amazon alexa-photo of echo spot

Amazon Alexa changed the way we commanded smart home tech back in 2014 with the first Echo smart speaker.

Since then, voice control has continued to be an integral part of home automation.

While facing stiff competition from Google Assistant, today we’ll keep our focus narrow and tight focusing only on Amazon Alexa.

For the purest interaction with Alexa, you should consider a smart speaker or smart display from the generous range.

We’ll glimpse at these before moving on to third-party devices that play nicely with Alexa.

Start with an Echo Device

Amazon has always edged above the competition when it comes to the depth of the Echo range.

Here are six ways to get started with Amazon Alexa onboard:

Echo

Now into its second generation, the original Echo has upgraded audio, a cosmetic overhaul, and all of Alexa smarts in place. This device still makes a solid entry point into the world of smart speakers

Echo Plus

The key draw with the rebooted Echo Plus is the integrated Zigbee hub. This allows you to test the waters of home automation without immediately needing to invest in a third-party hub. You’ll be able to control a wide range of compatible devices hands-free making Echo Plus a cost-effective addition to any connected home

Echo Dot

Echo Dot 3rd Gen, is a tiny disc-shaped smart speaker giving you full access to Alexa at an almost throwaway price-point.

Echo Spot

Echo Spot is a tiny smart display adding a 2.5-inch screen to add a visual element to Alexa

Echo Show

The enduringly popular Echo Show comes with a full 10-inch HD screen and makes the perfect communication gateway in the kitchen. Press Alexa into commission for everything. from controlling your other devices hands-free to getting some guidance with recipes in the kitchen. When you’re done, stream some YouTube or put Alexa to work organizing your day.

Echo Show 5

Now available with a screen half the size, the all-new Echo Show is tailor-made for bedroom use.

How else can you build out hands-free home automation, though?

Seven of The Best Smart Home Devices that Work with Amazon Alexa

When it comes to third-party devices designed to work seamlessly with an Echo device, you have many choices.

We had a tough time deciding, but we whittled our shortlist down to just seven of the strongest ways to use Alexa:

  1. Philips Hue Starter Kits
  2. Philips Hue Color Smart LED
  3. Amazon Smart Plug
  4. Logitech Harmony Home Hub
  5. Ring Video Doorbell and Security Camera
  6. ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
  7. August Smart Lock Pro with Connect

1) Philips Hue Starter Kits

When you think of smart lighting, Philips Hue is undoubtedly the name that first springs to mind. If you want to get started with automating your lights, the starter kits are the perfect entry-point.

However, with so many to choose from, which should you go for?

A cost-effective way to kick off is with the White Starter Kit packing 4 LEDs rated at 2700 kelvin. It also comes with the hub, which you will need to get everything working together seamlessly. This gateway also allows you to make full use of Amazon Alexa for voice control. You will also need one of the Echo devices we looked at above.

As an aside, this bridge also allows you to make use of Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit gear so you’ll have all your main bases covered.

These bulbs represent plug-and-play simplicity at its finest. You'll be able to build-in up to 50 lights without congesting your WiFi network and have set-up complete in just minutes.

The lights are all designed to work with motion sensors and dimmer switches so you can start getting more creative with scheduling.

Take advantage of the benefit of remote control in-app when you’re away from home and the benefit of voice control with Amazon Alexa when you’re in the house.

Starter kits also come with multiple variants of the colored bulbs giving you access to a staggering palette of 16 million different colors, all at pocket-friendly prices.

These Hue starter kits get our vote as being the best user-friendly smart bulb that uses Amazon Alexa to genuinely useful effect.

We’ll continue with Philips next and a single-colored smart bulb to give you a taster of how you can brighten up your life on a budget.

2) Philips Hue Color Smart LED

As with all products from the Philips Hue line, you’ll benefit most fully if you invest in the Hue Bridge. This comes bundled with the starter kits but is available separately right here.

With the hub in place, you can start enjoying the full hands-free Alexa experience, as long as you have your smart speaker up and running.

The remarkably energy-efficient 7-watt LEDs kick out comparable power to a 65-watt incandescent bulb while drawing down much less electricity. The inside of the bulb is specially coated to enable light being directed forward. This renders it a neat fit for accent or display lighting.

The choice of colors is almost overwhelming at 16 million. It's safe to say that you’ll find whatever shade you’re looking for. Control in-app is a cinch and, once you’re set-up, you’ll also be able to instruct Amazon Alexa to control your lighting.

While you might imagine a single smart bulb doesn’t give you much leeway for automation, you can easily get it working in tandem with sensors, your smart lock, and your thermostat once you build out a more diverse connected home.

If you fancy testing the smart home waters without fully committing, these Alexa-enabled white and color ambiance bulbs are a wise bet.

3) Amazon Smart Plug

Next up is another rock-solid choice for any beginners to home automation. With a smart plug, you can smarten up any old devices like lamps, fans, and other small appliances.

The beauty of this outlet from Amazon is the fact you can embrace hands-free control with Amazon Alexa even if you don’t own a smart speaker or a hub. This ease of access removes the barriers that are often in place for home automation newcomers.

