smart light bulbs

Groups Explained

Controlling single devices via your Voice Assistant works well, as long as you remember what you named. Even with the right device naming scheme, it quickly becomes tedious to target multiple devices one at a time. This is true especially as you get more devices setup in your home. That’s why Groups are one of the first benefits of having multiple Smart Home devices that you run across.

What Are Groups?

A Group is a collection of Smart devices that you can control as if it’s one device. Groups can make controlling a bunch of devices at once very easy. For example, say you have an overhead light with three Smart Lights (although there are cheaper ways to make an overhead light smart). You’d get something like this:

Ceiling Fan Lights
Overhead light with three Smart Lights.

After you name each light, you can control them separately. But if you want to make the entire light fixture blue, it’s too tedious to say a string of three separate commands, like: “Make Overhead Light 1 blue, Make Overhead Light 2 blue, make Overhead Light 3 blue”.

Instead you can turn these lights into a Group. By combining all three lights into a Group with the name Overhead Lights, you now only need to say “Make the Overhead Lights blue” to update all three lights at once.

Differences Between Ecosystems

The idea of a Group is something most ecosystems have, but not all are in fact called by the term “Groups”. Instead, ecosystems sometimes combine different terms together. Groups could be called Collections, Scenes, or even terms like Rooms, Homes, Zones or any other container word you can think of. While that sounds confusing, the good news is the idea of a Group and how you use a Group is mostly the same between all ecosystems.

Setting up Groups with different ecosystems is sometimes a bit tough to find. Let’s do a walk-through to see how you setup Groups with the three big ecosystems.

Groups with Alexa

Alexa uses the term Group. Alexa also considers the term Room as the same thing as a Group. When you first add devices to the Alexa App, it creates new Groups that correspond to Room names for you. But don’t be fooled, these are also just Groups. Group names don’t have to follow that pattern.

Creating a new Group involves a few different screens that simply collect some info like the name and what devices and actions you want.

Groups with Siri

Groups and Rooms are different with Siri, although they do behave somewhat similar. Rooms enable some more subtle control (we’ll cover in detail another time).

Here’s how you make a new Group. Using the Home App, you first long press on one of the devices you want in a Group. From there, you add a name and select the other devices in the group.

Groups with Google

Google follows a similar pattern to Alexa. Rooms and Groups are the same thing, although Google calls everything a Room.

To create a new room, Long press on a device that is marked in the “not in a home” section. From there, you’ll find the “add to a room” button. At this screen, you can also create a new Room.

Groups and Automation

Groups really become powerful once you start adding automation on top of your smart devices. Next, we’ll talk about some simple automation you can build using Groups.

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