Amazon Echo Dot Alexa speaker with light ring turned on stock photo 1

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Whenever you’re new to smart homes, understanding the place to begin might be powerful. There are a whole lot of choices on the market — notably in relation to Amazon Alexa, which is the best-supported client platform on the market, with a whole lot of equipment and a lot of appropriate good audio system. On this information, we’ll take you thru key selections in getting an Alexa house up and working.

Selecting the best Alexa speaker and show setup

The Amazon Echo Show 8's side profile.

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Smart speakers and shows are the muse of Alexa. Above all, they’re the principle automobile for Alexa voice commands, despite the fact that you may technically use the cellular app and another units, corresponding to high-end Fitbits. Most up-to-date Amazon Echo devices additionally double as Matter controllers for equipment that help the usual, and a handful act as Zigbee hubs too.

The very first thing to contemplate then is what number of audio system and/or shows you want. You possibly can doubtlessly get by with only a single speaker, however ask your self this: Will you be capable of concern voice instructions when and the place you want them? Even a top-of-the-line Echo Studio isn’t going to assist a lot in case you’re making an attempt to manage equipment from a room the place it may well’t hear you.

The very first thing to contemplate then is what number of audio system and/or shows you actually need.

Essentially the most cost-effective setup includes mid-range or high-end audio system in locations the place audio issues — like your workplace, gymnasium, or a house theater — coupled with cheaper choices in areas the place all you need is voice management. For instance, you would possibly pair a few Echo Studio items with a Hearth TV streamer (or Hearth-based smart TV) for a house theater setup, however then populate rooms like a nursery or storage with the entry-level Echo Dot. When you can’t afford a Studio, the 4th gen Echo nonetheless sounds rock-solid too.

Keep in mind that you just don’t have to stay with Amazon to get Alexa audio system, for the reason that platform is supported by third-party producers like Sonos and Final Ears. Certainly, we’d really counsel Sonos’ Beam or Arc soundbars for a house theater setup over the Echo Studio, since they’ll produce a extra spectacular sound whereas providing Apple AirPlay and Google Assistant as different management choices. You may also wire a Sonos soundbar on to your TV as a substitute of utilizing Hearth TV’s HDMI ARC help.

A picture of the Sonos Beam soundbar in black on a TV stand.

The fifth gen Echo Dot and 4th gen Echo every have movement and temperature sensors, which might be exploited in Alexa automation routines created through the cellular app. When you place a Dot in your entryway, for instance, you may make a routine that activates lights every time somebody comes house throughout a sure time window. A Dot in your bed room may set off a fan linked to a smart plug every time it’s too sizzling, and have a second routine that shuts the fan off when issues calm down. Take into account these additional benefits when shopping for and putting audio system.

Echo audio system with movement and temperature sensors can be utilized to set off very context-specific automations.

When you have a younger youngster, chances are you’ll need to contemplate placing a Dot of their bed room, however watch out — you’ll need to ensure they’ve a separate Alexa profile, which permits parental controls. They need to even have a separate music account if doable since nothing’s worse than having your Spotify gymnasium session hijacked by Child Shark. The Amazon Music Unlimited household plan makes this comparatively straightforward, however after all, that service isn’t as well-liked as Spotify or Apple Music.

What about good shows? Whereas there is usually a temptation to place them in all places, they need to actually be reserved for locations the place video and/or prolonged info make a distinction. When you put an Echo Show 8 in your nightstand, for instance, you may see an prolonged climate forecast within the morning, and go to sleep watching Bob Ross at night time. You would possibly put a Present 8, 10, or 15 within the kitchen so you may observe recipes and/or watch movies when you prepare dinner or meal prep.

A shallow focus shot of the Echo Show 15

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Certainly the Echo Show 15 is superb kitchen {hardware}, serving as each a widget-based house organizer and a Hearth TV streamer, full with Alexa Voice Distant help. It’s pricey although, particularly because it doesn’t include a distant or a stand — ordinarily, you’re imagined to wall-mount it.

For more information, try our information on how to use Alexa, which covers subjects like machine setup, creating teams and routines, and selecting music sources.