All you need to do is pop the smart plug into a regular outlet, then plug your devices into the compact Amazon unit. Control is super-simple in-app and you’ll soon start appreciating the convenience of voice commands once you’re up and running. If you’re accustomed to running an old fan and constantly jumping up and down to turn it on and off, usher in hands-free control and streamline your life.

You can build in some scheduling and routines with ease in-app. Despite its simplicity, this powerful smart plug is a neat way to try out Amazon Alexa without going all-in.

4) Logitech Harmony Home Hub

As you begin building out a more ambitious connected home, it pays to stay on top of control. After all, the last thing you want is a large bowl stuffed with remotes. Home automation is supposed to make your life easier, right?

Absolutely. From the equipment in your home theater right on throughout the rest of your home, you can command eight devices simultaneously from the Logitech Harmony Hub. Support extends to over a quarter-million different pieces of tech.

Take the helm in-app and also build in an Amazon Alexa device, so you can kiss goodbye to your TV remote and kickstart all your media with nothing but voice commands. Using the Activities function, you can soon get multiple devices working together in harmony, just as the device’s name promises.

Whether you prefer the old-school nature of physical control all in one place or you enjoy barking commands at Alexa instead, Logitech is a maestro of trimming control down to the easy background process it should be.

5) Ring Video Doorbell and Security Camera

Security specialist Ring has long been owned by Amazon. It’s no surprise, then, that the impressive Ring suite all plays nicely with Amazon Alexa.

The Door View Cam is a lesser-known but highly effective piece of tech well worth your further investigation.

Ideal for renters, you won’t need to mess around with any drilling or rewiring. Rather than mounting this device on the door, it simply slots over your existing peephole. This delivers the benefits of a smart doorbell for anyone who doesn’t want a hardwired alternative.

Alexa capabilities extend beyond the basic. You’ll be able to drag up the live feed using voice commands and you’ll also be able to initiate a conversation with your visitors hands-free. You can use your smart display along with two-way audio to stay connected to your home even when you’re on vacay.

You can readily create monitoring zones so you can keep your eye on every area that counts. As an added bonus, you won’t need a third-party hub to start reaping the full benefits of Alexa control.

If the Door View Cam doesn't excite you, the Ring Doorbell Pro is another great choice and offers many of the same capabilities. Instead of being installed over your peephole, it just takes the place of your regular doorbell. It just requires existing doorbell wiring.

6) ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

Now powering into its fourth iteration, the ecobee Smart Thermostat is still our favorite and most flexible WiFi thermostat in a glutted market.

One of the key attractors of ecobee is the way you can build out up to 32 room sensors to customize climate control to the fullest.

With far-field tech, you won’t find Alexa has any problems making out your voice even across a busy or crowded room. Until you’ve experienced regulating the temperature from the couch hands-free, you won’t realize just how convenient it is.

As well as working admirably with Amazon Alexa, you’ll also enjoy compatibility with Google Assistant, SmartThings and IFTTT.

While you might struggle to realize the 23% savings propagated by the manufacturer, automating climate control can undoubtedly help you to cut wastage and reduce your power bills noticeably. You’ll get intelligent and accurate energy reporting so you can determine how to run your home more energy-efficiently without messing around manually.

For a practical, convenient and affordable way to harness Amazon Alexa without resorting to a third-party hub, ecobee4 is a smart move.

7) August Smart Lock Pro with Connect

While you might instinctively think a smart door lock is mainly a security-driven purchase, these devices are more about convenience really.

If you’re considering upgrading your entry system, it’s easy to get confused with so many broadly similar devices. So, which locks are good and which work with Alexa?

One of our personal favorites is the legendary Smart Lock Pro. This model comes bundled with the Connect hub you’ll need to get maximum functionality onboard.

DoorSense is a proprietary technology from August that notifies you if your door is accidentally left open or becomes opened unexpectedly.

The ability to keep your keys and use them at any time makes this a great choice for households with anyone not too tech-savvy. We’ll bet you can get them interested in the way Smart Lock Pro can lock and unlock automatically, though.

You’ll be able to grant temporary access codes which are ideal, whether you rent your home out on Airbnb or you have service staff who needs to get in without you leaving a physical key.

While control in-app is a seamless experience, you’ll also find that using Amazon Alexa with the August a rewarding experience. Approaching the door and asking your virtual butler to let you in demonstrates clearly how far smart home tech has come over the past decade.

Along with Alexa, Smart Lock Pro is also compatible with WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave Plus and Apple HomeKit, so you’ll have the complete package.

Final Word

We hope you can see just a few of the ways in which Amazon Alexa can be pressed into action. From the core functionality offered by smart speakers through to more specialized devices with voice control, which of these devices tempts you?

If you’re at the point of purchase and you fancy saving a few bucks, why not sign up for smart home news? We’ll also give you a generous 20% off your first order.

So, the only that question remaining is which of these devices do you plan to invest in first?

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