Philips Hue ($99.99)* makes the most dynamic smart lighting products on the market. Its color-changing smartbulbs can change the mood in a single room to fit your immediate needs, whether you’re hosting a party or spending alone time with a good book.
All Hue products require a smart hub to communicate with Alexa. Still, the Hue Hub also adds support for unique accessories like the Lutron Aurora ($40.95)*, which attaches a battery-powered dimmer knob on top of your light switch. There are also motion sensors and remote control accessories for even more options to customize your Hue lights.
Although Philips Hue’s hub allows for incredible accessories, it makes Hue one of the most expensive smart lighting brands. But there’s an alternative to Hue’s hub: Echo Plus, which can communicate directly with Philips Hue lights.
Smart Lights without a Hub
Many smartbulbs don’t require a hub to talk to Alexa because they connect to your Wi-Fi network instead. One of our favorites is the very affordable Sengled Smart Light Bulb ($14.99 each).* It even comes in a color-changing version ($24.99 each)* for an additional $10.
Buying multiple smartbulbs gets expensive, so you can start with a light switch instead. We like the Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch ($25.99)* for this because it adds dimming, a mobile app, and Alexa controls to compatible LED and CFL light bulbs. You might need to swap out incompatible bulbs, but even these are a fraction of the price of smartbulbs.
Never underestimate how useful dimming features are. They can save energy and help you get the right level of lighting for your needs. Try setting the lights to full brightness when you’re cooking in the kitchen or dimming them during TV time to cut down on TV screen glare.
For workspaces like the garage and kitchen, you can skip dimming altogether by getting a Kasa Smart Light Switch ($19.99).* It’s a little cheaper because it lacks a dimmer function you probably wouldn’t use in the garage anyway.
Get Lutron Caseta for Extra Features
Lutron Caseta ($99.95)* is a serious upgrade for lighting geeks. It has an outstanding smartphone app and works with tons of smart home devices beyond Alexa. It requires a hub similar to what Philips Hue has, but that comes in a starter kit with a wall switch and wireless remote control.
The Amazon Smart Plug ($24.99)* is the first of many Amazon-made products on this list. Since it’s an Amazon product, you have guaranteed Alexa integration as long as Alexa exists, even after this smart plug gets newer versions down the road. That compatibility longevity is hard to come by for third-party plugs (though many of those are more affordable).
You control this plug using Alexa voice controls and the Alexa app. We like that you can create custom Alexa routines to control this device by itself or as part of a group of devices. Alexa also has an Away Lighting mode that randomly controls lights and plugs to make your home look like a hive of activity, even when you’re at the beach.
We like that you can set up schedules with this smart plug using the Alexa app, so certain lights turn on at sunset. Or you could plug in a fan to activate whenever your Alexa-compatible smart thermostat starts the air conditioner.
In-Wall Smart Outlets
If you want a smart outlet that no one knows is there (at first glance), try an in-wall outlet like the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Outlet ($24.99).* It’s not as easy to install as a smart plug, but blends into your home like good smart devices should.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat ($199.00)* has a built-in Alexa speaker that makes it the best smart thermostat for Alexa. This added functionality cuts down on superfluous smart speakers, especially if you prefer a minimalist aesthetic in your home. It also has a sleek glass touchscreen that gives it one of the most attractive thermostat designs around.
One of the more thoughtful features of Ecobee’s thermostats is that the touchscreen display and smartphone app look identical. This is a small detail that makes the thermostat easier to use no matter how you interact with it.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat also has remote occupancy sensors that can tell where you are in the house. These allow it to adjust the temperature automatically based on which room you’re in, something no other smart thermostat does.
A Cheaper Thermostat for Alexa
The Emerson Sensi ($129.99)* isn’t a smart speaker like the Ecobee SmartThermostat, but it’s way cheaper if you have a limited budget.
Ring Alarm (starting at $199.99)* is a great Alexa-compatible security system from the Amazon-owned security company Ring. We like it for its affordable professional monitoring—which starts at $10 a month. It’s one of the cheapest monitoring plans you can buy. For perspective, most monitoring plans cost around $33 a month.
While Ring sells three starter kits for Ring Alarm to help you secure your home, you can also get additional sensors as your needs and budget allow. We also like that Ring Alarm uses the same subscription and app as Ring’s security cameras and video doorbells, making it a natural fit if you already have other Ring products.
The August Smart Lock ($199.99)* integrates with Alexa to lock and unlock your door. We appreciate that the option to unlock the door requires a spoken pin code, so folks can’t unlock the door by accidentally or intentionally speaking through an open window.
You can also check if your door is unlocked by asking Alexa, though this isn’t strictly necessary if you already use August’s automatic locking feature. This smart lock is easy to install because it attaches to the back of your existing deadbolt. This also means your physical keys still work as a backup to get into the house. This also offers an option for folks without a smartphone.
There are some excellent guest access options in the August app, so family members and friends can get in when you’re not home. But they’ll need their own August accounts first, which is a hassle if they don’t want an extra smartphone app.
Check out our smart lock review to learn more about August and other smart lock brands.
Getting a Keypad That Works with August
We highly recommend getting the Yale Assure Lock SL ($299.00)* for the best keypad experience that also uses the August app (Yale and August are sister companies).
