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How to use Alexa Skills to turn your lights on and off

Amazon's Alexa can help you run smart light bulbs, outlets and more just by asking

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Smart lights are one the simplest — and least expensive — connected gadgets to install in the home: they don't require wires, additional hardware or even a lengthy set-up time. Controlling smart lights through an app, rather than from a wall switch, can take some adjusting. But now you can actually just talk to your lights using Alexa Skills to turn them on and off — just like The Clapper device that launched decades ago.

Dim the lights, link them into "scenes," have them change colors — you can make all these requests through special Alexa Skills, getting her to do the work just by asking.

Setting the mood without a hub

Haven't installed any smart home devices yet? Not to worry — lightbulbs are a great place to start. Different lighting brands make smart bulbs that work even without an extra device called a hub, just by operating on your home's Wi-Fi. All you need is an Amazon speaker like Echo or Echo Dot and an Amazon Alexa skill.

  • One of the cheapest Amazon certified bulb is the $25 one from Yeelight, which is from a start-up, has 16 million colors, and works with a Yeelight Alexa Skill.
  • Heelight (a different brand) also has a skill to control its bulbs without a bridge or hub device either.
  • For the promise of simple installation and use, the WiZ Advanced skill can control any of this brand's smart bulbs without a gateway, hub, or bridge.

You can run your lighting at home with multiple Alexa Skills depending on the bulbs, sockets and switches you've installed.Amazon

Lamps, sockets and switches

Alexa can also take controls of lamps in your home, along with smart switches, gadgets which turn regular lighting fixtures into connected devices.

  • The Wow Lamp for Smart Home skill, controls a Wow LED desk lamp.
  • For a switch with Alexa built right in, the Brilliant Light Control skill is a quick learn. Of course you need the Brilliant Light Control itself, and then you need to replace your old light switch with this new device which has a touchscreen you can control via voice command.
  • Noon switches have a Noon Alexa Skill that helps them run their lighting system — devices that can be installed if your home is built with a neutral ground in the electrical system. Noon also offers professional installation if you don't want to risk electrocution by DIY-mistake.
  • Turn any light you own into a smart light with the Emberlight Socket, and its corresponding emberlight skill.
  • The Savant Lamp Control device is another simple socket that Alexa can run —with the Savant skill you can control a light plugged into its socket and also control entertainment devices with the company's Home hub.

Bulbs and Sockets

Want to keep all your devices under the same brand? Many companies make both bulbs, outlets and plugs, so you can put a bulb in your ceiling light and also plug in a table lamp and control the whole room with the same Alexa Skill.

  • The Vivitar Smart Lights and Outlets skill can be added if you use the Vivitar Smart Home Security app, and all of the bulbs and outlets that Vivitar makes.
  • Geeni – Smart bulbs, plugs skill does require the Geeni app to name devices, but then you can control all the plugs and bulbs this company offers.
  • The bulbs that go with the EufyHome skill can be controlled directly, and the skill also controls Eufy strip lights and smart plugs.
  • Finally, Hive also makes smart bulbs and sockets that can be controlled by the Hive – Optimized for Smart Home skill.

Philips Hue Starter Kit

Hubs and Bulbs

  • The Hue skill by Philips works with all the Philips Hue bulbs through a small bridge device.
  • Similarly, Stack Lighting bulbs require a small hub, but then you can talk to Alexa to control the whole shebang.

Hubs and Switches

  • With a hub and installed light switches, the NuBryte skill can have you chatting with all your lights individually or in groups, and the whole thing can integrate with a security system.
  • Another system that requires a hub along with Alexa is the Houm skill which has wireless switches to control your lights, never requiring electrical work to reconfigure control.

Skills That Control Everything, Lights Included

  • For a skill that can control many smart light devices, try the Luminous skill which should discover not just you Luminous smart bulbs, but other smart devices as well.
  • The Tuya skill also controls smart bulbs (and sockets and heaters) with no brand specified, so it may prove versatile.
  • For a system that is designed to control many brands of devices, including lighting, look at the Gideon skill for Alexa. The Gideon app and skill are free, and their mission is to reduce energy usage with smart technology.
  • The Smart Life skill is also supposed to control many devices, but some lights are easier to discover than others.
  • The Control4 skill will work with a professionally installed system and a monthly subscription, but it can integrate entertainment and lighting and activate scenes too.

Linking Amazon Skills to your smart lighting can open up the possibilities of setting moods in your home.iStock

Bright, Secure, Entertained

Many security systems also control lights, including Kuna, Wink, and Home8, just to name a few. So you can integrate your lights and security with the right hardware, devices, software, skills, and your Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Spot. So far, there is no one common standards, so different brands of bulbs or sockets may or may not work with a particular hub or a specific Alexa skill.

The great thing is that many new skills come out all the time, so if one skill doesn't work with the obscure brand of smart bulb you bought, another skill might work just fine.

And if you feel so inclined, try Light Bulb Jokes for some old-style lightbulb humor while indulging your nostalgia for those days when bulbs were just a bit of filament and light.

Visit GearBrain's What Works with Amazon Alexa to see the connected devices that work with Amazon Echo and Alexa enabled devices..


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