When you hear the dreaded “The Alexa device is unresponsive” It’s a total pain. It’s happened to me on a number of occasions in the last few years, as I regularly use Alexa to control other smart home devices, either directly or through various routines I’ve configured.
Below are the steps I’ve taken to troubleshoot the problem which will hopefully help you to get your connected smart home devices back up and running. The steps progress from initial simple solutions to more complex reasons why the device will not respond.
Note: This article tackles scenarios where the Alexa device is unresponsive and is successfully answering your voice commands, however the connected smart device (such as a Philips Hue Light Bulb, a Kasa Smart Plug, a Roomba Robot Vacuum, etc.) is not responding to Alexa.
If your actual Alexa device, such as an Echo speaker or display, is not answering you, check out my other troubleshooting guide here.
1. If the Alexa Device is Unresponsive, Confirm the connected device has power
First things, first … make sure the device is plugged in! Sounds ridiculous, but you won’t believe how common a mistake this actually is. If you live with other people, it’s quite possible that a family member unplugged the device by accident. You could’ve done it yourself and just forgotten about it!
When dealing with smart light bulbs this is a more frustrating problem. If someone turns the light switch off, no power is getting to the bulb. As a result, Alexa can’t control the device as the smart bulb needs constant power.
2. If the Alexa Device is Unresponsive, Check your home Wi-Fi network
If your Alexa device is unresponsive, it might be time to check your internet connection or your home Wi-Fi. Your home network might be inactive or unstable, causing connectivity problems between Alexa and the device in question. Or your Wi-Fi network might be operational, however, your ISP is down so you have no internet connectivity.
Check Wi-Fi is working
To check this, I usually stand beside my router and connect to my Wi-Fi network on my smartphone, disable “mobile data” and then in Google, I search for “speed test”. Google has its own speed test in its search so by clicking that you can see what your internet speed is. When your Alexa device is unresponsive, it's helpful to check if other devices are connected to the same network, as this could be a sign of network issues.
Check Internet Connectivity
If you can connect to Wi-Fi but cannot get to the Google “speed test” screen, or the “speed test” has stalled, then there’s no data flowing from your internet service provider. In that case, I usually go back on “mobile data” and check online to see if there’s an ISP outage.
Possible Wi-Fi Range Issue
If the device Alexa is unresponsive and trying to connect to is a distance from your router, then it would have a low Wi-Fi signal. In this case, these devices can be much more susceptible to interference from other radio signals, or even physical obstructions like closed doors.
To check this there are a variety of Wi-Fi signal checker apps you can install on your phone. I usually just run the same Google “speed test” check, except this time I stand beside the device as opposed to the Wi-Fi router. If I cannot load Google from this distant location, then you may need to invest in a Wi-Fi extender or upgrade to mesh Wi-Fi to improve signal strength.
3. If the Alexa Device is Unresponsive, Power cycle your connected device (Turn it off and on again!)
Encountering an Alexa device that is unresponsive can often be resolved by simply rebooting the device or checking for any software updates. I talk a lot about turning things off and on again. As you can tell, it’s a useful technique for all kinds of devices.
To power cycle, you simply turn off your device completely and remove the plug from the outlet. Wait at least 30 seconds, though I recommend waiting a full minute in case any cached settings persist. Once that time has passed, you can plug the device back in and turn it on again. You’ve just successfully power-cycled your device!
It can’t hurt to also turn off and on your Alexa device (such as an Echo speaker), however, that isn’t usually where the problem lies.
If you think there may be network issues with the devices communicating, then it can also be worth power cycling your Wi-Fi router. Make sure to leave it unplugged for 1 minute for all caches to clear. If your Alexa device is unresponsive, ensuring it's within range of your Wi-Fi router and not blocked by physical obstructions can often solve the problem.
Once all of the devices boot back up, try the voice command again to see if Alexa can successfully communicate.
4. Verify the manufacturer’s app still works
A lot of smart devices have a separate app created by the manufacturer where you can control the device directly. Dealing with an Alexa device is unresponsive might require a quick check of the Alexa app to ensure the device is properly set up and connected.
Try opening the app and see if your device responds to commands from that app. If the device doesn’t respond, then the problem is not with Alexa but with the actual device.
In this instance, there are a few things to try …
- As in point 3, I’ve previously restarted both the device as well as closing and re-opening the app which sometimes works.
- I’ve checked online to see if the manufacturer is experiencing an outage. A lot of apps rely on cloud services which can go down from time to time.
- I’ve checked to see if the manufacturer’s app is fully up to date and if not, updated it.
- Other times I’ve had to delete the manufacturer's app from my phone and set the device back up again. Follow the instructions in Point 8 below for this.
5. Check Twitter (Also known as X!) to see if there is an Alexa or Device outage!
As mentioned above, a lot of smart home devices, including Alexa, rely on cloud services to operate. Every now and then those cloud services experience an outage which also knocks out your devices. This leads to the Alexa device is unresponsive and “the connected device is not responding” message.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do when this happens but simply wait until the outage is resolved. I usually check Twitter to see if other people have encountered the same issue and if there is any ETA on when services will be resumed.
This cloud reliance is a major risk with smart home devices, which is why there is a push towards “local-only” home automation. There have been cases where people have not been able to turn on their heating in the depths of winter, due to smart thermostat cloud outages.
In other cases, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure have had partial outages. As these platforms power cloud services for a wide range of smart home manufacturers, the impact is felt far and wide.
6. If Alexa is Unresponsive, Check if the Skill is Enabled
If the problem is not with the manufacturer’s app, you’ll need to look at its connection to Alexa, which takes the form of a “Skill”.
