How to use Alexa, Hue and Nest to set up a spooky smart home this Halloween

Smart home devices are great tools for creating a spooky scene at your front door this Halloween. Here, I’ll show you how I use smart lighting, smart speakers, motion sensors, and video doorbells to “scare” my smart home every October.

Set your smart speakers to be creepy

Say, “Alexa, start Spooky Halloween Sounds,” and your Echo smart speaker will play a continuous loop of screams, spooky wind noises, witch laughter, haunted bells, crunching footsteps, and a cacophony of other spooky sounds. This is a fun and easy way to get some spooky sound effects in your house on the big night.

I’ve set up two Echo Dot smart speakers into a stereo pair and put them in plastic cauldrons on my front porch. (It hides them and amplifies the sound). Then I run the Spooky Halloween Sounds ability all night on October 31st. He gets a lot of surprised looks from trick-or-treaters. Here’s how to set up a stereo pair with your Echo speakers so you can be sure the whole neighborhood can hear the screams:

  • Open the Alexa app on your smartphone.
  • Select the Devices tab. (Here’s a list of Echo speakers that support stereo pairing.)
  • Tap the plus button in the top right corner.
  • To choose Combine speakers.
  • To choose Stereo/subwoofer pair.
  • Select the two speakers you want to combine.
  • Play next.
  • Choose any of the channels for your first speaker. (The app will automatically assign the other.)

For some spooky fun inside In the home, Amazon released a Halloween theme skill this week that adds a little Halloween vibe to your daily interactions with Alexa. Once enabled, when you ask things like the weather, timers, alarms, and jokes, Alexa will add some spooky sounds like witch cackles and owl hoots to the answers. To set this up, simply say, “Alexa, enable Halloween theme,” and when you’ve had enough, you can say, “Alexa, turn off Halloween theme.”

Haunting your home with smart lighting

A house with multicolored and creepy lights.

My house was lit up with smart colored lights for Halloween.

From twinkling lights to bright blood-red bulbs, smart lighting can come in handy to spruce up your space for the spooky season. For my setup, I put two Philips Hue color smart bulbs in some table lamps and two Hue Play light bars under my big front window, along with a Hue outdoor light strip next to my front door to create a spooky scene. that will draw everyone’s attention.

Using Hue’s smartphone app, I place them all in a “zone” I call “Spooky,” and then activate one of Hue’s six dynamically lit Halloween scenes. Now, I can only tell my smart speaker to turn on “Spooky”. Here’s how to set it up:

How to Create a Hue Halloween Scene

  • Open the Hue app.
  • Tap on the three dots in the top right corner.
  • Select Add new room or area.
  • To choose Zone.
  • Select an icon for your Zone.
  • Name it. (I used “Creepy”.)
  • Select which lights you want to place on it.
  • Now tap on the Zone to add a scene.
  • Tap on Hue Scene Gallery.
  • Scroll to Halloween and choose from six preset scenes: Trick or Treat, Spellbound, Glowing Smiles, Witching Hour, Phantom, or Pandemonium.
  • Play Add to my Scenes.
A plastic skull in front of fake graves in a front yard

A motion sensor by the front door turns the smart lights bright red whenever someone approaches the house.

You can add multiple scenes to your zone and easily activate them from the zone page in the app. Each Hue Halloween scene is dynamic, meaning the lights will change color for added effect. To activate this, tap the Play button that appears on the scene in the app. You can also set the scene to dynamically autoplay and customize the colors in the scene settings.

Another fun way to use Hue lights on Halloween is to pair them with a Philips Hue outdoor motion sensor using the Hue app and have the lights turn red when someone approaches the door.

If you don’t have smart lights, you can use standard colored string lights connected to an outdoor smart plug. I used a Lutron Caséta outdoor smart plug and a GE Cync outdoor smart plug, both of which work with Alexa. Using their apps, I set the plugs to turn the lights on at night and off in the morning. (I also have the Echo Dots connected to these so I can easily disable them so passersby can’t control my smart home!)

Both smart plugs can be linked to the Hue motion using the Alexa app so the lights turn on when someone knocks on the door.

A plastic skeleton in a fake spider web on the side of a house

This skeleton is illuminated by a Tapo smart light strip.

Exterior lights can be expensive, so just for Halloween night, if it’s forecast to dry out, I install a couple of interior string lights to add some extra effects to the house. This year, I have a TP-Link Tapo light strip on the outside wall wrapped around a spider web and skeleton. The Tapo LED strip is rated at IP44 so it will handle light sparks. But the plug is not weatherproof so I made sure to plug it into an indoor outlet.

