The Amazon Echo smart speaker has taken the world by storm, but it really comes alive when you pair some Alexa compatible devices. Works with Alexa enabled smart cameras, thermostats, smart plugs and even kettles ‚Äď pretty much every home gadget or appliance you can now be controlled with Alexa.
The Amazon Echo and Alexa really start to make sense when you set up Alexa Groups and Routines, so you can turn entire areas of your home on and off, set the right ambience, even down to the temperature and colour.
If an item is controllable using your Echo smart speaker it will have "Works with Alexa" certification. Works with Alexa now applies to hundreds of smart home devices ‚Äď far too many to name here. What we've tried to do is identify the devices we feel really make use of the Alexa integration from our extensive testing.
Top bargains for Alexa-compatible gear
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Nest Cam Indoor
We've included the older Nest Cam here, partly because the updated Nest Cam IQ Indoor also acts as a Google Assistant smart speaker, so if you're fully Alexa'd up, it's probably worth saving some cash and opting for the first-gen.
You still get 1080p video at 30fps, which is about as good as it gets, with motion and sound detection. And when it comes to Alexa hook-ups, you can ask Alexa to watch your video feeds on the Amazon Echo Show or Echo Spot display, which is great for baby monitoring. Also, if you've got one of the newer Fire TV devices, you can see your security streams on your television as well.
The only downside is the cost of watching back recorded footage, which requires a paid-for monthly subscription service called Nest Aware, starting at $5 for 24 hours of storage.
Arlo enables you to view specific feeds on your Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot devices ‚Äď but there's much more to it than that. Netgear's smart security camera comes in a tonne of versions, including a specialised baby monitor and a 100% wire-free version with the Arlo Go. They're all Works With Alexa certified, have two-way audio and SD card storage to boot.
We reviewed the Arlo Pro 2, which does have a costly outlay, but you get two 1080p weather-proof cameras for indoor and outdoor use. The range is tip-top and has the full gamut of features including night vision, two-way audio and motion/sound alerts. What's more, you don't need a subscription to get a whole week of clip storage, which can be downloaded to your phone.
Logitech Circle 2
This weatherproof camera fared well in our tests, with its rechargeable battery and enormous 180 degree field of view. You can summon the feed onto screened Alexa devices, enable/disable privacy mode and arm the camera, or start a manual recording from any Alexa smart speaker. In terms of tech you get full 1080p video recording, and 24 hours of free clip storage.
Ring Video Doorbell 2
The second iteration Ring Video Doorbell 2 is now the poster child for smart doorbell systems. It's easy to see and talk to whoever is at your door, and a ring at the bell will connect you live to the caller via your phone. But now, thanks to the Echo Show and Alexa integration, you can check to see who's calling before you answer the door. Buyer beware, though, you can't communicate or answer via the skill.
The Nest Hello is a neat choice if you're already all in with Nest Secure and if you have a Nest x Yale smart lock. It's got high-end features like facial recognition, pre-recorded audio responses and a full video streaming feed (not just clips that start recording based on motion or sound). It's probably the best designed smart doorbell, but the Hello is also one of the most expensive too, from starting price to installation to that monthly Nest Aware subscription.
Belkin WeMo Insight Switch
The Wemo Insight Switch does what a smart plug does in terms of powering on and off, but it also goes a little beyond all of that. Sure, you can schedule when something turns off and on while also monitoring your energy use. However, via Alexa you can add the Insight Switch to your Routines and Groups, bringing anything controlled via a plug into your smart home.
TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug
When it comes to Alexa control, TP-Link's range of smart plugs are about the best you can buy. They offer remote on/off controls without breaking the bank, and will hook into your Alexa groups and scenes without fuss. Unlike some other systems, there‚Äôs no need for a dedicated hub, making them as fuss-free as possible. The HS110 offers feedback on your energy consumption, but if you want to save some cash, you can get the cheaper HS100 ‚Äď which just offers scheduling and Alexa control.
Hive Active Plug
If you already have Hive set up in your home then the Hive Active Plugs are a no brainer. Thin, discreet and easy-to-use, the plugs offer app control via Hive, manual control via the physical button, and crucially, Alexa control. They play nicely with Alexa's Routines and Groups, too. Hive's plugs use the common Zigbee protocol, but annoyingly, you still need the Hive Hub to use them in your house.
Lightwave Smart socket
A different, neater kind of set-up, the Lightwave sockets connect via Alexa for all the usual on, off, off and on gubbins. You need the sockets themselves which will replace your existing face-plates, and the hub, which connects to your router and does all the hard work.
Philips Hue is one of the flagship smart home product lines, and a leader in the smart bulb space. Hue is super easy to use and set up, and Philips is always rolling out new lamps and lights and shades of colour. Alexa control offers you the ability to group lights, control with your voice, and even change colour and tones, as well as setting up Routines and scenes, enabling you to start a movie mode or relaxing bed time routine with one command.
Lifx bulbs don't require a hub, which makes them even easier to set up, and with Alexa on point you're not missing out on the finer control afforded by Hue and Hive. You just need to plug them in and install the Lifx Alexa skill, then scan your network from within the Alexa app. They can then be added to Routines, Groups, all controlled with your voice.