$443.00 at Amazon

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)


Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Voice help
Simple setup
Dolby Atmos help

$24.99 at Amazon

Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) with clock


Amazon Echo Dot (fifth Gen) with clock

Alexa help
Simple to arrange
Movement and lightweight sensors

Wi-Fi protection on your good house

Three Eero 6 Plus routers

By no means, ever skimp in your Wi-Fi community. A wise house the place equipment are unreachable is extremely irritating, and really worse than a traditional house, since essential parts like lights and thermostats could not work whenever you count on them to. Paying for high quality protection upfront will prevent frustration later, and presumably cash too by avoiding substitute {hardware}.

At a minimal, your router ought to be outfitted with Wi-Fi 6 or 6E. Whereas a Wi-Fi 5 (a.okay.a. 802.11ac) mannequin can doubtlessly be sufficient, it’ll probably be oversaturated in a fully-equipped good house, forcing it to drop older machine connections to make means for brand spanking new ones. Wi-Fi 6 can deal with many extra simultaneous connections.

Don’t be concerned about selecting a router that is particularly Alexa-enabled. I’ve had just a few, and by no means discovered their integration that helpful.

We’d additionally advocate selecting a mesh router for a home or massive house, since that eliminates weak or lifeless zones whereas protecting every part on the identical community ID (SSID). Non-mesh Wi-Fi extenders can repair protection, however could pressure units to function on totally different SSIDs in several rooms, to allow them to’t essentially work together with one another.

Don’t fear about selecting a router that’s particularly Alexa-enabled. I’ve had just a few, and by no means discovered their integration that helpful. Deal with vary, pace, value, and ease as a substitute. When you get considered one of Amazon’s Eero routers you should use some Echo units as seamless Wi-Fi extenders, however any good mesh router will cowl your complete house anyway. Google’s Nest Wifi Pro is simply as easy and viable as an Eero 6 Plus.

$199.99 at Amazon

Google Nest Wifi Pro

Google Nest Wifi Professional

Wi-Fi 6E help
A number of colours

Selecting Alexa-compatible good lighting

A Philips Hue filament bulb in a lantern

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Good lighting ought to normally be a high precedence when looking for Alexa equipment, because it’s comparatively inexpensive but could make a huge impact on the look and comfort of your private home. When you mix good lights with the suitable Alexa routines, chances are you’ll by no means should flip a swap once more; image lights approaching whenever you get up, shutting off throughout the day, then returning briefly at night time earlier than you fall asleep. An alternate (or complement) to scheduling is motion-based automations, which might toggle lights as individuals come and go from rooms. Bear in mind, although, that for movement triggers, you’ll want a 4th gen Echo, a fifth gen Echo Dot, or a devoted Alexa-compatible movement sensor.

When you don’t care about colour lighting, your greatest guess could also be putting in smart switches. These require a bit electrical work, however remove any confusion about management since anybody who doesn’t know the correct Alexa instructions can have a fallback. Maybe much more importantly, they stop individuals from by chance disabling good features, which occurs if somebody flips a swap linked to a smart bulb or lamp. Lutron is normally thought of the gold customary for good switches — however there are different viable choices in case you can’t afford Lutron’s costs.

When you do not care about colour lighting, your greatest guess is putting in good switches as a substitute of shopping for particular person bulbs.

If you’re inquisitive about color-changing bulbs or lamps, it’s higher to stay to a single model if doable to simplify setup and management. Whereas Alexa makes it doable to unify management to a level, a number of manufacturers nonetheless means setup by a number of first-party apps until you’re utilizing Matter. And if a model has options separate from Alexa, like Philips Hue’s sunrise transitions, lights from different manufacturers gained’t be capable of observe alongside.

As a result of Amazon is ready till this spring to ship its promised Thread help, we advocate going with Philips Hue in case you can abdomen that firm’s prices. It depends on a proprietary Zigbee hub linked to your Wi-Fi router, however a single Hue Good Hub can join as much as 50 lights. When you’re making an attempt to save lots of money, Sengled’s Zigbee bulbs are a fantastic different and you may join them on to the Echo Studio, Echo Show 10, and 4th gen Echo, which all have built-in Zigbee.

Philips's Hue Bridge and a bulb.