Sometimes Skills can mysteriously become Disabled, which can be due to new permissions or new terms of service that need to be agreed upon. In those cases, the Skill Expires and needs to be re-enabled.
Note: I find it best to use the Alexa app as opposed to the Alexa web interface, as not all features and settings are supported online.
To find the relevant Alexa Skill …
- Click on “More,” proceed to “Skills & Games,” and select “Your Skills.”
- Look for the skill or device in question.
- If the device is not there, you’ll just need to add it. Click the Search icon and enter the app name and click “Enable to Use.” Follow the instructions and your voice commands should be back up and running.
7. Toggle the Alexa Skill off and on
If you find your device in Alexa’s Skills, then try Disabling and Re-enabling the Skill.
Disabling the skill unlinks your Alexa and Manufacturers accounts.
After clicking “Disable Skill”, look for your device in the “My Skills” section. If it’s no longer there, then you’ve successfully disabled it.
Make sure to restart the device before re-enabling the skill after disabling it, to flush all cached settings
To re-enable the skill, search for it via the search icon in the top right of the screen. You will need to provide permission to link again.
This has worked for me before when the manufacturer made changes to the app's authentication requiring an account relinking.
Note: If you are still getting the message Alexa is unresponsive, you may also need to delete and re-add the “device” under “Devices” at the bottom of the Alexa App. This involves clicking on the device, clicking the gear icon, and then the bin icon. From there you’ll need to re-add the device from the manufacturer's app.
8. Update the device manufacturer’s app and the Alexa app to the latest version
It’s possible that Alexa no longer supports the older version of the device manufacturer's app that you have installed.
Or you could have a really old version of the Amazon Alexa app, which could be causing you problems.
To update them, go to Google Play or the App Store, and search for the installed apps to see if an update is available.
If so click update to download the latest version. On successful installation, open up the app to ensure you can still control the device.
Finally, test the Alexa voice command again to see if it works.
Tip: You can also ask “Alexa, check for updates” to see if everything is as it should be.
9. Uninstall and reinstall the device manufacturer’s app
If your Alexa device is still unresponsive, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the manufacturer's app to resolve the problem. As you can see above, updating the app version usually doesn’t require you to set up the device again -whereas this approach will.
Note: Depending on the app, you may lose some app data or settings with this approach.
- For this you’ll firstly need to disable the specific “Skill” from Alexa’s app (under More > Skills & Games > Your Skills > Skill > Settings > Disable Skill)
- Then Uninstall the app from your phone. On Android you can do this by holding the app icon and hitting “Uninstall”. On iOS, hold the app icon and hit “Remove App” and then “Delete App”
- Again it’s not a bad idea at this point to plug out and plug in the device, to flush any cached settings.
- Now go to the App Store or Google Play, find and install the latest version of the app.
- Log in to your account and follow the steps to add the device again, if required.
- Now that you can control the device using the manufacturers app again, go to the Alexa App, search and enable the Skill to voice control it.
10. Update the device firmware to the latest version
The device Alexa is attempting to control runs on firmware, which is essentially software that makes the device work. This firmware is different from the manufacturer's app, which is used to communicate with the device.
Much like any other software, device firmware is not always perfect and can be prone to bugs and other system errors. You can get rid of some of these errors and speed up your device by upgrading its firmware.
There is usually a section within the manufacturer's app where you can see the current version of the device's firmware and if any updates are available.
If there are updates, then it’s worth installing them and then testing out the voice command again to see if that solves the problem.
11. Router Settings
In researching this article, I read how some users have had issues with certain brands of Wi-Fi routers. In other cases, recent firmware updates to routers that previously worked, activated a tighter security protocol, causing the problem.
This tighter security policy blocked devices from communicating with each other on the same Wi-Fi network, resulting in the “Alexa Device is Unresponsive” message.
- AP Isolation: AP (Access Point) Isolation is a security feature present on some routers that prevents devices connected to the Wi-Fi network from communicating with each other. Enabling this feature may prevent your Alexa device from sending commands to other smart devices on your network.
- Client Isolation: Similar to AP Isolation, Client Isolation also blocks communication between devices on the same network. If you are having trouble with Alexa not communicating with other devices, this setting may be worth investigating.
- UPnP (Universal Plug and Play): UPnP allows devices on a network to discover each other and establish functional network services. Disabling UPnP can cause issues with device communication on your network, as it's used by many smart devices to easily connect and interact.
- MAC Address Filtering: MAC address filtering enhances security by permitting router traffic exclusively from approved devices. If your Alexa or smart device isn't on the approved list, communication issues may arise.
- Guest Network: If your Alexa device and the smart device you're trying to control are not on the same Wi-Fi network, they may not be able to communicate with each other.
- Firewall Settings: Some routers have built-in firewalls for additional security. Overly strict firewall settings may prevent your Alexa device from communicating with other devices on your network.
12. Factory reset the device
If all else fails, and you still are experiencing the Alexa device is unresponsive message, you can still try a factory reset of the device Alexa is trying to connect to. A factory reset wipes the device completely and returns it to its original form. The problem with performing a factory reset is that the device’s memory will be erased. That’s why most people save this solution to be used as a last resort.
Different devices follow different procedures for performing a hard reset. It usually involves holding certain buttons for a specific amount of time. I recommend you check the user manual of the device to find out how to perform a factory reset.
Once complete, you can set up the device again in the manufacturer's app, relink the Alexa Skill and try the voice command again.
I hope the above tips help in getting rid of the Alexa device is unresponsive error message.
Trying to get two devices from different manufacturers to talk to each other can be very frustrating. Even more frustrating if dealing with their customer support and they blame each other!
Leave a comment below if none of these tips worked or let me know what worked for you!