Pairing Eteckcity Smart Plugs with Alexa

Having tried SmartThings (I own the Samsung ST hub and and a few other ST devices), I felt that most of the SmartThings smart outlets were just too expensive at $30 or more.  I have a large house and need a significant number of these.  So I decided to give the Etekcity smart wifi outlet plugs a try.  I bought a 2-pack from Amazon for $26.99.  What a deal.

I have recently installed LED light strips, and wanted to control them by Alexa.

First Impressions and App Installation:

The smart plugs looked smaller on the Amazon listing and were a little bigger than expected in real-life.  Not really a deal breaker though.  I quickly plugged them and watched the small LED light go to blue.  The quick start guide was very light on details and required a download of the VeSync app.

I was struck by the low rating of 2.8 stars as of the date of this article.  I’m always a little apprehensive of low ranked apps especially when I think they are for Chinese made devices (as this one is).  Once I read some reviews and verified this is in fact the app I need for these devices, I downloaded the app and created an account.

Pairing the Devices with the VeSync App:

Once I downloaded the app and created the account I figured I’m almost done.  Not quite.  The app initially had trouble finding the devices.  I made sure the LED light was blue on the device and tried the pairing which takes up to 60 seconds.  It didn’t work.  I held the button down for 5 seconds to force the LED light back to blue (apparently that’s pairing mode) and tried the pairing again and it still didn’t work.

The app suggested I use ‘APN Mode’ which I was completely sold on using because I knew my wifi setup is straightforward and there was no need for a workaround.  Being a stubborn techie, I unplugged the device from the wall and plugged it in again.  That seems to help and the device was found.  I quickly set it up and gave it a unique name and moved on to my second device.

Pairing Etekcity Plugs with Alexa

Once I was done pairing the devices with their native app, it was time to have them speak to Alexa.  In the Alexa app on my phone, under Settings > Skills, I searched for the VeSync Skill and found it quickly. Once enabled, I went back to Settings > Smart Home and click Add Device.

Alexa found the two new VeSync devices and added them.  Having named my devices “Kitchen Cabinet Lights” and “Left Bookcase”, I know very creative, I asked Alexa to turn on my kitchen cabinets and bam, the lights went on with a second.  A quick test of the kitchen cabinets and book case on/off functionality was confirmed.  Now it’s time to create a scene.

Making a Scene

As a novice to Alexa, I figured my next step was to synchronize a few of my lights into a scene so I can turn them on and off in harmony.  I proceeded to the Scenes tab in the Alexa App and found a bunch of scenes which I had not manually set up.  It turns out they were imported from my Logitech Harmony remote integration and Samsung SmartThings integration.

Just as I was about to get frustrated over the lack of control of the scenes, I noticed the Groups tab in the Alexa App.  I clicked on it and clicked on Add Group.  I was able to set a custom name for my ‘mood lights’ and then selected my Echo Dot and the new Etekcity plugs which controlled my LED light strips.  Once I hit Save I was ready to roll.

Alexa, turn on the mood lights!  Ahhh, the sweet feeling of success.

Materials List

Amazon Echo Dot, Etekcity smart wifi outlet plugsStripSun LED light strips.

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