Get started with your Alexa smart home today
A connected Alexa smart home is magical
Wake up as your thermostat temperature rises and window shades come up to coax you out of bed. Have your lights automatically turn on as you approach home after a long day of work. And walk into your house to find cleanly vacuumed floors every day (and you did not do any vacuuming!). Doesn’t sound like real life? It is with Alexa home automation!
Here are the 10 Alexa smart home devices that will transform your life
Get started with your Alexa smart home today by adding one or more of these Alexa-connected devices. To skip ahead, tap/click to scroll to:
- Echo Speaker
- Smart Lights
- Smart Plug
- Smart Vacuum
- Smart Thermostat
- Smart Video Doorbell
- Smart Camera
- Smart Shades
- Fire TV
- Smart TV
- Bonus! 3 services to upgrade your Alexa smart home
#1. To get started with Alexa home automation, first you need an Echo speaker!
Echo speakers have Alexa built in — in other words, they’re the device on which you talk to Alexa and Alexa responds. If you don’t already have an Echo speaker, you’ll need to get one in order control your smart home with Alexa.
Need a little help finding the right Echo speaker for you to get Alexa home automation up and running? Click/tap the option that best describes you…
- I’m interested in just trying out Alexa
- I need a smart speaker to play music
- I want an Alexa speaker with a screen
Smart lights are magical, and the newest Philips Hue Alexa-connected smart light bulbs are bluetooth-enabled, which makes them extremely easy to set up (way easier than their predecessors). All you need is an Echo speaker (any one will do) and a few Hue bluetooth smart light bulbs — no re-wiring or special light fixtures required!
Once you have your Philips Hue Alexa-connected lights set up, you can easily control them with simple Alexa Hue commands like “Alexa, turn on living room light” and via Alexa routines (which allow you to turn your lights on and off at certain times, on specific voice commands, when you arrive at or leave a location or even when you dismiss your morning Alexa alarm). Alexa Hue lights are the perfect first step toward an Alexa smart home.
You have 2 choices for Philips Hue Alexa-connected bluetooth smart lights:
Premium Option: Hue White & Color Ambiance. Want cool multi-colored Alexa Hue lighting like this? Go for the Hue White & Color Ambiance smart lights. They cost $45+ per bulb, but it really is extremely cool to be able to change the color of your lights with Alexa Hue commands like “Alexa, turn living room pink” (and to choose from 16 million colors!).
This device is designated by Amazon as Certified for Humans
Mid-Range Option: Hue White Ambiance. These mid-range bulbs (priced at $15 per bulb in a pack of 2) let you adjust from warm white to cool energizing white and everything in between. They are a great, practical option (I mostly use these for smart lights).
This device is designated by Amazon as Certified for Humans
Pro Tip #1: So I can set up Philips Hue Alexa without bridge?
Yes! Wondering why you no longer need the bridge to control your Philips Hue Alexa-connected smart lights? The new Hue smart light bulbs connect directly to Alexa via bluetooth, which means that, for the first time, no separate Hue Bridge is required.
There’s just one limitation to the bluetooth set-up: it only allows for a maximum of 10 Philips Hue Alexa-connected smart lights. For most people, this is plenty of Alexa Hue smart lights — especially if you’re just setting them up for the first time. And the good news is that if you end up loving your Alexa Hue smart lights set-up and want to do the full set-up with the Hue Bridge later, you can use the same bulbs.
Check out VoiceBrew’s Ultimate Guide to Alexa Hue lights for step-by-step smart light set-up instructions.
Pro Tip #2: Get a Switchbot smart button pusher for overhead lights
What you need to buy to set up Switchbot with Alexa in your home: Buy one Switchbot smart button pusher ($29) for each light switch you want to control with Alexa. In order to make the switches work with Alexa, you’ll also need to buy one Switchbot Hub ($49).
Why you might need a Switchbot. If you’re like me, you probably have a few lights that wouldn’t work with Alexa Hue lights for whatever reason (I’m thinking everything from ceiling track lights to that funky light fixture that requires some special light bulb to look good). That’s where Switchbot comes in! I have Switchbots on every wall-mounted light switch in my home, and I absolutely love them. Plus, it was super easy to set them up.
