Security systems have existed for several years now but with smart home appliances and connected devices, they’ve been made more accessible and cost-effective than they’ve ever been. Although Google Assistant is the most used digital assistant, it is Amazon’s Alexa that runs on a large chunk of the smart speaker and smart display market.
If you own an Echo device in the US, you can use it to secure your home even when you’re away, thanks to a feature that Amazon calls “Alexa Guard”.
In this post, we’ll explain what Alexa Guard is and how it can safeguard your house even in your absence.
What is Alexa Guard?
Alexa Guard is a feature that helps keep your home safe when you’re away. It comes natively configured inside Amazon Echo smart displays, speakers, and connected devices. When properly set up, your Echo devices will actively listen for dangerous sounds within your premises to tell you whether the gas is leaking, something is burning or theft is being attempted.
If you have multiple Echo devices and you’ve added them all to Alexa Guard, any one of their far-field microphones will be triggered to sense dangerous sound. When any device detects such a sound, you will receive an alert from the Alexa app on your phone so that you know there’s some suspicious or dangerous activity happening at your home.
Not just that, you’ll also receive a 10-second audio clip of the sound that was detected and if you want to hear more of what’s happening, you’ll get the option to hear what’s going on at your home in real-time. This helps you avoid getting back home for false alarms or when the devices detect activities even when someone you know is at the house. This way, you can try returning home only if you’re absolutely sure there’s something suspicious going on.
What all can Alexa Guard detect at your home?
With Alexa Guard, your Echo devices can be made to detect sounds from home whenever you’re away. When enabled, you will receive a notification every time any of your Echo devices at home can sense these sounds:
- Breaking of glass, which could be from broken windows or doors because of a theft attempt.
- Smoke alarms, that you may have installed at home to detect when something’s burning
- Carbon monoxide alarms. that detect smoke or burning
Alexa Guard can also be set up to turn on smart lights at your home to look like someone is present in the house. The feature can also be coupled with compatible security systems like ADT Pulse/Control, Ring Alarm, and Scout Alarm.
What devices support Alexa Guard?
By default, Alexa Guard can be activated on any modern Echo device that has a built-in microphone and is not portable. These include:
- Amazon Echo (all generations)
- Echo Show (all generations)
- Echo Dot (all generations)
- Echo Plus (all generations)
- Echo Spot
- Echo Input
You won’t be able to use non-Amazon Alexa-enabled devices to detect sounds with the Alexa Guard feature.
There’s a paid Alexa Guard Plus subscription that Amazon offers to give more device monitoring features for third-party Alexa-enabled devices from manufacturers like Arlo, August, Blink, and Ring. But this service doesn’t enable sound detection from speakers, displays, or other smart home devices not manufactured by Amazon.
Even Amazon’s own Echo Auto and Echo Buds cannot be added to Alexa Guard because both these devices are portable and are not plugged into a constant power source at your house. In addition to that, Alexa Guard wouldn’t also work on Echo Link, Echo Glow, or Echo Wall Clock devices because none of these three devices carry an in-built microphone to be able to detect any sound from your premises.
Alexa Guard vs Guard Plus: What more do you get?
While Alexa Guard is available for free for all Echo device owners, Amazon offers a paid subscription that enhances the features you get to make your home safer. For instance, the free version can only detect and alert you about a limited number of sounds like glass breaking or smoke alarm. Guard Plus, on the other hand, can detect various human activities like someone coughing, footsteps, or doors getting shut.
In addition to that, you’ll get instant all-day access to emergency helplines where you can speak to experts and ask them for immediate help. This means, you can call the local authorities (law enforcement, fire department, or ambulance) about irregular activities at your house, even when you’re not present.
Additionally, you can set up more Alexa-compatible devices to your Guard system to play dog-barking or siren sounds to scare away intruders.
To sum it up, Guard Plus provides these four features in addition to the ones you get on the free tier:
- Access to an emergency helpline
- Get alerts based on other activity sounds like footsteps, coughing, or closing doors
- Make barking sounds when motion is detected by connected cameras
- Make siren sounds when irregular activity is detected
These features can be availed for free for a month on a free trial. After the trial, you can access Guard Plus by paying $4.99 per month or $49 per year.
How to set up Alexa Guard
Before you set up Alexa Guard, you need to make sure you have:
- A compatible Alexa smart speaker or display
- If you have a smoke detector or
- An iOS or Android smartphone
- Alexa app installed on the device through App Store or Play Store
- A working wireless internet solution, because all of your Echo devices are connected through Amazon’s cloud platform
When you have the above things configured, you can set it up by opening the Alexa app on your phone, tapping on the ‘More’ tab at the bottom right corner of the screen and selecting the ‘Settings’ option.
Inside Settings, select the ‘Guard’ option.
