How to connect your Zigbee smart home devices to Amazon Echo

How to connect your Zigbee smart home devices to Amazon Echo

When it comes to controlling a smart home with an Amazon Echo, the first thought is to use Alexa. As well as being the voice of the Echo, the Alexa platform supports an absurd amount of smart home hardware. If it’s connected, chances are it’s connected to Alexa.

However, using Alexa is not the only way. On some models, such as the current Amazon Echo (4th generation), you have an alternative via Zigbee. It’s a wireless protocol that allows compatible hardware to connect directly to your Amazon Echo, without the need for Wi-Fi connectivity, companion apps, or the cloud.

Not all Amazon Echos have a built-in Zigbee hub, but for those that do, it gives you the freedom to create a more local smart home. But you still get Alexa routines, integrations, and voice control if you want it. Here’s how to set it all up.

What is ZigBee?

Zigbee is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 personal networking standard. What does this actually mean? In simpler terms, Zigbee is a local area network alternative to Wi-Fi and other connection standards like Bluetooth. It does not rely on a point-to-point connection. Instead, it operates a low-power mesh network, which is why it’s so useful for smart home devices.

Its low-power nature makes it perfect for small devices, such as sensors. The fact that it is a common standard also means that hardware made by different manufacturers can communicate with each other. For example, the Echo made by Amazon can talk to a Sonoff Zigbee compatible temperature sensor.

Zigbee is a fairly old standard and may soon be eclipsed by Matter, but it’s still useful. Using Zigbee can help reduce the number of hubs and dedicated controllers you have in your smart home, as well as reduce the overall load on your home Wi-Fi network.

Which Amazon Echos have a built-in Zigbee hub?

Amazon Echo

The Zigbee hub is a feature that you won’t find in all the different versions of Amazon Echo. Here are the models you need, past and present:

The Echo Plus isn’t currently offered new, but if you already have one or find one second-hand, it has the Zigbee hub built-in. Amazon Echo (4th Gen) and Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) are both on sale now.

How to Link Zigbee Devices to Amazon Echo

Amazon Alexa app

With the right Amazon Echo in your home, you’re ready to connect select Zigbee smart home devices. The good news is that it’s really simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Make sure your Echo is turned on and you have the Alexa app on your smartphone, logged into your Amazon account.
  • Tap Devices in the navigation bar.
  • Tap the + button in the upper right corner.
  • Choose Add device.
  • Select the type of device you are adding. In this example, we are connecting a motion sensor. If you can’t find the type of device you want, just choose other.
  • Make sure your Zigbee hardware is powered on and all steps to make it discoverable have been followed.
  • Tap Discover Devices in the Alexa app.

It can take up to 45 seconds for the new device to be discovered, and it’s a good idea to have it near the Echo for this, especially if you don’t have an existing Zigbee mesh network in your home. . Once the device is found, you are good to go. You can add it to Rooms, Groups, and Routines just like you would with any Alexa-connected device.

Alexa Skill

A word of warning, however. Although the hardware connects to the Zigbee hub on the Echo, in some cases you may need to activate an Alexa skill to keep it that way. For example, I have a Sonoff temperature sensor that you can use with a companion app and the company’s own hub, or with the Echo that I have. After the initial connection, the device became unresponsive after about half an hour. Enabling the company’s Alexa skill seemed to resolve the issue with no further interaction beyond what was required.

That’s all there is to it, though. If you plan to have a number of small sensors and low-power devices around the house, Zigbee connection via Wi-Fi has its advantages. With a compatible Amazon Echo, you don’t need any additional hubs or controllers, you can get online right away. And that way you have the best smart speaker as a bonus.

    Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

    The Amazon Echo is the best all-around smart speaker for most people with a beautiful design, great sound, and the immense power of the Alexa ecosystem at its disposal.

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