Smart home technology is becoming more popular every day as people are looking for new ways of making their lives easier. The entry point into smart homes is often simply just learning to control your lighting with a smart speaker.
This can easily be done with Alexa through an Amazon Echo device. In this guide, we will explain how this works.
How Do Smart Lights Work With Alexa?
Alexa is able to communicate commands to your smart lights through your WiFi network. This means that you don’t need any special equipment or wiring in order to get started. You only need an internet connection, an Amazon Echo device and some compatible smart lights.
Upon setup for your Echo device, you’ll be instructed to download the Alexa app. The app will then walk you through connecting your Echo to your home network.
The smart lighting devices you purchase will require you to download another app, which will in turn connect them to the same network. Now your Alexa app can sync with your lighting, as they are on the same WiFi.
What Can Smart Lights Do?
Once connected, you can now turn your lights on and off using Alexa or an app on your smartphone. But that’s just the beginning.
Depending on which lighting options you use, you’ll also be able to:
- dim the lights
- change colors
- place select lights on timers
- create lighting groups that share the same commands
- turn lights on/off at specific times throughout the week
- connect a motion sensor to specific lights
You can even create routines where lights work together with other devices to perform certain tasks. For example, at 6:00 am your alarm will go off, as your lights turn on and up to 80%.
If you build an Alexa-enabled light group, you can control multiple lights with one command. For instance, you can create a group called “First Floor”, and assign corresponding smart lights. Then say “Alexa, turn off the first-floor lights“.
Forgot to turn your porch light on when you left the house? Don’t worry, your Alexa app has you covered. Just open your Alexa app and say “Alexa, turn on my porch light“.
There are many possibilities when it comes to controlling your lights. It can depend, though, on what kind of lighting you choose. Some have more features and/or work better than others.
Smart Lighting Options Explained
When choosing between different types of smart lighting, there are several factors to consider. These include:
- How much do you want to spend?
- What type of functionality does it offer?
- Is it easy to install?
- What products are compatible (In this case, Alexa)
Let’s take a look at all your options.
This is also your cheapest option. On the other hand, if you plan to add additional lamps later down the road, you may find yourself spending more in the long run.
But these bulbs aren’t limited to being used solely as nightlights. They can also serve as ambient mood lighting. And since they usually have built-in dimmers, you can adjust their brightness level according to your needs.
As with everything, there are potential drawbacks. You have to keep the power on to the light in order for it to work. It can be difficult to remember not to flick the switch on the wall. If you do turn it off at the switch, then you’ll have to stand up and flick it back on to resume smart control.
Lastly, if you have kids who tend to play with the light switches, a lot of bulbs will revert to setup mode if they are flickered a couple of times. This can be a pain.
Smart bulbs usually cost around $10 each. However, depending on the brand, you might pay anywhere from $20-$50 per bulb.
Smart Bulb Hubs
Some smart bulbs will require a wireless hub to connect your lights. This is in an effort to better manage several bulbs in different rooms of your house. Think of the hub like a router just for smart devices, in this case, maybe specifically for lights.
While you don’t necessarily need a hub, make sure you read the product description so you know which ones you’re getting.
In some situations, a better alternative might be smart plugs. This allows you to plug a traditional appliance into a smart adapter before the wall receptacle.
I prefer this method sometimes, especially with lamps. They tend to stay connected to your network better, without accidental device resets. They’re also really affordable.
You have to keep in mind, that this only really works with analog appliances. It needs to be a device that can physically be left on so that you can control the power using the smart plug.
It also wouldn’t work as a solution for your ceiling lights.
Editor’s Note: There are smart receptacles that you can install directly in your wall. These are usually more expensive and certainly harder to set up. There also isn’t much advantage, as the use cases are very few.
A smart switch is a direct replacement for your traditional light switch. You can physically operate them the same as any other light switch, but they allow for digital control over whatever it’s connected to.
There is no need for smart bulbs when using a smart switch. Instead of Alexa communicating with the actual bulbs, they’ll now be in communication with the switch, which in turn will control any light it’s attached to.
Smart switches solve a couple of problems. First of all, if someone turns the wall switch off, it’s still fully operational from your phone, Alexa or any other smart speaker you’ve chosen to use.
Secondly, you don’t have to worry about it resetting itself. Again, this can be an issue if you flicker the lights with some smart bulbs.
