Control your home's lighting using Alexa and these smart bulbs.
Amazon offers an affordable way to start building out a voice-activated home automation system for your house or apartment with their Amazon Echo and Echo Dot powered by their A.I. assistant, Alexa. On its own, you can use Alexa to play music and find news, sports and other information. But things get really interesting when you start to connect Alexa up to smart devices, including connected LED bulbs and smart switches, around your house.
There are a number of light options compatible with Alexa. We've broken things down based on the different brands and ecosystems that each have their own compatibility with smart lights and smart switches that you'll ultimately be able to control via Alexa on your Amazon Echo.
Last updated December 29, 2016: Commenters have recommended smart bulbs from LIFX and TP-Link, which both work well with Alexa and certainly are appealing due to their built-in Wi-Fi — but reports of spotty network connectivity make it tough to formally recommend over the tried and tested options below.
Philips Hue is the leader in smart bulbs, and are downright cool. You can connect up to 50 Philips Hue bulbs, lamps and lighting strips via the Philips Hue Bridge, so chances are you could convert all your home's lighting over to the Philips Hue system. Whether you're looking for 60W equivalent white LED bulbs, bulbs that feature 16 million colors, or LED light strips for futuristic accents, there's a reason why so many people have gone with Philips Hue.
Alexa syncs right up to the Philips Hue Bridge, which means you'll be able to set up different lighting groups for your rooms and IFTTT recipes on your phone, then also control everything with the sound of your voice via your Amazon Echo. There's a lot of fun to be had here, as Philips Hue lights can be synced up to your music for epic dance parties, and otherwise customized in countless different ways to suit your lifestyle.
If you're interested in getting started with Philips Hue, you're best off getting a starter kit. There are a couple different options to consider:
- Philips Hue Starter Kit w/ two bulbs and one Bridge — $69.99 on Amazon
- Philips Hue Starter Kit w/ two bulbs, one bridge and an Amazon Echo Dot — $99.99 on Amazon
- Philips Hue Starter Kit w/ two A19 bulbs, one Bridge and one Dimmer switch — $125.47 on Amazon
- Philips Hue Starter Kit w/ three White and Color Ambiance bulbs and one Bridge — $142.77 on Amazon
No matter which starter kit you choose, the beautiful part of going with Philips Hue is that it's super easy to add extra bulbs or other elements to your ecosystem later.
SmartThings provides a full suite of options for home automation, which includes a few options for smart lights. You'll need a [SmartThings Hub] to get started, but from there you can connect plug-in smart switches for appliances, lamps and outdoors, and in-wall dimmers which support dimmable LED and CFL technologies along with legacy support for incandescent, halogen, Mark 10, and magnetic lighting loads.
You can also connect smart bulbs from Philips Hue or Osram to your SmartThings Hub, along with a host of other super handy home automation products that all work within the SmartThings ecosystem.
If you're mainly interested in smart lights, you can get a SmartThings Hub and an Osram bulb bundle. If complete home automation is your ultimate goal, you might be more interested in the SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit, then build your own lighting arsenal from the available SmartThings-compatible lighting options.
Insteon's offerings for smart home lighting mostly include in-wall dimmers and switches and plug-in dimmers. They do offer their own programmable, dimmable LED bulbs, available in two styles: 8W LED bulbs and 12-watt recessed bulbs. You can use the Insteon app to set bulbs into groups for scheduling and creating scenes, then take control via Alexa.
To start building out your Insteon smart lighting ecosystem, you should get the Insteon Starter Kit, which comes with the necessary Hub, and two Dimmer Plugs, perfect for setting up a voice controlled bedside lamp. From there, you'll need to buy compatible bulbs as you need them.
Insteon's system is a decent option for those looking for home automation, but overall their lighting options are somewhat lacking.
WeMo switches and outlets
WeMo offers Wi-Fi enabled smart switches and outlets that you can control via Alexa. The WeMo Light Switch can be used to replace any light switch in your home, letting you schedule and control your lights and appliances without the need of a central hub.
This one is better for the DIYers out there who are interested in manually creating their own home automation network with in-wall switches and plug-in adapters to control lamps and other small appliances. Those looking for hassle-free installation and smart bulb options are best looking elsewhere.
Lutron dimmers and switches
Lutron Caseta Wireless products offer a selection of smart dimmers and switches that connect via the Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge. Connect your Smart Bridge to Alexa allows you to control all the dimmers and switches with your voice.
Check out the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting In-Wall Dimmer Kit or the Plug-in Dimmer Kit to see what this system is all about. This is another route that's going to require DIY effort with initial setup and is also lacking branded LED bulb options, but the Hub is compatible with a bunch of other smart devices from leading brands including Ecobee, Nest, Honeywell, Logitech, and Sonos.
Which should you get?
Thanks to Alexa's compatibility with a variety of smart light systems, you've got several great options for automating and customizing your home. Which system you go with will greatly depending on your current living situation.
If you're living in an apartment and are just looking to control some funky lighting options via Alexa voice controls, Philips Hue is your best bet. Buying a starter kit is a great investment that you can take with you as you move — and with the lifespan of LED lighting well exceeding a decade, you'll enjoy the freedom to rearrange, expand and easily move your Philips system wherever you go.
If you're a homeowner looking to integrate IoT devices throughout your home, you'll want to buy an Alexa-compatible hub that shares a wide range of compatibility with other brands and products, such as SmartThings or even a Wink Hub 2, then build out your smart bulb and other devices to the exact specifications of your home.
And if you're in the process of planning a home renovation, it might be worth looking at WeMo, Insteon, and Lutron's in-wall switches or dimmers to convert your existing home wiring into a smart lighting system that you can then control with your voice. Don't just update the look of your home — upgrade its functionality, then let Alexa control it all with the power of your own voice.