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How to use Alexa to turn on the lights

Deploying smart home technology is one of the more appealing promises of voice control systems like Alexa. It’s tempting (and maybe inevitable) to fall down a rabbit hole of complexity when you’re setting up a smart home because there are so many options and possibilities. If you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to keep it simple for your first step into creating a smart home. For example, let’s begin by installing a single light bulb that you can ask Alexa to turn on and off.

There are many brands of smart light bulbs, and as a result, setup procedures may differ from brand to brand. I picked a Philips Hue bulb because they’re easily available, quick to set up, and well supported.

The first step is to screw in your light bulb (insert joke here), and the first thing to check is whether the lamp is on a dimmer. Many bulbs will work on dimmers, but older dimmers can’t handle the current requirements of LED lamps. You can worry about this as you get deeper into smart home setups; for now, avoid dimmers. Ready?

If you’re not that lucky, you have a little setup to do.

Now, when you tap on that “Lights” button, you’ll see a list of all smart bulbs you’ve set up to work with Alexa. Tap on the name of the light, and you’ll get a screen that lets you adjust the brightness using a slider. At the upper right corner, there’s a gear icon that opens a screen offering information about the bulb and lets you rename the device.

To turn the bulb on and off, you can simply say, “Alexa, turn <device name> on,” or “Alexa, turn <device name> off.” You can also dim it: “Alexa, dim <device name> to 50 percent.”

Welcome to the world of smart homes.

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