Smart Outdoor Lighting: The Ultimate Buyers Guide
Read Time: 18 mins
Philips Hue Outdoor Isn’t The Only Game In Town!
When most of us were much younger, the task of getting out of bed to turn the lights on or off used to seem so off putting. Everyone wished for a gadget that could turn these appliances off just with a voice command given by you. While there was a time when this seemed like a dream, this is now the reality of millions of homes across the country, as people turn to smart lighting and smart switches for their household needs. This means getting up from the couch to turn on the lights, fans and appliances in your house is no longer a necessity.
There are many different types of smart lighting options if you are looking to change the basic installments in your house, for example, indoor regular lights and switches, dimmers to change the intensity of the light, outdoor lights and switches, and so much more. The most commonly used out of these are smart lights that are placed inside your house, followed by dimmers that allow you to set the ambiance for any scene. The third category, which will be discussed in greater detail here, is that of outdoor lights. In this buyers guide, we will be looking at the things you need to keep in mind while shopping for outdoor lights, as well as the best options in front of you.
What Is Smart Outdoor Lighting?
As we already discussed before, smart lights are changing the way we light up our homes. This isn’t limited to the bulbs, switches and fixtures inside the house. More and more people are installing smart lights outside their homes to light up pathways, accentuate architectural installments, bring attention to some clusters or plants and so on. There is no limit to the uses of smart lights when it comes to outdoor applications, but we will delve into greater detail about the benefits of opting for smart outdoor lights. First, let’s look at how these lights are different from the regular lights that we install outdoors or smart lights that are installed inside the walls of our homes.
First and foremost, smart lights do not need a physical switch for you to turn them on and off. You can control the functionality of these lights remotely through an app, or through your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices once the lights are integrated to the platform. Many of these lights can also be controlled through voice commands. While most smart lights have these features, the smart outdoor lights are constructed to withstand the forces of nature that are in play outside the house. These lights have to be weatherproof and water resistant in order for you to benefit from them.
What Are the Benefits of Opting for Smart Outdoor Lighting?
Opting for smart outdoor lighting is great for people who want to venture into the realm of home automation. There are many different benefits that are associated with smart lights — both indoors and outdoors. First and foremost, you get the option of controlling the lights from the comfort of your bed or your couch, without having to physically step out of the house. If you want to tap on your smartphone each time to activate the lighting, you can integrate them with other smart home devices and use voice commands with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri to control its functionality. Smart lights also give you the option of setting schedules and times during which the lights should be turned on or off.
Smart outdoor lights are great for the security of your home as well. Many of these lights come with motion or light sensors, which means they can be turned on if they sense a presence in the area. There are also options for video and audio monitoring with some of these smart outdoor lights. In some cases, the lights can be linked to your smart security system to take your home’s security to the next level. You can also save some money this way, as the lights will be turned on and off when you enter the area or leave.
Smart Outdoor Lighting — Things to Consider
If you are considering the switch to smart outdoor lighting after going through the many benefits that are associated with picking smart lights for fixtures outside the home, there will be a lot of factors that need to be considered before the decision can be made. In order to make the exercise much easier for you, we have compiled a short list of things that need to be kept in mind when you are buying smart lights for the outdoors.
Purpose of Installation
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you are purchasing outdoor lights solely for decorative purposes like highlighting some fixtures or installations or is it for the security of the home that you are residing in. Both these reasons do not need to be mutually exclusive. There are many people who install outdoor lights for the aesthetic appeal as well as the security purpose that they fulfill.
Integration with Other Smart Devices
The best part about smart lights is that they can be controlled remotely and you don’t have to physically get up to turn the switch on or off. To make this process even easier, newer lights come with options to integrate them with other smart devices that you have in your house, for example, your Amazon Alexa devices, the Google Assistant or the Apple HomeKit. If you already have some of these in your house, you may want to choose smart outdoor lights that can be integrated with these platforms.
Integration with Security Systems
Security is of utmost importance and if you already have a smart security system in place, you might want to choose lights that can be integrated into the security system itself. If you don’t have such a security system in place, you might want to consider installing one that can be used to integrate the outdoor lights that you are planning to install in your home.
