The world is getting smarter. Or, at least, our devices are. Smart phones, smart watches, and now smart homes. Name an appliance, and there’s probably a version of it that you can talk to and tell it to do what you want. Your fridge can order groceries for you. Your phone can switch your lights off from a different country.
These smart devices are usually controlled by an AI assistant, and it’s the same with Amazon’s Smart Home ecosystem, Alexa will be at your beck and call. One of the more recent additions to their range is the Smart Plug. It can be used to switch devices that aren’t smart themselves, on or off by a voice command, or at the behest of a Routine that you’ve set up.
How Does It All Work?
As mentioned above, the bread and butter of your home automation is achieved by using what Amazon calls Routines. You program these in to your Alexa app, setting up a list of instructions that the assistant will follow. You can use these routines to do all sorts of things, from playing your favorite music and slowly turning up the lights to help you wake up, to brewing an espresso when you walk in your front door.
Routines are generally set to operate at a specific time, but they’re actually pretty flexible if you want to do something more in depth, like turning things off after they’ve been on for a specific time. For example, if you know that you’re always out of the house within an hour of waking up, you can set your Routine so that everything that has been switched on is turned off again an hour later. That way, you don’t need to worry about shutting things down before you head off to work.
Setting Up a Timed Routine
While it can be a little fiddly getting it set up, once you’ve got your Routines going, they can really make your life easier and save you a lot of time. You’ll never have to worry about whether you’ve left the oven on again, as you can be sure that you’ve already told Alexa to turn it off for you (though you don’t need to tell whoever you’re using it as an excuse that, of course!).
Let’s take a look at an example routine, so you can get an idea of what sort of thing you can set up, and how it works. For this example, we’ll be setting up the plug so that a bedside lamp will be plugged into it, then we’ll set up a timed routine so that it’s automatically turned off again after an hour. We’ll be assuming that it’s the only plug that you’ve got so far.
Set Up the Smart Plug
- Plug the lamp into the Smart Plug.
- Plug the Smart Plug into the electrical socket.
- Open the Alex app from the home screen of your Android, iOS, or FireOS device.
- Tap on Devices
- Next, tap on Plugs.
- Now, tap on First Plug.
- Tap on the Settings cog wheel to the top right of the screen.
- Tap on the device’s name, and then rename it Bedroom Lamp.
Set Up the Timed Routine
- Go back to the home window of the Alexa app.
- Tap on the Menu button at the bottom-right of the screen.
- Then, tap on Routines.
- Tap on the plus (+) button to the top right of the screen.
- Tap on When This Happens, and choose how you want to trigger the Routine. This could be a set time, or a voice. command like “Alexa, good morning.”
- Next, tap on the plus (+) next to Add Action.
- Now, tap on Smart Home.
- From here, tap on Control Device.
- Tap on Bedroom Lamp.
- Tap on to On.
- Tap on Next.
- Again, tap on the plus (+) next to Add Action.
- Scroll down to Wait.
- Drag the scroll wheels on the screen so that it is set to 1 hour.
- Then, tap on Next.
- Yet again, tap on the plus (+) next to Add Action.
- Tap on Smart Home.
- Tap on Control Device.
- Tap on Bedroom Lamp.
- Finally, tap on Off.
This very simple routine will now automatically turn on your bedroom light when you say “Alexa, good morning”, and then one hour later the lights will automatically turn off. You can easily add other devices and actions to this routine, like getting a weather report or turning on your coffee machine. You can even chain a few wait commands in there to have an ongoing routine that turns things on and off according to the timers that you’ve set up.
Carpe Diem a Little Bit Quicker
Using timed Routines, you can use the wait command to get Alexa to make sure that everything in your home happens when you want it to, and is turned off without you having to give it a second thought. If you’ve got any awesomely clever routines that have made your day a lot easier, why not share them with us in the comments section below?