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Alexa Turn on Lights

How To: “Turn on the Lights” with Alexa

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.

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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.

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.

Let's get started and build your 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

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
Select 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. 

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 App Select Echo Device
Alexa App Select Smart Home Device

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
Echo Device Group Detail
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"Alexa. Turn on the lights." No more remembering light names. Learn how to create a context aware light group in the Alexa App. @smarthomefocus

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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 two 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.

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!

About the Author 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!

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  • Eric says:

    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.”

    • Jason says:

      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!

  • Ben Hobbs says:

    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.

    • Jason says:

      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.

  • Charles E Stricklin says:

    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?

    • Jason says:

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

  • Claudio Friederich says:

    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

    • Jason says:

      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

  • Courtney says:

    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

    • Jason says:

      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.

  • Satya says:

    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?

    • Jason says:

      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

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