Why choose Philips Hue?
If you own an Amazon Echo, you have probably heard all of the hullabaloo that is surrounding its smart device integration. Basically, with the right set-up, you can speak to Alexa and control several different aspects of your home, from lighting, temperature, to electronics. It’s a really cool thing to have integrated into your household, and it’s even more satisfying once you get it going. In this article, I’ll be talking about smart devices that are meant to control lighting in your house.
When you’re choosing “smart” lighting with the intention of using them with your Echo, you have a couple of choices. Samsung and Wemo both have brought some great options to the table. However, when it comes to physical quality and ease of installation, I recommend Philips Hue bulbs. They’re essentially wireless light bulbs, which connect to a wireless hub. This hub is able to connect to your Echo, enabling you to control connected lighting.
When it comes down to it, Philips Hues are way more versatile than other options. As of this writing, it is the only Wi-Fi enabled light bulb that is compatible with the Echo to begin with. You can use Wemo outlets, but those only let you control a single light fixture, whereas these bulbs let you control anything in your home that takes a light bulb. This is much more flexible, and I think that the Echo is ultimately designed with flexibility in mind. It’s a perfect fit.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about set-up. Even though it’s a fairly self-explanatory process, it can be kind of overwhelming to set-up your Amazon Echo to connect with Philips Hue Light Bulbs, especially if you’re not super familiar with either device. In this guide, I’ll take you step-by-step and help you turn your home into a smart home.
1. Make sure you have what you need
This seems like the most simple step, and you may have already done it, but I still think that it’s important for you to make sure that you have absolutely all of the hardware that is required to make this happen. You’re going to need an Amazon Echo, an Internet connection, Philips Hue bulbs, a Philips Hue bridge, and a device that is capable of installing apps. (Either Apple or Android should work fine, as long as its OS isn’t ancient.) Philips sells bulbs bundled with bridges in starter packs, but they also sell bulbs separately. If you bought bulbs but you don’t have a bridge, you’re going to need to pick one up. The bridge is probably the most important part of this process.
For the purposes of this tutorial, you’re going to also need to have the official Hue and Alexa apps downloaded. These apps will allow your smart devices to communicate with your wireless network, and then speak to each other. You should also take this time to make sure that all of your software is up to date. I’m going to assume that you already have your Echo set up prior to starting this tutorial. If not, you are going to need to go through the steps involved in fully activating your Echo, as well. Once you have all of your hardware and software, we can start to get into the nitty gritty.
2. Install the bulbs
This also seems kind of self-explanatory, but I want to cover every base here! Take your Hue bulbs and install them wherever you would like in your home. Do this as you would for any other lightbulb. You’re probably going to find yourself experimenting with different set-ups and schemes for a while, so don’t feel like you HAVE to make a final decision now. That’s the glory of these things — plug and play means that you can move them around however you would like. You just need to install them somewhere now, so that you can get everything connected and set up.
Make sure you power whatever your bulbs are going to, also. This doesn’t mean just screwing them in. If you stuck one in a lamp, turn the lamp on. If you stuck one in your ceiling fan, turn on the ceiling fan. Power needs to be running into the bulbs for this to work, so make sure you have that.
3. Connect your bridge to your network
Next, you’re going to take your bridge and connect it to your wireless router via a wired connection. Your bridge should have come with a network cable, which is what you’re going to want to use here. When you plug in your bridge, it should automatically power on. (It will light up.) Once you use your wire to connect the bridge to your router, just wait for all three lights on the face of the Bridge to light up. Think of those lights as like a loading screen. Once all three are lit, that means that you bridge has fully connected to your wireless network.
You’re not done yet, though. Even though your bridge is connected to network, it still needs to “bridge” the gap between your network and your bulbs. In this next step, we’re going to hook your bridge up to whatever you have your Hue/Alexa apps installed on.
4. Connect your bridge to your device
Since you already have the Hue app installed on your device, this next step is a breeze. Open the app and find your bridge. Connect to it with a simple tap. You should be able to see your lights now, and configure them in a variety of different ways. From brightness to color, there are tons of ways that you can customize your lighting set-up with the Hue app. The possibilities are pretty much only limited by your imagination, which bulbs you have, and how many bulbs you have.
It’s easy to spend hours pulling together a perfect lighting set-up, and you’ll have plenty of time to figure this out later. For now, just make sure that everything can power on, and make sure any color-changing bulbs are able to change color. Once you have things situated, we can start working on hooking your Echo up to your bulbs.
5. Tell Alexa to look for the bridge
If you’ve ever paired another smart device with Alexa, you’ll find that these next steps are pretty much the same from device to device. First, you’re going to want to make sure that your Echo is powered on and listening. You need to tell Alexa to search for your device, and connect to it over the Internet. You can do this by saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.” Alternately, use the Alexa app and navigate to ‘Discover my devices’.
Once you’re connected, Alexa should tell you. If you’re having trouble connecting, there are a couple of things that you can try. First, try to reset both your Echo and your bridge, to see if that solves the problem. (The trusty old “turn off and turn back on again” technique.) Otherwise, just make sure that both devices are connected to the same wireless network. You shouldn’t really run into any issues here, though.
6. Enjoy your new smart home!
And that’s about it! Control your lights by referring to them by name to Alexa. (You should be able to customize names in the Hue app. In general, it’s best to name based on rooms.) Now, you can toggle and dim lights just with the sound of your voice. Try commands like, “Alexa, turn on/off [light name]” or “Alexa, dim [light name] 20%.” We really live in the future. Who knew that, by 2016, we would have Wi-Fi enabled light bulbs that could respond to the sound of our voices?
Once you get everything how you like it, you can expand your Hue network by purchasing even more lights! There’s no limit to how many you can have, and Philips offers a variety of different kinds of lighting for a variety of different purposes. If you don’t like bulbs, you can purchase light strips! If you don’t like white lights, you can purchase colored bulbs! As long as you follow this guide, you shouldn’t have any trouble setting them up.
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