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.
Our pick: Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)
An Amazon Echo (or Echo Dot) offers a convenient interface for your smart home and provides functionality that an app on your phone can’t. If you already have some Alexa-compatible devices or one of the three major smart-home hubs (SmartThings, Wink, or Insteon), adding an Echo can make accessing those devices more interesting and convenient. Taking advantage of its near-instantaneous response time and reliable voice-recognition processing is significantly faster than pulling out your phone and opening an app just to turn the lights on or off. Some products, such as Philips Hue lights and Nest thermostats, have native Alexa support, while others require you to enable a third-party skill. We tested plenty of both varieties to come up with the best-performing and most-reliable recommendations, which we’re continually testing to ensure that each new firmware and app update meets our high standards.
Over the past several years, Wirecutter’s editors and writers have tested just about every smart-home device of consequence. As more people end up buying smart speakers and platform support gets more and more important, we wanted to provide one place where you could access all our picks that are compatible with the devices you already own, across all our smart-home recommendations. Because these devices receive regular updates with additional compatibility and new features, we are continually testing and reevaluating our picks in our own homes to confirm that they still meet our recommendation standards. We’ll update this guide as we learn new information, but be sure to read the full reviews if you’d like more details and test notes.
If you don’t yet have an Alexa-enabled device, or if you want to learn more about what Alexa is and what you can do with these things, check out our full guide to Alexa and Amazon’s Echo line of smart speakers.
Our pick: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit
The Philips Hue smart bulb was the first smart product to join Alexa’s friends list, and it’s our pick as the best smart light bulb. All current Hue models work with Alexa, allowing 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 (unless you get the new Echo Plus, which includes a Zigbee radio like the Hue Bridge), a hub that can handle up to 50 Hue-ified lights.
Similar to the Philips Hue, the LIFX Gen 3 works with Alexa, so you can verbally power, dim, and change the colors of the lights. LIFX doesn’t have quite as many partners or the same versatility as the Hue lineup. However, LIFX bulbs work with Wi-Fi (versus Zigbee for the Hue series), so you don’t need a separate hub or gateway.
Our pick: Belkin Wemo Mini
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 for daily and weekly use, or call out commands to your Echo devices. The app allows you to group outlets with lights and other appliances, so you can control everything with a single voice command.
Similar to the Wemo plug, the iHome iSP8 offers a compact design, can group devices, and responds to Alexa. It’s a bit more expensive than Belkin’s model, but it includes energy monitoring, a stand-alone remote, and support for Apple HomeKit as well as Google Home.
Smart light switches
Our pick: Lutron Caséta Wireless In-Wall Dimmer
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 SmartThings offers. Alexa works with Caséta in-wall dimmer switches and plug-in dimmer switches, and you can group them so you can turn off lights in an entire room or section of the house with the sound of your voice. For instance, you can put the Caséta system in your entertainment space and make a room movie-ready by saying something like, “Alexa, turn off all theater lights.” You can even use your voice to set dimming levels. It’s also convenient that Caséta switches are often paired with a separate remote, which you can mount or leave in that room; that way, you can bring up the lights while the action is still on screen, without having to call out.
You can also pair Alexa with a Z-Wave hub, such as SmartThings or Wink, to control Z-Wave switches like the HomeSeer HS-WD100+, our favorite Z-Wave in-wall dimmer. Besides allowing you to turn lights on and off and to set dimming levels using the sound of your voice, this device has multi-tap features that you can use to control several devices at the switch.
If you don’t want or need another device (or at least the expense of one), the Belkin Wemo Light Switch can control lights using any existing Wi-Fi network. That particular model doesn’t do any dimming, but the Wemo Dimmer can dim lighting at the switch, via the app, and through Alexa voice commands for an additional $40.
Our pick: Nest Learning Thermostat
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.
The Ecobee4 works with Alexa in the same way as the Nest, and actually has the voice assistant built in, so you have no need for a separate device. You can just say, “Alexa, tell Ecobee I’m hot,” and the assistant will adjust the temperature a few degrees for you. Another big difference between the two smart thermostats is that the Ecobee model includes sensors that you can place in any room, so you can ask Alexa about the temperature all around the house. Alexa can also use the Ecobee model to control your system’s fan, tell you what equipment is running, and switch between heat, cool, and auto modes.
