Can Alexa Schedule Lights? Yes How-to Do It

jschoenbaechler@gmail.comHow To74 Comments

Alexa schedule lights

Can Alexa Schedule Lights? Yes, How-to Do It

Do you want your lights to automatically turn on and off at a set time?  What about coordinating your lights with other functions like changing your homes temperature in the evening?  Both of these things are possible (and a lot more).  The way to do it is by creating routines within the Alexa app.

What are routines?

Routines allow Alexa and your Echo products to perform several tasks in a row with little or no intervention by you.  You may think you need a programming degree, or a Smart Home Hub to do this, but you don’t.  A Wi-Fi router, Echo Dot, the Alexa App and a smart home device like the TP-Link smart switch is all you need.  And forget about needing that programming degree, creating a routine is fast and easy.

Without routines you have to give Alexa a command for each task.  This might sound like “Alexa, set kitchen lights to 50 percent, set dining room light to 50 percent, play summer party music on pandora.”  If you have follow up mode enabled, you only have to say “Alexa” once.  Click here to learn how to enable follow up mode.

With routines you could simply say “Alexa, Dinner Party” and all the above tasks are done automatically.

Another great use for routines is for Christmas Lights, here’s an article about how I setup a couple routines to automatically turn my Christmas lights on and off every day.

How do routines work?

When you create a routine, you have to decide how it will run.  There are 2 options.

  1. Voice Activated Routines
  2. Scheduled Routines

Voice Activated Routines

These routines take place when you give Alexa a specific command.  For example, you could create a morning routine the happens when you say “Alexa, Good morning”.

Scheduled Routines

This is the option we will focus on for scheduling your lights.  You will tell Alexa what time the routine should run.  Then it will continue to happen until you delete or disable the routine.

Why would you want to schedule your lights with Alexa?

There are many reasons to schedule your lights, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Automatically turn outside lights on in the evening and off in the morning.
  • Turn a lamp on low when it gets dark and then off after bed time. This way you never have to stumble around in the dark.
  • Turn a few lights on in the morning. If you get up before the sun for work, have Alexa turn the lights on for you on work days.
  • Turn all the inside lights off and lock the door. This could be setup for some time much later than you bedtime, just to make sure no lights were left on and the house is secure.

How do you create an Alexa routine?

There are a few items you need to do before creating a routine to control your lights.

  1. Install the Alexa app and link it you your Amazon account
  2. Have an Alexa enabled device linked to your Amazon account and on you Wi-Fi network.
  3. Install smart light bulbs or switches and active them with the Alexa skill in the app.

If you don’t have an Alexa enabled device, Click Here to check out the full lineup of devices with Alexa built in.

Now that we have taken care of the perquisite setup, you are ready to create a routine.  There are really only 2 steps to creating a routine in the Alexa app.

  1. Tell Alexa when the routine happens.
  2. Tell Alexa what to do.

Watch the Video or Read the Steps Below to learn how to Setup Your Own Routines

Step by Step with screen shots

  1. Open the Alexa App and press the Menu Button
    Alexa App Main Menu

    Alexa App Main Menu

  2. Select Routines
    Alexa app routines scheduled

    Alexa app routines scheduled

  3. Press the “+” button at the top
  4. Press “When this Happens”
  5. Press ”Schedule
    Alexa routines when

    Alexa routines when

  6. Set the time of day, then Press “Done
  7. Press “Repeat” then select the specific day, every day, weekdays or weekends. You cannot select multiple days, so if you want a routine to happen on Monday and Wednesday, you have to create 2 separate routines.
  8. Press “Done
    Alexa routines set time

    Alexa routines set time

  9. Press “Add Action
    Alexa routine create

    Alexa routine create

  10. Press “Smart Home”. Now you can select to either control a single device or control a group.  If you have already created groups, you can easily control several devices with a single command.
    Alexa routine what

    Alexa routine what

  11. Once you pick the device and action press “Next” then “Add”. Repeat this step for all the devices the routine will control.  Tapping the large circle with the smart home device icon toggles between on and off.
    Alexa routine device

    Alexa routine device

  12. Press “Create

That’s it.  You can repeat this process and create as many routines as you want.  Well, there may be a limit, but I don’t know what it is.

