When it comes to controlling a smart home with an Amazon Echo, the first thought is using Alexa. Besides being the voice of the Echo, the Alexa platform contains support for an absurd quantity of smart home hardware. If it’s connected, there’s a pretty good chance it’s connected to Alexa.
Using Alexa isn’t the only way, though. On some models, such as the current Amazon Echo (4th Gen), you have an alternative by way of Zigbee. This is a wireless protocol that allows compatible hardware to link directly to your Amazon Echo, without the need for Wi-Fi connectivity, companion apps, or the cloud.
Not all Amazon Echos have a Zigbee hub built-in, but for those that do, it gives you the freedom to create a more local-focused smart home. But you still get the benefit of Alexa routines, integrations, and voice control if you wish. Here’s how to set it all up.
What is Zigbee?
Zigbee is based on the IEEE’s 802.15.4 personal-area network standard. What does that actually mean? In simpler terms, Zigbee is a local network alternative to Wi-Fi and other connection standards like Bluetooth. It doesn’t 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 it’s a common standard also means that hardware made by different manufacturers can communicate with each other. For example, the Amazon-made Echo can talk to a Sonoff Zigbee-enabled temperature sensor.
Zigbee is a fairly old standard and may soon be overshadowed 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 help to reduce the overall load on your home Wi-Fi network.
Which Amazon Echos have a Zigbee hub built-in?
The Zigbee hub is a feature that you won’t find in every different version of the Amazon Echo. These are the models you need, past and present:
The Echo Plus isn’t currently offered new, but if you have one already or find a used one it has the Zigbee hub built-in. The Amazon Echo (4th Gen) and Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) are both on sale now.
How to link Zigbee devices to the Amazon Echo
With the right Amazon Echo in your home, you’re ready to start hooking up some Zigbee smart home devices. The good news is that it’s really straightforward. Just follow these steps:
- Ensure your Echo is turned on and you have the Alexa app on your smartphone, logged in to your Amazon account.
- Tap on Devices on the navigation bar.
- Tap the + button in the top right-hand corner.
- Choose Add Device.
- Select the type of device you’re adding. In this example, we’re linking a motion sensor. If you can’t find the device type you want, simply choose other.
- Ensure your Zigbee hardware is powered on and any steps to make it discoverable have been followed.
- Tap Discover Devices in the Alexa app.