There are three reasons why your Alexa device will display a flashing white ring.
- The first and obvious one is when you increase or decrease the volume, either directly through the buttons, requesting to change the volume or through a connected app or Bluetooth device (such as Spotify).
- The second is if you have the Guard feature enabled in your Alexa App and you have set Guard to “Away mode.”
- The third reason is similar to Guard Mode however it relates to a connected security system such as Ring or ADT. On occasion, the White Ring will spin, even though you’ve told Alexa you’re home or disabled the connected security system. I detail some ways to fix this at the bottom of the article.
I've also recorded a YouTube video where I talk through the 6 fixes for the spinning white ring light. Check it out below.
What is Alexa Guard Mode?
Guard Mode is an Alexa feature that helps you keep an eye on your home even when you are away. When enabled, you will get notified in real time if someone breaks into your house or if your oven catches fire, triggering a smoke alarm.
If you have the Guard feature on, you will see the white-colored ring appear on the top of your Amazon Alexa smart speaker. Echo Show devices will display a shield icon.
To enable it, you simply say:
- “Alexa, I'm leaving”
To disable you say :
- “Alexa, I’m home”
It is currently only available in the fifty US states and there are two versions, Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus.
Alexa Guard is the free version that provides smart alerts if smoke or CO is detected or if the sound of shattering glass is heard. Alexa helps deter intruders by automatically turning on and off smart lights to give the impression the house is occupied. You can get creative by enabling and disabling devices using Alexa routines.
Alexa Guard Plus
Guard Plus is a paid version that in addition to the above, provides access to an emergency helpline, who can contact emergency services on your behalf. Alexa cannot programmatically call 911 as emergency services would probably be overwhelmed with false positive break-ins and house fires!
Guard Plus has additional features such as recognizing activity in your home while enabled. It can also sound a siren or the sound of barking dogs if it detects motion. Finally, it can be integrated with security monitoring services from ADT, Ring or Scout Alarm with more companies onboarding over time.
How does Guard Mode work?
Amazon Echo and Echo Show devices have integrated far-field microphones to accurately capture sounds to analyze.
- For Alexa, the device is searching for the “wake word” to record and respond to a question.
- For Guard Mode, the device is searching for the sound of a smoke / CO alarm, the sound of breaking glass or for Guard Plus, the sound of activity.
How to enable Guard Mode and the flashing Alexa white ring?
The Guard feature is available in the Alexa App, for both iOS and Android devices.
- Enable Guard Mode in the Alexa app by going to More > Settings > Guard and follow the instructions
- Once complete, when leaving your home say the command “Alexa, I’m leaving.”
- Guard Mode is now enabled and Alexa will listen for and notify you if she hears sounds of alarms, glass breaking or activity. Alexa will display a spinning white light when Guard Mode is enabled.
What happens if a smoke / CO alarm sounds, activity is heard or glass breaks?
After Alexa has detected unusual audio with Guard or Guard Plus Mode enabled, it will send an alert to your phone. Alexa will also record the unusual audio and send it to you. If you have a built-in video camera on your Amazon Alexa device (like the Echo Show), you can use the drop-in feature to take a look at what is happening inside your home.
If you are using a professional monitoring kit, such as Ring’s security kit, your Alexa device can send alerts directly to your security provider. In that case, your security team can take the necessary steps to inform local law enforcement about a possible situation.
How to disable Guard Mode and the spinning Alexa white ring?
As Guard Mode can be configured to notify your security company if it hears unusual audio, you likely will not want this enabled when you are at home.
- Return home and stand within earshot of Alexa
- Say “Alexa, I’m home.”
- This will turn off the Guard Mode and you will no longer see the Amazon Echo white ring.
Note: If you have a security system integrated (such as Ring) with a passcode to disarm, you may need to re-enable “Disarm By Voice” after three unsuccessful attempts.
The Spinning White Light Won’t Disappear!
I’ve had a situation where I’ve come back home and said “Alexa, I’m home” however some of my Echo devices still had a spinning white light. Below are some of the steps I used to troubleshoot this.
1. Say “Alexa, I’m leaving” to re-enable and “Alexa, I’m home” to re-disable Guard Mode!
As part of my research, this seems to have worked for some people as it re-syncs guard mode across your devices.
If you have a 3rd party security system (such as ADT or Ring) integrated, then you may also need to arm and disarm that system again which can clear the issue.
2. Cycle Guard Mode in the Alexa App
Go into your Alexa App and go to More > Settings > Guard. Disable Guard Mode and then re-enable it.
3. Power Cycle Echo devices
Turn off, wait 30 seconds and turn on the Echo devices where the light won’t disappear. This can sometimes clear the memory of the device, and solve the mysterious white light.
Once back online, try “Alexa, I’m leaving” and “Alexa, I’m home” again.
Sometimes the problem is not with Guard Mode but with the connected security system. In this case, you may need to unlink that system or disable that particular skill. Once unsynced, you can then re-link them and try arming and disarming them again. This can also help clear the error.
I hope this article helps explain what the Alexa White Ring signifies on your Amazon Echo device and ways to troubleshoot if you can’t get rid of it!
Let me know what works for you in the comments below!