Some things to know about Alexa routines

Here are a few tips to using routines to schedule you lights.

  • If you create a routine using a group, you can only turn the devices on or off. If you want to set a specific level for a fixture you will have to use the device option.  Then you can set each device to any level you want.
  • Routines can only turn devices on or off. If you want a light to turn on for 30 minutes, you will have to make 2 routines.  One to turn it on and a second one starting 30 minutes later to turn the light back off.
  • Routines were updated in early 2018. Now you can start music with your routines.  Older routines can be updated to add music and to adjust the volume level.
  • Routines won’t control your smart devices if the internet is down, click hear to learn more about what happens when to your smart home when the internet is down.


Hopefully I’ve inspired you to try scheduling your lights with Alexa.  If you don’t have any smart lights yet, Click Here to take a look at my favorite Alexa compatible light switches.

If you are already using routines, leave a comment below and share what you do with you favorite routine.

Thanks for reading,


74 Comments on “Can Alexa Schedule Lights? Yes How-to Do It”

  1. I want to create a Routine for the light in my front sunroom, to turn on at sunset
    Turn off at daylight
    Here it is : on at 8 pm
    Off at 6am

  2. Alexa sounds far away, cannot hear her Why?
    I asked her to turn her volume up, no !
    I asked her to speak louder, no do !

    I am a grandma, cannot figure this out, how to set Routine to turn a light on pm 8
    And Off at 6 am for Neighborhood watch.
    The Amazon’s Fire stick was a Gift from my grown smart kids, my B- day in April
    Please help, tried to do but no go….sorry

    1. Hi Maria
      Alexa’s volume is from “off” to “10”.
      Try “Alexa, volume 3″… and you should see the light covering one third of the perimeter.

      @ Jason, thank you for the great and simple to execute tutorial !


    2. maria, just an option. i bought a porch light from costco for about $39 and it has a light sensor. when it gets dark it goes on and when it starts getting light it goes off. it gives off about 100 watts of light but only uses i think 17 watts ( led bulb ). you just leave the porch light switch on all the time. i put one in the back too. i love them.

      good luck

      1. Hello Mike… would you be kind enough to tell me what brand is that porch light you bought at Costco? I’d be very interested to get one.
        Thanks in advance!

  3. Can anyone help me with this.

    My bedroom lights come on and off with Philips Hue sensors. How can I stop the lights coming on during the night when I get up. I would like to be able to disable the lights between say 11pm and 6pm.

  4. Trouble is none of this really works as per instructions – not the authors fault but Amazon haven’t got the first idea on how to design things, if they do by chance getting something that is usable, then they alter it to make it unusable again!

    To be honest everything to do with Echo these days is next to useless, use to be really good now its so unreliable

  5. Hint
    as of 2018/11/29
    When trying to use android app to set a routine. When you get to the action required, the slide switch to switch on/off the required action, looks like a slide switch but is actually a tap to alter switch. Try and slide and nothing happens – stupid and clearly no one bothers to test at Amazon. Probably guessed I’m frustrated at Amazon inability to write decent apps – or a least test them!

  6. Hi Kerry,
    I’m experimenting with our Christmas tree lights. The white lights are on a TP plug (tree white) and the red lights are on a different TP plug (tree red) and my Echo Dot will do on/off with either when commanded.
    Question 1 – Is there a command I could use to make both plugs turn on/off simultaneously?

    Questions 2 – I need a routine that have both red/white on for 5 minutes, then only red on for 5 minutes, then only white on for 5minutes, then repeat. Is this possible?

    Thanks to all for suggestions,

    1. Dave,
      You could add both plugs to a group in the Alexa App. Then you will have to option to control them together or separately.
      Here is a link to a video I just posted showing how I setup my Christmas lights.

      I’m not sure about the answer to the 5 minutes on and off question. There are a few complicated options I can think of, but if I come up with a simple solution I will let you know.


