How to Control Your Lights With Alexa: What You Need

If you have an Amazon Echo, you can use Alexa for more than simply asking the weather, setting a timer, and listening to music.

With the right additional hardware, you can ask Alexa to turn individual bulbs or entire groups of lights on and off. Also, using Processes, you can turn them on and off automatically at set times.

Below, we’ll explain what you need in terms of the required hardware, how to get it to work with Alexa, and how to set up the process through the Alexa app for iOS and Android.

What is needed to control lights with Alexa?

  • Smart plug, or
  • Smart light bulb, or
  • Smart wall switch
  • An Alexa built-in device or the Alexa app

You need at least one piece of hardware from this list that is compatible with Alexa before you can control the lights, along with the latest version of the Alexa app and/or Amazon Echo or another device with Alexa built in.

Alexa works with many smart bulbs including Philips Hue and LIFX bulbs. We are huge fans of these devices because they are high quality, reliable, and offer a wide range of features. They come in white and color versions, with the latter being more expensive, but can still produce good whites as well as bright colors.

How to control lights with your Amazon Echo

However, even the cheapest Wi-Fi bulbs can be expensive, so if you don’t want to splurge on new lights, you can buy Alexa-compatible smart switches instead. .

Amazon sells its own smart plug for £24.99 / $24.99, and there are plenty of others, some cheaper. These are the best smart plugs to buy.

Control lights with Alexa - Smart Plug

You can also purchase Alexa-compatible wall switches from third-party manufacturers including Lightwave RF and Energenie MiHome. Note that – like Philips Hue – both require a ‘hub’ that plugs into your router: they don’t talk directly to the router using Wi-Fi. If you don’t want to mess with a hub for a single smart plug, we recommend the budget-friendly, Alexa-compatible TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug.

Obviously this is not good for ceiling lights as it will only turn lights on and off that are plugged into an electrical outlet, but there is a solution for that as well. Shelly makes small Wi-Fi switches that can fit in the back box of a wall switch (or even a bare rosette).

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Shelly 1 is about the size of a couple of Oreos. The best part is that it costs only €11 from Shelly’s website and will control all ceiling lights attached to that switch.

Shelly 1 wi-fi switch

Whichever method you use, controlling Alexa-compatible lights, plugs, and switches is the same. Here’s how to do it.

How do you turn on the lights with Alexa?

To get started, you need the Alexa app. It is available on Android, iOS and Amazon Fire tablets. You’ll probably have the app if you have an Amazon Echo.

Before you can turn on your lights, you must install and set up your bulbs, plugs, or switches. In some cases, you will need to install the manufacturer’s app, first create an account and set up the device there.

Once done, open the Alexa app and follow these steps:

  1. Knock on Device at the bottom
  2. Now tap the + icon at the top right
  3. Click ‘Add Device’
  4. Select the type of device you are setting up (Light, Plug or Switch)
  5. Choose a brand from the list
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions

You’ll have to link the account for the device (such as a Philips or TP-Link account) to your Amazon account and allow the Alexa app to use it.

How to control lights with Alexa

Once your plug, switch, or light is set up, you’ll be able to see it when you tap the Light, plug, or Switch on the Devices screen in the Alexa app.

You’ll want to rename it with a friendly name that’s both memorable and simple enough for Alexa to understand. Do this by tapping the device in the list, then tapping the gear icon (top right) and then tapping Edit name. Just like this:

How to control lights with Alexa

It’s best to use a short, one-word name, but you can experiment and change the name if Alexa doesn’t understand it.

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To turn on the lights using Alexa, the simplest command is:

  • “Alexa, turn on [name of light]”

If your light or switch supports dimming or changing colors, you can also say:

  • “Alexa, make the front light purple”
  • “Alexa, dim the living room”
  • “Alexa, make the kitchen brighter”

You can also control lights and other smart gadgets from your Fire tablet.

How to control groups of lights with Alexa?

  1. Go to Devices in the Alexa app
  2. Tap the + icon, top right
  3. Clap Create a room or device group
  4. Click Next
  5. Choose from predefined room names or add a custom name for the group
  6. Tap the device you want to join the group
  7. Click Next
  8. Add any Alexa device or skip the step
  9. Save your room

When Alexa knows which devices are in which room, it’s easier to control them. Adding an Amazon Echo to a group is helpful if you have more than one Echo because it allows you to – for example – walk into the living room and say “Alexa, turn on the lights” and she’ll understand what you mean because you’ve grouped the Echo in that room with smart bulbs in that same room.

Once done, you can say, “Alexa, turn on the Dining Room” and all devices in that group will be turned on.

Can Alexa turn lights on and off on a schedule?

Yes, she can. You just need to create a Process to make that work. You can create as many Processes as you want, and they can control individual lights or groups of lights.

To create a new Flow, tap the three lines at the top left of the app or swipe in from the left to open the main menu.

Tap Processes, then tap the + icon (shown below, second left). Now tap the + sign to the right of ‘When this happens’ and select Schedule from the five triggers.

How to control lights with Amazon Echo

Tap Select next to ‘At time’ and choose when you want the light(s) to turn on. If you want this to repeat on certain days, tap Select next to Repeat and select the days. Then tap Next at the top.

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How to control lights with Amazon Echo

You will be taken back to the NEW PATH screen, where you need to tap the + sign next to Add action. From the list, select Smart Home, then Control Unit or Control Group depending on whether you want just one light on or multiple lights on at once.

Here we have selected the Dining Room group control and the only option available (below, center) is source. The slider is already set to ‘On’ which is what we want, so just hit Next. Finally, tap Save at the top and your Procedure will be archived and run at the specified time.

How to control lights with Amazon Echo

If you want the same lights to go off later, create another Routine with a schedule set to a later time than the time the lights are set to turn on, but this time tap the slider to ‘turn off’ on the screen which says Power. Once that new Procedure is saved, your lights will turn on and off at the times you have set.

Oh, and just when you need to, here’s how to update your Echo software.

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