Concept of Native compatibility versus compatibility through Smartthings through Amazon Alexa

I am confused and I am sure after reading the below question, you’ll be convinced that I am stupid too.

While putting multiple things throughout my house that would work in harmony with Amazon Alexa, what should be foremost goal? - should it be natively compatible with Alexa or should be it compatible with Smartthings?

For example, if I want to say to Alexa, Alexa, Lock my House, I want following things to happen:-

  • my lights to shut off throughout my house
  • main locks to activate
  • security system activated

Now, I am sure this would go through Smartthings as it would run multiple commands that I have set against my phrase “Alexa, Lock my House”. Now for that reason, should I have my smart locks, bulbs/outlets and security camera be compatible with Alexa, Smarthings or both?

Thanks a lot

Alexa only has native support for switches, bulbs, and thermostats. It won’t recognize locks at all. Natively it also won’t arm smart home monitor.

However, since you can create a virtual switch in SmartThings and then tie that to running a routine or to having something happen in core, that’s the way most people do it.

You tell echo to “Alexa, nighttime on” or whatever you want to call the virtual switch, and then on the SmartThings side you set up that virtual switch coming on to trigger all of the events that you want, including operating locks or other devices that Alexa does not support natively.

Or you can accomplish the same thing by using the IFTTT channel, in which case you have more choice about what phrasing to use. Like “Alexa, trigger lock the house.” (But you do have to say “trigger” each time.)

As far as the things that Alexa can handle natively, such as bulbs and light switches, that’s up to you. You can go through SmartThings each time, or you can go direct.

But as far as the example you gave, your choice is easy, because there are no locks which work natively with echo. So you’ll have to go through SmartThings or IFTTT.

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There are pros and cons…

  1. Having multiple “paths of control” is advantageous if one is not reliable or one is not as convenient or well-suited to a particular task. The most common example is Hue lighting. Hue bulbs (etc.) connected via a Hue Bridge are control fully-locally (via LAN) as well as via an optional cloud relay. The Hue Bridge is Apple Homekit compatible (if that’s important to you). The Hue App is better than SmartThings at some tasks, but certainly not as broad in function. Hue has “directly linkable” dimmers and switches (Hue Tap). Luckily, SmartThings can connect to your Hue bulbs via the Hue Bridge (but not the other way around), so you can (almost) have the best of both worlds. Hue Bulbs joined to SmartThings through the Hue Bridge can be connected to Alexa via Hue Bridge and / or SmartThings (i.e., both options).

  2. Hue bulb integration to SmartThings via the Hue Bridge has some disadvantages, though: (a) slower reaction time and synchronization of state (on,off,color,brightness); (b) separate ZigBee network … does not mesh with your SmartThings ZigBee network, and might even cause RF interference. But if you connect bulbs directly to SmartThings, they may change channels (likely!) and you’ll lose the ability to join them back to Hue Bridge … I believe. Details in many posts on that topic.

  3. Double integration adds a non-negligible amount of complexity, but it is manageable. Hue Bulbs (from a Hue Bridge) defined in SmartThings can, but do not have to, be made accessible to Alexa. Instead, I connect Hue directly to Alexa, and all other of my switches through SmartThings connect SmartApp.

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Thanks a lot! So I should look for Smartthings compatibility and having compatibility with both gives an added advantage.