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Sonos and Alexa in two houses

  • 14 October 2017
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This is clearly a SONOS Skill problem. I have 4 SONOS systems at four different locations and Alexa understands all 23 SONOS devices (which are all named differently). They were all discovered by enabling and disabling and reenabling the SONOS skill at each location. The problem is that the SONO Skill deletes the SONOS devices when you disable. There should either be an option in the Skill to rediscover devices or to Disable without deleting the device from Alexa's memory. All my LP-link smart switches in all four locations are always known and can be used from any other location. Two Accounts is not an option unless you want to have two Amazon Prime accounts. Come on SONOS. Fix the issue.
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2 Sonos IDs; 2 Amazon accounts; 1 Amazon "household". How do I avoid irritating the neighbours by leaving the radio on in an empty flat without going through an Amazon "divorce"?
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This is clearly a SONOS Skill problem. I have 4 SONOS systems at four different locations and Alexa understands all 23 SONOS devices (which are all named differently). They were all discovered by enabling and disabling and reenabling the SONOS skill at each location. The problem is that the SONO Skill deletes the SONOS devices when you disable. There should either be an option in the Skill to rediscover devices or to Disable without deleting the device from Alexa's memory. All my LP-link smart switches in all four locations are always known and can be used from any other location. Two Accounts is not an option unless you want to have two Amazon Prime accounts. Come on SONOS. Fix the issue.

Sonos, are you fixing this issue?
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What are you trying to accomplish TreeGuy?
If I would have known this I would have just purchased 5 Alexa instead of 5 Sonos One's with Alexa. That said, I have 4 Sonos units at home, and one at the office, one Amazon account, and I won't get another one just because I want to listen to music (I can do that with Pc) .... Wife goes to office and turns on Sonos/Alexa, nothing works at home and vise versa.... There should already be an answer and solution to this problem but seems like it's been ignored. I'll probably return all of the units unless Sonos at least answers to this thread with a plan (to address the problem) .... :@:@:@
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What are you trying to accomplish TreeGuy?

I have Alexa controlling Sonos at my home with an Echo. I'd like to add a Sonos 1 at my parent's place. Can I use my Amazon Prime account at both locations (I know I can't stream Amazon music on both at the same time with my standard Prime account).
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If you were to link the two houses with a VPN would you still need to disable/enable the Sonos skill whenever you change locations?
I have Sonos in two houses and am a big fan. I added an Echo dot in my primary house, and am finding the Alexa integration to Sonos is good and getting better all the time. It has quickly become the primary way I interact with Sonos. Great addition.

However, based on my experience - and the discussion I had with Sonos support - this is not ready for prime time if you want to add the same Alexa account to a second house (which is what most people want to do because you probably have one Prime account for yourself or your family...) I recently purchased a Sonos: One (with Alexa built in) and installed it in our vacation home to add Alexa to that system as well. I quickly realized that there's a big problem with this, as there's no way to differentiate between houses - i.e. there's no "toggle" so Alexa knows which house you're in. As I understand it, EVERY TIME you go from one house to the other, this is what you currently need to do:

> Launch Alexa app on mobile device
> Search for Sonos skill
> Disable Skill
> Enable Sonos Skill
> Login to Sonos again
> Select the Sonos system (house) you want to use
> Allow Alexa to control your Sonos system (which links to Sonos)
> Disover Devices

Once you've gone through all this, then Sonos should work on the system/house you've selected, BUT it will no longer work on the other house. Also, there's a real possibility that if you don't get these steps all correct, you can actually be in one house and turn on zones in the other if you happen to label them these same (e.g. I had Kitchen zones on both houses and scared the heck out of my wife when I turned on the stereo from the other house...)

I believe this issue needs to be resolved through a combination of work between Sonos and Amazon. In fact this may be more to do with the various rights and restrictions Amazon places on Alexa accounts. Nonetheless, until this gets worked out, I wouldn't advise using the same Alexa account with two different Sonos systems/houses - it's a real hassle.
I see a lot of pissed off people and returns in the near future....
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In fact this may be more to do with the various rights and restrictions Amazon places on Alexa accounts.

As far as I can tell its not an Amazon restriction because my Echo's work fine from more than one location. Also, I'm able to stream Amazon Prime at both locations, but only one works with Alexa (the other I have to control via the Sonos app).
In fact this may be more to do with the various rights and restrictions Amazon places on Alexa accounts.

As far as I can tell its not an Amazon restriction because my Echo's work fine from more than one location. Also, I'm able to stream Amazon Prime at both locations, but only one works with Alexa (the other I have to control via the Sonos app).
You might be right. It would be helpful if Sonos could weigh in and let us know what the plan is for addressing this. Clearly using Sonos/Alexa in multiple locations is a great use case they should want to support, and would in fact drive additional sales. I know that I would purchase additional Sonos:One units specifically to enable this.
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Hi everyone, we know this can be a bit of a pain point, and if it helps this all comes down to account security and system setups.

For Alexa to work with Sonos, the commands go from the local device, up to the Alexa cloud, over to the Sonos cloud, and then down to your system. Your system is linked with your cloud accounts at both servers. Which means all devices you have linked to those same accounts are going to show up because your cloud-based account doesn't understand multiple locations. We have a unique identifier that's used at a household level, but it only allows you to switch which of the households you're controlling with voice.

I'll pass the request along to the development team to make the flow easier here, and maybe find a way around the problem, but I don't have any specifics to share. The Alexa integration is still in development, and it will keep on getting better.

