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How to Set Up Alexa as a Smart Home Hub

The Amazon Echo, featuring Alexa, can make it easy for anyone in any living situation to enjoy modern smart home conveniences. The voice assistant is compatible with virtually all of the smart home devices we offer at MIProTechs such as lighting, thermostats, window treatments, security, door locks, and more. And the benefits can extend to homeowners with houses and families of all sizes; living in the city, suburbs, or rural areas; and even those living with disabilities.

But before you can take advantage of all the wonderful ways Alexa can automate and simplify your life at home, you have to know how to actually use its services. In this article, we’ll discuss how to set up Alexa as a smart home hub.

Enable Skills

Skills are the essentially the building blocks of Alexa’s capability. In the case of your smart home devices, they are developed and published by the manufacturer(s) and, when enabled, give Alexa the information it needs to control the device when you give her the command.

To find Skills, you either ask Alexa directly (i.e., “Alexa, enable the Nest Camera Skill.”) or use the Alexa app on your phone and follow these steps:

  • Tap the sandwich menu in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Select “Skills” from the menu.
  • Search the “smart home” category or type in a specific manufacturer (Ring, Hue, Schlage, etc.)
  • Once you’ve found the Skill you need, tap “enable”.

Keep in mind that while Alexa is designed to adapt to the way you speak (i.e., inflection, grammar, etc.), there are certain Skills that the device manufacturer may require you to recite word for word. That being said, it’s worth taking a look at the Skill details to see if there are any specific phrases you’ll need to use in order get Alexa to do what you ask.

And remember: Always begin your commands by saying “Alexa…”

Scan for Devices

Once you’ve set up your devices and enabled the necessary Skills, you can now ask Alexa to find those devices in your home. You can say either of the following:

  • “Alexa, search for devices.”
  • “Alexa, scan for devices.”

And that’s it. Alexa is now connected to your devices and able to interact with them through voice commands or the Alexa app. If you get another of the same device from the same manufacturer, you won’t have to enable the Skill again. All it takes is asking Alexa to find it and you’re golden.

Managing Your Alexa-Enabled Devices

The Alexa app provides a range of smart home controls in a dedicated section call “Smart Home”, which can be found by tapping the sandwich menu at top left corner of the screen. Here you can see all the devices in your home with which Alexa is enabled and connected, and you do a couple neat things to streamline their operation:

  • Rename Your Devices: Alexa will automatically give each device on its list a name, but oftentimes they’re pretty vague - like “first light” or “right speaker”. To get a better handle your devices, rename each of them to something that’s easily identifiable - like “Lock - Front Door” or “Light - Living Room Table”.

  • Create Device Groups: This is where your Alexa smart home actually begins to feel smart. Creating groups allows you to control multiple devices at the same time. In our opinion, it works best for on/off applications. For example, you can group together all the smart lights in your living room and say “Alexa, turn my living room on” or “Alexa, make my living room lights brighter by 50%”. Alternatively, if you don’t want to specify a group name, you can add an Echo device to it which will associate it with only the devices in that group. So, you can say “Alexa, turn on the lights” in that specific room, and only the lights in that room will turn on.

  • Set Up Routines: This native Alexa offering can provide a degree of automation by allowing you to associate certain actions with custom phrases or times. For example, if you want to lower your thermostat before you leave for work, you can schedule the temperature setting and time you want Alexa to change it each day or create a custom phrase to say while heading out the door. If you want to be extra fancy, you can set up a Routine for multiple simultaneous actions - like a morning alarm, turning on the lights, and traffic/weather report.

If you have any additional questions about how to set up and use Alexa or the smart devices it can be used with, the expert at MIProTechs are here to help. Call us at (248) 987-6171 or schedule an appointment online!