What to know before you enable Alexa Guard

Amazon’s Alexa is one of many smart home assistants available with numerous great features. One of them is Alexa Guard, which can help with home security. Although it’s not the same as having a whole-house security system, Alexa Guard does provide alerts to you if there’s a potential issue while you’re out.

In this guide, we’ll cover what Alexa Guard can do, what Alexa Guard can’t do, as well as how to enable the feature.

What is Alexa Guard, and what can it do?

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Alexa Guard is a feature on Echo devices that acts as pair of ears for your home when you’re not there. It can listen for sounds that indicate something dangerous might be going on in your home, and then alert you to tell you what it hears. Think of Alexa Guard as a tattletale that specifically listens out for breaking glass, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. If the far-field microphones hear one of those danger sounds, Alexa will notify you by sending you a 10-second clip of the sound. You can choose which types of sounds you want to be notified about.

Alexa Guard can also work with your smart lighting to make it look like you’re home when you’re out of the house or when you go on vacation. Guard uses machine algorithms to determine the right on and off patterns to make it look like you’re sitting on the couch watching Netflix when you’re really out on the town.

Further reading

What can’t Alexa Guard do?

While Alexa Guard will help to protect your home in the event of an emergency, you should not use it as a substitute for an actual alarm system. Alexa Guard can work in conjunction with your existing system (Ring, ADT, or Scout), but don’t expect it to work as harmoniously as a system like Nest where it can manage multiple home systems in response to a threat.

Overall, Alexa Guard requires a certain degree of evaluation and decisiveness on the part of the user. It is not a professional monitoring service, but rather a warning you receive from Alexa when she detects danger. You then decide what action to take, if any.

Alexa Guard compatibility

If you have the latest version of the Alexa App, the feature should be available to you as long as you have at least one compatible Echo device — an Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot, or Echo Input.

Alexa Guard can arm your compatible system, as well as forward smart alerts to ADT when it detects a danger sound, like a smoke detector. ADT Pulse or Control customers can choose to have ADT take action on their behalf in response to alerts.

This compatibility also applies to those with the Ring security system. Through the Ring App, Ring Protect Plus customers can request that emergency responders check out their home, but the user has to initiate this request.

If you’re more of a fan of smaller, DIY security systems, you’ll be pleased to know that Guard is also compatible with the Scout Alarm system. If you use the Always On+ plan for monitoring, Alexa will send an alert to Scout’s monitoring center just like a Scout device would on its own.

How do you set up Alexa Guard?

Alexa Guard is pretty easy to set up, and the process takes about three to five minutes, depending on how many of the features you want to use. Here’s how to get Alexa to “guard” your home:

Step 1: Open the Alexa app (update if necessary).

Step 2: Look for the Menu button in the upper left corner — the three lines — and select it. Choose Settings at the bottom of the menu.

Step 3: Scroll down to the section called Alexa Preferences and choose Guard. In the new introduction screen that pops up, choose Set Up Guard.

Step 4: You’ll now be given a series of options to enable for Guard. These include:

  • Smoke and CO alarms: If you have these, Alexa can listen for beeping alerts and send you a text so you know it sounds like a smoke alarm is going off at home.
  • Glass breaking: You can also choose for Guard to listen for the sound of breaking glass (yes, Alexa really has been programmed to detect what different kinds of breaking glass sound like). If you’d like alerts about this, add it in.
  • Away lighting: If you have connected lights, Alexa will ask if you want to enable away lighting, which turns your lights on in a natural way so that it looks like people are home. If you don’t have any connected smart lights, you probably won’t see this option.

Step 5: You’ll now be asked to confirm setup. When done, you’ll see the Guard home screen and the details behind your current status. You can go to settings in this screen and add more capabilities, including additional lights, location information, or adding a security system.

Step 6: Now, whenever you are leaving the house, just say, “Alexa, I am leaving,” and Alexa will enable Guard. When you get home, say, “Alexa, I’m home,” and Guard will be disabled.

Step 7: Guard will send you alerts if it detects the noises we mentioned above, or other signs of unwanted human activity like footsteps and coughing (Guard’s software tries to hone in on these human signs and ignore natural noises around the house, including pets, although it’s not always perfect). If you get an Alexa Guard alert, the notification will include the ability to play a recording of the noise that the Echo captured.

If the recording still has you suspicious that something is wrong, your next step is to Drop In on your Echo device. This links your phone to your Echo speaker so you can listen live to what’s going on and talk out of the speaker — to question who’s there, scare intruders, and so on. We have a whole guide on how to enable Drop In and get permissions for dropping in on friends, but for Guard alerts, you should see immediate options to Drop In on your Echo along with the alert. If you have an Echo Show model, then you can also Drop In with a video connection (albeit this has limited usefulness during break-ins).

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