Amazon’s highly versatile voice-powered assistant is constantly extending its range to more and more smart devices. The key defining point of Alexa is third-party integration: Amazon Alexa Accessories. While Amazon is doing its best to enhance its digital agent with new capabilities, the open-source approach allows third-party developers to integrate it to its hardware. The result is a really long line of Alexa-enabled devices with some amazing features. Some of them work directly with Alexa, others may need a hub to get things going. For this guide, we only think it’s fair to cover both and that is exactly what we shall do. Not to waste a further word, let’s begin.
The Top Alexa Accessories: Smart plugs and outlets
Smart plugs allow you to plug in any smart device and control it with Alexa. They were one of the first smart home devices on the market and are also one of the most popular, for obvious plug-and-play reasons. Outlets are a bit more work but equally rewarding, functioning on the very same principle.
These devices are simple by nature but there are few things to look out for if you are into details. For instance, tracking the energy usage of all the devices you plug in is a nice option to have, one of the main points of smart plugs. IFTTT support enables additional automation abilities, but perhaps the most important thing to look for is direct Alexa support, meaning you don’t require a hub if you don’t already have one.
TP-Link HS100 Smart Plug and its energy-conscious twin brother TP-Link HS100 Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring are routinely one of the most popular choices in the category. There is also a TP-Link HS105 mini version that occupies only one socket. On par with TP-Link’s offerings are the WeMo Switch Smart Plug and Wemo Insight Switch Smart Plug, as well as the mini version that couples with Nest Thermostat and other Wemo devices. iDevices Switch Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring is also a great choice, as well as KuGi Mini Smart Plug, a relative newcomer to the smart plug scene. Finally, there is Leviton DW15A-1BW Plug-in Outlet that also works with Google Assistant, if you fancy switching personal assistants every once in awhile.
In the “require hub” department, we have Samsung SmartThings Outlet that needs the company’s SmartThings Hub to automate and monitor the proceedings. Insteon also has a great smart plug, which also comes in a handy outdoor version for outdoor devices, both connecting through Insteon hub. GE Z-Wave Outlet is a great example of smart device ingenuity as it features one always-on pass-through AC outlet and one Z-Wave enabled outlet.
Alexa Accessories: Smart bulbs
Smart lighting was the first type of smart home devices made compatible with the Amazon Echo. The number of available gadgets grew rapidly as demand grew. Basically, all you need to do is swap your existing lights for smart bulbs. From there on, you can control the lighting through the Alexa app. This means turning lights on and off or dimming them up and down.
Smart bulbs provide an easy entry point into smart home tech so there isn’t much in terms of variety. Look for broad compatibility with third-party devices and services if you want to control a bunch of lights throughout your home. If you are more into changing the colors of bulbs, note that you’ll have to buy specific bulbs, as well as add Alexa skills to enable the action. Of course, the amount of lumens of light output is important (the more, the better). Note that for some of these, you’ll need a hub.
Philips makes some of the best smart bulbs available on the market. The company’s Hue White Starter Kit is a great starting point for newcomers. Plus, it can be further complemented with expansion bulbs. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit add three color LED light bulbs with available extensions. Generally speaking, Philips has a ton of great smart bulb products, including Hue Go that is a portable light that lasts up to three hours on a charge and requires a Philips Hue Bridge that comes with the starter kits we mentioned.
Great alternative comes in the form of LIFX, whose smart bulbs work wirelessly and don’t need a hub. LIFX A19 white smart bulb is at the forefront and supports dimming and shades of white. LIFX A19 multicolor smart bulb is also dimmable, sporting an infrared version as well. Of the more affordable variety, TP-Link offers a number of smart bulbs. There is a 50W white bulb, a 60W white bulb, a 60W tunable white bulb, and a 60W multicolor bulb. GE also has a neat starter kit that comes with a hub and two A19 65W bulbs.
Alexa Accessory: Smart thermostats
It would be much of an Alexa accessories guide without mentioning smart thermostats. They allow an effortless control of the climate through Alexa. It’s as easy as commanding Alexa to change the temperature to the one you want.
Considering thermostats are pretty much a one-way street, the little things make the difference here. Apart from the subjective design tastes, third-party support is something to look out for. Also, pay attention to extra features like a remote temperature and occupancy sensor that prevents the thermostat from going into setback mode when a room is occupied.
Nest Learning Thermostat, now in its third generation, is one of the most sought-after products in the category. It costs a bit more but has a broad third-party support. Right next to it is Ecobee3 Thermostat that comes with room and occupancy sensors. Then, we have a Honeywell (genuine thermostat maker) offering: a Smart Touch Thermostat. It comes with a color touchscreen and a ton of scheduling features. For those on a budget, Sensi Smart Thermostat is a great option as it checks all the right boxes.
Miscellaneous Alexa Accessories
The most interesting category of our guide, simply for the sheer scope of products that are more of a novelty than a particular category. We are also mindful of your time so it really wouldn’t be prudent to have a category for each product, would it?
Let’s stick with the home temperature theme just a bit more. We start off with Haiku Home L Series smart ceiling fan, one of the highest quality ceiling fans currently on the market. They are quite energy efficient and come equipped with integrated LEDs. Let’s move on outside and check out Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, the leader in the smart watering category. While saving water, it has the ability to adapt to local weather forecasts and changing seasons, thus automatically optimizing watering schedules. For locking your garage door, there is Garageio, coming with one door, two door, and three door variant, depending on the size of your garage.
Inside the garage, you can supplement your car by installing Logitech ZeroTouch. This is a nifty hands-free car mount that allows you to activate your phone with a wave and then control it. Nucleus Anywhere Intercom is a family communication device that connects you through audio and video calls with other people, whether you are one floor apart or across the country. If you like to take control into your own hands, then Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control should be your thing. It can control up to 15 home entertainment and connected home devices and comes with a hub for out-of-home control.
Netatmo Weather Station is a niche product as it provides real-time air quality measurements inside and outside your home. Giving Roomba a run for its money, Neato Botvac Connected is an Alexa-powered robot vacuum controllable from wherever you are. Finally, we have Fitbit Charge 2, wrist-based heart rate and fitness tracker. It has a has a large display and holds pretty well on one charge (Alexa Fitbit skill needed).
All pretty random stuff, we know, but that’s the beauty of Alexa.
There you have it. Alexa is a treasure trove of smart devices and the assistants will keep getting smarter as time goes by. That means more devices and more integrations. Hopefully, this guide gave you a clearer picture of all the possibilities that Alexa presents. Those that are new to the smart home scene should start slow and build gradually. There are a lot of accessories available and not all make sense for your home. Thus, make sure to take time and find out what works for you. These are truly smart devices but it’s not smart to waste money on them just because they are smart. Does that make sense? We believe it does.