Adding Voice Control to Vera Z-Wave systems using Amazon Echo
I love my Vera Z-Wave system and rely on it for handling our lights, heating and cooling ,music throughout the house and so much more! When I heard about the Amazon Echo device I jumped all over it and snapped one up since I was an Amazon Prime member. Sadly this neat little device didn’t initially work with Vera to control my Z-Wave devices so I used it to play pandora and show friends some neat technology.
Beginning in March, Amazon released their SDK for the Amazon Echo. This SDK would open up some of the abilities to the Echo voice control and I waited patiently until someone figured out how to hack together a Vera gateway so I could add voice control to some of my most used devices in the home. Recently Echo has added some home automation devices, but not Vera. Both Belkin WeMo and Phillips Hue devices now will work with Amazon. This recent update added custom control to those devices via the Echo. All you have to say is “Alexa, discover my devices” or use the Echo app and she goes off and does her thing. You can then say “Alexa, turn on (or off) whateverdevice” and the Echo performs that task by communicating with the Phillips or WeMo home automation gateway.
A few days ago I was searching for some more developments and thanks to a talented guy named Arm, I found some code on Github and the some supporting data on the Vera Forums to get me started. I’m proud to say that I now have voice control for 10 of my top devices and rooms! Not only is the wow factor here but its a very nice feature to have complete voice control over music, lighting, heating, sprinklers, water main, security and more. At the end of the article we show you how to add voice control to your Vera!
Here are a few of the examples and videos to show you how this works in my house. You can hear Alexa say “OK” when she hears me properly and executes a scene.
Using Echo to control my Kitchen– I setup a kitchen scene to turn select kitchen lighting on and off.
Using Echo to play my Squeezebox Music System – I have scenes to turn on and off and start playing our Logitech Squeezeboxes, so I simply added a device called squeezebox and now I can have Echo start and stop the music.
Using Echo to water my lawn – Since I live on a lake I use water from the lake to water my lawn. The lake pump is connected to a GE/Jasco Z-Wave outlet in the basement, and turns on and off the pump which powers the sprinkler. It takes a few seconds to prime since it has to suck the water from the lake and pressurize.
Echo can control my whole House Water Main – I use a Fortrezz Whole House Water valve to turn on and off my water main (The whole house turns off) in case of leaks. I’ve been working on some plumbing in the bathrooms and kitchens and now I can ask Echo to turn off the water anytime. The wow factor here increased by tenfold!
Echo turns on and off my Master Bedroom Lights – If I’m walking into my bedroom I can ask Echo to simply turn on the lights. They are on before I get to the room. Walk out and ask Echo to turn them off, boom, done. Life is good
Using Echo to turn on and off All Lights – I’d use tablets or my smartphone, or even a 7 button scene controller to hit the “all off” scene at night, but now I simply grab my glass of water at the kitchen sink and then tell Echo to “turn off all lights” which invokes several other scenes depending on the seasons such as turning down the heat or turning up the A/C.
Using Echo to control Security – Since I have Z-Wave door locks on the majority of the doors in my home, I also setup a scene for locking and unlocking the doors. I simply tell Echo to “turn on security” and that locks the doors. “Turn off security” will unlock them if someone is at the door and I’m busy or have my hands full.
We show you how we did it on the next page!