Weather Conditions and Similar Considerations
Not every bulb is suitable for use outside the house. Some are too delicate to take on the harsh weather conditions that they can be subject to if installed in areas that get too much wind or even a chance of rain. Here, a couple of factors are important. You should check whether the lights you are installing are weatherproof or if they have an IP rating that indicates that they are suitable for use outside the house as well. IP or Ingress Protection ratings is an international method used to measure the light’s protection against solid objects or water.
Different Types of Smart Outdoor Lighting
There are many different types of smart lights that can be installed outside your house, so it is important that you have an idea about what you want before making the purchase. Some of the more popular types of outdoor lights are mentioned below:
- Pathway — If you are looking for lights to light up any pathway that you have created outside your home, you can opt for these smaller pathway lights.
- Existing Fixtures — In case there are fixtures outside of your house that need bulbs or other types of lights to be attached, you can buy smart lighting versions of these lights and set them up.
- Lanterns — Lanterns are a great way to turn up the aesthetic value of your outdoors and you don’t have to go for the traditional ones anymore. Instead, turn to the smart lanterns and control them from inside the house.
- Floodlights — If you are looking for something that is stronger in terms of illumination power, you may want to go for floodlights instead.
Color Temperature for Outdoor Lights
Another important factor that needs to be brought under consideration is the color temperature of the outdoor lighting options in front of you. While the primary range stands between 2500-4000K, warmer temperatures between 2500-2700K work for highlighting elements, while cooler ones — between 3000-4000K — work better for areas with a lot of plants.
Planning the Lighting in Advance
Finally, it is important that you have a plan in mind before purchasing the lights. This way, you will be able to buy the right products and also have a placement plan in mind when it comes to installing smart outdoor lights in your home.
Best Smart Outdoor Lighting Systems and Starter Kits
The first category of products that we will discuss under the smart outdoor lighting options are the lighting systems or the starter kits that give you a bunch of products together to make the entire process of automation easier for you. The products you receive will depend on the type of kit or lighting system that you opt for. For example, some may give you a couple of bulbs along with a dimmer switch or a bridge used to connect the device to other smart home devices. Others may include just one bulb and a dimmer. The starter kits mentioned below have been picked because of the performance they give you when it comes to home automation, and it will include the features, pros and cons of each of the options.
The first option on this list is from the company that offers you the most extensive range of smart outdoor lighting options — Philips. With the Philips Hue range, the company has been the market leader in terms of innovation. You can choose from amongst a large range of smart outdoor products that includes the Hue Inara outdoor lanterns, smart spot lights, outdoor security lights, down lights as well as path lights. Here, the smart light starter kit that we talk about is the one that comes with four smart bulbs and a smart hub, which is essential for automation.
- Smart hub included
- Voice activation
- Compatible with Alexa with a separate device
- 25,000 hours of life
- Choose from different colors
- Option to pair with Nest and SmartThings
- These bulbs can be used inside your house and outside, as long as the area is dry.
- You can choose from a wide range of colors and different intensities of white lighting.
- The smart hub is included in the kit.
- This kit may not be ideal for people who are looking specifically at fancier outdoor lighting options.
For people who are looking specifically at outdoor lighting options, one of the other Philips Hue products may be a better option. However, this starter kit is great for people who want the same set of bulbs to work inside the house and outside. Buy this kit by clicking here.
Sylvania Gardenspot Starter Kit
Garden lights can add a distinct look to the outside of your house but people tend to forget about turning them off at night. You don’t have to worry about that or coming back to a dark house with the help of the Sylvania Gardenspot starter kit. This includes nine lights, all of which are dimmable and capable of changing colors. You will need a ZigBee hub to control the nights or integrate them with your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device.
- 14 feet of coverage
- 9 garden light bulbs
- Choose from 16 million colors
- Voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Wet rated for outdoor use
- Controller included
- This is a very affordable option for people looking to add some lights to their garden.
- The lights are wet rated, which means you don’t have to worry about any water damage.
- If you want the garden lights to extend and cover more area, you can purchase extension kits and attach them to the lights.
- The lights aren’t as durable as you’d like your outdoor lights to be in some cases.
- The color yellow is a little difficult to get from these bulbs.
The Sylvania starter kit is great for people who have an outdoor space that they want to decorate with small garden lights but don’t want to spend too much money. If you wish to buy this outdoor lighting kit, you can click here.
