You’ve probably experienced this issue with your Amazon Echo at least once before: You’re trying to issue Alexa a voice command or are playing a game like Alexa Song Quiz, only for Alexa not to hear you correctly. If Alexa appears to ignore you and your Echo displays a red light instead of the usual blue, you might be experiencing a common Amazon Echo issue. 

What Does the Red Light Mean?

Amazon voice-activated devices use colored rings to give the user statuses and notifications. Each color has a different meaning, intended to be easy to understand. Here’s a list of the most common status colors:

  • Cyan: Your device is listening and ready to respond to an Alexa command. The ring flashes after correctly hearing a command and processing it.
  • Yellow: Alexa has a message or notification for you.
  • Orange: Your device is either in Setup mode or attempting to connect to your Wi-Fi.
  • Purple: Do Not Disturb mode is on, or your device is in Setup mode and cannot connect to Wi-Fi.
  • White: You are changing the device’s volume.
  • White and spinning: Alexa Guard is on and set to Away mode.
  • Red: The microphone is switched off and Alexa is unresponsive.

A solid red light may seem intimidating at first. After all, flashing red lights or red rings generally indicates a severe error or even a hardware failure on many other devices, such as the infamous Red Ring of Death on Xbox consoles.

However, a red light on your Amazon Echo simply means that the microphone is currently turned off. Alexa cannot hear your commands in this state, making it impossible to issue Alexa commands, play games such as Alexa The Price Is Right or browse new Alexa Skills.

Troubleshooting the Red Light

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why is my Alexa not working,” only to find a red light on your Echo, here are a few potential causes and methods to fix them.

  1. Muted microphone

The most common cause for a red light is the device left on mute. To re-enable your device’s microphone, you need to press the microphone button on the top end of your Echo.

After pressing the microphone button, your device’s red light should disappear. Wait a few seconds, then try issuing a simple command to see if your Alexa responds.

  1. Internet connection issue

Alexa requires a constant and sufficiently fast internet connection to function correctly. If your internet or Wi-Fi goes down, Alexa cannot communicate with the Amazon server and cannot receive or relay your voice commands, causing the red ring to appear.

Ensure that your Internet connection isn’t down and that your Echo is connected to your router via Wi-Fi.

  1. Device needs to restart

Occasionally, you may run into an issue where your Alexa still doesn’t respond to your commands even after unmuting the microphone or checking your Internet. As with most devices, one of the most effective ways to fix a device that doesn’t work as intended is to restart it.

If you want to restart your Amazon Echo, unplug its power adapter from the outlet. Wait five seconds, plug it back in and try reissuing an Alexa command.

  1. Software update required

Sometimes, older versions of the Amazon Echo software can cause your Echo’s microphone to experience bugs that a restart cannot fix. Verify that your Echo is updated to the latest version as they may come with bug fixes.

To update your Amazon Echo, follow these steps:

  • Open the Alexa app on your Android or iOS device.
  • Navigate to the “Settings” menu.
  • Select “Device” then “About.”
  • Select the most recent version available.

  1. Device needs to be reset

If restarting or updating your Amazon Echo still hasn’t solved the issue, your device may need a factory reset. The most reliable method is the hardware hard reset button.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Check for a small “RESET” hole on the underside.
  • Press the button in the RESET hole using a toothpick or an unfolded paperclip. Keep the button pressed for at least five seconds.
  • If successful, your Echo should now display an orange light.