  7. Hi Jason,

    Please forgive me for the brain fart I had for asking Kerry for help with my Christmas tree lighting questions.

    Hope you can help.

    Thx much, Dave

  8. Thanks, works great for me to turn on and off Christmas lights with amazon plug. I have a wink hub ( works with Alexa) to do all the other things but the wifi plug doesn’t show in there it works with Alexa directly.

    1. Sam,
      Most WiFi plugs will talk directly to the Alexa app. Some of them can also be linked to your wink account, but many of them only talk directly to Alexa or Google Home.

  9. I think my question is the same as Kelley’s – can get a light set up to come on at a certain time but I can not get it set to go off at a set time. Could you show how to do that?

    1. Sally,

      You just need to setup a routine that will turn the lights off at a specified time.
      Here is a video I just posted showing how I setup my Christmas lights. You can create a routine to turn the lights off the same way I do in the video.


  10. OMG I cannot believe how easy this was to do with your step by step tutorial. Why do Amazon not do a few of these. I have searched the internet and downloaded smart home apps with no joy and then stumbled across this page and voila I have set my first routine. Thank you so much for your help and making it so simple to follow.T

  11. Sunrise and sunset change during the year. Does Alexa have an option in the routines that would allows you to ‘turn the light on at sunset’ and ‘turn the light off’ at sunrise?

    1. David,
      Right now Alexa doesn’t have a sunrise or sunset trigger. I hope in the future Amazon will add one. Depending on who’s smart switch or light you are using some have that function built into their own app. The downside is that then your control split in more than one place.
      Thanks for asking,

  12. Great tutorial! I was stuck on how to turn off. Duh, never thought to create a second routine. Well done, thank you!

    1. Kevin, sometimes the simple solution is so easy for us to overlook isn’t it.

  13. The part of the set up that I needed was the part that was rushed through with no explanation. (After the repeat step) Will keep looking on YouTube for how to schedule lights. 🙁

    1. Tracy,
      I just posted a YouTube video walking you through setting up routines in the Alexa App. The video is embedded in this article as well.

      I hope that helps,

  14. Hope Amazon implement sunrise /sunset functions in near future. I got plugs from 3 different vendors and need to program each app for this 3 different plugs. IFTTT is maybe an option meanwhile.

    1. Peder,
      I hope for sunrise/sunset upgrade to the alexa app as well. I have also been looking into IFTTT or Stringify to trigger a routine. It looks like Amazon doesn’t allow remote services to activate routines, but if you come up with something please let us know.

  15. Hi, about a year ago I created a routine to turn on Lamp 1 at 6am. Now, I want to delete that routine; however, when I go to the routine section on the app, there are no routines listed. What happened to the routine (it is obviously still working each morning)? How do I delete it if it is not showing up?

    1. Lisa,
      It sounds like a problem with the App. You might want to try removing and reinstalling the app on your phone.

  16. My question is somewhat unrelated to your article but I’m hoping you might help. My echo spot is performing a routine at 6:50am daily and I cannot find where I set that up even though I remember setting that particular time. There is only one routine showing in my list and it’s set to “good morning.”

    1. Amy,
      It sounds like you are having the same problem as Lisa. I would try removing and reinstalling the App.
      Please let us know if that helps, since it seems to be a reoccurring problem.


  17. How do i get alexa to turn on the lights in a routine when its dark outside but not when its light” on.

    For example I’d like to power up equipment in the office and then to turn the lights on if its dark out side but not if its light .
    Alexa knows if its light or dark outside based on location. how do I incorporate this into my routine

    1. George,
      There are 2 features missing from Alexa routines to do what you want.
      1. Routines do not have sunrise or sunset triggers yet.
      2. Routines can only have 1 trigger. You cannot add conditional logic to have 2 conditions like a voice command and a check of the time or sunrise status.

      There are other ways to do what you want. The best approach for you would be to add a smart home hub like the wink hub or smart things hub. These allow more more advanced programming and will still work with Alexa. Here is a link to an article I wrote about smart home hubs

      I hope this helps,

  18. Can this schedule feature work down to seconds or only minutes? I would like something to turn on at 7:00:00 and turn off at 7:30:35?

