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It drives me nuts to see the Amazon Echo described first as a speaker and second as a home automation system. This amazing device, which is still evolving and improving, definitely needs to be thought of as far more than a way to play music and listen to audio books. It does all of that, but you can do so much more with it. Using it, you can also control your TV, lights, alarm system, thermostats, fans, sprinklers, garage door opener, power outlets and much more. That really makes the Echo a powerful smart home controller.

The fact that you can do so much with it makes it hard to tell you what you need to know about the device. As a result, what I tell you below focuses mainly on ways you can use the Amazon Echo to help you to keep your home and its inhabitants secure.

The Amazon Echo for Home Security

The best feature of the Amazon Echo is that you can use your voice to control things in your home. This makes it an excellent option for home security fans.

For example, you can tell it to turn on your alarm system, which is much easier than getting up and padding across a cold floor to activate it. That means no more leaving your alarm system off overnight because you forgot to arm it before bed and do not want to get cold going downstairs to turn it on.

Once you start using the Amazon Echo you will be amazed at how many innovative ways you come up with to use it to keep you and your family safe.

Scare intruders away

For example, you can set it up in “always listening mode” and program it to do certain things when given the right command. That way if you think you hear an intruder downstairs, you can ask the Echo to turn on a light or trigger your alarm siren. Often, something like that is enough to spook a potential thief and make them leave before too much damage is done to your home.

Even simple things like being able to use Echo to turn on a light before you get out of bed can keep you safe by saving you from tripping over in the dark and hurting yourself. This type of functionality and the fact it reads audio books means it would be great for an elderly relative. Later, with their permission, you may be able to persuade them to add security cameras to the system, that you could be given access to, so you can keep a better eye on them.

Controlling your Echo remotely

The Alexa App allows you to use your Amazon Echo to control many of your connected devices remotely using a smartphone, Amazon Fire or any browser. The fact you can use a browser to access your devices is an important difference between the Amazon Echo and other home hubs. This is because you can use any PC to control your system, not just smartphones and tablets.

If it is raining and you have your sprinklers connected to the system, you can watch the weather forecast and tell it to skip a watering session if you think it is going to rain.

The list of devices you can control is growing. It is currently compatible with many WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, and Ecobee smarthome devices.

Compatible home security kit

The Amazon Echo is compatible with most Wi-Fi enabled home security systems, Scout home security units, Vivint monitored security systems, and can be used to control Oco, Homeboy, Withings, Camio Software, Oco and Netatmo security cameras. Because it is compatible with IFTTT, (If This Then That) there is the potential to put together recipes and use them to control other makes of home security kit.

It is also compatible with a range of connected lighting products. This means that you can potentially set things up to turn certain lights on and off automatically using voice commands. This can be useful from a security point of view. For example, if you hear an intruder downstairs you can ask the Echo to turn on a light, which can be enough to make a potential think their presence has been discovered and leave your home empty handed.

Using the Alexa Skill mode, you can also integrate the system with some August Smart Locks on your doors. This will allow you to lock your door remotely, which is useful if you are forgetful or you have kids that regularly leave the house without locking up properly.

Echo Dot

As the name suggests the Echo Dot is a smaller version of the Echo. It is just 1.3” tall and cheaper but still does a lot of what the full size version does. The main difference is that you do not get the omnidirectional speaker with the Dot. As a result, the quality of the sound produced is nowhere near as good as the standard Echo unit. If you want better sound quality, you just need to link the Dot up to a good pair of Bluetooth speakers.

Like the Echo, the Dot is compatible with connected devices made by Ecobee, Philips Hue, WeMo, Samsung SmartThings, Wink and Nest. Potentially, you can use it in a similar way to the Echo to help you to keep your home secure and comfortable.

The future for these devices

As we said earlier, these devices are still evolving. For example, it recently became possible to order a pizza or a cab using either the Echo or Amazon Dot. No doubt, more devices will become compatible with these products, so they will gradually become more useful.

If one of your biggest reasons for buying a home hub is security, as things stand, the Wink 2 is likely to be a better option. This is simply because, at the time of writing this page, the Wink is compatible with more home security devices than the Echo or Dot. However, please bear in mind that situation could change over time. The Echo or Dot can also be used as a way to issue voice commands to your Wink 2 hub, so they can also be used together to have the best features from both integrated into one system.