By Trae Jacobs,
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In the modern age of smart homes, there are so many products on the market. These often come with a variety of different hubs to get them all working smoothly. However, this raises questions about which devices need a smart hub to function. Some devices use hubs exclusively, and others work natively with other brands hubs. This causes so much confusion and clutter in the average smart home.
One of the most common smart home devices is Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, but does Alexa need a smart home hub? Alexa does not need a smart hub to function, it works perfectly on any home network as long as there is a stable internet connection.
This means that using an Alexa doesn’t need another smart home hub to be connected to your router. However, whilst Alexa doesn’t need a hub, in order for Alexa to work with different smart home products it still requires their smart hubs to be connected. This is so Alexa can interface and control their smart devices. Do note, the need for a smart hub is brand specific, not all smart products require a hub.
Like most smart home solutions, Alexa has also created its own phrase and logo for companies to add to their product. This gives their customers confidence that the product they’re buying will work natively with Alexa. For Alexa, this scheme is ‘Works with Amazon Alexa’.
Works with Amazon Alexa
Searching on Amazon for ‘Works with Alexa’ give a large range of supported products and hubs. Many leading brands offer support for Alexa. For some brands, the level of control Alexa has is vast, with companies like Ring. Ring products give Amazon’s Echo Show the ability to show the live footage from the doorbell or camera on its screen. It also gives the two-way communication functions to be used through the Echo Show.
There are more brands getting Alexa support every day, and the list supported by Alexa is far greater than some other smart home ecosystems. As well as the greater range of supported devices, the price point for these devices is often cheaper than products for other smart home systems. Here are some of the brands that already work with Alexa:
As well as this, Amazon has a section on its developer site which specifies the requirements for companies to add Alexa support. It also requires developers to apply for certification before putting the labeling on their products.
As an end user, this is extremely useful as a means that customers can buy any product wearing the ‘Works with Amazon Alexa’ badge with confidence that it will all work seamlessly.
There is also a complete list available of all brands that are compatible with the Alexa Echo System which can be found on Amazon site, known as the Works With Alexa program.
On top of this vast range of supported third-party smart home products, Amazon also sells the Echo Plus this has a smart home hub built in. The Echo Plus works natively with any devices that use the ZigBee protocol including lights, locks, plugs, and switches.
Amazon also offers a deal where customers get a free White Philips Hue bulb when buying an Echo Plus. It is important to note the Echo Plus does allow you to replace any existing smart hubs that use ZigBee, not just Philips Hue. Some examples of smart home hubs that the Echo Plus can replace includes:
For setting up new ZigBee devices, the process is extremely simple:
- Power up your ZigBee products.
- Ask Alexa to discover devices – “Alexa, Discover Devices”
- After Alexa has finished searching, these will appear in the Alexa app.
- On the Alexa app under [Settings -> Device Settings], you can edit the name, location, and group of the new devices.
This is one of the many things that you can use the Alexa app for. The Alexa app has now evolved and is no longer just for setting up devices for the Alexa voice assistant.
The Alexa App
The Alexa app also works extremely well for controlling your smart home, especially considering the range of supported products is vast. I know people who have moved over from other smart home ecosystems to the Alexa app due to the simplicity and features provided. To control your smart home via the Alexa app and follow the below steps:
- Open the Alexa app, you will be greeted by the Homepage showing recent instructions given to Alexa.
- Select the devices tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Here the app gives multiple breakdowns for controlling and adding devices and groups.
Delving deeper you can see that by selecting a room group you can then see the status of all the smart devices in the room. Selecting an individual device then allows you to control all the related attributes, including color, status, and brightness.
Another feature of the Alexa App is the ability to create routines. Routines allow you to set rules and statements that will control. the smart devices within your home. You can trigger a device using your voice, a schedule, a device, or an Echo button, these routines are then able to perform an extremely wide range of actions.
There is however quite a bit of depth to the Alexa routine system, which depending on interest could be a future post!
As mentioned before Alexa uses Wi-Fi to connect to your network and other devices—with the expectation of the Alexa Plus which can also communicate using ZigBee. This means that you’ll need to put your Alexa within range of your Wi-Fi or Extender and at the edge of this range may experience some issues. But, Alexa also has a few tricks up its sleeves related to connectivity.
Alexa can use Bluetooth both for sending and receiving audio. This means it can act as a speaker for your phone or computer, but can also send it’s own audio onwards to a Hi-Fi system for greater audio quality. You can also connect the Alexa to your Hi-Fi using the 3.5mm located on the Alexa. This also becomes extremely useful when looking at one of Alexa’s other tricks.
If you’ve bought several Alexa products, you can mesh them together in order to create multi-room audio groups. This allows for perfectly synced audio to play across your entire house—or a selected subgroup, making them the perfect speakers for a party!
Here are some related questions that you may have around this topic! Hopefully, if you do still have questions on the topic, they’ll be answered below. But, if you do still have any questions or suggestions, drop a comment below!
Does Alexa Require an Amazon Prime Subscription?
To use Alexa an Amazon Prime Subscription is not required. You can use all of the in-built features at no additional cost. If you do have a Prime Subscription you get access to two million songs on Prime Music, which can be played on Alexa.
There are a few additional services that do require a subscription to use extra features, such as Amazon Music Unlimited, but this is optional as Alexa can be used with Prime Music, Spotify, and soon Apple Music.
Do Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit Require a Hub?
Neither Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit require a hub to function. Like Alexa, both simply require a stable Wi-Fi connection to function.
However, in order to access and use HomeKit remotely, it requires an Apple TV 3/4, HomePod, or an iPad running at least iOS 10. This device must be turned on at all times and left at home in order for the remote access to work.
Does Alexa Work Without the Internet?
Alexa requires a constant internet connection in order to function. This is because Alexa sends your voice instructions to be processed externally on a server. This means that without an internet connection, Alexa cannot interpret your instructions, and son can’t process the information.
If your Alexa does lose connection after requesting something it will tell you there is an error and will show a red light. Depending on circumstance you may need to reset your Alexa, there are a few different ways to do this depending on which Alexa you own.
Alexa Gen 1 – Using a paperclip press and hold the reset button until the light turns off and on again.
Alexa Gen 2 – Hold the Microphone and Volume Down button together until the light turns orange.
Alexa Gen 3 – Hold the Action button until the light turns orange.