    1. Stacey,
      Routines in the Alexa app are limited to hours and minutes. You may be able to create a routine with some other system like a smart home hub or IFTTT that would allow you to set a delay with seconds, but the response time of wifi devices isn’t all that fast so I wouldn’t count on anything to be more accurate than about 30 seconds.
      I hope that helps,

  19. How can I activate the mic on to my smart LED lights strips in a Alexa routine ? I’ve created a the routine the routine and the music and lights strip all come on the command except the mic don’t activate

    1. Steven,
      I don’t know which light strip you are using, but the Alexa skill may not have that feature. You might want to check the app for the light strip and see if there are any default settings you could change there to enable the mic every tie the strip is turned on.

  20. Is it possible to use a one time command such as “Alexa turn living room lights off at 2 AM?” I do not need a repetive routine. I’ve tried issuing the command but it is executed immediately and not for the requested later time.

    1. Steve,
      I don’t think that is possible. If you always want it to happen after a fixed delay (say 2 hours) you could create a voice activated routine. This seems like a very useful function, hopefully Amazon will add it in the near future.

  21. I was hoping that I could automatically turn on all of my lights at dusk but apparently, you can’t. You have to choose a time of day which makes little sense as dusk changes by the season and we have that pathetic bi-annual Standard Time changes to contend with.

    I’ll have to look into IFTTT to see if it can be programmed properly through that service.

    1. John,
      I haven’t had any success with this myself. If you are able to figure it out please share your solution with me.

  22. I would like my Wemo mini plug to come on and off a couple times at night (controls my dual usb charger) and stay on for so many minutes. During the day I would like to be ble to automate a power sequence as needed: stay on for an hour each time. (The intent is for charging my phone and tablet in a way that is ideal for battery life. ) I use Alexa. Is either scenario/routine possible?

    1. Jason, You could create a routine that turns the plug on and then has a wait command that lasts as long as you want the devices to charge. Then add an off command to stop the charging. It would be a pretty simple routine, only 3 steps. If you want to do this more than once a day you will have to make a routine for each time you want the charging cycle to take place.

  23. Can’t get it all from these instructions. Some steps skipped. Did this turn it on or off? Can you do both on and off in one routine or does it take two routines. Please add the rest of it.

  24. Hi Jason, great guide- thank you! I’m interested in a way to voice activate “vacation timer” lights so that if I say “I’m leaving town” Alexa will turn on/off my bedroom and other lights at designated intervals to make me appear home. I’d like to say “I’m home” to cancel the automation. How would I do that?

    1. Kevin, this level of automation isn’t in the Alexa app (yet). You would need a smart home hub or the app from your light manufacturer may have a vacation mode.

  25. i asked alexia to turn on my bedroom light at 5 am every wednesday now work has changed and i cant stop it coming on at 5am on wednesdays nothing in the app on routines as i asked it to do it ive reinstalled the app several times with clearing the chace and data ect please is there anyway to stop it coming on at 5am

    1. Scott, this seems to be a reoccurring problem with several people. I am trying to find the cause and a fix for it. Sorry I can’t help you yet.

  26. Above, Maria asked how to schedule lights to go on and off. I don’t see a reply to this. I have an Echo 2 and a smart plug and I would like the light to go on at 5 PM and off at 10 PM. How can this be done? Thanks

    1. AL,
      You need to create 2 routines following the steps in the article.
      The first routine should be set to turn the lights on at 5pm.
      The second routine will turn the lights off at 10pm.
      Let me know if you have any other questions.
      Thanks, Jason

  27. Hi Jason
    Your tutorial was very useful – thanks.
    I have set up several routines, one turns lights on in a spare bedroom. I only want the lights to come on and go off if we are out of the house. When we are at home and don’t want the lights coming on, can you pause the routine rather than deleting it?

