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I live in France and I'm wondering which connected plugs would be compatible with Amazon Alexa (I have imported an Echo from England).

I saw a reference to this question How to get Alexa to work with Wemo Switch? which mentions compatibility with Alexa for this wemo device (and I can't really find a cheap French one).

On (my French) Amazon I was able to find a plug that mentions compatibility with Alexa (for reference this one) but the critics were not good and ultimately I'm wondering what's the minimum hardware/software requirements for a device to be connected with Alexa.

At home I have one of those lights that come with a slider that can be used to regulate the intensity of the light. I am trying to find a plug that would ideally let me do the same thing remotely, but just an on/off is already quite a lot.

Note : I'm a developer and I'm not afraid of using Amazon Web Services / IoT in case it's needed, I just want to know what's the minimum hardware/software the connected plug needs to have.

EDIT - I'm specifically asking for non-Wemo devices. I'm looking for a way to configure smart objects to Alexa in a generic manner.

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I believe you don't need to do any coding effort on connecting smart-plugs to Alexa.

http://www.belkin.com/us/support-article?articleNum=157351

This link contains all you need to set up the cooperation. You have to have one Alexa device, your first Wemo device and Wemo and Alexa apps (I suppose in your phone).

You will have to setup the Wemo device and Alexa to work independently and then you add Wemo to Alexa as a skill. After accounts are linked you connect Wemo network to Alexa and then the devices can be found by Alexa App device search.

Once Alexa App sees the devices, you can give instructions with your voice. I don't have information about the exact commands, though. Maybe there is some help on the App.

  • Thanks, I was actually asking for non-wemo devices. "WeMo is a series of products from Belkin International, Inc.". Their devices are particularly expensive (at least for the French ones I can find) – Cyril Duchon-Doris May 28 '17 at 19:39
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Since you're interested in generic ways to connect devices to Alexa, I'll explain the two main methods that devices use when integrating with the Echo platform.

Skills

Most of the devices that have 'first-class' integration with Alexa have a custom skill. For example, the Belkin Wemo has a skill, and so does the TP-Link device you link to in the question.

Generally, you'd use a smart home skill when developing this for a custom product. This type of skill can respond to things like:

  • “turn off the living room lights”
  • “increase the temperature by two degrees”
  • “dim the living room lights to 20%”

If the smart home skill type doesn't give enough flexibility, custom skills can be made to respond to pretty much anything.

Connector Services

Some devices don't have an Alexa skill, but can instead be set up using IFTTT. At its simplest, a smart device could be invoked by sending a HTTP request through the Maker channel, and your smart plug could run a trivially simple web server to listen and respond to that. Some devices already have pre-made channels so that you can use IFTTT like 'glue' between Alexa and your device.

You might also consider connecting to another smart home platform, like SmartThings, which has its own hub. With that, you can connect to devices that support ZigBee and Z-Wave, which might end up saving money on the device (typically, ZigBee is less expensive to implement than Wi-Fi in many use cases). I found a SmartThings plug which uses ZigBee—this would have to be connected through a SmartThings hub, because Alexa doesn't 'speak' ZigBee directly.


If you were interested in developing a smart plug yourself (which probably is not a good idea if you're trying to save money...), you'd need at the very least:

  • some way of connecting to a network (either ZigBee/Z-Wave + a hub, or Wi-Fi)
  • logic on the smart plug to respond to a request to turn on/off (this could potentially be a basic web server, if you were able to secure it, or perhaps implementing a known protocol and connecting to a smart hub so that the hub could control it)
  • a connector service or a skill to send requests from Alexa.

If you think that sounds like a lot of work, you're right—a pre-made solution will likely be more secure, easier and less cost in the end; the economies of scale make it much easier for a large manufacturer to develop a product than a single home plug.

(Plus, I wouldn't entirely trust myself not to wire things wrong and electrocute myself! Whatever you do, be safe.)

If you've found a 'smart' device that connects to a network, but doesn't integrate with Alexa, see if you can connect it through either a connector service, or read their documentation and try to implement a skill yourself, if the device has an API that would support it.

  • @CyrilDuchon-Doris No problem. Let me know if I've missed anything (or feel free to ask another question based on this), and I'm glad it's helpful. – Aurora0001 May 29 '17 at 17:48
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I've got the TP Link HS110 myself. The appropriate connection is established via their app (called Kasa). The process is described here. Without diving into the French Amazon reviews I won't comment on "the critics." However, I've had no issues with these plugs.

Having said that it is important to notice that most smart plugs from commercial sellers will be connected via a Smart Home Skill as Aurora already described. If you buy such a product you can most often give it a custom name like in the Kasa app and the device will afterwards be available in your Alexa app after a search. This availability means it can be controlled or added to a group and controlled via the group.

I would highly recommend using the Smart Home Skill API for a device as simple as a plug or a switch as this API brings everything out of the box. Furthermore, I'd be skeptical if a smart plug / smart switch skill wouldn't use that API. (Detectable by the additional invocation name and the skill category.) That could be an indication of shenanigans.

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