Ring Outdoor Lighting Lineup
Ring recently came out with a full range of outdoor lighting options that include the spotlight, a regular floodlight, a battery-powered floodlight, path lights, step lights, motion sensors and more. The products are all very easy to install and use, but there are no kits or clubbed options for you to choose from — you will have to buy the products individually or with the bridge. The exception is the path light that can be bought in packs of two.
- Motion activated lights
- Link to Ring security systems
- Voice control through Amazon Alexa
- Weather resistant for placement outdoors
- There are a wide range of products for you to choose from, including battery-powered and wired options.
- If you have a Ring security system installed into your house, you can link these lights and their motion sensors to the system for recording.
- You can place these lights outside and not worry about them getting ruined.
- You will need to buy the bridge separately to link these devices to your home network.
Ring’s entire range deserves a try if you are looking for lighting options that don’t leave a gaping hole in your pocket and still give you superior performance. The option to link all the lights to Ring security cameras is great for people who want this option of integration. Click here to purchase.
Best Smart Bulbs and LED Strips That Work Outdoors
Sometimes people do not want to invest in full sets of lights or proper starter kits and that is completely understandable, especially when you are just getting started with the entire home automation process. If you are looking to purchase a few bulbs or maybe a couple of LED strips that can be installed outside your house, we have compiled a list of the best products that you can turn to. Not only will they give you great performance in an outdoor setting, but they will also not break your bank like some of the bigger and more elaborate systems can end up doing for you.
The first option under our smart bulbs category is the Philips Hue outdoor floodlight. It can be screwed into any regular fixture outside your home and then be controlled through voice control with the help of the Philips Hue Hub. The light has a long life and comes with an option to dim the light according to your requirement.
- Philips Hue hub required
- Dimmable light
- White light (2700K)
- Weather-proof build
- Lifetime of up to 25,000 hours
- 3-year warranty
- The floodlight is built well and is weatherproof, which makes it appropriate for use outdoors.
- You have the option of dimming the lights with these bulbs.
- It can be controlled through voice commands to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
- The hub needs to be bought separately.
- The lights will not change color.
As we mentioned before, Philips is one of the leaders of the smart lights market and you just can’t go wrong with these products if you have the hub and bridge. If you want a good quality floodlight outside your home, you can consider this option and buy it here.
Lifx is another big player in the smart bulb category, especially because of the relative ease of use associated with this product. First and foremost, it does not require a separate hub for set up. All you need to do is screw this onto the fixture and control it through the app or through voice commands to your Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri.
- Wi-Fi compatible LED light bulb
- Adjustable according to your requirements
- Option to choose between colors
- Option to dim
- No hub required
- Voice commands through Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant
- One of the biggest advantages of this light bulb is that you don’t need a hub to set it up.
- You can choose from a wide range of color options and even dim the light when required.
- The bulb can be controlled through voice commands to Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant.
- The Wi-Fi implementation can prove to be a problem sometimes.
If you are looking for a good quality smart bulb that doesn’t require a hub, the Lifx smart bulb is definitely worth a shot. You can buy this product by clicking here.
Sylvania is known for its light fixtures but here we will be talking about the LED light bulb from the Smart+ range developed by the company. You don’t need a hub for setting up the product but it will be required for the extended features.
- 2700K color temperature
- No hub required for set up
- Works with the Apple HomeKit
- Dimming capabilities
- Available in color and filament variants as well
- This is a simple switch for people who don’t want to get involved in using a hub, at least for the basic features.
- The price is relatively affordable when it comes to smart lighting options.
- This product isn’t specifically designed to work outside the house.
If the features of this product suit your requirements, you can buy the Sylvania bulb by clicking on this link.
Another popular smart bulb is the LED one manufactured by Sengled. This isn’t just a regular smart bulb. It also comes with motion sensors that automatically turn the lights on when someone is in a 30 feet range. Keep reading for more on the features, pros and cons of the product.
- 1050 lumens
- Motion sensors
- Low energy usage
- Lasts up to 25,000 hours
- Wet rated
- The device is very easy to install and use.
- This is one of the most affordable bulbs in this category.
- The built-in motion sensor allows you to upgrade your security options.
- Some reviews claim that the product can heat up quickly.
The Sengled bulb is great for people who want an in-built motion sensor with their outdoor lighting. You can click here to purchase this waterproof product.
