Amazon’s Virtual Assistant, Alexa, is one of the most popular AI-powered smart home assistants used in homes all around the world. And for good reasons.
Alexa can do just about anything for you from ordering your groceries, scheduling doctor appointments, organizing your calendar, and if incorporated with a smart home hub, you could use voice commands with Alexa to control pretty much all of your smart home devices.
The truth is that voice-controlled devices have become the best and the most common gateways for smart homes, and Alexa is on top of the list.
As a result of the success associated with Alexa and what this voice-activated assistant, Amazon’s sales are in the millions for Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, and the Amazon Echo Plus smart speakers and these all come with Alexa integrations for controlling lights, thermostats, refrigerators, and TVs among other devices.
So, how do you get Alexa to work with your smart home devices effortlessly? Or rather, what do you need to do to create a smart home using Alexa?
What is Alexa?
Well, Amazon Alexa refers to the brain that’s behind the leading smart Amazon devices like Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Dot with the Clock, Echo Show (and Show 5 and 8), Amazon Tap, Echo Plus, in addition to all the other top-rated Alexa-enabled devices.
Alexa’s voice-controlled/ activated assistant also runs Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick TV, among other functions.
Setting Up Alexa
1. Find the right Echo Product
To create an Alexa-controlled home, you must invite Alexa to your home first. One of the ways of inviting Alexa in is by using Amazon Echo or any other Amazon smart speaker.
There are several Amazon Echo smart speakers on the market today, and whether you choose Echo, Echo Studio, Flex, Echo Look, Echo Show, and Echo Plus will depend on the different features and functions of the speakers.
Also, whether you choose between Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, and Amazon Echo Plus smart speakers, you need to be ready to part with a small amount for the speakers. The smart speaker you settle on will eventually ensure that you have a good start and have Alexa into your home.
Once you have the speaker, you will need to plug in the speaker then follow the Wi-Fi configuration/ pairing instructions from your Alexa app on your preferred mobile device.
That said, for you to choose the best Amazon Echo smart speaker, you need to bear in mind factors like the functionality of the speaker, your budget, extra functionalities, display screen size, or use of the speaker with kids.
And speaking of the prices of the smart speakers, if you are on a tight budget, then Amazon Echo Dot could be an excellent option for you – the low-cost of this Echo smart speaker is the reason why this Echo speaker is a best seller, and it’s more popular than Google Assistant and Siri.
On the other hand
If you are not ready to buy the Amazon smart speakers, then you may want to settle on the app. This alternative is free, especially if your only intention is to put Alexa to the test.
For this option, you’d have to download the Amazon app to your smartphone device. On the home screen, there is a small mic icon located at the right-hand corner of the screen. Tap on the microphone icon, and then you can start talking to Alexa.
With this setting activated, you won’t need any speakers, and the interesting bit is that you could use Amazon’s app, pitching it as your voice-shopping; you could also use your Alexa’s app to control all your smart home devices.
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2. Consider the Location
The other thing you’d want to do is to determine the best place to put your smart speakers in your home.
Generally, if you choose to use Amazon Echo smart speakers, then you are in luck because you get to pit your Amazon Echo smart speaker anywhere in the room, as long as the speakers are within your home’s Wi-Fi router’s signal and also the power outlet.
Therefore, if you don’t have a super big house, the speaker will work well in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, or in the living room. The good news is that there are different options for the smart speakers, and if you need to improve your morning routine, you could use the smart speaker in your bedroom.
The best Amazon smart speaker for use in the bedroom comes with an excellent morning alarm system that gets brighter every 15 minutes. There is also the smart home control function that makes it possible for you to control the lights, TV, and the thermostat easily.
3. Setting Up Your Smart Devices
Alexa will not be able to control any of your smart home devices if you don’t have any smart home devices setup.
One of the most important features necessary for the setup of your smart home devices is a smart plug. The smart plug is not only cheap, but it is also easy to use, and you could easily plug it the switch it on and off using voice-activated commands for Alexa. But you shouldn’t forget to set up your smart home devices.
The smart plug works for Android and iOS devices, meaning that after you’ve plugged it in, you can sync it with your devices fast, from the app, then activate it by clicking on Plug. The good news is that the Alexa smart home setup process is quite easy.
First, you should set up your device’s name. Bear in mind that this is the most important step since Alexa’s capacity to control the smart devices in your home depends on its ability to identify the devices you wish to connect to and control. So, stick to simple, clear, and plain words.
4. Syncing Smart Gadgets with Alexa
After you have all your devices set up and ready to work, the next step is to introduce all your smart devices to Alexa, or rather, the time to hand over the control of your devices over to Alexa.
Basically, all you need to say is Alexa, Discover the New Devices, and after scanning for about 10 seconds, Alexa will have discovered the new gadgets that she’ll find and then add them to Alexa.
Note that the device discovery option doesn’t always work, and you may have to download and use the Alexa app to enable to voice command function before you ask Alexa to scan for new devices. To make all these possible, go to your Alexa app on the smart home section, then click on the Smart Home Skills tab.
From here, you get to search for and choose any skill you’d like to enable. Some of these skills include Nest and Lutron, although these need login credentials for full authorization and to allow Alexa to take full control.
5. Setting Up Scenes and Groups
Once your devices are synced, the next thing to do is to set up the groups and the scenes. This is an excellent option that works best when you are using Alexa to control at least one smart device.
The grouping feature allows you to easily control at least one device, all under Alexa’s command. You can do this in two ways. One, you could group the smart devices by selecting the Groups option on the Alexa App, then click on the Create Group option to select the devices you will group and to name the group.
The scene’s function is the other option as it allows you to bring together multiple smart devices to an already established app setting. The Scenes function is different from the Groups, and you don’t get to create the Scenes from Alexa’s app.
For this function, you need to import different scenes from your smart devices, as long as the devices give you options for creating Scenes. The Lifx Color-Changing smart bulbs and the Lifx app, for example, give you a good option of adding scenes.
6. Fine Tuning
For the best Alexa home setup, you’d have to make tweaks in the connections as you go. Doing this not only keeps things in good shape, but it also enhances their organization.
Essentially, the fine-tuning process involves making Alexa more responsive to your commands, and it also expands Alexa’s vocabulary, while also ensuring that Alexa understands the commands and if one command fails, then you can remove it or switch off the app just to be sure that Alexa isn’t picking up on the wrong things.
For excellent results, always start small and expand your setup gradually.
Create Smart Home Routines with Alexa
One of the best features of Alexa is that it allows you to activate your devices automatically.
Besides playing music after setting up an automated routine, for example, each time you get back home, you could also program it to say a specific phrase or talk to you at a predetermined time. Thanks to these routines, Alexa fetches and delivers information without you asking, and if you ask us, this is the true magic of technology.
In addition to the toggling the smart devices or triggering skills, you could also use Alexa’s Routine function to implement functions such as turning off and on time-limited music, wait for actions requiring, announcements, stop audio, Notifications, and you could also enable the Do Not Disturb mode for specific time blocks.
All these functions will make Alexa your best friend and your home smarter.
To set up Routines, head to the Routines button at the upper left-hand corner of your Alexa app menu then select the plus sign at the right corner, choose a trigger (When this Happens), and then pick the action for example schedule an activity when you do something, say a phrase, or when you press a button.
Next, choose the time for the activation of the routine and the time for the routine to repeat and confirm the time and date details before pressing Done.