This device is designated by Amazon as Certified for Humans
A smart plug is essentially a voice-activated on/off switch that you can control with Alexa. Use it to turn on a coffee maker as part of a morning Alexa routine. Or to turn on a fan or even your window AC unit. Smart plugs make any ordinary device with an on-off switch into a smart device for your Alexa smart home!
There are lots of smart plugs on the market, but we recommend the Amazon Smart Plug (even though it’s more expensive than some others at $25) because it’s the easiest to set up with Alexa. You just have to plug it in, and it practically sets itself up!
Check out VoiceBrew’s Best Uses & Easy Set-Up Guide for the Amazon Alexa Smart Plug for more ideas to get the most out of your smart plug.
Vacuuming with an Alexa-connected Roomba is absolutely awesome. Why? Because you don’t have to do the work! Once your Roomba vacuum is connected with Alexa, simply say “Alexa, tell Roomba to start cleaning.” Need to pause cleaning? “Alexa, tell Roomba to pause.” With my Roomba, I happily come home to clean floors in my Alexa smart home every day 🙂
It’s easy to add Roomba to your Alexa routines to schedule cleanings during times when you’re typically away from home.
An Alexa-enabled thermostat like Nest’s (normally $240) will seriously upgrade your Alexa home automation experience. You’ll be able to voice control temperature (all you have to say is “Alexa, set the temperature to 70 degrees”) and create helpful Alexa routines that raise and lower the temperature when you go to sleep, wake up or arrive home.
With an Alexa routine set up for your smart thermostat, Alexa can warm up the room when it’s time for you to wake up (and get out from under those cozy warm sheets!) — sounds pretty nice, right?!
I recommend the Nest Smart Thermostat because it’s so easy to set up with Alexa. (Yep, even though Nest is owned by Google, it still works great as part of an Alexa smart home!)
Want to up your home security and see who is at the door on your Echo Show from the comfort of your kitchen or living room (or wherever your Echo Show lives)? The Ring Smart Video Doorbell (normally $100) is the device for you.
Once you connect Alexa with your Ring Smart Video Doorbell, Alexa will alert you when someone rings your doorbell or when motion is detected. Say “Alexa, show me the front door” or even “Alexa, talk to the front door” to talk to visitors through your Echo device.
Plus, you can get alerts on your phone, so when anyone (think the UPS man) comes to your door, so you can see, hear and speak to visitors from anywhere (including when you’re not home!).
Pro Tip #1: You’ll need to have an Alexa speaker with a screen so that you can see people at your door!
Pro Tip #2: If you’re really looking to take security for your Alexa smart home to the next level, check out the full Ring Alarm Home Security System ($330).
The Ring Indoor Smart Camera ($120) lets you watch over your entire home from your Echo Show device or smart phone app. You can say “Alexa, show me the nursery” to see your sleeping little one on your Echo Show screen… or check in on a pet home alone while you’re away at the office… or just monitor different rooms in your Alexa smart home to give you peace of mind.
The set-up is super easy — all you have to do is plug in the camera and connect it to your wifi. Plus, it’s compact and easy to find space for.
My motorized Serena Smart Shades from Lutron are one of my absolute favorite Alexa smart home devices. I have three large windows that face west — and that means blinding light every afternoon. With Alexa-connected smart shades, gone are the days of manually bringing down roller shade lift cords one pull at a time. Now, I can just say “Alexa, open the living room shades” or automatically close them every day at, say, 4pm — and then open them back up a bit later so I can see the sunset.
Another benefit of automatically opening and closing shades every day during the summer months… it’s also great for energy efficiency. I definitely saw my AC usage go down this past summer after I added smart shades to my Alexa smart home.
Buying Tips. When you’re purchasing your Serena Smart Shades, be sure to do the following:
- You’ll need to buy motorized shades to control them with Alexa, and I recommend the battery powered option (easier set-up than the wired option)
- Be sure the selected control type is “RF Control Type”
- Purchase a Lutron Smart Bridge (you’ll need this to control the shades with Alexa)
- Purchase batteries you’ll need for the shades when you purchase the shade (so you have what you need to install the shades as soon as it arrives)
- Optional: If you want to be able to operate your smart shades with a remote, you can also purchase the Pico Remote but it’s not necessary (I have one and never use it)
Set-up is simple. First, download the Lutron app from the App Store or Google Play and set up an account. Then, enable the Caseta Alexa skill by Lutron and link the account you created when you downloaded the Lutron app.
