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Posts: 4
Registered: ‎11-02-2018

Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

I have three Wemo mini plugs and a couple of light switches, installed over a period of maybe 11 months. All of them work fine with Alexa: Alexa sees them on the wifi network, identifies them as Wemo devices of the appropriate kind, allows me to turn them on and off by voice, includes them in routines, etc.

 

The puzzling thing is that I don't have the Wemo skill enabled in Alexa, and in fact I can't enable it -- no matter what I try the skill says that it can't identify them, please try again later.

 

I'm not really complaining, because everything works, but I'm puzzled. How is Alexa working without the appropriate skill here? Does the official skill offer any other functionality that I'm missing? Am I going to abruptly lose functionality when Alexa wakes up and realizes this shouldn't work?

 

Two possibly relevant points:

  • I have a SmartHome hub which Alexa talks to, and she recognizes all my Wemo devices twice - once on wifi, once through the hub. But I think the hub is getting the information about the devices from Alexa in the first place and then just reflecting it back to her.
  • The first Wemo devices I added were close to a year ago. I don't remember, but possibly I had the Wemo skill enabled then. Didn't Wemo "update" their skill by introducing a new one and removing the old one? Could Alexa still be working through the old skill, even though there's definitely no Wemo skill in the "Your Skills" list?
Posts: 304
Registered: ‎03-08-2017

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

The skill is only needed for the dimmer and the WeMo Link bulbs. Alexa is able to find the other devices on your network with UPnP.
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎11-02-2018

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

Hmm.  About an hour after I posted that, I installed a dimmer, the first one in my house, as well as another light switch. Alexa found the light switch, but not the dimmer. So ... story checks out. 

 

I guess I have to go back to troubleshooting why I can't get the skill to enable.

 

Thanks.

Moderator
Posts: 135
Registered: ‎12-12-2017

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

[ Edited ]

@iayork,

 

We'd like to have our Escalation Engineers investigate this issue further. Please send us an email at Wemocares@belkin.com with the following details and the link to this community thread for reference.

  • Full name
  • Username
  • Phone number
  • State/Country
  • Wemo Dimmer current firmware
  • Wemo app, Alexa app, and mobile OS version
Jan - 22019
WEMO Technical Support
WEMO Maker Inventor
Posts: 1,702
Registered: ‎06-14-2014

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

Really?  You don't know that an echo/dot can find and control wemo switches and sockets without enabling the wemo alexa skill?

 

If you don't know are you sure your engineers will?  Or are all of the original developers gone and this is a complete mystery to the ones that remain?

 

EVEN if this is the case, wouldn't be better to have your engineers investigate this without bothering/needing a customer to help? Surely the engineers have access to an amazon dot or echo and some wemo devices of their own.

 

BTW for anyone following this nonsense you can totally eliminate the belkin cloud from controlling your wemos:

 

If you're using an echo/dot, disable the belkin skill and have it find them locally (this also accounts for duplicates if you've seen them).

 

Local discovery only works with the echo/dot, and only for sockets and switches.  If you have any other wemo devices or you're using google home a more reliable approach is to run your own server.  Then use IFTTT to for voice recognition from alexa or google assistant and have it forward the request on to your server - a few seconds response time and no dependency on belkin's cloud or it's interaction with amazon or google.  It doesn't make sense to have your *in home* automation to travel around and around the internet just to turn on your lights! 

 

IFTTT/alexa/google assistant provide a much more reliable and private service since they don't actually understand the commands and simply pass them through (unlike when using a manufacturer's cloud which you can be sure is logging your every interaction.  So they don't break when someone changes their cloud service, and they are very, very, very seldom down.

 

There's a few different ways to do this, AutomationManager is my favorite Smiley Happy and comes with all of the pieces you need to run your own server/service.

Posts: 304
Registered: ‎03-08-2017

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

@iayork - how are you trying to enable the skill? There are two ways to do it, the first is by manually toggling a WeMo switch or plug while the skill is in search mode. If this fails, you can alternately input the MAC address of a WeMo device on your network to do so. Be advised that the MAC address the WeMo app reports is off by one — use the address printed on the device itself if you are trying this method.

If you’re still not able to link the skill, there may be some firewall interference on your network. Try setting a temporary allow any-any rule while linking up the Skill. Once paired the skill should function correctly without such a rule.

When the skill is in pairing mode it is looking for the UPnP event that occurs when a device is switched. Make sure your Echo and the WeMo you are toggling are on the same subnet and VLAN. If you have the Echo connected to a 5GHz signal, try re-connecting it to your 2.4GHz for the purposes of pairing. If this works you should be able to put it back once pairing is complete.
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎11-02-2018

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

you can alternately input the MAC address of a WeMo device on your network to do so. Be advised that the MAC address the WeMo app reports is off by one

 

WHAT

 

OK, this might explain why 6 months of trying failed. I was always using the MAC address as reported by the app.  Never occured to me that it might report wrong.

 

Thank you. Wish that was prominently displayed somewhere.

 

As it happens, though, I did get the Wemo skill enabled. Frustrated and with some spare time, I walked through the house and repeated the attempt for each my of three switches, four minis, and dimmer, one after the other. Since the skill forces a mandatory down time of 10 minutes after two failed attempts, this took a long time, but on the 6th device I tried (I think it was the second-last switch I installed) the skill suddenly activated.

 

The only device I actually need the skill for is the dimmer, which unlike the others doesn't connect without the skill. After finally getting the skill enabled, I easily connected the dimmer (and discovered that like the mini plug the dimmer is also HomeKit enabled, a nice surprise) and am now in business.  

 

With all the future Wemo devices I install I'll make a point of photographing the MAC address on the unit itself and saving that, just in case.

WEMO Maker Inventor
Posts: 1,702
Registered: ‎06-14-2014

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

Belkin didn't even recognize it as a problem for the first few years...  The sticker is wrong on the older wemos too.  You can usually find a device's MAC in your router status pages and it's always correct there.

Posts: 4
Registered: ‎11-02-2018

Re: Devices works with Alexa even though skill is not enabled

You are absolutely right. I just compared the MAC address the router shows to the one on the Wemo app, and as you say they're all off by one.  I assume the reason I finally got the skill enabled is that after 45 minutes of typing in MAC addresses I must have typoed one and hit the right number by pure luck!

 

Sheesh.