Relative to the current echo (Here is the test reportAmazon announces that the smart speaker can be used as a control center for many components of the smart home thanks to an integrated Zigbee hub (also known as Zigbee Gate or Zigbee Bridge). The same goes for the Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Studio. At least for smart devices that use this radio technology – for example the well-known Hue bulbs – you no longer need to connect an extra hub to your router.
Techstage has tested the suitability of Amazon’s smart speakers as an alternative to various manufacturers’ hubs, and how well bulbs, sockets, thermostats and motion sensors from various suppliers work with the smart speaker.
The built-in Zigbee Hub aims to eliminate fear of the supposed setup of new components, especially for smart home beginners. For this, you have to accept that some devices do not offer the same range of functions as the hubs that the respective manufacturers offer for their systems.
Usually, connecting smart home devices to an Echo device is easy. To do this, you must first put the device in question into pairing mode. at Phillips Hue and many other Zigbee smart bulbs are activated by turning the bulb off and on again several times. More details can be found in the instructions for the devices.
Then you either give Alexa the verbal command to search for new devices, or press the Alexa app at the bottom of the tab equipment Plus symbol. The system now searches for new components for 45 seconds, which can then be assigned to a room or group.
Hypothetically, these are called, for example, the first light or the thousandth motion detector and they also respond to that name with shouting. However, this can be changed as required in the Alexa app.
Smart lighting is arguably the most widespread use case for smart homes. Regarding Amazon’s voice assistant, Google or Apple, city, cat This greatly increases comfort in some cases. Thanks to Zigbee, many bulbs connect directly to your Amazon Echo even without a manufacturer hub. The same applies to many of the bluetooth lamps.
We were able to connect current and old Philips Hue bulbs with E27 base (i.e. big thread) to Amazon Echo without any issues. Its most important functions like on / off, dim, color selection can be used instantly via Alexa app and voice control. For special jobs like The lights are synchronized with the TV picture You need a Philips Hue portal after all. The bulbs also only receive updates via the Philips portal.
We also tried lamps from Yeelight, Osram Lightify and Müller-Licht. They communicate easily and work. In the Alexa app, under the “Add device> lamp” option, lamps from Innr, Lifx, Nanoleaf, Xiaomi, and others are also selected. However, Zigbee does not guarantee that the bulbs actually work with echo, like Akara bulbs for example.
Zigbee sockets and power strips also connect directly to compatible Amazon Echos. We have tried it with the Philips Hue Smart Plug and the Müller-Licht Tint Smart Power Strip. Echo recognizes systems instantly and organizes them without any problems.
Just like bulbs, these smart plugs, for example, can be triggered on a schedule. For example, you can turn the Christmas lights on at sunset and turn them off again at midnight. It is also possible to control via other sensors or voice commands. The big advantage of these sockets is that they can be used to integrate devices into a smart home that are actually not smart.
The most popular motion detectors with Zigbee Radio include those in the Phillips Hue range. However, at € 30 each, it is also very expensive and can easily be connected to an Amazon Echo via Zigbee, but then it doesn’t turn on when motion is detected. Cannot be used without Philips Hue Bridge.
This also applies to some Zigbee motion detectors from other manufacturers. This could be the case with solutions from Aqara and IKEA It also happens that it can be connected to an echo, but then it finally does not have a function. With this device category, you are only on the safe side if you use the controller manufacturer hub instead of Amazon Echo.
The situation is different with the Sonoff Zigbee Motion Sensor. At 17 euros, it costs only about half, you connect to Echo and then it works reliably.
Eurotronic’s Spirit Zigbee thermostats show why not connecting smart home devices directly to an Amazon Echo’s Zigbee hub is a good idea. The connection works without any problems. Jobs have also been given at the beginning. Until then, Amazon decided to cut important interfaces with an update at the end of 2020. Since then, it is no longer possible to create routines for a smart thermostat. It also no longer responds to voice commands to adjust the temperature.
The hands of the Eurotronic manufacturer are tied. The complete range of thermostat functions is based on amazon approval for necessary interfaces. When asked, Eurotronic assured us in November 2020 that Amazon is working on the “high priority” issue and that it will be resolved within two weeks. Nothing happened until this guide was published at the end of March 2021. So ZigBee’s spirit fails, despite a fundamentally good idea, it can no longer be recommended.
Connecting your smart home devices to Amazon Echo via Zigbee can be a good idea. For example, Sonoff’s affordable motion detectors impresses us. We also have good experiences with lamps from Philips, Osram and Müller-Licht.
However, the Spirit Zigbee smart thermostat case shows that it can be extremely dangerous to rely on the Echo connection when installing a smart home. It can happen at any time that Amazon changes something in the program and thus renders the third-party products unusable.
This is less important for devices than Philips Hue, for example. Here you can simply buy the corresponding Hue Bridge, which is guaranteed to work. It gets tricky with components whose manufacturers don’t offer hubs of their own, as Spirit Zigbee’s case shows.
This is why the Zigbee hub built into some Echo models can be seen as a simple introduction to the smart home world. With just a few bulbs and sockets, you can experiment relatively cheaply if this technology is actually something you love. If you want more after this, you must purchase the hubs from the respective manufacturers so that you can exploit the full range of functions of their machines.
“Incurable web evangelist. Hipster-friendly gamer. Award-winning entrepreneur. Falls down a lot.”