Our pick: iRobot Roomba 690
No one loves vacuuming. Of course, robot vacuums make the chore as easy as pushing a button. However, the iRobot Roomba 690 and iRobot Roomba 960 ensure that you never even have to lift that one finger, thanks to Alexa integration.
Alexa allows you to bark out orders to command that Wi-Fi–connected robot army to start, stop, or resume cleaning. You can even ask Alexa to locate the little buggers, if they’ve gone rogue and wandered off into another part of the house. We go into more detail about each model in our guide to the best robot vacuums, but the main difference is that the Roomba 960 is designed for larger spaces—and currently costs about twice as much as the 690.
Our pick: Netgear Arlo Q
Adding Alexa control to Wi-Fi security cameras allows you to arm and disarm cameras as you enter and exit your home, as well as to call up specific cameras located around the house to view live feeds through the Echo Show, Echo Spot, or Amazon Fire TV.
Netgear’s Arlo Q works with the Echo Show, Echo Spot, and Fire TV, so you can call up live feeds from different devices around the house. One of our favorite indoor security cameras, the Arlo Q provides clear imagery of kids, pets, or your home when you’re away from home, as well as customizable alerts, the ability to spy on certain zones, and seven days’ worth of free video storage.
If you’re looking for a peek at the outdoors, Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2 offers the same functionality almost anywhere, with a rechargeable battery that provides the option to go completely wireless. The Nest Cam Outdoor, our top pick among outdoor security cameras, does have a cord—the only weatherproof one we found included with the purchase—as well as the ability to distinguish between people and pets (with a paid Nest Aware subscription). You can bring up both on the Echo Show or the Fire TV for a peek at outside action from the couch or under a blanket.
Designed to work indoors and outdoors, the Logitech Circle 2 has a lot of the same features mentioned above. However, both the wired and wireless models can also accept prompts through Alexa to turn the camera on, disable the privacy mode, and even initiate recordings on command.
Our pick: Samsung SmartThings Hub
Alexa can control a lot of things, but only if you specifically ask it to. For example, if you ask it to turn off your bedside lamp, it can’t also automatically adjust the thermostat to your preferred sleeping settings without your telling it to do so. When it comes to setting up automations, Alexa is not a replacement for a smart-home hub. If you do want to experiment with automations, the Samsung SmartThings Hub is the top pick in our smart-home hubs guide and is compatible with a lot of different devices, including everything in Amazon’s Alexa line. This means you can use voice commands to control the lights, switches, and other devices that wouldn’t otherwise be Alexa-compatible. However, if you weren’t considering a smart-home hub prior to getting an Echo, you might want to wait on the SmartThings purchase, because Alexa can control other smart-home devices without the need for a main hub.
The Harmony Alexa skill will work with any Logitech Harmony hub-based remote system, including the Harmony Companion or Harmony Elite. You’ll need to use trigger words, such as “turn on,” to activate the remote’s activities, which are basically the commands you use to program your Harmony remote. Some of them may even be slightly different when you’re using Alexa. For instance, the Harmony “Watch Blu-ray” activity would translate into “Alexa, turn on Blu-ray.” Also, because the Harmony system works with smart-home devices like Philips Hue bulbs and the Nest thermostat, you can incorporate those into a “Friday movie” setting that will dim the lights, crank up the heat, and fire up your AV system with Netflix, all with one command. Note that you can’t control the volume or change the channel with this type of setup. Also, words like “Play,” “Pandora,” and “Radio” may confuse the system, since they conflict with other activities.
Just as with SmartThings, all the lights, switches, and other devices connected to a Wink Hub become accessible to Alexa. That hub is also a good choice for Z-Wave devices and smart bulbs (such as from Hampton Bay, Pella, and LeakSmart) that are compatible with Wink but not directly with Alexa.
