Five ways to make your smart lights even smarter

Table lamp switched on and sitting on a wooden table next to a blue plant pot and Amazon speaker with a grey sofa next to the table and a diamond-patterned blue and gold wallpaper in the background

So you’ve made your home brighter with the addition of smart lights. A great start! Most people begin by turning their smart lights on and off through the app on their smartphone. But did you know there are lots of other really helpful things they can do, too?

In this article we’re going to explore what else smart lighting control systems for homes can do. From simple tricks like saying “Alexa lights on!” or setting up your smart lights for Google Home, to how to get them working with platforms like If This, Then That (IFTTT). Read on for our no-nonsense guide on home lighting control.

1. Voice control with Google Assistant and Alexa controlled lights

One of the best ways to control your smart lights is by using a smart speaker, like Google Home, Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. Giving you the power to control your lights when you’re at home with nothing more than your voice.

It’s simple to set up and means the entire family can help make your home more energy efficient. Plus, it’s a great party trick.

Here’s how to get them up and running (for this example we’ve used our Hive app, but other app experiences will be very similar).

Getting started with Amazon smart lights

  • Start by downloading the Alexa app and setting up your Amazon Echo, if you’ve not done this already.

  • Open the Alexa app, tap ‘Skills’ in the menu and search for Hive. You may notice that there are two Hive Skills. For the best Alexa experience, make sure you have enabled both.

  • Enter your Hive username and password and follow the onscreen instructions.

  • Once you have enabled and linked both skills, you need to get Alexa to discover your smart light devices. You can do this by saying ‘Alexa discover devices’.

How does Alexa turn on lights?

Now the fun part! To get Alexa to turn on your lights, say “Alexa, turn on your lights”.

Getting started with Google Home lights

  • Start by downloading the Google Home app and setting up your Google Home, if you’ve not done this already.

  • In the Google Home app tap the menu icon and select Home Control. Then tap the + button to see a list of Actions tapping Hive to select the Action.

  • Now follow the in-app instructions to link your Hive account.

How does Google Home turn on lights?

Once complete you'll be able to say, 'Ok Google, turn my lamp on' or, 'Ok Google set hallway to 50%'. The possibilities are endless.

Just make sure to always begin with, ‘Ok Google…’ to wake up your smart speaker and make sure it’s listening.

Top tips

Here are some simple suggestions to ensure Alexa works seamlessly with your smart lights (this trio of tricks will also help if you want to know how to control lights with Google Home.)

  • Make names memorable

Edit the name of each light to something short and easy to remember. This can be done in the ‘Manage Devices’ section of the app. For example, instead of Hive E14, change the name to “Christopher’s bedroom”.

  • Keep it simple

Make sure the names are simple and straight forward. Longer names or multiple words will increase the chance of Alexa mis-hearing or not doing what you asked (if you’ve got children you will already be familiar with this problem).

  • Add zones

In the ‘Manage Devices’ section of the Hive app, you can also group your smart bulbs into zones. That way you can ask Alexa or Google Assistant to turn on all the lights downstairs, or upstairs, or multiple smart spotlights in your kitchen.

2. Voice control with Siri Shortcuts

Virtual assistants are great for hands-free control when you’re in the same room as your smart speaker. But what about when you’re in a different part of your home? Or you’re not at home at all. Step in Siri.

Siri Shortcuts let you control your Hive devices simply by asking Siri on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or HomePod. Here’s how to set it up:

  • Make sure that you have iOS 12 or later installed on your iPhone or iPad, and that your Hive app is up to date.

  • Open the Hive app and navigate to the settings screen for the Quick Action you’d like to use with Siri.

  • Tap ‘Add to Siri’ (or for View, tap ‘Siri Shortcuts’ then ‘Add to Siri’) and choose a custom phrase, like ‘Hey Siri, hall lights off’.

  • That’s it! You can now say your chosen phrase to Siri to trigger a Quick Action or Check your camera live feed.

3. Control all your smart brands together with Apple HomeKit

If you’ve got more than one make of smart light in your home, then Apple HomeKit is a great way to go. You can use it to get all your smart home brands working as one. So instead of having lots of different apps, you can bring all your tech together.

It doesn’t take long to set up and you’ll quickly find it will make your smart home simpler and life that little bit easier. Here’s how to get started:

First, make sure your device is running iOS 11.3 or later and you’re using the latest version of the Hive app.

Then, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to set up your Hive devices using the instructions in the Hive app. Once that’s done, simply follow these steps:

  • Check that you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Hive Hub

  • Open the Hive app and log in (if required)

  • Open the menu

  • Tap ‘Install Devices’

  • Scroll down and tap ‘HomeKit’

  • Follow the on-screen instructions

That’s it! Now you can control all your smart devices from one app or by asking Siri. You should also be able to see your devices within Apple’s Home app on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.

There are also some great ways to get your lighting just how you want it without doing anything at all.

4. Use sensors for hands-free home lighting control

Linking your smart lights up to a smart motion sensor is really easy to do and has lots of great uses around the home.

Position a motion sensor by your front door and the lights will automatically home on when you get home. Perfect if you’re usually weighed down with children, shopping, or both

Getting started with sensors

In Hive’s case, it’s all done through Hive Actions in the Hive app. To get started follow the below steps:

  • Open the Hive app and log in.

  • Go to the menu and select 'Actions'.

  • If using iOS, tap on the 'Discover' tab or if using Android, tap on the '+' button. From here, you can browse by category or device, choose an Action template or build your own.

  • Choose the devices (sensor and lights) for the Action and define what they should do. To alter a device or behaviour tap on the ‘When’, 'While' and ‘Then’ boxes and pick from the available options. When finished tap 'Done' then 'Next'.

  • Name the Action and tap 'Save' to finish.

You should now see the new Action in the 'My actions' tab list and on your Hive Home dashboard.

Now you’re all set. And the great thing is, Hive Actions is free to set up and can be used to get lots of different smart devices working seamlessly around you, not just lights.

5. Keeping it bright whatever the weather with IFTTT

IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. It’s a platform that gets different apps and devices talking to each other, making life even simpler.

It means you can link your favourite apps to your Hive devices. For example, link your smart lights to a weather app and they’ll automatically come on when it gets dark. Great for security and super helpful when you get home on a dark winter’s evening.

Getting started with IFTTT

  • First, you’ll need to set up a IFTTT account on their website.

  • Search for your Hive products and select Active Light.

  • You’ll then be asked to grant permission to IFTTT to link with Hive. Tap Yes and enter your Hive details.

Make yourself a cuppa, settle down on the sofa and enjoy lighting your home hands-free. And if you want any more handy hints then why not have a look at Hive Lights. Or you can always ask Alexa…

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