I like Tapo because it has some fun dynamic lighting effects in its app. I’m using Haunted Mansion and Lightning this year, and the effects are customizable. The Tapo also syncs to music, so it will blink and blink to the beat of spooky sounds coming from the Echo Dots. Tapo also works with Alexa, so I can pair it with the motion sensor to turn it on when people arrive.

Make your smart doorbell scare your visitors

A plastic skeleton hanging from a doorbell

A Google Nest Doorbell can be set to play spooky sounds when a visitor presses on it.

In some neighborhoods, October 31 is the busiest day of the year for a doorbell. That is definitely the case in mine. My favorite smart doorbell for Halloween is Google’s Nest Doorbell (wired or battery-powered) because it’s the only one that plays spooky tones when you press it.

Spooky sounds with the Google Nest doorbell

Here’s how to set your Google Nest doorbell to play creepy sounds:

  • Open the Google Home app.
  • Select your doorbell from the cameras tab.
  • tap on the Settings icon.
  • Play Door bell.
  • Play doorbell theme.
  • Select Hallowe’en under seasonal themes.

Now when someone presses the doorbell, a selection of spooky sounds will play. The chime automatically returns to the classic Ding Dong theme on November 1.

Spooky sounds with the Ring doorbell

Ring video doorbells also have Halloween-themed ringtones, but these only play from Ring’s plug-in doorbell, which is sold separately. On Halloween, you can try plugging it in very close to the doorbell so visitors can hear it, but it’s not the same as making sounds come out of the doorbell. Still, it’s a good option if you’re running a Ring doorbell. To set it up, follow these steps:

  • Open the Ring app.
  • Tap the menu button.
  • Select Devices.
  • Choose the Chime you want to enable.
  • Select audio settings.
  • Select bell tones.
  • Choose from the list, which includes a Dracula theme, witch laughter, a creepy laugh, and screeching cats.
  • Play Save Changes.
  • Play okay.
Doorbells can play spooky sounds and greet visitors with concise, Halloween-themed quick responses.  Ring also sells holiday-themed watch faces to scare your front door.

Doorbells can play spooky sounds and greet visitors with concise, Halloween-themed quick responses. Ring also sells holiday-themed watch faces to scare your front door.
Image: Ring

Quick Replies is a way to have your Ring Doorbell greet visitors with some spooky responses. The feature is available on all Ring Doorbells (except the first generation model) and is free to use.

Once enabled, visitors receive a recorded message with a creepy theme. Options include:

  • “I’ll be there to eat… I mean, greet you!” (in Dracula’s voice)
  • Tell us what brings you here… or we’ll cast a spell on you! (in a witch’s voice)
  • “My God, it’s not a full moon tonight, is it? I’m afraid I’m in a sticky… situation here. Please leave a message!” (using a werewolf voice)
  • You have just awakened the spirits that haunt this house! Hurry up and leave a message…before it’s too late.” (in the tone of an English butler)

Turn on Quick Responses on your doorbell’s settings page in the Ring app at smart answers.

Spooky sounds with Echo smart speakers

Echo smart speakers can also be doorbells for a Ring doorbell, and you can change the sound the Echo makes when someone presses the doorbell to one of four Halloween-themed sounds: bats, creaking doors, howling, and organ music.

  • Open the Alexa app.
  • Play Devices.
  • Select cameras.
  • Scroll to your doorbell.
  • Tap the settings icon.
  • Under Advertisementsturn on the Ring press notifications lever.
  • Play doorbell sounds and choose from the list.
This motion-activated trick-or-treat bowl is a great way to wow greedy costumed visitors.

This motion-activated trick-or-treat bowl is a great way to wow greedy costumed visitors.
Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy/The Verge

This is just a sample of the fun things you can do with a smart home to entertain trick-or-treaters or have some holiday-themed fun this October. And while I used Philips Hue and TP-Link Tapo lighting here, other smart lighting ecosystems can be set up in a similar way (such as Govee, GE Cync, and TP-Link Kasa). Just make sure you have colored bulbs. (You see, there it is a good reason to buy colored smart bulbs!). Don’t forget these can also be adapted for Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, birthdays, and anytime you want to brighten up your home.

And remember, on October 31st, if you just want to kick back and watch all the action on your doorstep, leave a big bowl of candy (or use this motion-activated trick-or-treat bowl, which helps keep kids from Stealing it all in one go!), Sit back and watch a live stream of your video doorbell on your Fire TV or Google Chromecast.

Photos and videos of Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

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