On the other hand, there is more involved in the installation. The degree of difficulty will actually depend on how your light switch is currently wired. (Check out this guide on wiring a smart light switch)
How To Turn Your Lights On With Alexa
1. Make sure the app associated with your particular bulbs is installed on your phone.
2. Follow the setup process on your smart bulb app
- This will connect your bulbs to your network. Once this step is complete, you should be able to control the bulbs with that app.
3. Open your Alexa App on your smartphone.
4. Click “More“
5. Select “Add a Device“
6. Choose “Light” (for smart bulbs)
7. Select your brand of smart bulb
- At this point, you might be directed to enable a specific “skill” associated with your smart bulb. Follow the instructions in your Alexa app to do so.
8. Go to devices and you should now be able to view your newly installed smart lights.
- I recommend selecting each light on this screen, going to settings in the top right-hand corner and then editing the name of each device. For instance “Bedroom Light“.
9. Tell Alexa to Turn on your light!
- “Alexa, turn on the Bedroom Light”
Using Context-Aware Lighting With Alexa
Context-Aware Lighting allows Alexa to determine which lights you’re intending her to control, based on your location. This is accomplished using Alexa’s grouping feature.
Let’s say you have an Amazon Echo Dot in your living room and an Amazon Echo Show in your Kitchen. Using the Alexa app, you can create a Group called “Kitchen”. Under this Group, you will assign your kitchen’s Amazon Show along with your smart lights which are in that room.
Now, when you’re in the kitchen and say “Alexa, turn on the lights!“, she will know that you must mean these specific lights. Even if the living room’s Echo Dot hears your voice, Alexa will know that you’re closest to the Kitchen.
This is a lot better than saying “Alexa, turn on Kitchen Light 1, Kitchen Light 2 and Kitchen Light 3“. Plus, this way, even your guests will easily know how to turn the lights on.
What Are The Best Smart Lights For Alexa?
As far as smart bulbs, our top recommended products currently include the following. All of which work with Alexa.
|Click to Edit||Image||Title||Price||Prime||Buy|
|Best Overall - Color Changing||PHILIPS Hue A19 LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit, 4 A19 Bulbs, 1 Hue Hub||Prime||View On Amazon|
|Best Overall-White Bulbs||Philips Hue White Medium Lumen (75W) Smart Button Starter Kit, Hub Included, Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit (New Version)||Prime||View On Amazon|
|Best Beginner Smart Bulb||Sengled Smart Bulbs - Bluetooth Mesh||Prime||View On Amazon|
|Best No Hub Required Bulbs||Kasa Smart Light Bulbs, Full Color Changing Dimmable Smart WiFi Bulbs Compatible with Alexa and Google Home, A19, 9W 800 Lumens,2.4Ghz only, No Hub Required, 4-Pack, multicolor (KL125P4)||Prime||View On Amazon|
Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Set: Philips’ Hue was quite the pioneer in the development of smart lighting. Their lighting is arguably the best you can get. Above you’ll see 2 starter kits. One for color-changing bulbs, and one for traditional white bulbs.
Each kit includes the smart hub needed for Hue bulbs. After that, additional lights will be a bit cheaper since you already have the hub.
Sengled Smart Bulbs: Sengled makes the most dummy-proof smart bulb for Alexa. They’re pretty much plug-and-play. Keep in mind, not all Sengled bulbs operate this effortlessly, these are the “Alexa Only” advertized bulbs.
I recommend these for someone who is just tinkering around with smart lighting. If you’re trying to deploy smart bulbs in the entire household, these won’t be your most efficient choice.
Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Multicolor Bulbs: These Kasa Smart Bulbs are full color, dimmable WiFi lights. They’re compatible with both Alexa and Google Home, with no hub required. They feature a palette of 16 million colors with the ability to adjust your white from 2500-6500 K.
Smart lighting adds a touch to your home that you have to experience to fully comprehend. Fortunately, with Alexa, it’s now within reach of virtually anyone’s wallet.
Whether you’re looking to add automated lighting schedules, change the ambiance with a little mood lighting or simply ask Alexa to turn on the lights in the morning – there’re multiple smart lighting solutions for you to choose from.
Hopefully, you’ll leave this article with a better understanding of how Alexa can control the lighting in your home.