Amazon’s Echo lets you control some Hue lights and WeMo devices with your voice

Can I get a hell yes, people? In news I’ve been waiting for since the Amazon Echo first arrived in my home in December, the voice controlled, internet connected speaker has added support for some of my connected devices. If I ask Alexa (the name that triggers the Amazon Echo) to turn on my Living Room Front Left light, which is a Hue BR 30 light, it turns on almost instantly. It’s very exciting.

huescreenshotAlthough astute observers will notice that there’s a slight problem. I can only turn on one light at a time, and my orders are based on the rather awkward naming convention I used in the official Hue app. This is because I can’t for the life of me figure out how to group my four Hue lights in my living room into a single room inside the official Hue app. You also can’t trigger scenes, just turn on apps.

The other limitation so far are the supported devices. So far Amazon is supporting, the Hue A19 bulbs (traditional bulbs), the Lux white bulbs), the BR30 (downlights), the Bloom and Light strips. On the WeMo side, the Echo only lets you command the Switch (the outlet), the Insight Switch (outlet, plus energy reads) and the LightSwitch, which means I can also power my living room lamp. It’s not the access to the Sonos that I’m so eager for, but Amazon is pushing the Echo really quickly with new features being added rapidly. It has added support for Pandora, MLB and MLS info.

But, it’s a start, and it’s super easy to set up. It took me less than a minute. I said, “Alexa, discover my devices,” and then the Echo told me to go press the button on my Hue bridge, and 20 seconds later it told me it found 6 devices on the network. Then I started ordering the Echo to turn on various lights and turn them off. The Hue lights turned on and off without a glitch, but my WeMo light seemed to get stuck in the on position and Alexa didn’t even offer an “okay or an “I didn’t catch that” response to my command.

Alexa seemed to be able to turn on my Hue lights but not change the color. My Amazon Echo apps says that I can use the voice control to dim the lights, but Alexa just made a sad noise when I asked, and the lights didn’t dim. All in all, this is exciting for me, but clearly needs work on both the Hue side and the Amazon side to be really useful. I need to be able to create a group of lights to control via voice and would love to get a bit more feedback when things don’t work. So far the Echo app isn’t showing those commands to me, so I’m not sure what Echo is hearing or trying to do and failing at.

17 thoughts on “Amazon’s Echo lets you control some Hue lights and WeMo devices with your voice

  1. I am considering getting the Hue lights, and have a question. The Hue products it lists as supported by the Echo are: A19, Lux, BR30, Bloom, and LightStrip lights. That doesn’t include the bridge. Do I need the bridge? Or does the Echo serve as a replacement bridge for the lights? If I want to, say, use Echo to be able to turn the lamp on and off, do I just need to purchase the Lux bulb, or do I need something else with it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I’m totally in the dark (no pun intended) with this!

    • You’ll need the bridge, which would come with the Lux starter pack for example. Once you have one bridge, you can buy individual bulbs of any Philips variety, and even the Cree Connect and some other connected ZigBee bulbs that support the ZigBee Home Automation 1.2 specification. The bridge converts the ZigBee radios in the light bulbs to Wi-Fi so you can control the light bulbs via your Wi-Fi network and connect the system to the internet. If you just want to turn a single lamp on and off you might be better with the WeMo outlet (WeMo switch) because it would cost less. But if you think you’ll get into the whole lighting thing, then spring for the Lux starter pack at $80, get the bridge and two bulbs and have fun!

  2. For reference I have Echo, Hue, Philips LED’s, GE Link LED’s and Cree Connect, and I can not connect to Cree bulbs through Echo. All three LED manufacturers connect to Hue without a problem but Amazon Echo does not recognize the Cree Connect LED’s. I discussed this with Amazon and they were surprise I could connect to GE Link!

    Anyone have success with Echo and Cree through Hue?

  3. FYI, I am using the Hue bridge along with GE Link A19 bulbs and the echo sees and controls them just like the Philips bulbs. The Hue bridge will see the Cree bulbs (it takes a little work to get them to pair, you have to flip the light on and off a couple of times while the app is searching for them) but the Echo will NOT see or control the Cree bulbs. If you are using Echo, do NOT waste your time with the Cree bulbs. The GE Link bulbs are 14.97 at Home Depot and they work without a glitch.

  4. It’s August 2015 now and I just purchased the Hue Starter Kit with the bridge and three lamps plus and extra lamp for a total of four A19s. Set my Hue Lamp 1 and 2 with the bridge and hue Android App on a Samsung S5. Once connected I created my first group in Amazon Echo app, Settings, Connected Home and created a group as Living Room for lamps 1 and 2. I could run scenes from the Phillips App and also downloaded hueManiac from the Play Store. . Once done you can control all lampw in the group together for on/off and percentage of brightness from the hue App. Close that and you can immediately start hueMainac to run additional scenes from just dynamic color settings to one that uses the microphone on the smartphone for Party Lights setting where the lamps pulse and change based on the sound. Each lamp can/might run different colors.I setup lamps 3 and 4 tonight in the bedroom by having the bridge find new lights. then in Echo App created a new group called Bedroom and added the lights. Now I can control the Living Room group of lamps and Bedroom group independently of each other. \

    You have to get the syntax right with Echo to voice control as in “Alexa, turn on Living Room” or Alexa, set Bedroom 50 percent. I’m not sure if running scenes from the apps or setting colors of lamps/groups can be done by voice.

    • Thanks Art. I couldn’t figure out how to get the echo to control groups before. The Phillips app wouldn’t create a group so I downloaded Huemote on iOS. However, Alexa couldn’t recognize the new group. I just looked after I read your post, seconds to set up but it works great. I was worried about setting up some overhead lights in the kitchen but if I couldn’t get them all to communicate with Alexa I didn’t really want to buy any more new bulbs. Now that I know I can create groups that respond to voice command I think it’s gonna work out great.

  5. I have the Echo and the Wink hub paired together. Now my Echo can control whatever my wink hub can control. I saw it on http://www.winkeasy.com and it just took a few minutes to get going. I can turn off or on all my living room lights at once with Alexa. Way easier than turning on one at a time.

  6. Pingback: Amazon Echo Review | Read and Review All Brand

  7. I just got an Echo and have had a hell of a time with the lights. I bought an a19 gen2 starter kit which I quickly found out will not work. I received the a19 gen1 starter kit and have been able to get the lux white to work, and I have been able to add a19 color and white bulbs to the bridge that can be accessed by the Hue app, but I am unable to get the Echo to see the color bulbs just to turn on and off or control brightness even on the white setting. I know it can’t change color I would think it could control on off and brightness. Like I said the bridge sees the new lights just fine. I’m not sure if there is some trick to it I am missing. It’s all been very frustrating. You would think Amazon would have been clear gen2 hubs are incompatible but they aren’t or a19 hue color will not work at all. If anybody has any insight I’d appreciate it.

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