Voice Control – How to name your smart devices

What's in a name?

“Hey Google, turn on the light”. No… not that light, the other one!

Google, Alexa and Siri have made it possible for us to conveniently control smart devices in our home with a simple voice-command. But that doesn’t mean they consciously know what they’re doing. Rather, they simply act on the very names you give them, and if this isn’t set up correctly, they’ll get confused.

Which leads us to the purpose of this article:

Defining a system to organise and name our smart devices in a structured, scalable and intuitive way. This way, you can be sure your smart home system and smart voice assistant won’t ever confuse one of your devices with another.

Voice Assistant - Confused
Here’s an overview of the process:
  • Group your devices by room or purpose
  • Add, name and configure your smart devices and place them in appropriate groups
Let’s get to it…

Grouping devices by room or purpose

It’s been said that for every time something triples in size, it breaks. In the case of your smart home organisational system, that’s what we want to avoid happening.

How? With an organisational system, we’ve refined and tested this over the years that works for over 50 devices.

The key is to create groups, and there are 2 different reasons to group devices:

  • Group your devices by room (lounge, dining, kitchen, etc)
  • Group your devices by purpose (security, irrigation, heating, lighting etc)

In my experience, the best results occur when you use grouping by rooms and purpose in combination.

The critical thing when choosing a name for a group is that it must not have the same name as another group or device. This will create a clash.

Here’s an example of what happens in your smart home with 2 different naming conventions. See if you can spot why the clash occurs.

Naming convention 1:

  • Group name: Lounge Room
  • Device name: Lounge Room Light

Issue: You ask your smart home to “Turn on the Lounge Room Light”. But as your group and device name are the same, it may turn on all devices within the group ‘Lounge Room’ that are ‘Lights’ rather than the device ‘Lounge Room Light’.

Naming convention 2:

  • Group name: Lounge
  • Device name: Lounge Room Light

Solution: You ask your smart home to “Turn on the Lounge Room Light”. But as your group (Lounge) and device name (Lounge Room Light) are not the same, it will only turn on the device called ‘Lounge Room Light’.

The reason we choose to name the group ‘Lounge’ and not ‘Lounge Room’ is because we tend to control the main light with our voice more frequently than the entire room. And “Turn on the Lounge Room Light” rolls off the tongue nicer than ‘Lounge light’.

On the rare occasion you may actually want to turn on all the lights in the room, you would simply say “Turn on Lounge Lights”.

Voice Assistants

Name your individual devices

With your groups in place, you’re ready to move to the next layer of organisation. Naming your devices.

And when it comes to organising your smart devices for voice control, there’s 3 things you need to consider.

It’s important that:

  • The name is meaningful - the best names are intuitive and roll off the tongue nicely
  • The name is unique - each device must have a different name. Don’t double up!
  • The device is set up correctly - if your device is controlling a light, make sure your smart home knows it’s controlling a light
Here’s why:
  • If the name is not meaningful, it won’t feel natural to use and will be harder to remember
  • If the name is not unique, your voice-assistant may switch and not act on the device you intend
  • If the device is not set up correctly, it won’t be controlled properly when controlling the room in its entirety

Now that we know what to consider when naming our device and why, here’s some recommendations for naming different lights (and other devices) in our group (room) called ‘Lounge’:

  • Main Light: Lounge Room Light
  • LED Strip Light: Lounge Room Strip
  • Lamp: Lounge Room Lamp
  • TV: Lounge Room TV

In this instance, you can use the command “Turn on Lounge Room Light” to control the main light. “Turn on Lounge Room Strip” to control the LED light and so on…

You can also use the command “Turn on Lounge Lights” to control all the devices configured as ‘lights’ within the room called ‘Lounge’.

Tip: If you call your room ‘Lounge Room’, omit the world ‘Room’ from any device name or your system may get confused.
SmartHome Voice Control

In closing

The way you name and organise devices within your smart home has a huge impact on how easy it is to manage, and how seamless your system works.

Devices’ names that are doubled up or the same as rooms will wreak havoc when you ask your voice-assistant to perform a simple task.

Thankfully, implementing a well-structured system isn’t too difficult, and only requires you to create groups and name and set up your devices correctly.

If you have any naming conventions that you like, or if you have any thoughts or questions, drop a comment below. The SmartHome team are always here and happy to help.

Best regards,


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