The last product in this category is the ilumi floodlight bulb that can be controlled remotely through your smartphone or tablet. With an extremely convenient setting up process, this bulb is known for its energy-efficient performance that will help illuminate the area inside and outside your house without leaving you with hefty energy consumption bills. Keep reading for more on the product.
- Controlled through smartphone
- Bluetooth enabled
- Dimmable light
- Energy efficient
- The setting up process is very simple and doesn’t require any special expertise.
- The company claims that the bulb can last up to 20 years.
- You can control the brightness through your smartphone or tablet.
- The product is quite expensive when compared to the other options on this list.
- A lot of people complain about the glitchy app that is used to control the lights.
If you are looking for a product that can be controlled through Bluetooth, this ilumi product should definitely be in the running. Buy this product by clicking on this link.
Best Smart Outdoor Switches to Transform Your Dumb Outdoor Lighting
Another popular way of turning to home automation is by going for smart outdoor switches that allow you to control the lighting outside your home with minimal effort. There are many different types of smart switches that can be installed outside your house, with even some more advanced options like dimming and three-way switches. Depending on what your needs are at the moment, you can choose an outdoor smart switch from the list of products that we have compiled for you. While all the products have performed increasingly well in smart automation-inclined homes, the list will elaborate more on their features, the advantages and possible disadvantages of choosing these particular options and our final verdict on each of these.
GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Outdoor Switch
If you are looking for a device that allows you to control outdoor decorations, lights and other plugged in devices remotely, the GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Outdoor Switch may be worth your time and money. With the help of a Z-Wave hub — which needs to be purchased separately — this switch can be remotely controlled from anywhere, cutting down on the effort that you would have to make walking out to turn it off or on manually.
- Weather-resistant switch
- Impact resistant
- Has a built-in repeater or range extender
- Zwave hub required
- Works with SmartThings, Wink, Alexa
- The product is weather and impact resistant, which makes it ideal for use outside the house.
- The switch comes with a cover that can be closed when nothing is plugged in.
- You can control the switch remotely from where you want.
- You will need a Z-Wave hub in order to control this switch.
- For voice control through Amazon Alexa, a separate hub is required.
The GE Z-Wave outdoor switch is a great option for people who have already invested in the Z-Wave technology and want to extend it to the outside of their home. You can click here to purchase this product.
Kasa Smart Outdoor Plug by TP-Link
One of the most highly-rated products when it comes to smart outdoor switches and plugs is the variant manufactured by TP-Link under its Kasa Smart range. What sets this product apart from a lot of others on this list is that it doesn’t require a hub. It can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world with the help of the Kasa Smart app. In addition to that, you get two separate outlets for the cost of one.
- Two outlets controlled together or individually
- Control through Kasa Smart app
- No hub required
- Weather resistant
- Voice control through Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana
- You don’t need a separate hub for this plug to be used. It is very convenient.
- You get full value for your money as there are two different outlets that can be controlled together or individually.
- The voice control option is great for people who don’t want to hunt for their smartphones to give a command.
- It may not work in the most effective way possible in very hot conditions.
If you are looking for a brilliantly-designed product that doesn’t need a hub for setting up, the Kasa Smart outdoor plug is one of the best options in the market right now. It is durable and well priced, making it an unbelievable deal. Click here if you want to purchase this product.
iDevices Outdoor Switch
The next product on the list is for those of you who use the Apple HomeKit as the base of their home automation. The iDevices outdoor switch is a well-designed device that you can plug into any outlet outside your house and then control with the help of the company’s app. There is no hub required for setting up this smart switch. You can control the functionality of this switch from anywhere in the world, as long as it is connected to your home network.
- Rain-tested for use outdoors
- No hub required
- Energy monitoring option
- Voice control through Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant
- This is a great option for homes that have the Apple HomeKit because of its compatibility.
- You do not need a separate hub to use this outdoor switch.
- You have the option to check how much energy each plugged in device is consuming.
- You cannot control both the switches separately. They turn on and off as one unit.
For homes that are dependent on the Apple HomeKit, the iDevices variant is one of the best options currently available in the market. Click on this link to purchase the iDevices Outdoor Switch for your house.
Insteon 2634-222 Outdoor Plug-in Module
The last product on the list is the outdoor plug-in module by Insteon, which allows you to control any device plugged into the device remotely with the help of a controller. This outdoor plug can be used in a wide range of temperature conditions, which makes it ideal for use outside the house, even in conditions that are less than optimal.
