What You Need:
- An iOS or Android device
- An Amazon Echo or similar Alexa-enabled decide
- A smart plug from a supported brand
- a reliable home wi-fi network
Whether you use it on your phone or with an Amazon Echo smart speaker, the nice thing about Amazon's Alexa is that it's easily programmable with a variety of affordable smart plugs. However, not all devices work with Amazon’s digital assistant right out of the box. Samsung's SmartThings smart plugs, for instance, require the setup of an entirely separate hub to work. However, the good news is that the Alexa app, available for Android or iOS, will guide you to success, even if you're working with a brand it hasn't seen before.
Here's a look at how to set up a smart plug with the Alexa app, featuring brands that allow for seamless pairing.
What to Pair
Although Amazon Alexa works with a variety of smart home and connected ecosystems, when you’re pairing it with the app you’ll see setup options for about a dozen brands. Currently, supported brands include:
Setting up a smart plug with Alexa
Whether you're using iOS or Android, the directions for pairing a smart plug with the Alexa app remain mostly the same. Tap on the menu button in the upper left-hand corner, then select the first option to "Add Device." On the next screen, the app will ask about the type of device you're setting up. Scroll down several line items, and then tap on the "Plug" option.
The next screen will ask you to choose your brand. For brands like the Amazon smart plug, the Alexa app will guide you through the permissions required for using the specific hardware, and then it'll scan for those available devices. Conversely, if you're using a smart plug that requires registration with a cloud service, like a TP-Link smart plug, you'll have to add it in as a skill before you can pair the device. To enable a Skill, head back to the menu screen in the Alexa app, and select Skills & Games further down the list. You can then search for your device by the manufacturer.
- Amazon: If you’re hooking up an Amazon smart plug, Alexa will ask you to approve a few permissions (including the ability to access your smartphone’s Bluetooth connection, camera hardware, and location information). Tap the link to give Amazon’s Conditions of Use a read, and then tap next to start pairing.
- TP-Link Kasa: Alexa will instruct you to download the TP-LINK Kasa app for iOS or Android and pair the smart plug from there.
- Wemo: Belkin’s app for its Wemo smart plugs is so easy to use, Alexa tells you to pair your new device that way before dealing with the Alexa app. Then, it tells you to add it as a skill.
- SmartThings: Samsung’s smart plugs pair easily through the Amazon Alexa app as long as you have a ZigBee hub available—either through the Echo Plus smart speaker (details on how to set this up further down) or through a separate hub. If you do have a SmartThings hub already set up and you’re wondering why the Alexa app is asking you all this in the first place, try pairing it with the SmartThings app first, and then adding it as a Skill as with the TP-Link and Wemo smart plugs.
- Tuya: Tuya smart plugs require the aid of the Tuya app before you can pair them as a Skill with Alexa.
- VeSync: Alexa asks you to set up a VeSync device through its proprietary app, then add it through the Skills menu before it can be paired.
- JinVoo: Jinvoo smart plugs are primarily set up through the Skills menu.
- Leviton: Leviton smart plugs are popular devices, particularly when paired with the brand’s smart panels. Leviton requires its devices are registered through its respective app before the skill can be enabled in Alexa.
- eWeLink: This brand has an Alexa skill you can enable after you’ve set it up through the eWeLink mobile app.
- Geeni: Like many of the devices featured here, Geeni smart plugs require setup through the mobile app before it’s available as a skill in the Alexa app.
- GE: GE smart plugs are affordable and effective, which is why they’re a favorite smart item. Unlike a majority of the devices featured here, you can directly pair a GE smart plug through the Alexa app. Just plug in your smart plug, put it into pairing mode by powering it off and on, and then press the button to find it on your network.
- Other: If you’re using a brand of smart plug that Amazon doesn’t list in the Alexa app, try adding it from the Skills menu by searching for the manufacturer name, or the name of the app you used to pair it with your smartphone. If you can't find a match, it's likely that Alexa doesn't support your plug.
Once you’ve finished pairing a device, the Alexa app will ask you to add it to a group—or a "room," as you might otherwise consider it, which is extremely helpful if you're planning to pair a mountain of smart plugs in addition to it.
When you're finished pairing your smart plug with Alexa, you'll see a checkmark on screen and a message that your device is ready to use. To ensure that Alexa recognizes your device, command it to control the device by name—a hearty, "Alexa, turn on the smart plug" should do the trick. If you're unable to speak, you can also manually control a smart plug by tapping on the "Devices" option on the bottom dock. From here, you'll be able to view devices by type and by groups. Then, tap on the name of your smart plug to reveal its on and off controls.
Using an Echo Plus
There is one other method for pairing smart plugs, and that’s if you have an Echo device with the built-in ZigBee protocol, one of the standards used to connect smart devices. Mostly, it’s why devices like the Samsung SmartThings plugs require a smart hub to connect—that hub has all the necessary components inside. If you’re unsure if your Amazon smart speaker has this capability, try asking it, “Do you have a smart home hub?”
To pair with your voice, do the following:
- Make sure the smart plug you’re pairing is plugged in and turned on.
- Say, “Alexa, discover my devices.” The Echo Plus will go into pairing mode.
- Alexa will respond if the pairing was successful.
You can also pair a smart plug by adding it from the same Add Devices menu mentioned above. Do the following:
- In the Alexa app, select “Add Device.”
- Select the type of device you want to connect—in this case, a smart plug.
- Select the brand and then follow along with the instructions.
If your Amazon smart speaker doesn’t have the protocol built in, neither of these methods will be successful and you’ll have to add the device via the skill instead.
When a smart plug is ready for use, you’ll be able to use a voice command to turn the plug on and off. Or if you don’t feel like uttering a phrase, there’s also a Devices panel available in the Alexa app, where every device that’s paired and connected it readily available for a status check. The area is easily accessible via the navigation dock at the bottom of the Alexa app. From here, you can manually turn devices on and off.