How Does Amazon Alexa Work with Nest?

Nest adding compatibility with Alexa gives you another way to interact with Nest devices. You no longer have to rely on the companion mobile app or to be physically near the device to operate it. You can just use voice commands.

Nest has two Alexa skills that allow you to use Amazon Alexa devices to control its products. These are:

  • Nest Thermostat Skill. This allows you to use voice commands to change the temperature of your Nest Learning Thermostat or Nest Thermostat E, among other things.
  • Nest Camera Skill. This allows you to view videos from your Nest Cameras on an Amazon Alexa device with a screen.

This is actually very interesting. Nest is owned by Google, which has its own set of speakers that double as a voice command assistant in Google Home. Nevertheless, Nest could not discount the popularity of Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled speakers that it came out with skills that allow you to control your Nest devices without having to go near it or without having to carry your smartphone with you.

What you can do with Amazon Echo and Nest

Thermostats

There are several things you can do with Amazon Echo and Nest thermostats. These include:

  • Set temperatures in different parts of the house. For instance, “Alexa, set the dining room to 70 degrees.”
  • Increase or decrease temperatures for every room in the house. For instance, “Alexa, increase the temperature in the living room by 2 degrees.”
  • Know what the current temperature is in any room of the house. For example, “Alexa, what is the temperature in the bedroom?”
  • Know the target temperature in any room. For example, “Alexa, what is the living room set to?”
  • Set the current mode in any room. For instance, “Alexa, set the bedroom to Cool mode.”

You can also change temperatures without specifying the target temperature. In these cases, Alexa will either increase or decrease the temperature by 2 degrees Fahrenheit or 1 degree Celsius.

What could be better

If you have accessories connected to your Nest thermostat, you would not be able to control them using your Amazon Echo.

There are also a lot of complaints about how difficult it is to set up this skill, as well as numerous failures to connect. Some people complained that their Amazon Echo was not able to discover the Nest thermostat. Another prevalent complaint is that Amazon Echo cannot seem to understand what you are trying to do, returning an error that says, “I don’t know that skill,” “I don’t understand,” or “There is no device with that name.” For most people who have yet to figure out how the skills work, they found it easier to just use the mobile app than ask Alexa to do something.

Cameras

If you have Dropcam, Dropcam Pro, Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor, and Nest Cam IQ, you can also use Amazon Alexa to view your cameras. However, you cannot use Amazon Echo to do this because you would need to have any one of these Alexa devices with screens:

You can use these Alexa devices for viewing or hiding the rooms where your cameras are set up. When you “hide” a room or a feed, it means the Alexa device will stop streaming.

Some of the commands you can use include:

  • “Alexa, show the feed from the patio.”
  • “Alexa, show the front door.”
  • “Alexa, hide the bedroom.”

What you should know about using Alexa devices for viewing your Nest Camera’s feeds

1. There is no audio. You cannot listen in to the room being monitored by your Nest Cam. You can only watch what’s happening.

2. The Nest camera will disconnect from the Alexa device after 30 minutes. You will need to mention the voice command again for the feed to come back. This is quite a drawback because some people use the Amazon Echo Show to double as a baby monitor using Nest for its camera. They need to see things happening at all times, and not just when they remember to look in.

3. There are quite a number of one-star reviews on this particular skill on Amazon. A good majority of these complaints involve the Nest camera not responding or stopping to respond after some time.

How to set up Nest with Alexa skills

Step 1. Open the Alexa app. Once there, you can choose which smart home skill you want to enable. Look for either:

  • Nest Thermostat by Nest Labs, Inc.
  • Nest Camera by Nest Labs, Inc.

You can also enable both skills.

Step 2. Ask Alexa to discover your Nest devices with the “Alexa, discover my devices” command. This should allow your Alexa speaker to find your Nest device automatically.

If you have problems with this step, Amazon suggests:

  • Downloading the Nest companion app and completing the device setup.
  • Going to https://alexa.amazon.com and trying to complete the setup there.
  • Restarting your Nest device, as well as your Alexa device.
  • Disabling and then re-enabling the skill using the Alexa app.
  • Downloading and installing software updates available for your Nest devices.
  • Ensuring that your Alexa speaker and Nest device are on the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Turning on the SSDP or UPnP on your router.
  • Checking your Nest device’s group name.
  • Retrying the discovery process by repeating “Alexa, discover my devices command.”

Step 3. Make sure that you are the owner of the Nest device you want to work with Alexa speakers. If you are just sharing access via the Family Accounts, then you should know you cannot set up Nest to work with Alexa.

Step 4. If you are adding a new Nest device, you can just go directly to asking Alexa to find it.

Step 5. If you have several Nest devices, you can assign a name for each. To make it easier to remember their names, you can use their location. For instance, you can name your Nest Thermostat that is installed in the living room as “Living Room.”

If you do not say the name of the device, Alexa will prompt you to say it.

If you have two thermostats in two separate bedrooms, for example, you can add a custom name to it. For instance, you can say, “Alexa, set the bedroom downstairs to 70 degrees.”

REMINDER: You should not say the word “thermostat” or “camera” when you want to change the temperature or control a Nest camera. For instance, it is wrong to say, “Alexa, set the bedroom thermostat to 80 degrees,” instead, you say “Alexa, set the bedroom to 80 degrees.”

Step 6. Be sure that your Nest Thermostat is not in Eco Temperature Off mode. Alexa would not be able to control your Nest in this mode. This is also true if your thermostat is in Emergency Heat mode, or if the device is an emergency shutoff.

Step 7. Alexa would not be able to control your Nest cameras if they are turned off.

New skills

There are new skills that are available, and the programmers and developers who are under the “Works with Nest” program are constantly coming up with new skills for you to use with your Amazon Echo.

For instance, you can now say, “Alexa, tell Nest that I’m too hot.” Alexa will then tell your Nest thermostat to turn down the heat. You can also tell Alexa that you are going out of the house, so that it will tell your Nest thermostat to switch to Eco Temperature, helping you save more on heating and cooling costs.

Nest + Amazon Echo + IFTTT = More automation choices with more smart home devices

For those who like using IFTTT recipes, then you are up for a treat. Nest not only works with Amazon Alexa but also with IFTTT. This helps you do more with your Amazon Echo and Nest devices.

Some of the recipes available now that you can try include:

1. Turning on your Nest fan.
2. Setting the right temperature and turning off your Philips Hue lights all in one go. This recipe is particularly useful if you want to go to sleep at the right temperature.
3. Using Alexa alarm to wake your smart home up, your Nest device included.
4. Using Alexa to set Nest thermostat temperatures and run a TP-Link Kasa scene.

You can find more IFTTT recipes at https://ifttt.com/connect/amazon_alexa/nest_thermostat.

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When it comes to making Amazon Echo work with Nest devices, there are growing pains. That is to be expected when technology is involved. The good news is that Nest is constantly improving on its Alexa skills, making it easier to enable skills, discover and operate your Nest devices. Plus, the company’s Works with Nest program is also coming up with new skills that make voice commands more intuitive.