Fast Tips Friday: Troubleshooting ‘device isn’t responding’ Alexa errors

Post published 7/19/19 – Perhaps no Alexa error is quite so frustrating as the dreaded, “Sorry, [device name] isn’t responding. Please check its network connection and power supply,” because you only get this one after your smart home device has been properly set up and in use. Today’s fast tip can help with that.

Smart home devices used to have skills, and many still do

Many owners of Alexa devices don’t know that in the early days of Alexa, manufacturers of smart devices like lightbulbs, security cameras and the like had to create Alexa skills to get their hardware talking to Alexa. Owners of the devices would have to install and use the manufacturer’s skill to control their smart home devices with voice commands, which followed this format:

{wake word}, tell {smart device skill name} to {desired action}.

For example:

Alexa, tell LIFX to turn off the bedroom light.

Now, most Alexa-compatible smart home devices can be controlled by Alexa directly and no longer require any special skill to act as a go-between.

But when Alexa’s not getting the job done on her own, very often the manufacturer’s skill still can.

If your smart home device still has a skill, install it and learn its commands.

The next time Alexa says, “Sorry, {device name} isn’t responding,” use the manufacturer’s skill to control it. A quick scan of the Amazon skill store smart home category shows that smart home device manufacturers are still cranking out their own Alexa skills, so the likelihood that one exists for your device is high.

So long as it’s not a problem with your WiFi or internet being down, or the Alexa service itself being down, these connectivity issues tend to be short-lived and intermittent. After using this workaround, the next time you want to control the device try the usual Alexa command; the connectivity issue may have resolved itself.

If the usual Alexa commands don’t work, you probably have an alternative.