Being hub-based, each of these choices provide improved reliability, notably for automations. Don’t get me improper — there are high quality Wi-Fi smart bulbs on the market from manufacturers like LIFX and Kasa, however they require web entry to run automations, and too many lights can overwhelm a router. Take into account Wi-Fi bulbs solely in case you have dependable web and your router has loads of connection overhead.

Good buttons make it straightforward to manage good bulbs and lamps, however aren’t as troublesome to put in as good switches.

Must you go the bulb route, don’t really feel the necessity to use color-changing ones in all places. It can save you some huge cash through the use of white-only bulbs (or ones restricted to chill/heat “shades” of white) in areas the place colour isn’t vital, like a kitchen, lavatory, utility room, or storage. I do like color-changing lights on my entrance step, since I can use Alexa to set off holiday-themed lighting, or swap to a pink tint that implies safety methods are armed (which they most likely are, in my case). For Halloween, I would use a customized routine to change lights to creepy presets and begin enjoying applicable music.

Four Flic 2 buttons

When you have family and friends who may not perceive the right way to use Alexa however you don’t need to set up good switches, it’s most likely value investing in smart buttons. They supply a lot of the identical performance with out the identical limitations, although you’ll should customise button responses. The one worthwhile Alexa-compatible model is Flic, however you may see in case your chosen gentle model makes appropriate buttons. For instance, Hue gives a Wi-fi Dimmer and Faucet Dial.

$165.00 at Amazon

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Medium Lumen (75W) Smart Button Starter Kit


Philips Hue White and Colour Ambiance Medium Lumen (75W) Good Button Starter Package

Dependable hub-based lighting
Alexa, Google, and HomeKit help
Good button included

$135.95 at Amazon

Lutron Caséta Deluxe Smart Dimmer Switch (2 Count) Kit


Lutron Caséta Deluxe Good Dimmer Change (2 Rely) Package

Alexa, Google, and HomeKit help
Hub included

$159.99 at Amazon

Flic 2 Starter Kit

Flic 2 Starter Package

Customizable management
Helps Alexa, HomeKit, and extra
Hub included

Securing an Alexa good house

A close-up of the Blink Video Doorbell

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

In relation to safety, many individuals can get away with little greater than a smart doorbell. Angled correctly, it might cowl all you must know concerning the entrance of your private home, together with guests, packages, and intruders making an attempt to steal or vandalize your property. Some doorbells may even be used for flats, so long as the mounting is non-permanent — examine with constructing administration earlier than putting in something. No matter you do, remember to get a doorbell with a large sufficient subject of view for packages, and ideally one with individual detection. The latter cuts down on false movement alerts.

Many security camera and doorbell manufacturers are Alexa-compatible, corresponding to Arlo, Google Nest, and Amazon’s personal Ring and Blink choices. This help is most helpful in tandem with a wise show or Hearth TV streamer, since you may say one thing like “Alexa, present me the entrance door” and tune right into a dwell feed. All Alexa audio system and shows ought to present audio alerts if a model helps it, and in some instances, you should use a speaker or show to speak to somebody.

Search for doorbells and cameras with individual detection and a large subject of view.

When you have a yard or ground-level balcony/patio, we advocate at the very least one weatherproof digicam mounted someplace laborious to succeed in with no ladder. Indoor cameras are sometimes pointless, however might be useful if you wish to regulate children or pets, or get additional proof in case of a break-in.

Google Nest Cam with Floodlight Hero

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Remember that some manufacturers, like Ring and Arlo, provide little greater than dwell feeds with no paid subscription. Each of these paywall cloud recording and individual detection, and Arlo gained’t even allow you to customise movement detection zones with no subscription. It’s doable to get round month-to-month charges by selecting a model with native recording choices, corresponding to Blink.

Private privateness is one other vital consideration. Choose an organization with an excellent monitor document, and ideally, one that provides 2FA (two-factor authentication) to maintain out hackers.

Some safety manufacturers require a subscription to unlock vital options, so be careful.

As a result of Google Nest gives 3 hours of free cloud recording and built-in individual recognition, I usually advocate their digicam merchandise over Ring and Blink. Blink does have an area recording choice in case you purchase a Sync Module 2 and USB storage, however the platform nonetheless lacks individual detection, so it’s sensible provided that cameras might be angled to keep away from false movement alerts.