- Insteon hub required
- Voice commands through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- NEMA 3R tested
- Switches up to 1440 Watts
- This is a well-designed outdoor module that can take on even harsh weather conditions.
- The product has been tested for protection against rain and ice formation.
- You can control the plugged in devices with the help of a controller.
- You will need an Insteon hub to use voice commands to your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The Insteon product is one of the best ones in the category when it comes to durability and strong built. If this product meets your personal requirements, you can click here to purchase it.
Frequently Asked Questions
The list of products given above can be very helpful if you are looking to shortlist the smart outdoor lighting options in front of you. However, there are always some general questions that come to mind when you are considering smart outdoor lights. In order to answer some of the most common questions that arise in a situation like this, we have compiled the most frequently asked ones for you.
- Can you use smart lights outside?
Yes, smart lights can be installed outside your house, but not every smart light is suitable for use outside the house. There are specialized variants that are resistant to weather forces and these are the ones you should be installing outside your home.
- Can all light bulbs be used outdoors?
Most bulbs that you install inside the house will also work if put outside, but the life of these bulbs may be shortened drastically, especially if the forces of nature are at play. If you want to get the maximum benefit out of the bulbs and want them to last long, it is recommended that you use the special outdoor bulbs.
- Are LED bulbs okay for outdoor use?
Yes, LED bulbs can be used outside your house, as they are much more resilient than regular bulbs. However, it is recommended that you opt for LED bulbs that are specifically designed to withstand any harsh weather conditions or other elements of nature.
- How long do outdoor LED lights last?
There is no exact answer to this question, as the LED lights may be affected due to very harsh weather conditions. If we put that out of the picture, LED lights can last anywhere between two times to ten times longer than the other alternatives that are available in the market.
- Can outdoor lights get wet?
If your lights are wet rated, there isn’t much damage that can be caused to them by a couple of rains here and there. However, regular lighting doesn’t do very well with water so it is recommended that you place them in areas that are safe from water.
- What color should outdoor lights be?
There is no fixed rule for the color that your outdoor lights need to be, as it is more about your personal preference and design outlook than anything else. The color of the outdoor lights will set the tone for the theme that you are going for, so it should be picked accordingly.
- What color temperature is best for outdoor lighting?
The primary range of color temperature for outdoor lighting is 2500K to 4000K. If you have some architectural elements that you are highlighting, warmer color temperatures — possibly between 2500K and 2700K — are more suitable, while cooler temperatures — let’s say between 3000K and 4000K — work best for plant installations.
- How many lumens should outdoor lights be?
There are many different types of lights installed outdoors, all of which serve different purposes. The number of lumens will depend on the purpose that the light is fulfilling. For example, for path lighting, 100 to 200 lumens work well enough, while step lights need anywhere between 12 to 100 lumens. If you are looking to install floodlights, 700 to 1,300 lumens is the general rule.
- Do outdoor LED lights attract bugs?
LED bulbs, especially the ones in warmer tones, attract the least number of bugs. This happens because of two different factors. First and foremost, they emit very little light on the UV spectrum and secondly, the heat being emitted is also very low.
- Do LED lights work in cold temperatures?
While there are many types of lights that have a hard time surviving in cold temperatures, that isn’t the case with LED lights. Instead, LED lights may benefit from colder ambient temperatures, as it can increase the light’s overall efficiency.
- What outdoor lights don’t attract bugs?
There are special bug lights that do not attract bugs but instead of going for a specialized option, you can always choose LED lights, as their composition is such that they do not attract many bugs because of the low heat that they emit and the low amounts of light on the UV spectrum that they put out.
At this point, you will find yourself relatively well informed about the basics of smart lighting in general and smart outdoor lighting. This means you will be able to make better decisions when it comes to planning out your outside space and the lights that can be added to increase its space. As you may have noticed during the entire guide, there are many different types of outdoor lights that you can choose from — path lights, floodlights, lanterns, simple bulbs in fixtures and so much more. There are many different options available in the lists mentioned above, all of which have been reviewed extensively and received a positive word across the board. All you need to do at this point is to pick one and make sure that it sits well with what you have planned for your backyard, front lawn or any other part of the house that isn’t within the four walls. Just make sure it is weatherproof and built well, and you are ready to go!
Note: A link to the company website has been included in the piece wherever there were no kits available on Amazon.
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