Common Alexa Problems, Glitches and Fixes

It’s been about a year since I last wrote a post to address common Alexa issues, and Alexa has changed a lot since then. Time for an updated post to help solve some of the most frequent problems and misunderstandings.

 

Glitch Ain't One

 

I’m trying to cover a lot of ground in this one post, so I’m providing some shortcuts here at the top. Click any of these links to jump to that topic in the post below.

New Router or Service Provider, Alexa Unresponsive

New Router or Service Provider, Smart Home Devices Unresponsive To Alexa

Initial LIFX Bulb Setup

Moved The Echo To A New Outlet, Echo Unresponsive

Echo Intermittently Knocks Hardwired, Non-Apple, AirPlay-Compatible Devices Off Your Network

Hub Troubles

 


New Router or Service Provider, Alexa Unresponsive
Switching internet service providers or anything else that could change your Internet Protocol (ip) address can sever your device’s connection and kick it off the network. The solution is simple: update the Echo’s WiFi connection.

1. Unplug the device, wait 15 seconds, then plug it back in. It should go into setup mode, just like it did when you first got it. Wait for Alexa to say, “Hello,” and prompt you to finish setup in the Alexa app.

2. Go into the Alexa app > Settings > [your Echo’s device name] > Update WiFi.

3. Complete the WiFi setup process to select your network name and enter your WiFi password.

 


New Router or Service Provider, Smart Home Devices Unresponsive To Alexa
The specific steps to follow will vary based on the device(s), but in a nutshell you may have to repeat setup of the affected devices as if you were doing it for the first time: the network is new or different, and you need to connect the device(s) to it.

 


Amazon UK customers click here.

 

No Hub Involved
In the case of my LIFX bulbs, I had to:

1. Turn off the lamp fixtures where LIFX bulbs were installed.

2. Unscrew the LIFX bulbs. In the case of my first-gen LIFX bulbs, I had to toggle their reset switches (located on the side of the bulb’s base). There’s no switch on second-gen bulbs.

3. Open the LIFX mobile app and delete each bulb. Groups are automatically deleted when they no longer contain any bulbs. Close the app.

4. Screw the bulbs back in and turn the fixtures back on.

5. Re-open the app and add the bulbs back in, entering new WiFi network credentials when prompted by the app for each bulb.

Interestingly, I didn’t have to repeat setup in the LIFX skill in the Alexa app.

 


Amazon UK customers click here.

 

Hub-based Systems
It may be possible to update WiFi network details for the hub and all the devices attached to that hub in the hub’s accompanying app, without having to power cycle or disconnect anything, simply by selecting the correct, new WiFi network name from the list of available connection points and entering the new password. Try that first.

Plan B for hub-based systems is to reset the hub, which should force it to attempt to re-connect to your network, and at that point you should be prompted to complete WiFi setup in the hub’s accompanying app.

The plan of last resort is:

1. Disconnect any connected devices from the hub in the accompanying app.

2. Disconnect the hub from your network.

3. Turn the hub off, wait 15 seconds, then turn it back on and re-connect it as if you were doing it for the first time, following the same steps as you did when you originally set it up.


 

Initial LIFX Bulb Setup
I recently bought a new LIFX bulb and discovered the setup process has changed since the last bulb I set up. LIFX provides its own how-to page for setup, but it’s confusing. Here’s my revised version of their instructions, which I think is easier to understand.

1. Download and install the free LIFX app. It’s available for both Android and iOS.

2. Insert your bulb to a light fixture and turn it on. Open the LIFX app, login to your existing LIFX account or register a new LIFX account if this is your first LIFX bulb.

3. Tap the + button in the upper right corner of home screen to add a new bulb.

4. Choose “Connect Light”, then exit the LIFX app. Go to your mobile device’s WiFi networks screen, locate the LIFX network, which will have been temporarily added to the list of available networks, and connect to it. This will mean temporarily disconnecting from your usual network, but don’t worry: you’ll be reconnecting in the next step.