The original Ring Video Doorbell ($99.99)* might not compete with other video doorbells on the video quality front, but it’s undeniably the best video doorbell you can buy for the price. Not bad for a product that hit the market in 2014, the same year as the iPhone 6, though an updated version is coming soon. With both battery and wired power options, you can install this doorbell where you need it.
It works with Alexa, too, so you can hear a chime on your Alexa device when someone rings the doorbell. If you have an Amazon Echo Show smart display, you can watch a live view from the camera or look at video recordings.
As with other Ring security camera products, you need to pay for a subscription to record videos, but at least it’s a small fee of around $3 a month.
Ring has an expansive selection of video doorbells in case you want something newer. Check out our Ring doorbell review to find out more.
Alternative Pick: Arlo Video Doorbell
If you’re not all in with Amazon-made products for your Alexa smart home, consider the Arlo Video Doorbell ($148.99).* It has a similar cloud storage price and a few nifty features like pre-recorded messages and an emergency call service.
The Ring Stick Up Cam Battery ($99.99)* is one of our favorite wireless security cameras because it can work outdoors. It’s rare to find outdoor security cameras that match Ring’s quality but are also this affordable. It also works with Alexa to get alerts or view videos on an Echo Show smart display.
We especially like that this camera uses a battery, which makes it easier to install without wrestling a power cable. This helps you put the camera in the right spot, even if that’s on a tree or down the driveway from your house. You need a Ring Protect subscription to store video, but it’s one of the most affordable services among security cameras.
If you don’t want to charge the battery occasionally, Ring also sells a wired version ($99.99)* for the same price or a solar-powered model ($148.99)* for around $50 more.
A Cheaper Security Camera for Alexa
The Wyze Cam Pan ($37.62)* is about as cheap as Alexa-compatible indoor security cameras get. For the price, it has remarkable video quality, pan-and-tilt motors, and flexible video storage options online and off.
The Fire TV Cube ($119.99)* is a device with a built-in speaker and Alexa voice commands. It connects to your TV so you can ask Alexa to stream your favorite videos and even streams 4K content if your TV and internet connection can keep up.
Because it has a built-in Alexa, you don’t need any other smart speakers to turn your living room into a royal court with your TV following your every command. Fire TV devices work with all of the major streaming platforms, so you can add new services after exhausting your Netflix watch list.
There are also cheaper Fire TV devices without speakers. Both the Fire TV Stick ($39.99)* and the Fire TV Stick 4K ($49.99)* come with a remote that has a voice control button to talk to Alexa. These aren’t as versatile for streaming music and TV as the Cube, but they keep more money in your pocket.
TVs with Built-in Alexa
Almost every major TV manufacturer makes at least one model with built-in Alexa voice controls. You can also find TVs that link to Alexa if you already have an Echo smart speaker.
The Echo Plus ($149.99)* is an upgraded version of the Amazon Echo smart speaker with a built-in Zigbee smart hub. It connects to Zigbee smart devices without a third-party hub like Samsung SmartThings. Because it doesn’t require extra tech, you save money and get more flexibility for building your Alexa smart home.
Zigbee support in the Echo Plus is a big deal because it’s the same technology that drives most of the popular brands of smartbulbs, including Philips Hue. It also allows the Echo Plus to communicate with security sensors and smart locks.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Zigbee in the Echo Plus is that it reduces the number of devices on your Wi-Fi network. This saves bandwidth for more important devices like security cameras and smart speakers instead of low-priority units like smart plugs and lights.
Other Amazon Devices with Built-In Zigbee
While the Echo Plus is the most affordable Echo device with Zigbee, the tech is in more expensive Echo models too. Check out the Echo Studio ($199.99)* for better sound quality or the Echo Show ($229.99)* for a smart display option.
Amazon Alexa Devices FAQ
How do I connect my Alexa devices?
Once you set up an Echo speaker or smart display using the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone, you can connect it to other smart devices by following these instructions:
Set up your smart device using the directions in the product’s mobile app or manual (including installation and Wi-Fi configuration).
Select “Skills & Games” from the menu in the Alexa mobile app.
Use the search function to find the skill for your device and tap the “Enable” button.
Enter the login credentials for your smart home device.
Select the devices tab in the Alexa mobile app (it looks like a house) and tap the plus sign “+” at the top of the screen. You can also use the voice assistant by saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.”
Alexa then scans your Wi-Fi network for every compatible device and automatically adds them to your smart home. You can now control these devices with an Alexa voice command or the Alexa app.
Does Amazon Alexa work with If This Then That (IFTTT)?
Start with IFTTT by creating an IFTTT account. Then search for Amazon Alexa from the homepage or click the “Get more” button (this works in the IFTTT app too). To finish linking the services, enter your Amazon login information as directed.
*Amazon.com list price as of 05/15/2020 at 1:35 p.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.
†Google, Google Assistant, Google Nest, Google Home, and other marks are trademarks of Google LLC.
Written by John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist with over six years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech. Before joining SafeWise in 2020, John was an editor for Top Ten Reviews specializing in home security and the smart home. Learn more