How to Set Up a Z-Wave Smart Home Hub with Amazon Alexa

August 06, 2020

How to connect Amazon Alexa smart speaker to a Z-Wave hub

If you already have Amazon Echo set up, you know how convenient it can be. There’s nothing like walking out the front door with full hands and telling Alexa to turn off your lights last minute. But these smart lights and plugs can be slow to react as you keep adding more smart home devices and clogging your network.

Alexa only “speaks” WiFi (and ZigBee if you have the EchoPlus). It currently doesn’t support Z-Wave, the protocol of choice for home automation thanks to its high speed and low interference with other connected devices in your home. That means you can’t have a Z-Wave switch or plug speak directly to your Echo. BUT you can use a smart home hub as a bridge between your Z-Wave devices and Amazon Alexa. Now that’s a whole other level of functionality to unlock!

And if you already have a Z-Wave hub but no smart speaker, you might be thinking how cool it would be to have voice control for your automations and smart home devices. It’s a step towards a more integrated, easy-to-use smart home with improved security, comfort, and convenience.

Luckily, many hubs out there have native integrations with Alexa, making the configuration process quick and straightforward. Below we’ve outlined the Alexa set-up for 3 popular smart home systems we consider the best match for Alexa: SmartThings, Hubitat, and Ring Alarm.

How to connect Amazon Alexa to Samsung SmartThings

  1. If you haven’t already, download the SmartThings mobile app for Android or iOS and create an account
  2. Set up Alexa and download the Alexa mobile app

You can link SmartThings and Alexa in either the SmartThings or Alexa app. Here is how to link them using the SmartThings app:

  1. Tap the Plus (+) icon on the app’s home page and select Voice Assistant
  2. Tap Amazon Alexa. You will automatically be directed to the Amazon App
  3. Tap Enable to use with SmartThings
  4. Tap Authorize and you should see this message: “Alexa has been successfully linked with SmartThings.”
  5. Tap X to close the window and begin device discovery

Next, Alexa will need to “Discover” your devices, scenes, and routines - the above process was only giving Alexa permission to access your SmartThings set up. Note that Alexa will only work with routines involving lighting, switches, and thermostats for security reasons.

Here’s how to discover your SmartThings set up using the Alexa app:

  1. After closing the “Alexa has been successfully linked with SmartThings” message in the previous steps, the Alexa app will automatically direct you to discover devices
  2. Tap Discover Devices
  3. Wait for device discovery to complete (this includes discovery of your scenes and routines)

Watch this video to see Alexa and SmartThings in action and learn a few smart home tips from a pro:

And finally, start automating! Depending on your particular set up, give Alexa a test command to access one of your SmartThings devices to verify connections. For troubleshooting tips and more advanced set ups, here’s SmartThings’ official Alexa resource.


How to connect Amazon Alexa to Hubitat

Before anything, make sure you have the Hubitat system up and running. You’ll also need to set up Alexa and download the Alexa mobile app.

  1. In your Hubitat web interface, select Apps on the left side of the page
  2. Select +Add Built-In App
  3. Click on the Amazon Echo App
  4. Select the devices you’d like to control with Alexa
  5. Click Done

Next, in your Amazon Echo app:

  1. Tap the Devices icon in the bottom right of the app
  2. Tap the plus (+) sign in the upper right of the app to add a new device type
  3. Tap Add Device
  4. Tap Other
  5. Tap the Discover Devices button
  6. Alexa will then attempt to discover the Hubitat devices you selected previously. If not all selected devices are found by Alexa, try the process again.

Once your Alexa and Hubitat are successfully linked, you’ll have voice control of the discovered devices. The cool thing about Hubitat is that it allows you to pick and choose which Z-Wave devices you want your smart speaker to have access to (and therefore to control them through the cloud) and which of them you want to keep fully local and private.


How to connect Amazon Alexa to Ring Alarm

Since both Alexa and Ring are Amazon-owned, integration should be seamless. Just note that, in terms of Z-Wave compatibility, Ring will support the Z-Wave items on its official lists in addition to single Z-Wave switches from other brands, like Zooz switches. Ring may not support sensors and multi-channel devices from other brands, or it may offer limited functionality for these types of devices. Here’s how to add Ring as a skill in your Alexa app so that you can have direct control of your Ring-connected devices using voice commands:

  1. Download the Alexa app if you haven’t already
  2. In the Alexa app, tap the 3 horizontal bars in the top left corner
  3. Tap Skills & Games
  4. Search for Ring in the search field
  5. Tap the Enable button
  6. Sign in to your Ring account. This will link you Ring and Alexa accounts
  7. After signing in, you’ll see a prompt asking you to discover devices. Tap Discover Devices.
  8. Once successfully linked, all of your Ring devices should be connected to Alexa.

One more advantage to connecting Alexa is that Ring has a less developed rule engine, so Alexa’s easy-to-use Routine menu can help with creating home automation rules for Z-Wave devices connected to Ring. For more information about setting up notifications and specific Alexa commands, check out this resource by Ring. And check out this great video to get inspired when combining Alexa with your Ring system:

Let us know how you’re using home automation with your smart speaker in the comments section. We’d love to hear which integrations are your favorite, what’s missing, and which smart home platforms work best for you.

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The Best Alternatives to the Wink Smart Home Hub

May 10, 2020 12 Comments

Smart home hub alternatives for the Wink hub

Starting May 13, 2020, Wink will be charging its users a $4.99 monthly subscription fee. If you don’t pay, you’ll lose your automations, smart rules, and access to voice control. [Update 5/30/20: Wink has since backed out of the decision, at least for now. Update 7/27/20: The subscription service for Wink is finally in effect.]

So is it worth paying $5 a month for Wink’s service? The platform hasn’t been adding new features or expanding its list of supported devices for a while now. The announcement introducing the subscription model didn’t include any details on when and how the system would start updating again. They also failed to give users at least 30 days notice to consider how to move forward. If you’re thinking about switching to another platform, we can’t blame you. 

Here are a few alternatives for reliable smart home solutions that are most popular among our customers and the team here at The Smartest House. They’re all one-time investments without monthly fees. You’ll find a list of benefits and limitations with each platform, but if you have any questions about specific features we didn’t cover here, get in touch or post in the comment section below.

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Winter is Coming: How to Prep Your Smart Home for the Cold

November 05, 2018

How to Prep Your Smart Home for Winter

Winterizing your home used to mean lots of physical labor - caulking windows, installing heavier drapes, maybe even changing out older windows and doors that were too efficient at releasing insulated air. Winter prep can still mean all of the above, but new Z-Wave technology has made certain aspects of winterization easier while adding another level of protection as those temperatures drop.

Here’s what we’re using to stay cozy and make sure our energy bills don’t make us freeze in our tracks:

Stelpro KI Z-Wave Plus Thermostat

This is one of our winter must-haves. It’s the first Z-Wave line voltage thermostat in North America (but be careful, it won’t work with forced air systems!). Use it to control electric baseboards and convector heaters all from your Z-Wave hub’s app interface. Reduce your energy consumption by 30% with custom heating schedules, or just switch to the thermostat’s built-in Economy mode to keep things efficient.

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Your Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs

December 08, 2017 6 Comments

The Smartest House Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs

Choosing the ultimate smart home system for your needs and lifestyle can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for. Each hub comes with its own advantages and limitations; a certain feature might be a godsend for someone else but a deal breaker for you. That’s why we’ve listed our top 3 Z-Wave hub recommendations below, including what we love about these hubs but also some things to consider when choosing the right one for you. And good news! They all support Alexa, so you can count on a voice-activated smart home this holiday season.

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