Monthly Archives: March 2016

Controlling devices with Indigo and Amazon Echo (Alexa)

A recently added plugin for the superb  Indigo Smart Home Software platform enables voice control of devices like lights, thermostats, fans, shades and garage doors–to name just a few–via an Amazon Echo DotEcho or Fire TV.  It works seamlessly with the Lutron RadioRA 2 plugin that I developed and is also presumed compatible with the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge Pro (although this has not been formally tested yet).

The plugin works by emulating a Philips Hue bridge.  Setup is easy.  Just install the plugin and select the Plugins->Alexa-Hue Bridge->Manage Devices… menu item.  Choose the devices you wish to control (up to 27) and then tell Alexa to discover your devices either by saying that or by using the Alexa app.

The 27 device limit is set by Amazon’s Alexa implementation, however, if you reach that limit, you can set up a Device Group in the Virtual Devices interface to group devices are typically controlled together into a single device.

Alexa currently recognizes only “turn on”, “turn off”, and “dim” commands, however, it’s possible to control devices that don’t natively support on/off/dim by creating virtual devices.  For example, I created a virtual device called “heat” that controls a RA 2 thermostat.  When I get a chill and say “Alexa, turn heat on”, it invokes an Indigo Action group that sets the nearest thermostat to 74 degrees.  “Alexa, turn heat off” sets the thermostat back to 68 degrees.

If you’re already running Indigo, I highly recommend adding a modestly priced Echo Dot to seamlessly add voice control to your automation setup.