Ring has an edge if you’d like a full-fledged Alexa alarm system and also you’re ready to pay for a subscription. There’s no Nest equal, and for $425 or much less you will get a {hardware} bundle with a base station, keypad, a number of sensors, and even a Video Doorbell and Echo Present 5. That’s with no Ring Defend plan, although in case you spring for one you will get 24/7 monitoring. A possible draw back is that if you’d like end-to-end video encryption, you’ll should choose in through the Ring app, and in case you do you’ll lose out on some essential options — like watching movies on Echo or Hearth TV units, and even utilizing the app’s Occasion Timeline and wealthy occasion notifications.

Safety isn’t all about cameras and sensors, naturally. Good locks are additionally fairly well-liked, particularly amongst Airbnb house owners. They’re extra of a luxurious for the common individual, however they are often useful whenever you’re carrying heavy hundreds, letting in friends, or heading out for a stroll, run, or journey the place you would possibly overlook your keys. I want August and Schlage as Alexa-compatible lock manufacturers.

August smart lock assembled view with bolt

When you’re a US Echo proprietor you may make the most of Alexa Guard, which pushes app notifications when a mic picks up breaking glass or smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. It’ll additionally set off good lights to simulate your presence. Optionally you may pay for Alexa Guard Plus, which provides issues like extra sound detection classes, a 24/7 helpline, and integration with alarm methods. The vanilla Alexa Guard is a no brainer in case you’re commonly away from house, although you continue to have to recollect to arm and disarm it like all safety system.

$279.99 at Google

Google Nest Cam with Floodlight

Google Nest Cam with Floodlight

LED lights are very shiny
Simple to regulate digicam/lights
Loads of controls to customise expertise

$119.99 at Amazon

Google Nest Doorbell


Google Nest Doorbell

Loud and clear chime
AI recognition
IP54 score

$372.47 at Amazon

Ring Alarm 8-Piece Kit (2nd gen) with Ring Video Doorbell and Echo Show 5 (2nd gen)


Ring Alarm 8-Piece Package (2nd gen) with Ring Video Doorbell and Echo Present 5 (2nd gen)

All-in-one safety
Alexa integration
DIY set up

Must you get a wise thermostat?

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium in close up

For some individuals, upgrading their thermostat could also be extra vital than lighting, since it may well lower your expenses by shrinking energy payments. Relying on the mannequin, you would possibly set a thermostat to ease off when nobody’s house, or have it make the most of ambient climate to work extra effectively.

The most effective model for the Alexa ecosystem is definitely Ecobee, since a few of its thermostats (just like the Good Thermostat Premium) double as Alexa audio system. That makes management ridiculously handy, and naturally, you’re not restricted to temperature instructions — you may management something Alexa helps, and even take heed to information and music in case you’re not nervous about sound high quality.

That mentioned, with any good thermostat, it’s normally sensible to depend on a model’s native automation options, saving Alexa for one-off handbook changes. Native choices are typically extra elaborate, profiting from proprietary tech that doesn’t have an equal in Alexa routines. Maybe the perfect instance of that is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which begins adjusting itself when it acknowledges your habits.

Good thermostats can really prevent cash in the long run by lowering vitality consumption when you do not want sizzling or cool air.

Nest merchandise are a good selection in case you don’t care about having an onboard speaker. These thermostats work completely fantastic with Alexa, regardless of being made by Google, and so they sport an especially intuitive dial interface.

Earlier than shopping for something, remember to examine product web sites and your private home’s present wall connections for wiring compatibility. Not all houses have the mandatory wires, and even once they do, you should still want further gear to make a thermostat work. Some houses require impartial thermostats for every flooring.

Put aside just a few hours everytime you’re prepared to put in. Whereas the method ought to normally take a lot much less time, errors or incompatibilities throughout setup could cause your private home’s temperature to maintain rising or falling, and the very last thing you need is a accomplice sweating bullets at midnight as a result of the AC didn’t kick in.

