By Rachel Cericola
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. Read the full guide to Alexa-compatible smart-home devices for Amazon Echo.
Imagine walking into your home at night, arms overflowing with groceries. Even if you’ve installed smart lights, 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—might as well just stick with a plain old wired switch. But with an 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.
All three smart-speaker platforms (Alexa, Google Assistant, and to a lesser degree, Siri) can control a variety of smart-home devices and add an extra level of convenience to your smart-home system. We think Amazon’s Alexa has a slight edge over the others because it works with more devices, and the wider family of Amazon Echo products makes it easier to fit them everyplace in your home. However, if you already have a Google Home speaker, the differences aren’t large enough for you to need to switch platforms. We have guides for the best devices to use with Google Assistant and Siri/HomeKit.
The 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 of our picks that are compatible with the devices you already own, across all of 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 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.
Best smart light bulbs for Alexa
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 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 them, 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 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 A19 bulb 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.
Best smart plugs for Alexa
The Wemo Mini smart plug (our preferred plug-in smart outlet) is one of the many Wemo devices that you can control with Alexa. It 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 or using Alexa voice commands. The app also allows you to group outlets with lights and other appliances, so you can control everything with a single voice command.
Although not quite as versatile as the Wemo, the iClever IC-BS06 is one of the few smart plugs that can be used outdoors. It’s also the only Alexa-compatible unit that features two outlets that you can control independently using the sound of your voice.
Best smart light switches for Alexa
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.
If you don’t want or need another device (or at least the expense of one), the Wemo Dimmer can turn lights on, off, and to specific dimming levels using any existing Wi-Fi network and Alexa.
Best smart thermostats for Alexa
What’s the current temperature setting on your Nest Thermostat E? 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 your home. 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.
Best robot vacuums for Alexa
Few people love 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.
Best home security cameras for Alexa
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.
Logitech’s Circle 2 works with the Echo Show, Echo Spot, and Fire TV, so you can call up live feeds from different devices around the house. Designed to work indoors and outdoors, our favorite indoor security camera can also accept prompts through Alexa to turn the camera on, disable the privacy mode, and even initiate recordings on command.
If you’re looking for a peek at the outdoors, Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2 offers views 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.
Best smart door locks for Alexa
For easy keyless entry to your home via smartphone or keypad, the Yale Assure SL Connected by August can’t be beat. With Alexa you can use your voice to check door lock status or lock the door at bedtime. Our favorite Alexa-compatible smart lock includes a handy keypad, making it easy for guests to use. It comes with the August Connect gateway, which connects the lock to the Internet for remote access.
Best doorbell cameras for Alexa
As we describe in our guide to smart doorbell cameras, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 offers a quick peek at who’s on the other side of the door, using the Echo Show, Echo Spot, or Fire TV. At this time, however, you can’t use Alexa to talk to the person on the other side of the camera.
Like the Ring, the Nest Hello will show you who is at the door, but won’t allow you to talk to welcome and unwelcome guests. However, it offers 24/7 video recording, AI-powered motion detection, and facial recognition—but only with an active Nest Aware subscription.
Best smart garage-door controllers for Alexa
The Gogogate 2 is 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. As our upgrade pick, it can even integrate cameras, so you can view the status of your door from the app.
Best smart sprinkler controllers for Alexa
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller can smarten up yard work with an easy-to-use interface and Alexa support. 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.
Best media streaming devices for Alexa
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 of the TV networks, Dish Network includes Alexa support on 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.
Best kitchen appliances for Alexa
For the most part, Alexa’s kitchen utility is limited to its timer-setting abilities and basic recipe-reading skills. But some appliances are beginning to integrate voice controls to varying degrees of success. Web-enabled sous vide circulators are among the earliest adopters thus far.
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 also very high-tech.
Putting an Echo speaker in your kitchen lets you rock out while preparing a meal. Now it can also help you cook. Although our top sous vide pick doesn’t have Alexa capability, our runner-up, the ChefSteps Joule, does, making it the perfect sous chef. You can call out to check the status of a steak, adjust temperatures, and even get a little extra direction.
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