How to Integrate Alexa with Z-Wave Home Security System
Using Z-Wave as your primary security and alarm system makes a lot of sense as you will be using a single system to control your home lighting while keeping your family safe. The Z-wave ecosystem also has a wide range of devices that allow you to go beyond what you can expect from standard alarm systems. Other than the traditional siren, the Z-Wave allows you to receive push notifications and text messages about the happenings at your home. It also enables you to check in on what’s going on no matter where you are, and it interacts with the lights in that it can turn them on and off creating the impression that you are home.
However, the system has one shortcoming in that it is not compatible with Alexa. Therefore, you have to make most of the adjustments manually. This inadequacy is because Amazon Echo (and all its variants), though great devices for personal control, do not have a Z-Wave chip that would sync Alexa with Z-wave devices. But with a bit of ingenuity, you can integrate your Z-Wave home security system with Alexa albeit with the help of third-party hubs.
Before we get into the meat of this piece, it is best you understand the Z-Wave protocol. It is one of the core specifications you need to ensure a hub is compatible with Z-Wave devices.
The protocol connects z-wave devices to a central hub and each other creating a mesh network enabling it to use low-power waves. The z-protocol allows data exchange and communication across the web as the devices not only communicate with the hub but with each other.
The z-wave protocol though raises a requirement in that all home automation hubs must comply with the z-wave alliance to control Z-wave devices.
Below are the best controllers that allow you to integrate Alexa and z-wave security devices.
1. Vivint Security System
Alexa works with the professionally monitored Vivint Alarm Security system. To add Z-wave devices to Vivint, first, try moving the gadget closer to the control panel and then you can move it back to its original location. Here are the steps for newer sky control users; if you are on an older model, see below.
- Go to the menu, and tap on settings.
- Enter the master code then tap the ‘installer box.’
- Enter the required code, and tap the ‘Z-Wave.’
- Tap ‘Add node’ then go to your device and ensure it is plugged in. Activate it, then go back to your panel and ensure it has connected.
Note: If it does not show, try activating it again.
For Go! Control Users
- On your control panel, choose services.
- Tap the wrench icon, then enter the installer code.
- Select ‘add device.’
- At this point plug in the device and activate it
- Check your panel and ensure it is connected. Repeat the 4th step if it is not connected.
If your z-wave gadgets are set, proceed to the Alexa app.
- Go to your smart home skills and search for Vivint skills.
- Enable the skill and link your Vivint account with Alexa.
- Go back to the Alexa app and click on discover devices.
Your security gadgets should appear on the Alexa app, and you are all set.
By and large, Vivint is the best way to control your z-wave security gadgets. It can check the status of your locks, work with your cameras, and arm your security system.
2. Samsung SmartThings Hub
Other than Vivint, you can use Samsung SmartThings which happens to be one of the best z-wave controllers available. It offers unrivalled connectivity and interoperability. It has a range of up to 130 feet with controlled devices and thus is best for huge houses. It also happens to be affordable, and we recommend it for people on a budget.
However, you should only consider the Samsung SmartThings Hub to control locks and check the status of motion and contact sensors. Alexa can also perform an action when motion is detected. Say raise an alarm, or turn on the lights.
To connect a device to the SmartThings hub, got to the app, and “add a thing” under the “things” section. Proceed as you would typically do when pairing or unpairing. Linking the two should be a walk in the park, but there are instances where you have first have to exclude the device.
There are two reasons why you have to exclude the unit from the network.
- You might have received a gadget that was previously associated with a z-wave network. Say it was tested at a factory and thus it is still part of that network. You first have to exclude it before you can connect it to the hub.
- Another reason could be configuration errors that occur when pairing. Thus the device isn’t connected, but neither is it ready for another attempt.
- Go to the SmartThings app, select menu and then devices.
- Select the hub you are using and then click more options.
- Select Z-Wave exclusion and proceed like you typically would.
- The app will indicate when the device is removed which happens to be one advantage of the SmartThings over the Wink Hub 2.
You can then proceed to pair the device. You still have to connect the devices to Alexa. Login to your Alexa app, and do the following:
- Tap the home menu, followed by smart home.
- Tap enable smart home skills and search for SmartThings.
- Click on enable, and fill in your details.
- After logging in, choose location from the FROM: menu and then authorize.
Once authorized you will receive a message that Alexa has successfully linked to SmartThings then you can proceed to discover devices. Your gadgets should appear on the Alexa app, and they are ready.
3. Wink Hub 2
If you are on a tight budget, we recommend the Wink Hub 2. It happens to be affordable, easy to use, elegant and supports all smart home protocols. Furthermore, unlike the Wink Hub 1, which has a touchy Wi-Fi, the second installation has an Ethernet cable that allows it to sit close to your router.
You will also appreciate the simple to use app, but even better is that it is compatible with Amazon Echo allowing you to control your Z-wave security system.
First, you need to set up the hub and connect it to the Wi-Fi Router. Once that is done, you should be able to add devices to the wink hub.
There are instances where your z-wave home security devices will not pair, and it can be an adventure to get them to work. You have to venture into the z-wave controls on the wink hub to unpair then connect despite the device having never been included in the network before.
Here is how you unpair the device:
- Open the Wink app, and click on the gear icon.
- Click on your hub, scroll down to settings, and click on z-wave controls.
- Click on exclusion mode and proceed like you would when unpairing or pairing a device. Pay attention to the LED indicator as Wink will not confirm exclusion. Instead, the indicator will turn from blinking blue to solid green.
Afterwards, you have to include the device. Follow the same steps only now click on the inclusion mode and proceed like you would when pairing. You then have to link it to the Alexa app. The process is similar to Vivint and SmartThings, only that you now search for the Wink skill. Currently, Wink is limited to locking and checking the status of doors and should only be considered if that is the only security featured installed.
Finally, you can use the Vera Gateway to connect your Z-wave devices to Alexa. Previous Vera smart home controllers lacked Amazon Echo integration, but this is now in the past thanks to a software update. However, the system prohibits you from controlling most security gadgets. The list is provided below.
You can download the app, or use your browser to add devices. Connecting Z-wave devices to a Vera controller is a breeze as all that is needed is to follow the instructions.
If all else fails, go to settings, click on z-wave settings and then repair. The idea here is to update the z-wave network alerting it of the new devices and which gadgets it can communicate with.
You still have to connect your Vera to Alexa. Search for Vera Control in the skills section and enable it. Again, you cannot control most security devices through Alexa while using the Vera Gateway. The prohibited devices are:
- Door locks – You can only lock and check status, but you cannot unlock them.
- Security systems
- Security sensors
- Cooking appliances
- Garage doors – With a bit of work though you can control garage doors. Simply change the sub-category in advanced/params from 5 (garage door, prohibited) to 7 (water valve, allowed)
By and large, consider the Vera Gateway if you are only interested in controlling door and garage locks.
Seeing as Amazon is yet to integrate the Z-Wave chip in the Echo and its variants, integrating Alexa with Z-Wave home security system will continue to be quite an undertaking. However, we have made it easy for you with the above tips. Be sure to pick one that works for you.
You can also contact us for all your alarm and smart home requirements.