Sengled makes a strong value proposition with its $9.99 smart lights - and delivers. The bulbs blend great performance with a price that makes rolling out smart bulbs across your home actually realistic.
Being Zigbee devices they hook up with pretty much any hub, including Amazon's own Echo Plus ‚Äď or you can opt for Sengled's own hub which will support up to 64 bulbs. In terms of functionality, once connected Sengled bulbs can be voice controlled via Alexa, and hooked up into Groups and Routines.
August Smart Lock
You'll never have to worry about your keys again with the August Smart Lock, since it uses Bluetooth to automatically lock and unlock when you're around your door. However, with Alexa integration you can do all that via voice.
August has updated its device to support locking and unlocking via the Alexa voice assistant, there's also Alexa support for the doorbell camera too. That means you can check who's calling via your Amazon Echo Show, before instructing Alexa to unlock the door for them, without getting off the sofa. Truly, an Alexa-powered threshold utopia.
Yale Assure Lock
Like August, Alexa could previously only lock your Yale protected door ‚Äď but now Amazon's voice assistant has the keys to unlock your door, too. The Yale Assure range features keypad entry, with options for Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, depending on the set-up of your smart home.
Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt
Another recent addition (it's no coincidence that the three big names of smart locks have all gone fully Alexa compatible at the same time) Schlage allows for Alexa locking and unlocking. The same need for a PIN code applies. You'll need a Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt or Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt ‚Äď and a Schlage Sense Wi-Fi Adapter, which needs to be purchased separately.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The poster child of the smart home world, the Nest thermostat is packed with integrations and smarts. On top of the Nest Thermostat's ability to learn your habits after a week of training it, it has some good Alexa integrations. You have control of temperatures in different zones, and you can ask Alexa what the temperature is in any thermostat-controlled room as well.
Hive Active Heating
Hive was quick to support Alexa, and we've made it one of our picks because unlike many systems, it benefits from top level control, meaning you don't have to ask Alexa to ask Hive to control your heating. What's more, the clever boost system has its own special Alexa skill, meaning you can ask Amazon's assistant to add a single-hour heating top up before switching itself off, which is sometimes all you need.
Alexa controlled AC, cooling and purifiers
Tado Smart AC
Tado is one of the most diverse and capable smart thermostat platforms out there, and as you'd expect, plugs neatly into Alexa. Known more for heating, we've given it a nod for cooling thanks to its Smart AC product available in the US. It works with AC units with a remote control, and via the power of Alexa you can ask for a certain temperature in the house, turn the unit and off. When it comes to smart home integrations, few systems do it better than Tado.
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It‚Äôs often European heating systems that get the connected attention, but there are some great options for AC too. General Electric has a connected range of window AC units, which play nicely with its Geneva Alexa skill. That means you can ask for a specific temperature, turn the unit on and off, as well as switching between modes like energy saver, high and low power.
Dyson Pure Cool air purifier fan
With a new version just released, Dyson‚Äôs Pure Cool is one of the best Alexa-controlled air purifiers out there. The fans can capture 99.95% of air particles as small as 0.1 microns, and won‚Äôt cool your room in winter thanks to a passive system that won‚Äôt blow air. But new sensors on board will read air quality and show levels of pollutants via the on-device display. This is also accessible via ‚ÄúAlexa, ask Dyson for the indoor air quality‚ÄĚ and you can start and stop Pure Cool as well, making it a fab option for Echo users.
While Alexa speakers in themselves make excellent smart home hubs, those looking for a dedicated hardware option will find everything they need with SmartThings. The SmartThings hub features an exhaustive array of smart home standards, making things as open as possible. IFTTT, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all supported, and is also plays nicely with Alexa ‚Äď in addition to Google Assistant.
The best of the rest‚Ä¶
We‚Äôve fully tested the Neato Botvac and it aced our tests thanks to comprehensive cleaning modes, decent performance at grabbing dirt especially in the corners and a decent app. But it‚Äôs the Alexa integration that will really please fans of Amazon‚Äôs ecosystem. You can start, stop and control cleaning sorties with your voice, hassle free.
Smarter iKettle 3
"Alexa, put the kettle on" is now a legitimate thing you can ask, and receive a smart pail of boiling water in return. It's certainly one of the most satisfying ways to not get off the sofa, but making sure the kettle is full is the set-up's biggest problem ‚Äď are you about to dry boil the kettle? You can never be fully sure.
Somfy smart blinds
There are a few Alexa-powered smart blinds out there, but none are as complete as Somfy. Offering both retro-fittable motors and complete smart blinds, both of which you can command via Alexa or other assistants. In the UK there's a DIY alternative in the form of SOMA, which offers a retrofit solar-powered motor for chain-fed blinds.
Automatic is a little doodad that you can plug into your car. It can give you all sorts of information, like diagnostics, parking and trip tracking, gas information and more. With Alexa on Amazon Echo, you can ask how much gas your car has before you head out. Or, you know, ask where your car is in case you had a long night.
Garage doors can certainly be an annoyance to open and close, but all of that is made better thanks to Garageio. With Amazon Alexa integration, it works out even better. You can just ask her to open and close your garage door, with no need to watch that door crawl like molasses into your garage's ceiling ever again.