If you want smart shades but don’t want to set them up (and you’re willing to pay up). Check out the Shade Store’s options. This is a more expensive option, but Shade Store has a premium product with premium service including on-site window measurements, shade installation and even set-up with Alexa. Shade Store has a nice instruction booklet that walks you through how to connect your shades to Alexa.
#9. Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Stick 4K
Both of these devices let you control your TV with your voice. They’ll give you access to Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO and much more. Launch content, change inputs, turn up the volume and more with Alexa commands.
The main difference between the two devices is that the Fire TV Cube is also a full-fledged Alexa speaker (so you can just talk to it like you talk to an Echo speaker), while you have to press the Alexa button on the Fire TV Stick 4K to control your TV via Alexa.
If you don’t have an Echo speaker in the same room as your TV (or you want to voice control your TV from across the room), get a Fire TV Cube for $120
In addition to being a streaming device, the Fire TV Cube (normally $120) is also a full-fledged Alexa speaker — so you can speak to it from across the room to turn the TV on (“Alexa, play Silicon Valley on HBO”) and also summon Alexa for controlling smart home devices, playing Alexa games, getting the weather and all the things you’d do on a regular Echo speaker.
If you already have an Echo speaker near your TV, get a Fire TV Stick 4K for $50
Just tap the Alexa button at the top of the Fire TV Stick 4K remote (normally $40), and ask Alexa to play your favorite shows, find something for you to watch (“Alexa, show me comedies”) and control your TV. The remote also has helpful power, volume up, volume down and mute buttons for tasks that are easier done without Alexa voice commands.
With an Alexa-enabled TV that can connect to your Echo device, you can play movies, TV shows and more just by asking Alexa. It’s a really nice addition to your Alexa smart home.
I recommend the the Vizio P Series F1 TV ($750) because it will give you bright, clear image quality that’s comparable to what you’d get on a far more expensive TV — and of course because it will connect with Alexa! It’s also Wirecutter’s Best Pick TV for 2019.
Bonus: The 3 services that will upgrade your Alexa smart home experience
If you’re reading this post, you probably agree with me that playing music with an “Alexa, play Cardi B” is the easiest way to turn on your favorite tunes (you can even say “Alexa, play Cardi B everywhere” to play it across all the Echo speakers in your Alexa smart home!).
With Amazon Music Unlimited, you’ll get unlimited access to 50 million songs that you can stream or listen to offline anywhere — on your phone, computer and of course your home Echo device and Echo Buds. Plus, you’ll get thousands of expertly curated playlists and stations.
You can get it free for 90 days, and Prime members pay $7.99 per month thereafter while non-Prime members pay $9.99 per month (both rates for new subscribers). If you don’t have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend signing up now.
What’s the difference between Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music?
Prime Music is included with your Amazon Prime membership at no additional cost and gives you access to over 2 million songs plus thousands of playlists. Amazon Music Unlimited gives you everything you get with Prime Music — plus way more music, new releases, playlists and more.
#2. Amazon Prime
- Free 2 day shipping
- Free 2-hour delivery on items eligible for Prime Now
- Access to Prime Video to watch popular movies and TV, award-winning Amazon Originals (including hit shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan), and live events
- Access to Prime Music’s 2 million songs (and savings on Amazon Music Unlimited if you want to upgrade)
- Awesome savings
Listening to books with Alexa is one of my favorite uses for my Echo speaker. Just say “Alexa, read my book” to start listening. It doesn’t get easier than that!
Audible has the biggest audiobook selection available anywhere, so chances are if the book you’re looking for is available as an audiobook you’ll find it on Audible. You can start with a free 30 day trial and then pay $15 per month thereafter for 1 audiobook of your choice + 2 Audible Originals books per month.
If you’re wondering about Audible Originals… you can browse them here. There’s some pretty great content. I just selected Evil Has a Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation, and I’m really looking forward to listening.
Pro Tip: An Audible subscription makes for a great gift. Tap/click here to give Audible as a gift.
6 Best Alexa Routines Right Now & Easy Set-Up Guide
VoiceBrew’s ultimate guide to Alexa Hue Lights
How To Set Up and Use the Amazon Alexa Smart Plug