Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

With a simple command, Alexa can arm all your security devices

“Alexa, arm!” Starting Thursday, December 13, with those two words Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant can activate your security system and recruit additional Alexa-supported devices in your home.

The Alexa development team announced a new Security Panel Controller API in the Alexa Skills Kit. U.S. Alexa customers who also have a supported security system from ADT, Ring, Abode, and Scout Alarm can start using Alexa’s new security capability immediately.

When you enable arming and disarming Alexa-supported home security by voice, you can use the following syntax:

  • “Alexa, is <device name> armed?”
  • “Alexa, arm <device name> in <mode>.”
  • “Alexa, arm.” — If you don’t specify a mode, the configured alarm system switches into “stay” mode, also called “home” mode.
  • “Alexa, disarm <device name>.”
  • “Alexa, disarm.”

Given the current state of biometric identification security, disarming a home security system with voice without extra protection isn’t safe. The Alexa settings page requires a 4-digit PIN code customers must use when they tell Alexa to disarm the system. Customers with systems that already use 4-digit PINs can use either the established PIN or create a new 4-digit code to use only when disarming the system with an Alexa voice command. Customers who current systems don’t require or support 4-digit PINs still have to create a 4-digit code to use with Alexa disarm commands.

The new Alexa Guard feature, which will be gradually rolling out across the U.S., adds three additional capabilities to Alexa’s bag of security tricks: Smart Alerts with and without security system integration and Away Lighting.

With Smart Alerts, when you set the Guard feature to Away mode, compatible Echo device will listen for specific sounds, including glass breaking, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms. If an Echo device detects one or more of the configured sounds, Alexa can send an alert notification to your smartphone. If you integrate Alexa Guard with Ring or ADT systems, you can have the alerts sent to the security system monitoring service.

Away Lighting can turn Alexa-connected home lights on and off when you’re away to give the appearance that you’re home.

You can also set up discovery queries with the new security system and Alexa Guard feature.

“Alexa, is my living room window open?” According to Abode Systems, Alexa customers with Adobe security systems will be able to query contact sensors by name. If you have contact sensors on every window and door in your home, you could check each one as long as you keep the names straight.

With Alexa Routines, Abode customers can configure Alexa to react to contact sensors and motion sensors with customized messages. For example, you could configure custom Alexa announcements when door or windows open or close and when motion sensors detect motion or the lack of motion in any area in the house.

Updated December 14, 2018: Alexa Guard is a feature, not a skill.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
Can you use a Blink Outdoor Camera without a subscription?
Blink Outdoor cam wet from the rain.

For security and peace of mind around your home, a Blink Outdoor Camera is one of the most popular choices for keeping an eye on your property. The outdoor cameras have features like motion detection, a Live View which lets you see what is going on at your property right from your smartphone, and an Activity Zones option that lets you choose which areas of your property you want to record -- which is handy if you live near a busy street where cars could constantly set off annoying motion detection notifications. The recently released Blink Outdoor 4 has improved on these features to make them even better than the previous Blink Outdoor 3.

Like most home security systems, Blink operates on a subscription plan, with a monthly charge starting at $3 to use the service. But if you don't want to pay for the charge, you might want to try using the cameras without the subscription -- though there will be some severe limitations if you do.
Does the Blink Outdoor Camera require a subscription to use?

Read more
How to turn your old phone into a security camera

If you're like most people, you've probably amassed a drawer of unused electronics over the years. Many of these are probably smartphones -- after all, carriers offer great promotions nowadays, giving you a chance to upgrade your device every two years without paying hefty fees. However, instead of letting your old smartphones collect dust (or worse, throwing them away), consider turning them into a makeshift security camera.

There are plenty of great iOS and Android apps available that help turn your old smartphone into a security camera. These work by using your old smartphone's built-in cameras to provide a live stream to your new smartphone. Best of all, many of these are affordable (or free) and work with just about any phone you might have purchased over the last decade.

Read more
Can Alexa call 911? How to set up Alexa for emergencies

If you've got an Alexa in your home, you can use it for more than just alarms and playing music. The device can help out in an emergency, allowing you to get in contact with help if there's an unexpected crisis. In 2023, Amazon announced it was adding an Emergency Assist feature to the device, which is a paid service to help a user connect to an agent who will call 911 for them. The device can't call 911 directly, but it can put you in touch with someone who can call on your behalf and give out key information to emergency responders.

If you don't want to try Emergency Assist, you can also try setting up an Echo Connect box to your landline (if you can find one, as these products are no longer available) to call for you, or using an Alexa skill like Ask My Buddy. There are also other security features you might want to try out on your Alexa like Alexa Together, a subscription for assistance for older adults.
Set up Alexa Emergency Assist

Read more