On the next screen, tap on ‘Set Up Guard’ and follow the steps mentioned on the screen to set it up on your account. You may be asked to select the Echo devices you want to enable Alexa Guard on.
How to use Alexa Guard
Once Alexa Guard has been enabled on your account, you can start using it your way.
Switch on Away mode on Alexa Guard
For privacy reasons, the Alexa Guard feature doesn’t stay active when you enable it on the Alexa app. That’s because the feature is only supposed to detect suspicious sounds when you’re not at home. If you’re at home and the Alexa guard is active, you may keep getting alerts every time your Echo devices hear a sound that is similar to the ones they’re supposed to detect. That’s why Amazon gives you a way to manually activate Alexa Guard for your Echo devices when you’re not at home through an ‘Away mode’ option. For that, open the Alexa app and tap on the ‘Devices’ tab at the bottom.
On this screen, select ‘Guard’ to open the Guard dashboard.
Here, tap on the ‘Home’ button to switch it to ‘Away’ mode. This will instantly turn on Away mode and this will activate Alexa Guard to start detecting suspicious activity at your house.
Alternatively, you can trigger Alexa with your voice and say “I’m leaving” to quickly turn on Away mode.
When Away mode is active, your Echo speakers will show a rotating white ring. If you have Echo smart displays, the screens on them will show a shield icon.
Use ‘Drop in’ to listen to an Echo speaker while you’re away
As we have explained earlier in this post, your Echo speakers will be able to detect unknown sounds at your house when you’re away. In such scenarios, you will get an alert on your phone if any one of your speakers senses a suspicious sound like glass breaking or smoke alarms ringing. This notification will also mention which device detected this sound to give you an idea of where the unknown activity is taking place.
If you get such a notification, you can tap on it to listen in on the real-time sounds happening over at your house to make sure it was not a false alarm. Additionally, you can broadcast your voice directly to the speakers at home to scare away robbers in case of theft.
You can use this option to make sure something is really wrong at your place instead of returning back home right away.
Disable Away mode on Alexa Guard
At any time after enabling Away mode on Alexa Guard, you can deactivate this mode from the Alexa app or via your voice. In the Alexa app, tap on the ‘Devices’ tab at the bottom of the screen and select ‘Guard’.
When the Guard dashboard loads up, tap the ‘Away’ status on the screen to change it to ‘Home’.
You can also switch Alexa Guard to the Home mode by simply activating Alexa on your Echo devices and saying “I’m home”.
Add your Echo devices to Alexa Guard
If you have a new Echo device in your household or if you hadn’t enabled it with Alexa Guard during the initial setup, you can add one at any time. To add Echo devices to Alexa Guard, open the Alexa app on your phone and tap on the Devices tab at the bottom.
Inside the Devices screen, tap on ‘Guard’ to open the Alexa Guard dashboard, and here, go to Settings > Devices.
If you want to set up a new Echo device to detect sound, select the ‘Echo Devices’ option on this screen. Next, locate the device you want to add to Alexa Guard and check the box adjacent to it.
You can only add Echo devices to act as sound detectors for suspicious activities.
If it’s a non-Echo device you want to add to Alexa Guard, you can select them based on specific Guard-based tasks you can assign to them.
For example, you can add Smart lights to turn on ‘Away lighting’ so that the lights in your home are turned on naturally to make it seem like there are people at home. Similarly, you can add your smart camera devices to Alexa Guard and assign them to make ‘Dog Barking Sounds’ whenever it detects suspicious activity at your home.
Set up security systems on Alexa Guard
In addition to Echo devices, Amazon lets you configure Alexa Guard with your existing home security systems that you may have installed at your home, provided you’re subscribed to Guard Plus membership. When you integrate your security systems into Guard, you’ll be able to add extra monitoring features to your setup. If you already use a home security setup made by ADT, Abode, Ring Alarm, or Scout Alarm, then you can integrate Alexa Guard into them by opening the Alexa app and going to Devices > Guard > Settings.
Inside the Guard settings screen, tap on the ‘Security System’ option under the ‘Connect’ section and select the system you use at home.
The main purpose of adding the Alexa Guard to your security system is to notify your security provider about suspicious activities happening inside your premises at the same time you get them. Some systems like ADT Pulse and ADT Command offer automatic alert forwarding so that your security services receive alerts about suspicious activities at the same time as you receive them.
For other systems, you may be able to forward security alerts for unknown sounds but you will have to send them yourself. Both Ring Alarm and Scout Alarm devices also offer automatic forwarding of alerts but they’ll only be available if you’re subscribed to their Ring Protect Plus and Always On+ plans respectively.
Amazon also plans to add support to alarm systems from more manufacturers including A3 Smart Home, Abode, Resideo, and Wyze.
That’s all you need to know about Alexa Guard.