While I have an Echo Show 15 mounted on the wall in my kitchen and an Echo Dot in almost every room of my house, I purchased my Alexa-enabled smart speakers before the release of the Echo Dot (5th Gen) and now I wish I'd waited.
Although I originally picked up an Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen) to test out eero built-in with my mesh router, I found the temperature sensor in Amazon’s latest smart speaker to be incredibly useful when dealing with some air conditioning problems earlier this month. Even though my Nest Thermostat said my AC was on and working, asking Alexa to check the temperature in my house showed that something was clearly wrong.
After a few trips up to the attic and calling a family friend for help, my AC is now cooling the inside of my house as it should. However, there’s one place in my house that gets incredibly hot during the summer as it doesn’t have any AC at all.
During the Prime Day rush this week, I took my own advice and used Amazon’s big summer sale to get everything I needed for my next big project: finding a way to cool down my garage in this staggering summer heat.
My garage is actually an addition
Back when I bought my house a few years ago, I thought it was really cool that the room that’s now my game room was originally the garage. The reason being is that my living room is oddly shaped and I didn’t want to have to end up mounting a TV above my fireplace as this not only hurts your neck but could damage it.
Instead, my wife and I decided to make the living room a TV-free room and use what was once the garage as a game room. This way, we could mount a TV to the wall and have more than enough space for a large sectional couch.
Even though the previous owners of my home had converted the original garage into a room, they also built an addition on the back of my house which became the garage. There’s more than enough space there for our bikes, my tools, a dartboard and my entire home gym but unfortunately, it gets really hot in my garage as it technically isn’t a part of my home.
During the winter, it doesn’t get too bad but during the summer, just stepping foot in the garage can leave you covered in sweat. Sure, there are ways to cool it down like opening the garage door or turning on a few fans but every time I go to use my garage to work out or even to play a few rounds of darts, it’s always too hot.
This is why I decided to pick up a new Echo Dot this Prime Day despite already having an older model set up there. With Amazon’s latest smart speaker in my garage, I could know the room’s exact temperature and determine whether or not it’s a good time to head out there or if I should wait for it to cool down.
Using an Echo Dot to cool down my garage
After unboxing my new Echo Dot, I set it up in the back of my garage on the workbench. Once its configuration process was complete, I was able to ask Alexa “What’s the temperature in the garage” and immediately know if it was still too hot for a workout.
As I already have one of the best smart plugs connected to a fan I have mounted on the ceiling, I decided to take things a step further by creating an Alexa Smart Home Routine. That’s right, you can use the latest Echo Dot’s temperature sensor to trigger your other smart home devices to turn off or on.
In the Alexa app, I tapped on the More tab at the bottom and then on Routines. From here, I tapped the Plus icon to create a new routine and give it a name. I then selected the When this happens option from the menu, tapped on Smart Home and selected my new Echo Dot. Here you can pick either Temperature or Occupancy (for motion detection) and I chose the former to pick a temperature to trigger my routine.
With this set up, I tapped on Add action, then Smart home and Plugs to find the smart plug I have my garage fan plugged into. Here you have the option to choose between On or Off and I chose to have the fan in my garage turn on once the room reached a certain temperature.
Not only can I use my new Echo Dot to quickly check the garage’s current temperature from anywhere in the house or even when I’m out but with my new routine, I can use it to automatically begin cooling down my garage once its temperature gets too high. If you live in a colder place, you could set up a similar routine to have your Echo Dot turn on a space heater connected to a smart plug (be sure to check the wattage of both devices first though) when the temperature in any room of your house gets too cold.
An extremely useful feature worth upgrading for
Up until last year, I preferred using the best Google Home speakers to control my smart home. However, after installing a Ring smart sensor in my mailbox so I never forget to check the mail again, I dived head first into Amazon’s smart home ecosystem.
While I initially purchased several Echo Dot (3rd Gen) devices as they closely resemble the design of the Google Nest Mini which was my first smart speaker, I’ve come to love just how easy it is to control my smart lights and other smart home devices using Alexa. However, the latest Echo Dot’s temperature sensor and eero built-in are two extremely useful features that now have me considering upgrading the rest of the Alexa-enabled smart speakers in my home.
I plan on holding off on doing so for now but who knows, with Black Friday and even Prime Day 2024 coming up sooner than you’d think, I might have to outfit my entire home with temperature-sensing Alexa smart speakers.
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Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.
Great use of tech! But as an HVAC engineer I feel obligated to make the following comment: running a fan does not cool a space off. In fact, it technically heats it up (waste motor heat), albeit barely. Using a fan to blow hot air out, or cool air in from outside or another space will cool off the space. Blowing a fan on you will cool you off (thank you sweat glands!). But just blowing a fan around in a space will have no positive effect on room temperature.Reply
that aside, its cool to see that there is a temp sensor in the new dot. As an HVAC engineer I am keen to nerding out on things like individual room temps. Aside from the Keen sensors I have in each room with a heat/cool vent to control its respective Keen damper, I also have Aqara bluetooth sensors throughout because the Keen sensor, to my dismay, does not also track relative humidity. the Aqara sensors are pretty prone to losing connection in my experience, so the echo dot option sounds like a nice back up.
I love gizmos too, but that sounds like an awful convoluted (and expensive) way to replace a simple thermostat!Reply