My setup: I have an Echo Dot in my master bedroom which is connected to my SmartThings hub. I have a GE In-Wall Smart Dimmer switch controlling the overhead lights (Z-Wave) and a Sengled Element Classic (ZigBee) bulb in my walk-in closet.

I initially setup the wall switch as "Master Bedroom Lights" in the SmartThings app (before setting up the bulb), and connected Alexa to SmartThings. At which point, I could say:

Alexa, turn on the light


Alexa, turn on the master bedroom light

And both worked to control the wall switch (i.e., overhead lights). I was impressed that "light" worked instead of "master bedroom light", especially since I was referring to a wall switch and not an IoT lighting device specifically.

Next, I added the bulb as "Closet Light". Once I added it to the SmartThings app and the Alexa app, I tried "Alexa, turn on the light," but Alexa responded (paraphrasing), "There are several things by that name, which do you want?" It then waited for me to answer.

My Question: Is there any way to tell Alexa that when I say "the light", I always want "Master Bedroom Light" without renaming the devices? Further - I have an Echo in my Family room, and I plan to install a Singled bulb in a floor lamp, and to install a GE In-wall Dimmer for the overhead lights. I'd like the Family Room Echo to control the floor lamp bulb as the default when I say "Turn on the Light", but the bedroom Echo to control the overhead lights (wall switch) when I say "Turn on the Light". Is this kind of context-sensitive control possible? Or do I need to resort to unique names for every device?

Note that I'm not concerned with controlling multiple devices at once with a given command; I understand that I can use the "Scene" feature for that. I just want to specify a default device for the term "light", and have the default be based on whichever Echo I'm speaking to.

For now, as a workaround, I've renamed "Master Bedroom Lights" to "Bedroom", which means I have to say "Set the bedroom to 20%" when I want dimmed lights. It sounds odd, and I'm afraid others may have trouble remembering.

1 Answer 1


Stumbled onto the answer while searching the SmartThings forum for a different issue.

In the Alexa app, you can create a group, which can contain both smart devices and an Echo device. By creating a "Master Bedroom" group containing the wall switch (overhead lights) and my Echo Dot, it apparently prioritizes devices in the same group. "Alexa, turn on the light" now affects only the overhead light, without asking about other lights.

While you can add a Device to multiple groups, it appears that each Echo device can belong to only 1 group. This makes sense if you are using the group associate a number of devices to a given Echo.

Edit 3 Mar 2018: Just learned another capability of Alexa Smart Home groups. When multiple lights are in the same Alexa group, light-related commands affect all lights simultaneously. For example, I have two lamps in my family room, each with a Sengled (Zigbee) LED bulb. I added both to a group with my echo, and now commands such as "Turn on the light," or, "Lights 50%," affect both lamps. I have not tested what happens if you mix dimmable and non-dimmable light devices in the same group as I currently have no non-dimmable lights.

  • This works perfectly
    – Max
    Oct 18, 2022 at 10:42

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