How To: “Turn on the Lights” with Alexa

Alexa Turn on Lights
Just say, "Alexa. Turn on the Lights." Alexa knows where you are and what lights you want to turn on!

Smart Home Focus may earn a small commission when you purchase a product from links on our site. The price you pay is not affected. Thank you for supporting this site.

Just say, “Alexa. Turn on the Lights.”

Alexa knows where you are and what lights you want to turn on!

Speak naturally to Alexa when controlling the lights in your Smart Home. This is the easiest way for you and your guests to use voice control of lights.

Use this guide to setup context aware lighting control with your Amazon Echo device.

What is Context Aware Lighting with Alexa?

Alexa…turn on the lights. If you are in the bedroom, then Alexa turns on your bedroom lamps. If you are in the kitchen, then Alexa turns on the kitchen table light.

Alexa can turn on the exact lights you want just by saying “turn on the lights”.

Alexa can turn on the exact lights you want just by saying “turn on the lights”. You don’t have to specify the light that you want to turn on. Alexa knows what lights to turn on based on the Amazon Echo device you are asking. This is super easy to setup, but one of the most useful features for Amazon Echo lighting control.

Why Should I Setup Context Aware Lighting?

Controlling lights with your voice can be a magical experience in your smart home. However, it call also be incredibly frustrating if you forget exactly what name you assigned to the lamp in the corner of the room. This issue is even worse with guests in your home since they have no idea what you named each light.

Context aware lighting solves this issue. Your guests, your kids, your spouse. Everyone can remember how to say, “Alexa. Turn on the lights.” You also benefit by controlling multiple lights with one simple voice command. In my house, the family room and kitchen are connected like a lot of open floor plan homes. If I’m in the family room / kitchen and say “turn on the lights”, then the ceiling fan lights, kitchen table light and kitchen island lights all turn on at once.

Alexa Enabled Lights: What do You Need?

This project only requires two products:

1. Amazon Echo Device – There are several Amazon Echo devices to choose from. Learn how you can use the Amazon Echo in your smart home or check the price on Amazon below.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

2. Smart Lights – Smart light bulbs, light switches or smart plugs connected to a light. You can use any and all of these products in your light group.

If you don’t have smart lights in your home, then I suggest that you get started with a Philips Hue Hub. Voice control over your lights is one of the best features of a smart home.  The Philips Hue Hub is the fastest and easiest way to add or expand smart lights in your home.

Build Your Alexa Enabled Light Group

Follow the simple steps below to build your first Alexa enabled light group.

Step 1: Navigate to the Smart Home Devices section in the Alexa menu

Open the Alexa App and select the Smart Home Devices section in the menu.

Echo Smart Home Devices
Alexa Devices

Step 2: Select the ‘Plus Sign’ (+) and click ‘Add Group’

Select the plus sign in the Smart Home Devices section and click ‘Add Group’ to create a new light group.

Select Plus Sign for Menu
Plus
Select Add Group
Add Group

Step 3: Create a Smart Home Group based on your Echo device location

You can control the lights by the group name from any of your Echo Devices. You can control lights by just saying “turn on lights” with the linked Echo Device. 

Custom Name

Step 4: Choose the Amazon Echo device and the lights to associate with that device

At the top of the list, you will see all of your Alexa enabled devices. This is a list of the Amazon Echo devices you can choose to link with the lights in your group. 

Select the Amazon Echo device and the smart lights that you want to link and save. Each Amazon Echo device can only be associated with one smart home group in the Alexa app.

Alexa App Alexa Enables Devices
Alexa Enabled Devices
Alexa App Select Echo Device
Select Echo
Alexa App Select Smart Home Device
Define Group

Step 5: Review and Edit Your Alexa Enabled Smart Home Group

You will find your new Alexa enabled group in the Smart Home Devices section. If you click on the group, it will open up a detailed list of all the devices in the group that are controlled by your Amazon Echo. You can also toggle the lights in the group on or off in this screen.

Select “Edit” in the top right corner of the detail screen to add or remove devices from your group.

Echo Device Group
Alexa Enabled Group
Echo Device Group Detail
Alexa Group Details

Just say, “Alexa. Turn on the lights.”

After the group is created, you can just ask Alexa to turn on the lights and the lights you associated with that Amazon Echo device will turn on. You can also control any other light setting such as dim level and color using the same command.

