Imagine walking into your home at night, arms overflowing with groceries. To turn your smart lights on, you’d need to put the bags down, pull out your phone, unlock it, open the app, find the control for the lights you want, and then tap the icon. With an Amazon Echo and Alexa, you simply say, “Alexa, turn on the kitchen lights.” And it’s not just lights; Alexa is capable of controlling everything from basic smart plugs to garage doors.
All models of the Philips Hue smart bulb, our pick as the best smart light bulb, allow you to power multiple lights on and off, dim, change a bulb’s color, and even create light groups to enable color schemes throughout the house on command. Just know that in addition to your Alexa device, you’ll also need the Hue Bridge, a hub that can handle up to 50 Hue-ified lights.
Belkin’s Wemo Mini smart plug (our preferred plug-in smart outlet) is one of the many Wemo devices that you can control with Alexa. The Wemo Mini plugs into any outlet and connects to your Wi-Fi network, so you can turn fans, lights, coffee makers, and pretty much anything else on and off from your smartphone. You can even set them on a schedule, or call out commands to your Echo devices.
Smart light switches
Lutron’s Caséta is a strong wireless lighting-control system on its own, and one that we recommend to people who want a good lighting system but don’t necessarily need all of the other features that a system like Samsung’s SmartThings offers. Alexa works with Caséta in-wall and plug-in dimmer switches, and you can group them so you can turn off multiple lights with just the sound of your voice.
What’s the current temperature setting on your Nest Learning Thermostat? Ask Alexa. The voice assistant can also raise and lower temperatures or set our top smart-thermostat pick to Away mode. If you don’t use the Nest’s geofencing features (and many people don’t), the ability to verbally adjust temperature settings can be a favorite feature. Multiple-thermostat owners can also call for specific devices by naming each Nest.
No one loves vacuuming, but robot vacuums make the chore as easy as pushing a button. And thanks to Alexa integration. the iRobot Roomba 690and iRobot Roomba 960 ensure that you never even have to lift that one finger. You can bark out orders to command your Wi-Fi–connected robot army to start, stop, or resume cleaning. You can even ask Alexa to locate the little buggers.
Adding Alexa control to Wi-Fi security cameras allows you to arm and disarm cameras as you enter and exit your home and to view live feeds on some Alexa-connected devices. Our favorite indoor security camera, the Logitech Circle 2 works outside too, and accepts prompts through Alexa to disable the privacy mode and even initiate recordings on command. Our outdoor pick, the Nest Cam Outdoor, provides clear imagery, the ability to distinguish between people and pets (with a paid Nest Awaresubscription), and a truly weatherproof cord. If you want to cut that cord, Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2 offers customizable alerts and seven days’ worth of free video storage.