HomeTechnologyNewsAre smart Christmas lights worth it?

Are smart Christmas lights worth it?

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Smart Christmas lights are more expensive than traditional and LED Christmas lights, but offer a significant number of features that make them a compelling holiday splurge.

They’re so new and exclusive that you may not have heard of them yet, but smart Christmas lights are a very good and very expensive holiday splurge. They’re worth it?

Smart Christmas lights, like plain old smart lights in general, come in two flavors. Firstly, there are strands of light that can be controlled by an app and are limited to basic color changes, not unlike cheap smart bulbs on the market. Slightly fancier versions might throw in a few color-changing modes or scenes as a trick up their sleeve, but that’s about it.

Then there are more advanced options a bit more worthy of the “smart” title. These options aren’t just smart in the sense that an app on your phone can remotely turn them on and off or change them from white to red or green. They are much more advanced and can do gradients, changing patterns, and even put on a complete light show with dancing candy canes and more.

And hey, while you’re thinking about smart Christmas lights, don’t forget that regular smart lights are the easiest Christmas decorations out there.

I still decorate for the holidays and string my tree with lights, but I rely heavily on my year-round lights, like my Govee reflectors, to add a little holiday cheer. Govee’s new permanent outdoor Christmas lighting was so popular that it sold out immediately.

Once you get past the “these aren’t Christmas lights, they’re just RGB light strips labeled as Christmas lights” segment of the “smart Christmas lights” market, there are currently only two major players in the top of the A-list: Tier category. .

Twinkly – will blow your mind

The first is Twinkly. In fact, we’d go as far as to argue that Twinkly is the de facto face of the consumer smart Christmas lighting market. Since 2017, the company has delivered the most sophisticated ready-to-use smart Christmas light decorations around.

What makes them stand out from all the other competitors is not just the addressable nature of their light strings, but the ease with which you can use the app to do it. You can string the lights together, take a picture of them with the app, and then use a simple tap-to-paint interface to create complex patterns and animations, all because the system knows exactly where each light is placed.

For most Christmas trees, you’ll need a Twinkly Strings kit (600 bulbs in 157.5 feet). That will set you back $250-300, depending on whether you find the kit on sale. There is also a 400-light, 105-foot strand for $140 that is functionally identical except for length.

Need a smart tree and light kit all in one step? Twinkly even offers a pre-lit tree so you can enjoy smart lighting out of the box.

Philips Hue: old pros, new lights

A Christmas tree illuminated with strings of Philips Signify Christmas lights.
Philips/Mean

In the smart lighting market, Philips is an old pro with a plethora of great products in the Hue line. We recommend them all the time here at How-To Geek for everything from general smart lighting to setting an alarm clock for sunrise.

Starting in November 2022, Philips is in the smart Christmas lighting game with the launch of its Festavia string lights. As of this December 2022 item, they are completely sold out due to the great response from Hue fans, so you may have to wait until next Christmas to decorate your tree with Philips Hue products.

Festivia lights don’t offer individual addressability like Twinkly lights, but they do offer the ease of use and stylish scenes you’d expect from the Hue platform. You can create gradients, simple patterns, and most valuable for serious Hue enthusiasts, sync them up with the rest of your lights. If you already have Hue bulbs, string lights, or accent lights, they’ll match your Christmas tree lights perfectly.

Festiva strands feature 250 lights over 65 feet. Philips claims that one strand is enough for trees up to 7 feet, but we’re not so sure about that, since we like a lit Christmas tree like the Las Vegas Strip. Interestingly, the threads are not extensible, and Philips’ suggested solution to that problem is to carefully lay two threads on top of each other in the same spiral pattern, then sync them in the app. For a company known for highly polished smart lighting solutions that feels a bit clunky, if you ask us.

However, at $160 per strand, it’s designed to draw Hue fans deep into the Hue ecosystem and isn’t priced competitively enough to compete head-to-head with Twinkly’s slightly cheaper offerings. Still, the Hue platform is pretty mature, and if you’re living that Hue life, it’s hard to beat a Christmas lights product that seamlessly integrates with it.

Everyone else: It’s hit or miss

Once you go beyond Twinkly and Philips Hue, there aren’t any major brands in the smart holiday light space. Companies Kasa and Govee have great general smart LED lights and string lights that you can use for Christmas decorating, but they don’t have dedicated Christmas string lights for indoor or outdoor trees.

Hopefully one day they will because we really like both companies. But for now, once you surpass Twinkly as the flashier option and Festiva threads as the Hue-integrated option, you’re in the wild for small brands and white box products.

If you want to spend less than those two premium options demand but still get voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant, smart home integration, color changing, schedules, and more, there are a few options worth investigating. However, we encourage you to start the experiment with modest expectations because hardware and software have the potential to be a bit weird by comparison.

Brizled Smart Christmas Lights

At 600 LEDs and 196 feet long, this smart home compatible string of Christmas lights offers more than enough lights to wrap around most trees.

Brizled sells a wide variety of inexpensive LED Christmas lights on Amazon. In 2022, they introduced a new smart Christmas lights option with all the basic bells and whistles you’d expect, like smart home integration and scenes.

The string has 600 LEDs, is 196 feet long, and is non-extendable (if you want more lights, you’ll need to use the Hue Festiva hack and layer them to create a candy cane effect).

People love the price — $85 for a lock this long is pretty good value, but keep in mind that Brizled highlights have a hard time pulling off a warm white. Reviewers note that the LEDs can do pure white and yellow, but nothing that looks exactly like traditional warm light.

PabiPabi smart string light

These fairy lights style LEDs are compatible with Alexa and the Google assistant. They also offer a smart tree light planning feature that helps you visualize your tree as you select colors and patterns.

If you’re looking for an even cheaper option, this strand of PabiPabi features smart home integration combined with an on-strand control system. You can use the app or you can use the button on the control box to switch the light modes.

The app also has a smart layout with a tree-like outline that resembles the Twinkly interface (minus advanced real-time scanning and scheduling). As long as you string the lights from the tail end of the strand, from top to bottom, the simulated tree will allow you to see what the patterns will look like. It’s not advanced programmability, but it’s a nice touch.

Beyond those two options though, we recommend you read the product listings and reviews carefully. You’ll get a lot of search results for “smart” Christmas lights that aren’t actually smart or just have a remote control and no smart home integration.

So are they worth it?

That is the question we posed in the headline, and it is a difficult question for you to answer. A sports car is worth it if you want to spend your free time cruising winding canyon roads, but that doesn’t negate the expense.

Halloween, for example, is a huge sale at my house, and I just bought several smoke machines on Black Friday. Spending money on fog machines is worth it because I want the most atmospheric garden possible on Halloween night.

In that sense, smart Christmas lights may be more than worth it if you treat the holiday season like The Big Show and want to not only have something to play with, but something that will wow your friends and family.

Sure, a $250 strand of lightshow-grade smart Christmas lights costs a lot more than $30 of old warm white LED lights, but if you want an experience that’s more long live vegas and less Christmas in Connecticutthat could be the price of admission.

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