5. Re-open the LIFX app. When prompted, choose your usual WiFi network from the list of networks. In some cases, the network may not appear. If that is the case, you can choose “Other…” and manually enter your network SSID (network name). If you have entered it manually, choose your network security. WPA2 AES is most common, if you are unsure. Enter your network password when prompted

6. Wait for the bulb to connect to the network. It may take up to a minute. When it connects, its details/settings page will come up and the bulb may cycle through different dimness levels or colors (in the case of multicolor bulbs). In the LIFX app, the bulb will be given a default name and assigned to the default All Lights group. Change the bulb or group name if you like, then tap “done” to complete setup. You can close the LIFX app now, it doesn’t need to be on (or even installed) for Alexa to control your bulbs.

7. In the Alexa app, search the Skills tab for “LIFX” and enable both LIFX skills. Note that it will be necessary to grant Alexa permission to access your LIFX account.

8. Try out some voice commands to test the setup (e.g., “Alexa, turn off the [name] light.”). In my experience with every LIFX bulb I’ve set up so far, before it would consistently work right I had to reset the bulb by manually turning off the light fixture, waiting 15 seconds or so, then turning it back on.


 

Moved The Echo To A New Outlet, Echo Unresponsive
There are three likely reasons for this.

The first, least likely reason is that you’re attempting to plug the Echo into a dead outlet, or an outlet with the wrong voltage. American outlets are fairly standard at 110-120, but if you’ve got some old wiring it’s possible the outlet is the problem. Try plugging the Echo back into the outlet that worked before; if the Echo comes back to life, you know the new outlet’s the problem.

The second possibility is that the Echo happened to be in the middle of downloading / installing an update when you unplugged it, and it “hanged” the same way your computer can if you unplug it or turn it off in the middle of an update. If that’s the case, a reset should fix it.

Click here for Amazon’s help topic for resetting the first generation Amazon Echo or Dot (Amazon UK customers click here), click here for reset instructions for the second generation Echo Dot (Amazon UK customers click here), and click here for reset instructions for Amazon Tap.


 

Echo Intermittently Knocks Hardwired, Non-Apple, AirPlay-Compatible Devices Off Your Network—Even When They’re Not Using Airplay
Thanks for this tip goes to reddit user charlesjamesfox.

If this is your problem, I suggest you read his entire post on reddit, here. I have to warn you that the solution is fairly technical:

“To stop this from happening, I bought a couple of managed switches and put them between the Echo and the AirPlay devices. Then I told those switches to prevent certain traffic (UDP17) coming from the Echo’s static IP address from reaching the physical ports into which the AirPlay devices are plugged. (You could also play with the multicast rules to stop any traffic that isn’t explicitly requested by a device from reaching the switch into which it is connected.)”

If you’re not comfortable working with switches and port settings, you can hire a network technician to make the necessary changes (provide him or her with a printout of the reddit post linked above), or resign yourself to manually resetting the AirPlay-compatible devices when they get kicked off your network and hope a future firmware update of either the Echo or the AirPlay-compatible devices resolves the problem.


 


Amazon UK customers click here.

 

Hub Troubles
I’ve seen many posts and threads from users of hub-based systems who are experiencing intermittent connectivity problems, especially since the start of storm season. A hub-based solution is highly dependent on a very reliable WiFi network and strong WiFi signals because the hub may lose its connection if WiFi signals weaken or drop out completely for a few seconds. Since it’s typical for any home-based WiFi network to experience occasional dropouts and signal crashes it’s to be expected that hub-based systems will sometimes have connectivity problems.

Brownouts and power outages—even outages lasting only seconds—can cause connected home devices to drop off the network, too. They may reconnect automatically on their own when normal power levels resume, but it’s also possible that a router or hub reset, or cycling power on all affected devices will be necessary to get things working again.

Problems can also crop up anytime the hub, Echo or router firmware is updated, because the engineers who work on development of those three totally different products aren’t generally in the loop with one another on their respective firmware changes.

This is why I have avoided investing in any hub-based smart home controls so far. It’s obvious the technology is not yet perfected, and at the minimum its integration with Echo still has a way to go before it could be called seamless. I’m confident these early problems will lead to lasting solutions and improvements, but for now I’ll stick with my hub-less LIFX smart bulbs (Amazon UK customers click here).


 

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