Top 5 ways that smart lights can add a little magic to your day

An Echo dot on a table with smart lights shining on it

#1. Controlling lights with your voice is awesome

It may seem commonplace these days, but it's pretty satisfying to turn your lights on and off just by saying "Alexa, turn on living room lights." Click here for a few handy Alexa commands to control your smart lights.

#2. Lighting routines can upgrade your wake-up and bedtime

Awaken at your usual time as the lights gradually come on. And when you’re ready to fall asleep, just say “Alexa, good night” to turn off the lights.

Pro Tip: You can also set up a nighttime routine for your little ones so even a new babysitter can handle bedtime.

#3. Automatically have the lights turn on when you get home

One of the cooler Alexa features is the ability to create routines that cause smart lights to turn on based on your location.

#4. Make it look like someone's home even when you're away

All you have to do is create a simple nightly Alexa routine that automatically turns the lights on and off even when you're not home. If you want to be fancy, set up different routines for different days of the week so the routines look less automated to onlookers.

#5. If you have the multi-colored Hue lights, have fun with them!

With Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart Lights, it couldn't be easier to light up your living room in red, purple and blue or any other color of your choice. And don't worry -- you can easily put the lights back to soft white.

Just say, "Alexa, turn floor light to purple!" Or adjust your light's color in the Alexa app to see all the different color options.

Setting up smart lights is a lot easier than you might think

Setting up smart lights with Alexa always felt intimidating to me. I couldn't find a guide anywhere that had step-by-step instructions I could actually follow. So I decided to create one.

A lot of people think that setting up smart lights is complicated and expensive and will involve a lot of wires and special new light fixtures. Good news: those people are wrong.

With this guide, any non-techie person like me can have smart lights that work with Alexa. All you have to do is buy a few new light bulbs and follow the steps below.

#1. Pick the right smart lights for you

If you've been considering adding smart lights to your home, Hue smart bulbs are discounted 10 - 24% right now, so it's a great time to buy. Just pick the option that's right for you:

For the basic (and least expensive) smart bulbs, go for regular Hue White Smart Lights. They start at $10 per bulb (20% off right now) and work great in light fixtures with a simple on/off switch.

If you need smart bulbs that will work in dimmable light fixtures, Hue White Ambiance Smart Lights are the answer. They're more expensive at $22.50 per bulb (10% off right now), but they won't flicker and buzz in a dimmable light fixture (unlike the basic option). Plus, you can even choose from 5 white light tones from warm to cool.

If you want the super cool multi-colored lights, you will love Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart Lights. You'll have to pay up for these $38-per-bulb smart lights (24% off right now), but in return you'll get to choose from 16 million different light color options. And it's easy to instantly change color -- so you can play around with green and gold and have them back to soft white for dinnertime.

In case you were wondering... I prefer Hue's smart lights because they are the easiest to set up, most common smart lights on the market and have a wide product range (indoors, outdoors, garage, etc.).

#2. Buy a starter kit if you have a regular Echo or Dot and just the smart bulbs if you have the Echo Show or Plus

If you have a regular Echo or Echo Dot, you will need a Hue bridge to connect your smart lights to Alexa. You can save on your Hue bridge by buying it as part of a Hue Starter Kit. There are 3 different Hue Starter Kits (with different prices) for each of the 3 types of lights described in #1. Tap/click the one you want:

If you have an Echo Show or Echo Plus, you do not need a Hue bridge because these two Echo devices have a built-in home hub, which means they can connect directly to smart devices. So all you need to buy is the smart light bulbs:

#3. Set up your new smart lights!

If you have a regular Echo or Echo Dot, follow these 6 steps to set up your smart lights (the 3 different types of smart light bulbs all have the same set-up):

  1. Screw in the smart bulb
  2. Set up the Hue bridge using the Philips Hue app on your smartphone and set up a Hue account
  3. Add your new smart bulbs in the Philips Hue app
  4. Enable the Hue Alexa skill
  5. When prompted, tap the Discover Devices button to connect your new Hue lights to Alexa
  6. Alexa will discover your new Hue lights!

For detailed set up instructions with an Echo or Echo Dot, click here.

If you have an Echo Show or Echo Plus, follow these 5 steps to set up your smart lights:

  1. Screw in the smart bulb
  2. Go to the Devices tab in your Alexa app > tap the + icon in the upper right corner
  3. Tap Add Device > tap Light > tap Philips Hue
  4. Tap the Discover Devices button
  5. Alexa will discover your new Hue lights!

For detailed set up instructions with an Echo Show or Echo Plus, click here.

Pro Tip: Set-up with an Echo Show or Echo Plus is easier than with a regular Echo or Echo Dot because you can skip the entire Hue set up (Hue bridge, Hue app, even the Hue Alexa skill). If you want an even more simple set up, try an Alexa smart plug -- it's essentially an Alexa-controlled on/off switch that will turn your regular lights into smart lights (and it basically sets up itself!).

#4. Check out 4 pro tips to make your set up work even better

  1. Assign easy-to-remember names to your new Hue lights
  2. Put your Hue lights into groups by room so you can turn them on and off together
  3. If installing smart light bulbs in a dimmable light, set the dimmer all the way on
  4. Make sure everyone in your household uses Alexa to control your new smart lights

#5. Light it up!

Just say "Alexa, turn on living room lights!" (Insert your light / light group name!) Click here for some more Alexa commands to control your new smart lights.

Interesting posts about Alexa this week

Amazon Music's free ad-supported tier goes live, but only for Alexa users (The Verge). Alexa users in the US can now listen to music on their Echo speakers for free! Previously, to access Amazon Music you had to either have a Prime membership (which comes with Amazon Music access bundled in) or pay a monthly fee of $4 - $10.

Here are all the winners of the 2019 Webby Awards (The Verge). The Webby Awards honor the best of the internet. And 4 Alexa skills were among this years winners! Congratulations to the HeadspaceHBO Westworld: The Maze, Alexa Lifeline and BBC Good Food Alexa skills.

Mark Cuban is featured guest on season finale of This Week in Voice podcast (VoiceFirst.FM). Listen to this fantastic interview to learn why Mark Cuban loves Alexa, what he thinks of voice in healthcare and why he's not too concerned about Alexa privacy -- and so much more!

Talking to a therapist through Alexa could make mental health care more accessible (CNBC). Starting this summer, you'll be able to talk to a therapist through Amazon Alexa. The virtual approach may not be right for every patient (and probably can't replace in-person visits), but it can make mental health care more accessible and affordable.

Here's How Boston Children's Is Using Alexa's HIPAA-Compliant Tools (CampusSafety). Now that Alexa can transmit and receive protected health information under HIPAA, Boston Children's Hospital is using Alexa to help parents and caregivers take care of of children who have undergone heart surgery.
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Katherine Prescott
Founder, VoiceBrew
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