Alexa. Turn on the lights.

This setup also makes it much easier for your guests to use your smart home lighting. They don’t have to know the exact name of the lights you created. They can just say turn on the lights and Alexa knows what to do!

What else can I do?

​​​The Amazon Echo devices are excellent for controlling your smart home lights with voice commands. Here are some other guides on controlling lights by voice with Alexa:

  1. Create Light Groups – Control groups of lights or light bulbs with one command.
  2. Create Custom Routines – Your own custom voice commands to control lights with Alexa routines.
  3. Enable Alexa Brief Mode – Shorten Alexa’s responses and stop her from saying OK after every command.

Alexa is also great for music. Check out the best speakers for your Echo Dot.

P.S. Please leave a comment below to ask a question, help someone else or share your experiences. Thanks!

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
Reddit
Jason

Jason

Husband, father and Smart Home enthusiast. I look forward to discussing Smart Home products and projects with you. I have over 100 connected devices in my home, and I'm excited to share what I have learned to help you build a Smart Home that works!

Ask a question or help someone else.

30 thoughts on “How To: “Turn on the Lights” with Alexa”

  1. I’ve only just started using smart devices in my new home and was a little surprised when looking at my router how many things were connected!

    Anyway, what I wanted to ask is, can Alexa control a 2 gang light switch. So the light switch would switch on and off two separate sets of lights in the same room. How would Alexa differentiate on the same switch? I haven’t bought the switch yet(it’s going to be lightwave as I’m in the uk)

    1. Hi Cho,

      I haven’t used Lightwave, but the answer to your question is, yes, Alexa can control a two gang light switch. Each switch will have a specific name which should be created when you install and setup your light switch with your smart home controller.

      Jason

  2. I’ve had a group with 3 lights in them for over a month. When i walk into the room with the associated echo dot for that light group the context aware lighting was working. But recently when i say alexa, turn on the lights, she says i don’t see a device named lights. Seems like amazon is introducing bugs. Nothing about my setup changed just that it stopped working. I have had to make 2 routines to fix it but now will have to do that for every room.. way to annoying…

    1. Hi Daniel,

      I had that happen once a few months ago. I ended up just redoing the setup for that room and it started working again.

      Jason

  3. I had a lights group working for months…then it just stopped working.
    Alexa would say “I can’t find a device called lights”.
    So frustrating!
    I just figured out I now have to say “Alexa, turn on ALL the lights”.
    Is there anyway to go back to just saying “turn on the lights“?
    Brian

    1. Hi Brian…that does sound frustrating.

      You should be able to just say “turn on lights” if your Echo device and your smart lights are in the same group.

      Comment or email me more specifics and I can try to troubleshoot with you.

      Jason

  4. I have three lights. Two work when i say alexa turn light on ir off. One does not work, i always have to say the name of the light.

    1. Hi Peter,

      Double check that the light is included in the group with your other lights. Also, select the light that isn’t working in the group. Then tap the gear icon in the top right corner to enter the settings for the light. Make sure the Type is set to “Light”.

      Jason

  5. Is it possible to setup Alexa to do a scheduled turn on at 9 pm everyday and turn off at another time every day? Or does it have to be two routines?

    1. Hi George,

      Currently, the only way to do this is to put a WAIT of up to 4 hours in the actions and then add another action to turn the light off. If you want a specific time beyond 4 hours then you will have to create two routines.

      I recommend using SmartThings to automate your home lighting. It is very easy to create this type of time based lighting automation with SmartThings.

  6. I have two smart plugs in the living room for 2 lights. I have grouped them into the Living Room group. When I ask Alexa to turn on the lights she only turns on one. How can i get her to turn both on (or off) at the same time?

    1. Hi Melody,

      I’m guessing that one of your smart plugs is classified as a “Plug” in the Alexa app instead of a “Light”.

      You can check/change the device type here:
      1. Click the gear settings icon in the upper right corner of the device screen for each of your plugs

      2. Click Type in the middle of the screen

      3. Make sure the smart plug is classified as a Light

      Try that and let us know if it works.