$199.00 at Amazon

Google Nest Learning Thermostat


Google Nest Studying Thermostat

Wonderful automation
Slick, user-friendly design
Alexa and Google Assistant

$219.00 at Amazon

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium (2022)


Ecobee Good Thermostat Premium (2022)

Effectivity can lower your expenses
Constructed-in Alexa/Siri speaker
CO2 and VOC detection

Utilizing good plugs with Alexa

A top-down view of the Amazon Smart Plug

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Smart plugs are an inexpensive and efficient means of automating home equipment that wouldn’t in any other case be good, like most lamps, heaters, humidifiers, air purifiers, and low makers. The one catch is that these home equipment want a everlasting on/off toggle, corresponding to a swap or a position-locked button. A product with a touch-sensitive button most likely gained’t keep on to obtain instructions.

Whenever you’re buying, nearly any Alexa-compatible plug will do, although Kasa is among the extra dependable manufacturers. The actual trick is determining the perfect use of plugs in routines — since a wise plug can solely ever management energy, chances are you’ll have to fiddle with an equipment’s settings, and use extra routines than typical to make sure issues swap on and off on the proper occasions.

Like good switches, good plugs shouldn’t be mixed with different good house equipment, since that may trigger labeling confusion or by chance disable the second accent.

Does Matter matter?

eve energy and lighbulb matter display

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

When you’re going to remain inside the Alexa ecosystem, not notably. Since there are such a lot of Alexa-ready merchandise, it’s solely vital if you’d like the choice of switching to Apple HomeKit or Google Home sooner or later, as a result of Matter hypothetically makes the method smoother. Many equipment already help two or extra platforms anyway, and Matter isn’t but as clean as individuals have been hoping for.

On high of this, Amazon’s implementation has been weak. Though most trendy Echo units can act as Matter controllers, Amazon has but to allow Matter accent setup for anybody however Android customers, leaving iPhone and iPad house owners out within the chilly. It hasn’t activated Thread help in Echo units, both, which is baffling contemplating that Matter and Thread have been made to go hand-in-hand. Each Thread and Matter for Alexa iOS are because of go dwell someday in spring 2023.

Select Matter-compatible equipment in case you can, however don’t fret about the usual if a non-Matter accent has options you need and in any other case suits your compatibility necessities.

Are there another pitfalls I ought to keep away from?

samsung bespoke fridges

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

First, don’t fear about upgrading large-scale kitchen home equipment like ovens, fridges, or microwaves. Alexa help is usually a perk, however what restricted good options you’ll acquire most likely aren’t well worth the a whole lot or 1000’s of {dollars} you’ll spend.

In any occasion, don’t go overboard creating Alexa routines. It may be tempting to construct automations for each given situation — I even used to have nationally-themed gentle reveals — however in apply, that tends to create confusion because you’ll inevitably overlook some routines and what triggers them. Issues can get chaotic if routines begin to battle, otherwise you relocate a tool but it surely behaves as if it’s in its previous room. It might take a couple of minutes to establish a rogue routine and repair or delete it.

If you are going to select Alexa as an ecosystem, decide to it. Good houses turn into unwieldy if you must handle a number of platforms.

Goal for elegant simplicity, in routines and normally. The principle level of a wise house is comfort, and in case you can maintain complexity down, issues turn into simpler to make use of and preserve. Generally the perfect management choice is the “dumb” one — you would possibly initially like the concept of a morning lavatory routine that kicks in temper lighting, heating, and a Spotify playlist, however in case you can’t rely on wanting that on a regular basis, you is perhaps higher off with a typical gentle swap and a Bluetooth speaker, saving your money and time for different components of your private home.

Lastly, in case you’re going to decide on Alexa as an ecosystem, decide to it. Good houses turn into unwieldy if you must handle a number of platforms, because you’re continually switching between apps to ensure every part is paired, configured, and working with out conflicts. It’s solely us tech journalists that ought to be involved with controlling a house utilizing each doable machine.

Regularly requested questions

Aside from any {hardware} you purchase, nothing. Utilizing Alexa is free. To get essentially the most out of it although, you’ll most likely need paid music and video providers — in any other case you’re not getting a lot out of your audio system, shows, or Hearth TV units. There are many Alexa-compatible media providers, however Amazon after all needs you to enroll in a Prime membership, which incorporates Amazon Music and Prime Video.

Successfully, Wi-Fi web is required for Alexa. Amazon appears to have disabled a Native Voice Management choice on Echo units, and plenty of instructions have at all times required the web anyway — Alexa can’t fetch climate or speak to third-party good house frameworks if it may well’t attain distant servers.