If you’ve ever dreamt about being able to talk to your toaster, vacuum or coffee maker and tell them what to do for you, then the IoT (Internet of Things) is going to make you very happy. With a combination of voice-activated devices that recognize your commands and smart devices that can, for example, turn on a light or close your garage door, the internet of things is revolutionizing how humans interact with our surroundings.
At the forefront of this revolution is the Amazon Echo and its Gal Friday, so to speak, Alexa. With an Amazon Echo, you can connect and control a multitude of useful devices in and around your home and, when you need them, simply ‘ask’ Alexa to make them do what you like. It’s something akin to Star Trek’s famous enterprise (without the whole ‘traveling through space’ part) and will make your life more enjoyable, safer and easier too. So without further ado, here is our current list of what smart home devices work with Alexa and Amazon Echo.
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Smart Light Bulbs
Being able to turn your home’s lights on and off using your voice is, in a word, amazing. It’s easy, fast and makes for a safer entrance too. Some bulbs can also be dimmed by voice, which is great for those romantic evenings. There are several brands that manufacture smart bulbs to work with Alexa and Echo, with different features, benefits and prices, including;
- LIFX Color & Mini Color
- Philips Hue
- Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED
- EufyLumos White & Color
- Wyze Bulb
When shopping for a smart bulb, keep in mind that while most work with Alexa and echo, some will need an additional device or ‘hub’ in order to do that. For example, the Hue line from Philips needs a Hue Bridge. This will add an extra cost to your purchase.
Being able to turn on a light with your voice is all good and well but imagine being able to, say, turn on your coffee maker, ceiling fan, security camera or washing machine? With a smart plug, Echo and Alexa working in tandem, you can do just that and make practically any electrical device a smart device instantly. From microwaves to blenders, printers, modems and more, a smart plug is one of the best uses for Alex and Echo for several reasons.
- It’s very convenient, simple and fast
- You can schedule devices to turn on and off, like a coffee machine or lamp
- You can easily multitask since it’s hands-free
- You’ll waste less energy from ‘vampire’ electronics that use energy when they’re on standby
- You’ll help lower global CO2 emissions
The Amazon Smart Plug, as you might suspect, was designed to work with Alexa and Echo right out of the box, making it a logical choice. There are several others, however, including;
- Belkin WeMo
- TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug
- Hive Active Plug
- D-Link Smart Plug
- Samsung SmartThings Outlet
All of the smart plugs listed will have different features and benefits, of course, so do your due diligence when purchasing to make sure you buy a smart plug that does everything you desire.
By the way, using a smart plug to charge your smartphone is an excellent idea. The reason is that, while they need to be recharged constantly, smartphones don’t need to be recharged for more than 2 to 3 hours to return to 100%. (Actually, it’s bad for them.) With a smart plug, Alex and Echo you can program your plug to turn on and off at set times so that your phone gets the charge it needs but nothing more. It’s better for your phone’s battery and could save you a lot of money in the long-run.
It’s the bane of every household, especially if you have some family members that like it warm and some that want to save energy and keep their power bill from breaking the family’s budget. We’re speaking of the thermostat, of course, the one device that holds the power to your home’s comfort zone. With Alexa and Echo however you can now turn the temperature up or down instantly, or use your voice to set different temps at different times.
Using one of the better smart thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat, you also have the ability to use geofencing and let your thermostat ‘learn’ about your habits. That way, it will turn itself down when you’re away and turn itself up when, say, you’re on your way home. It can even do this for multiple family members! Although we recommend the Nest there are several brands and models of smart thermostats that work with Alexa and Echo, including;
- Ecobee Generation 4, 3 and Lite
- Emerson Sensi Touch Smart Wifi Thermostat
- Honeywell T5 Smart Thermostat & WiFi Thermostat
- Glas Smart Thermostat
- Sensi Smart Thermostat
- Vivint Element Thermostat
As with any electronic device all of the models and brands named above have their own features and benefits (and drawbacks), so make sure to choose wisely based on your needs and wants.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners
Raise your hand if vacuuming is one of your favorite things to do. Yes, that’s what we thought, but now that you have Alexa and Echo you can connect them to any of a number of robot vacuum models and voila, your vacuuming gets done for you automatically! Not only can you program your robot vacuum with Alexa but, using easy voice commands, ask it to start, stop or go to its charging dock to recharge.
There are several excellent brands and models of robot vacuums that work with Alexa and Echo and, like traditional vacuums, they have different features and benefits as well as prices. For example, some are better for picking up pet hair and some have batteries that last longer than others. Whatever you choose, they all work easily using your voice, Alexa and Echo, including;
- iRobot Roomba 690, 890, 960 & 980 Robot Vacuums
- Shark ION Robot 750
- Neato Robotics Neato Botvac D5 Connected
- ECOVACS Deebot M80 Pro
- Samsung POWERbot Darth Vader (A limited edition for Star Wars aficionados)
- Hoover ROGUE 970
As with most electronic devices that you can control by voice with Alexa and echo, most of these robot vacuums can be scheduled to do their thing whenever you like, including when you’re away at work.
Smart Door Locks
Home security is a leading concern for most homeowners today due to an increase in burglaries, break-ins and ‘porch piracy’. Today however you can significantly increase your security and, at the same time, make it much easier to enter your home if, say, your hands are full of bags of groceries, using Alexa, Echo and a smart door lock.
Another way smart door locks increase your security is that, with no keys to use, there will be no way for someone to steal them and enter your home. Plus, most smart door locks can be set to automatically lock after a certain amount of time or, using geofencing, to lock when you have traveled a specific distance away. In short, all of the smart door locks below will make your life more convenient and safer too, including;
- August Smart Lock & Smart Lock Pro
- Yale Assure Lock
- Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt & Kevo Convert
- Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt
Note that some of the smart door locks on the list require the use of a Hub in order to be used with Alexa and Echo, and some require batteries too. Also, for anyone who rents their home using AirBnB or wants to use security cameras to see who’s at the door and allow them to come in (or keep them out), Amazon has a new service called Amazon Key. This bundled or a-la-carte service (depending on what you want to connect) allows you to connect your smart door lock, security cameras, door camera and doorbell into a single system, increasing your security many fold.
Smart Doorbell Camera
As with smart door locks, a smart doorbell camera can greatly increase your security at home by allowing you to see who’s at the door before you let them in. It’s also better than looking through a ‘peephole’ as you see everyone, and everything, that’s outside your door, rather than a limited and obscured view. Plus, some models come with video storage (in case you need evidence of a crime), night vision to see who’s at your door at night and motion detection too, so you know when someone is there even if they don’t ring the bell.
Some of the brands and models of smart doorbell camera include;
- Ring Video Doorbell 2 & Doorbell Pro
- Nest Hello
- Skybell HD Video Doorbell
- Vuebell Doorbell Camera
- August Doorbell Cam
As with all smart devices, each comes with pros and cons so shop wisely, including taking a look at the battery life that each offers.
There are a number of other devices and systems that can be controlled with Alexa and Echo, all of which can make your home life easier, safer and more convenient. The GoGoGate 2 garage door opener, for example, will not only obey your Alexa commands but shut automatically if you leave home and forget to close it. The Smart Sprinkler Controller from Rachio will let you turn your sprinklers on and off, water specific areas only and set up a watering schedule too. Alexa and Echo can even let your voice activate your Amazon Fire TV Stick when you want to watch some TV.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. The future of home technology starts with the IoT and, with Alexa and Echo, you have the power on the tip of your tongue to take advantage of all the convenience and security it brings.