      Thanks,

      Jason

      1. I’m having the same problem. My lights would work fine when I had the smart bulbs. I could say just turn on lights and the lights in that room would come on but I recently swapped out the smart bulbs and put in regular LEDs because I decided to install smart switches. Now the lights do not come on if they’re controlled by the switch. In my living room I have 4 ceiling lights that are now controlled by a switch and two lamps that have smart bulbs. When I say turn on the lights only the lamps will turn on. The problem is it’s not working when it comes to the smart switches. Can you please please please fix this??

        1. This can usually be fixed by changing the device type to “Light” in the settings. Open the switch in the Alexa App, select the settings at the top, make sure the type says “light”. If that doesn’t work, I would delete the group and recreate.

  7. Hi, I have a doubt suppose my light is in ON state then if I’m trying to turn on that light what Alexa will do? It says any message like already light is ON or not?

    1. Hi Satya. Alexa will still say “OK” or will beep (depending on your settings) if you ask to turn on a light that is already in the on state. The light will still stay on too.

      Jason

        1. Hi Ruben,

          You can turn off the Alexa “OK” response by following these steps:
          1. Tab the “Hamburger Menu” in the top left corner of the Alexa app
          2. Click Settings at the bottom
          3. Click Alexa Account
          4. Select Alexa Voice Responses
          5. Enable Brief Mode

  8. Hi Jason,

    I was wondering if you could help. We have had the light groups set up since we got started with smart proofing the house (last bulbs were added just this past weekend). We had no problems since, until today. Even last night, context aware lighting was working fine (“Alexa, turn off the lights,” and it did). Today however, when I said, “Alexa, turn on the lights,” (as is always the phrase) she replied with, “I can’t seem to find a device called lights.” So decided to be more specific: “Alexa, turn on the living room lights,” and again she replied, “I can’t seem to find a device called living room lights.” After playing around for a while (wasn’t working in any of the rooms), I was finally in the kitchen when she said to me, “did you mean turn on the kitchen?” I replied yes, and they turned on! So I went to the living room, “Alexa, turn on living room,” and sure as $#!^ the lights came on. Not sure why all of a sudden she couldn’t recognize “lights” or “living room lights” but could only recognize “living room.” Again, we haven’t made any changes since last weekend and it’s worked all the same up until today. For reference, we have Philips hue bulbs. If you have any ideas or suggestions we would greatly appreciate the help!

    Thanks,
    Courtney

    1. Hi Courtney,

      I tried to reproduce your situation at my home, but everything is working as expected. There was an update to the Alexa and Philips Hue app yesterday so you might want to look for an update to make sure you are using the most recent software. Also, please confirm that you still see the smart light groups in your devices screen just to make sure it wasn’t accidentally removed or deleted.

  9. Claudio Friederich

    When I ask Alexa to “turn on the (group name) lights” everything in the group, even things that are not designated as lights, turns on. Why? But if I say “turn on all the lights” all the lights, but only the lights, in the house turn on, as I would expect

    1. Hi Claudio,

      I was able to re-create the issue you are seeing. I have a light group called “Family Room Lights” that only included 4 Hue light bulbs. I added my ceiling fan switch to the group, and it turned on with the rest of the lights. If you create a specific group of devices that will be turned on or off by name, then you will have to limit the devices in that group to the ones you want to control. However, you can achieve what you want by just saying “turn on the lights” (not “turn on family room lights” as an example) to the Echo included in your group. That command will only turn on devices designated as lights in your group.

      Let me know if you are still having trouble and I’ll try to provide additional help.

      Jason

  10. Charles E Stricklin

    I’ve been looking, but cannot find how to ask Alexa what the current brightness setting of a smart bulb is. Is this even possible?

    1. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible with Alexa at this time. I think they are working on adding this feature based on my research.

  11. The Amazon Alexa App looks like its really come on since I last used it, I may need to revisit it and see if it suits my needs more now. This write-up is a great description of how the Smart Home groups can make sense.

    1. One of the greatest things about Alexa and the Amazon Echo devices is the speed of innovation and improvements. Features are constantly being added to the app.

  12. Note – if you’re using Smart Plugs instead of Smart Lights, you’ll need to change the Type of the Plug device to “Light” and then it will work. Otherwise, Alexa will say, “I don’t see a device named Lights.”

    1. Thanks Eric,

      That is an excellent point. You can change a device type from “Switch” to “Light” in the device settings within the Alexa app. I will look at updating the instructions to include that process in this post. Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Exclusive Smart Home Content