Our pick: Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen
The Kwikset Kevo, which is our top smart-lock pick, doesn’t have a lot of smart-home integration. However, it does allow you to lock and unlock the door with Alexa voice commands from inside the house. With the Kevo, you no longer have to fumble with keys. Instead, these connected devices let you use your smartphone to lock and unlock doors, as well as to provide temporary access to guests. To use the voice control, you need to pair it with the Kevo Plus hub, which is sold separately for $100. You’ll want that anyway, since it provides remote access and other smart-home perks. The Kevo Smart Home Skill gives homeowners the ability to ask Alexa if the door is locked, and lock the door if it is not. Voice control is also a nice feature if you’re unsure whether you’ve locked up for the night and don’t have a smartphone handy; just say, “Alexa, is the front door locked?” You can even specify which door, if you have Kevo locks at the front and back.
Similar to the Kevo system, the August Smart Lock needs the August Connect gateway for remote access and even Alexa integration. Unlike our top pick, the August lock replaces only the inside plate and lever on your deadbolt. This means that the exterior part stays the same, making it a great option for renters and people who just love their existing locks.
Our pick: SkyBell HD
As we describe in our guide to smart doorbell cameras, the SkyBell HD offers the best, most reliable peek at the other side of your door, without an added monthly subscription. The SkyBell HD allows you to see who’s knocking so you can make an informed decision on whether to open up. With Alexa, you can ask that system to take a quick snapshot or video, and even provide a peek through the Echo Show or Echo Spot. You can also ask Alexa to take a picture or record live video of your doorstep, as well as to turn the chime on and off on command.
With the Ring system, you have the ability to call up a live peek on the Echo Show, just by asking for it. (Just don’t ask “Who’s there,” because this feature doesn’t support two-way audio.) Alexa works with most of the Ring lineup—except the original. Our upgrade pick, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, does require a monthly fee, but it’s compact and a consistently impressive performer.
Our pick: Gogogate2
The Gogogate 2 can open, close, and check the status of your garage door from anywhere, so you can let people in while you’re away, or make sure you don’t accidentally leave it open. As our upgrade pick, it can even integrate cameras, so you can view the status of your door from the app. It’s also our favorite smart garage-door controller with Alexa support—when you’re carrying groceries, luggage, or children, you can ask Alexa to open and close the door and have it respond accordingly.
Smart sprinkler controllers
Our pick: Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
Rachio’s Smart Sprinkler Controller is one of our favorite ways to smarten up yard work. It has an easy-to-use interface and supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. That means you can ask Alexa to have the system turn on and off, water specific zones, and delay run times. As we mention in our guide, the one drawback is that this system lacks any type of local control, so if your Internet service is down, you won’t be able to make any schedule adjustments.
If you’re worried about what might happen when your Internet goes down, the RainMachine Touch HD-12 also works with Alexa and has a touchscreen for local control. That touchscreen isn’t waterproof, though, so you’ll need to protect it from the elements.
Media streaming devices
Our pick: Amazon Fire TV Stick
You can find a lot of devices that allow you to get your Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, or other streaming fix—and not just in our guide to the best media streaming devices. However, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is currently the most compact model that also packs the power of Alexa. Having voice control can save you a lot of time and help you avoid the hassle that comes with navigating tens of thousands of streaming options. You can also use one voice command to fire up Netflix, find episodes of Game of Thrones, or even compile a collection of rom-coms. In this situation, it may also be helpful that Alexa can also order a pizza, with the right skill enabled.
If you’re having trouble navigating all the TV networks, Dish Network has added Alexa support to the Hopper DVR and Wally mobile TV receiver. Instead of channel flipping, TV watchers can surf through the lineup by calling out a network name, channel number, show title, or actor. Voice commands also work on the DVR features to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live and recorded content, as well as to call up stored programs on demand.
Our pick: Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi
Cooking sous vide (French for “under vacuum”) allows you to experience restaurant-quality dishes at home by submerging vacuum-sealed food in a water bath. These cookers have been available for home use for a while and recently have become very affordable—and our top two picks are also very high-tech.
Putting an Echo speaker in your kitchen lets you rock out while preparing a meal. But it’s also the perfect sous chef when you combine it with the Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi. You can call out to check the status of a steak, adjust temperatures, and even get a little extra direction.
The ChefSteps Joule offers a lot of the same Alexa-enhanced features. It’s just a little smaller and works with less water, making it a better sidekick for a compact kitchen.
Read the original article on The Best Alexa-Compatible Smart-Home Devices for Amazon Echo