Confused with SmartThings and Amazon Echo

I’m looking to purchase an Amazon Echo and start making our house more automated, first with lights in the living room. I was going to do the Echo and a cheap Philips starter kit but decided if we were going to do more addons why not get a Hub. But I’m a bit confused with all the instructions with different lighting available.

I know I need the Echo and SmartThings hub. After that do I still need a full starter kit for the lighting with the bulbs brand hub? I’d appreciate any inexpensive bulbs you might suggest that I might be able to just install to the echo and ST hub without too much more crap if that’s possible.

My dads disabled so I hope to make things easier on him by allowing him to just voice control things with the Echo rather than having difficulty getting up to turn a light on or nagging mom to do something :wink:

Hi there and welcome aboard.

I’ve got the echo’s set up and I love them all.

I use the GE link bulbs. They are connected directly to st and echo controls them.

They ate $14.99 at home depot.


I am myself quadriparetic, use a wheelchair with limited hand control. So totally handsfree voice control is very important to me. I really like the Echo. It has totally changed my life. :sunglasses:

As far as what you need for your Dad, as of Thursday, November 12, 2015, echo added IFTTT triggers. This totally changes what you need for a minimum set up. So anything dated earlier than that is now obsolete.

( The following assumes that you live in the United States. Officially Echo is not supported anywhere else, including Canada and the UK. So all of what I’m going to say now applies if you’re in the US. If you’re in a different country, it gets trickier. )

  1. Minimum setup for voice control of lights.

One Echo ($179.)

One Hue Bridge ($60) plus One “Hue white” bulb ($15)
the Hue white starter kit with one Hue bridge plus Two “Hue white” bulbs for $80 (so an extra bulb for $5 more)

If desired, add one “Hue Dimmer Switch” ($25 for just the switch or $35 for switch plus one “Hue white” bulb in the “personal dimmer kit”)

One free account at

That’s all you need. You do not need a SmartThings hub if all you want are lights.

Best Buy is starting to get all these items in stock now. Amazon has been going in and out of stock for the last week or so but should be getting more and more of them for the holidays.

You can add additional Hue lights at $15 each. Don’t bother with any other brand. The hue whites are excellent bulbs and the price is very competitive.

Don’t get the “hue lux” even if they are on sale–that’s the older line which is being discontinued in favor of the “hue whites.” The Lux only go up to 600 lm, the “Hue white” go up to 800. It’s a big difference in brightness. And the price has come way down for the new generation.

you only need one bridge for up to 50 bulbs so don’t get extra bridges.

The dimmer switch is optional, but nice to have for other people to use. It’s battery operated and has a magnet on the back so you can put it on the wall or the table or on the refrigerator. One dimmer switch can control many bulbs as long as you also have the bridge, so you can turn them on and off as a group. But that’s up to you.

I do recommend spending a little bit more and getting the new Hue 2.0 bridge, which is square rather than the original bridge which is round. It will just give you a few more options for the future. But that’s up to you again. The older one works fine with Echo.

With just this configuration, you can say “Turn kitchen light on” or “Dim Bedroom light to 50%” and have voice control of an individual light or any grouping that you want to set up. And if you spend the extra $25, you have the dimmer switch if you want an optional wall switch as well. So for under $300 you have voice control of two lights plus the echo itself, which is a very cool device.

For me, the best thing was pathway lights. I could have echo turn on one light in the living room and one light in my bedroom, go in my room, get into bed and then turn the lights off again in both rooms. That was really nice. As someone in a wheelchair, I can’t feel my way over to the switch in the dark.

And if you get the extra dimmer switch, you could put the dimmer switch on the nightstand and use it there, while using voice control in the living room.

As it happens, at my house it’s a pretty open plan, so echo can hear me from both the bedroom and the living room. But the switch does give you another option. It’s also quite an easy switch to press.

Echo plus the Hue bridge is a very reliable, flexible, easy way to add lights with voice control. And now with the Hue whites it’s affordable as well. :sunglasses: :bulb:

So what does adding the SmartThings hub give you?

The SmartThings hub is not important if all you want is control of lights. It’s when you want to start getting control of other things such as door locks, room heaters, coffeemakers, etc. Then, you can use echo with SmartThings for those, because the Hue bridge only controls lights. But you also have to buy the other devices to be controlled, Like the networked door lock or the networked appliance plug. So it just depends on how far you want to take it.

The following is my project report about my first phase investment In home automation and how I decided what yo get. I don’t know if it would be of any interest or not. But it’s just another way to look at budgeting the money.