy as, in my opinion, we usually forget to turn off lights in our bathrooms.
Alexa also can turn off lights and fans if there is no human presence in the room.
The latest generation, the Echo dot 5 and Echo Plus, comes with motion sensors built in. This can be used to automate lights and fans based on people presence.
Simplicity and ease of use
With the use of voice commands, you can control all devices in your home. Also, if you are away from home, the Alexa app brings all device together.
It’s easy to check if you have left anything ON and can turn it off.
This would also be helpful for people who have physical disability as they do not need to move from their place.
To make security better
Alexa can monitor your home when you are away. Recent generation Alexa comes with a glass break sound detector, making it a good device for home safety.
Also, Alexa can trigger actions based on sensor. It can automatically turn off lights and sound an alarm.
Conclusion on home automation with Alexa
Automated homes make your life easier. It keeps tabs on all things happening around your home and will notify you if anything strange happens.
Alexa is the best choice to consider if you are planning to setup a smart home.
The list of supported devices is huge and if you buy something in a budget also, the device will have skill in Alexa.
Other home assistants have limitations for now. If you are planning to automate your home with Alexa, then you are in the right path.
Thanks for reading.