You could be living in the future—right now.
Imagine a world where your house responds to everything you say. You walk in the door from work, take off your shoes and say “Alexa, I’m home.” The lights come up, your music system comes on and the TV pulls up Netflix so you can watch your favorite show. Have the kids been watching stuff they shouldn’t have? Your list of recommended movies looks a little off. No matter.
You walk towards the kitchen, checking the thermostat as you walk by—it should have changed automatically when you told Alexa you were home, but you always look just in case. Sure enough, it’s set for a cool 68 degrees. As you walk through the house, the lights switch on as you walk through each door and switch off as you leave.
No. Science fact. Welcome to the smart home. If you’re willing and able to spend a little time on setup, you can have the home of the future—a home of convenience, comfort and automation that you can control from wherever you are. You don’t have to fumble with remotes or bother with touchy controls. Just get it setup and you’re good to go.
The future takes a little effort to setup, though. Smart devices have come a long way but they’re still not yet as convenient and easy to setup as regular old analog or unconnected devices. Additionally, there are security concerns with smart devices in the home and you should learn how to properly configure your smart devices for maximum security. If you’re having trouble working your way through the options, don’t worry—there’s hope.
It’s easier than you think to setup Amazon Alexa with your smart devices. And if this tutorial doesn’t help then you can always reach out to HelpCloud Technician by-the-hour.
Get a Smart Hub
The easiest way for you to hook up all your smart devices with Amazon Alexa is going to be using a smart hub, with the most common one on the market being Samsung’s SmartThings hub and its paired app.
When you have multiple devices in your home, they may not all speak the same language, and getting them to work in concert can be hard. Instead of one army of smart little minions ready to carry out your will, they’re often closer to an untrained French Foreign Legion from all different backgrounds and all different languages. That’s why you need a smart hub that can make them march in formation and communicate in a common tongue.
Samsung’s SmartThings hub and app are at the head of the pack for a reason: SmartThings is easy to use, pairing is easy, and the hub and app are compatible with the vast majority of devices.
As you can see, just about every category of smart device you can imagine will work with this hub. And even if you have something that’s analog, there are ways you can control it—for example, you could connect a lamp to a smart plug and turn it off and on.
Setup the SmartThings and Alexa Apps
To setup SmartThings, you’re first going to want to check if you have the app installed. If you have a Samsung smartphone or tablet, it will have it already. If you don’t, you’re going to have to install it from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
When the app is installed, you’re going to want to set it up for your home.
You’ll have to either create an account or sign in if you don’t have one already. If you haven’t used SmartThings before, you shouldn’t have an account. The signup process is easy but you’ll have to enter your first and last name, date of birth, email address, zip code and country, as well as choose a password.
Once you’re logged in to your account you’re ready to start setting up your app with your home’s devices. The same process applies for Amazon Alexa. Download it from the Play Store or App Store and create or sign in to your account.
To link the two together, which you’ll need to do for easy voice control from Alexa, you’re going to need to download the SmartThings skill. Open the Alexa app and touch the magnifying glass in the top right corner, then search for “smartthings.”
It should be the first result.
Touch that result, then touch “Enable to Use”. After this, all you need to do is authorize the link between your Samsung and Alexa accounts to use the skill seamlessly.
Watch our tutorial:
Connect Your Hub
The next thing to do is connect your smart hub.
First, with SmartThings open to its home page, you want to touch the little “+” sign on the right side of the screen. Select “Add device” from the menu that drops down.
You’re going to see a screen with several different options. Touch “SmartThings” at the bottom to select the brand of your hub (or the brand of whichever hub you have). Choose “Wi-Fi/Hub” from the next menu, then choose your hub from the menu after that.
Make sure your hub is connected to power, and if necessary, to your network router with a network cable. Most of the time you’ll be connecting to Wi-Fi, though, so you probably won’t have to do that. Don’t unplug it while you’re setting it up—that could cause problems with settings.
The next thing you’ll have to do is tell your mobile device the hub’s serial number—it’s a string of numbers on the back, and it’s also shown as a small square black and white code called a QR code. Your mobile device can scan the QR code and get the information from that—the app will prompt you on how—but if it’s not working, you can always punch in the serial number manually.
After this, you’ll have to connect the hub to your network. You’ll need to select your Wi-Fi network, enter the password, then continue. Your hub will connect itself to your network and your smart device.
Finally, you’ll have to choose your location. You can either enter your address manually or move the map pin with your finger to choose where you are. When you’re finished, touch “Done”.
Congratulations. Your smart home hub is setup. Now you’re ready to start adding devices.
Adding Smart Devices to SmartThings
Adding devices one by one is easy. You’ll go through the same “Add Device” menu you did for the hub, but now you’ll choose the brand name or type of whatever device you have. Follow the procedure for each one to connect it. If you’re having trouble, it can help to consult the device’s manual.
Make sure the device is on and connected to the same network your hub is on first. This is crucial. If your device isn’t connected to the network, it’s like trying to call someone with a disconnected phone or one out of battery—it just won’t work.
Once your device is connected to the network and powered on, you can let the app walk you through. For something like a TV, there may be a number you have to enter that’s displayed on the screen.
When you’re connecting a TV, you’ll want to have the remote handy, as you may have to switch inputs to see the correct screen as you’re trying to setup. If your smart TV is a Samsung you can also connect through the TV itself.
Just hit the Home button, select Settings from the next menu, then System, then sign into your Samsung account (the same one you used for the app). Your TV will show up in your SmartThings app automatically.
Once these devices are installed, you can access them through both SmartThings and Alexa. Alexa will be the app we’ll focus on, though, as that’s the one that allows for full voice control and some other cool things we can do.
Controlling Multiple Devices
Congratulations. You’re now able to control all the devices connected to your SmartThings hub—and you can do it with your voice. You can say things like “Alexa, turn on my TV” or “Alexa, turn off Living Room Lamp” and it will do them.
But what if you wanted to do several things at once? Say you wanted to turn on your entertainment system, which might be a DVR, a TV and a stereo system. Or even dim the lights automatically when you did that.
It’s possible—and here’s how …
From the home page of your Alexa app, touch the “Devices” button in the bottom right corner. Then touch the “+” in the top right of the Devices screen that follows.
Before you do this, make sure your devices are named in a way that makes sense—if they aren’t, you’ll have a really hard time figuring out which ones are which! If you have three smart plugs, seeing “Smart Plug 2” doesn’t help you much if you don’t know where it is. You can edit the attributes of these devices from the Devices screen to label them more carefully.
Once you’ve touched the “+” sign, go ahead and touch “Add Group”.
You’ll see a list of common names for a grouping. Most of these are for areas or rooms in the average house, which is what you’re most likely going to be making a group for. If you want a different name, you can add a custom name at the top of the screen.
On the next screen you’ll choose the devices you want to add to that group.
If you see a check mark by the device name, that means it will be added to that group. Touch it to toggle the check mark on and off.
That brings you right back to the Devices screen in Alexa where you started. Voila. You’ve created your group. Now when you ask Alexa to do things with that group, you can do it as a whole instead of individually. You can also toggle it on and off from that page easily with the touch of a finger.
If you ever want to add or remove devices, it’s easy. Just touch the group, then touch the “Edit” button on the right top of the screen. You can easily make changes from there.
When you pair Amazon Alexa with a smart hub, you can do incredible things with the devices in your home. You can control whole rooms of your house with the sound of your voice or the touch of a screen. It’s an incredible capability, and one that you can take advantage of.
If you’re having trouble or feel stuck on a step, feel free to reach out to HelpCloud’s remote technicians and we can talk you through it quickly and simply or perform the work for you.