Thanks for speaking up everyone!
Ryan, thanks for responding. Would be great if your team could come up with a creative solution for this. In a perfect world the Sonos app would recognize where you are (location) and automatically link to your local Sonos system (house) in that location. As an interim step to that, adding some type of toggle within the Sonos app where you could select from your various locations would probably also work. However, the current workflow that requires you to Disable > Enable > Login > Select Location > Allow Control > Discover isn't viable. I also don't think it's realistic to ask users to set up additional Sonos or Alexa accounts for each location/home. It's too complicated for most people, plus one of the big benefits of all this is leveraging the music offerings provided by your Prime account which you will want to be accessible to you in each of your locations. I actually think this is a big opp for Sonos - if you guys can get this right, it will be a significant driver for your business. Good luck.
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bholding...the Sonos app isn't involved when you give a voice command to Sonos through Alexa. It could be completed powered down and the command would still work. So your ideas of having the Sonos app assist in some way by identifying your current location. Your toggle idea sounds good, in that perhaps you can use the toggle to update the Sonos cloud of which location you are at, but that would not update the device names in the Alexa app. So I don't think it would work that well.

Sonos could require that all zones in your Sonos account have a unique name, even at different households, and eliminate household id in the setup of the Sonos skill. That way all your zones are 'online' at all times. Of course, that's not going to be like by people that don't want to rename their zones to make them unique.

It would be nice if Amazon came up with the concept of "households" themselves, so you could identity what alexa devices and smart devices are located at which location. In that way, you could have duplicate names of devices and Alexa would assume that 'kitchen sonos' means the zone named kitchen sonos in the home you are currently in (based on which echo you are talking to. To command the kitchen sonos in the other house, you'd have to say "play xxx on kitchen zone in house 2", or something to that effect.

I am somewhat doubtful that Amazon wants to do that. It doesn't gain them a lot more customers since they are probably not targeting customers who have multiple homes. As well, they probably don't want to inadvertently encourage people in different household to share Amazon accounts, cutting them out of some profits.
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I am somewhat doubtful that Amazon wants to do that. It doesn't gain them a lot more customers since they are probably not targeting customers who have multiple homes. As well, they probably don't want to inadvertently encourage people in different household to share Amazon accounts, cutting them out of some profits.

Amazon's Alexa devices already work from multiple locations, including streaming music from a single Amazon Prime account.
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I am somewhat doubtful that Amazon wants to do that. It doesn't gain them a lot more customers since they are probably not targeting customers who have multiple homes. As well, they probably don't want to inadvertently encourage people in different household to share Amazon accounts, cutting them out of some profits.

Amazon's Alexa devices already work from multiple locations, including streaming music from a single Amazon Prime account.


Agreed, but you currently cannot control smart devices in multiple locations, not without resetting skills. Well, I suppose that depends on the particular device and the hubs and protocol it uses. Regardless you still would need to have unique names for the devices.
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Do any smart devices work across multiple locations?
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rwborree above says he/she has LP-link smart switches that work in four locations, so I'd say yes. If I'm not mistaken, those use wifi (as opposed to ZigBee, zwave, clear connect, etc) and can work with Alexa directly without a hub. A lot of newer smart devices use wifi, so that should be the case for those. However, there are plenty of devices that don't use wifi, and require a local hub in order to be controlled. Alexa talks to your hub which talks to the device.

So if you have two homes and smart devices that require a hub, you would need to have a hub in both locations. I've never tried it (don't have a second house), but I doubt a particular brand of hub would let you operate 2 hubs under the same account. And then, you can't add two smartthings accounts under the same Amazon account (can you?).

Of course, you could get around this by using Smartthings in one home, while using Wink in another, for example. Still though, you can't have the name 'kitchen light' used for both houses as Alexa doesn't know which house you're in as far as smart devices go.

And that was my point really. Amazon could resolve this by setting up a household functionality, allowing you place different devices (including Sonos speakers) in different homes, allowing duplicate names, etc. It would be ideal for those with multiple homes. I'm just not sure Amazon would be motivated to do this. To me anyway, the ability to play Amazon music everywhere with one account is different. The streaming music market has an expectation to be more mobile, and it's a lot more competitive then the smart device market.
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The streaming music market has an expectation to be more mobile, and it's a lot more competitive then the smart device market.

With Amazon, Google, and Apple in the voice controlled device market I expect to see a lot of competition in the future.
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Well yes, but I wasn't grouping voice devices in with the other smart devices. Also, I expect the competitive features to be sound quality, microphone quality, smart home integration, AI robustness, look and feel of the device, calling features, streaming services, 3rd party skills, app features, brand loyalty....way before ability to control Sonos and other smart devices in multiple homes with one account. Not that it can't be priority number one to some people, I just don't see it high on the list for most people.
Bought 2 Sonos Ones recently - one for main house and one for vacation home - really disappointed that the multi-home scenario is very broken as documented in this thread - I like the Sonos One but I need this scenario to work so thinking of returning both - Sonos folks: are you fixing this?
Well its been 8 months since I first inquired about Sonos/Alexa control in two locations and there's been zero progress - which is really disappointing. I have a number of other home automation apps, such as Indigo, Open Sprinkler, etc., that all allow you to choose which "home" you are in, and then easily jcontrol the device/devices in that particular home. I really do not understand based upon all the input in this forum why the same functionality cannot be added to achieve Alexa control of Sonos speakers in the same way.
BTW in my experience Smartthings itself (without voice control) works brilliantly across two locations each with its own hub - this was all architected into the system and the app - I worked in the software industry for a long time and these are the sort of design points you build into the system from day one as its difficult to re-architect and you always want to your design to last - looks like this was a miss for Sonos. Hoping they can address it.
Sorry if this has already been explained to death, just wanted to clarify before I dropped the money.

I have a current household with Alexa/Beam, I am thinking about getting a One for the office on a different network. If I understand this thread, even if I name the office One something unique, I won't be able to use the same Alexa account to talk/control in both locations seamlessly? I have to make two Alexa accounts and two Sonos accounts?