    1. Karen,
      Routines in the Alexa app can only have one trigger. You cannot have an “if” “and” statement like “if it’s 8pm and the alarm mode is away”.
      The best way to get that level of automation is to use a smart home hub. I have an article comparing some of the best hubs that work with alexa, check it out here.
      Thanks for reading and for the question,

  28. Video is good….. but I do have a question.
    I have two Alexas, one in the living room and one in the bed room. The living room controls one lamp and the bed room controls five lamps. What I would like to do is have a routine with two of the lamps in the bed room to turn on alternately between two of the five lamps. The shutting off part will be done only on command.

    Sunday – lamp 1 ON at 9:00 pm
    Monday – lamp 2 ON at 9:00 pm
    Tuesday – lamp 1 ON at 9:00 pm
    Wednesday – lamp 2 ON at 9:00 pm
    Thursday – lamp 1 ON at 9:00 pm
    Friday – lamp 2 ON at 9:00 pm
    Saturday – lamp 1 ON at 9:00 pm

    With the two Alexas how do I get the routine set up with the Alexa in the bedroom? In your answer please say where the menu button is or what it looks like.

    1. Paul,
      First, I am assuming that each light is connected to it’s own smart plug or has a smart bulb, this is the only way you can control them separately.
      Next, As long as both Alexas are on the same account you should be able to control all the devices from either one.
      If you open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet and click devices on the bottom right you should see all of them, then you can create a routine like I showed in the video.
      Let me know if you need anything else.

  29. Thanks….I am trying to create a rountine….light on at 6:00pm …off at 8:00pm……the app won’t let me save. I go to routines from the menu…hit the plus button (top right).. then hit when this happens….hit schedule …hit at time…select 6:00pm…hit select ..weekdays…hit next…and the save button doesn’t lite…so I cannot save….thanks for your help.

    1. Ron,
      The app won’t let you save until you also add the action.
      You need to press the + below the when this happens section and add the light turning on then you can save.

  30. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for the great tutorial! Is there any way to have Alexa execute a command when the temperature reaches a certain degree? Or even just notify me. Alexa can tell me the temperature, so is it possible to some how create a trigger?
    For example, if it falls to 32 F, it could turn on the heat tape for my water pipes (or at least remind me to do it). Perhaps if it reaches 80 degrees it could turn my small a/c on, etc.
    Thank you!

    1. Willow, I don’t know of a way to do that right now. Alexa doesn’t allow much to be activated by 3rd party devices.
      Sorry, Jason

  31. Hi, I’m trying to figure out why my lights are randomly turning on & off throughout the day & night. I have routines set up for when I say Good morning & Good night to turn the lights on & off, but those are the only voice routines set up. I went back to the Alexa app, routines & cannot find any routines that are scheduled at all.

  32. HiI have connected lights to Alexa and it is working fine with “ON” ,”OFF” Commands.. But now i want to “ON” these lights in 15 or 20 seconds interval. I grouped the lights like this: Reception, dining hall, office room, kitchen, outdoor etc . Here first I want to turn on reception lights then turn on dining room lights, the kitchen etc within a time frame of 15 0r 20 seconds.Is it possible ?how?

  33. Pingback: Smart Home Lights: Key Features You Should Consider Before Purchasing

  34. Is it possible to have Alexa control lights so they come on 30 minutes before sunset? In Arizona the time the sun sets changes rapidly so if I have lights go on or off at a certain specific time I have to constantly change the time so the lights still come on 30 minutes before sunset.


  35. I would like to create a schedule for turning various lights on and off at various times on various days – give the house a “lived in” look. This can be done, I guess by executing various routines “on” “off” per the schedule. Clumsy but do-able.

    I am stumped at how I can kick this off so to speak by saying something like “Alexa, I am on vacation”

  36. is it possible to create a routine that recognises that a plug has come on and plays music for as long as the plug is on.
    My plug is activated by the motion sensor on the flex device. I want the music ( amazon music) to start playing when the sensor senses motion and puts on the plug. Ifi have the motion launch the music it stops playing when motion is not detected or restarts after a fixed time. I have a timer on the plug to remain on for ten minutes want the music to play for that duration hence the linking to the plug.

    1. Sharad, unfortunately Alexa does not have a way for external devices status to trigger events or routines to start.

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