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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