Smart Lights for Outdoors – What are your Options

I park the car at the back of the house, so I always walk through the garden when I come home or leave the house. So recently I looked at what the options are for smart lights for outdoors to also make my outdoor lights as smart as the rest of the house.

Smart Lights for Outdoors

Now to make your outdoor lights smart you will have a couple of options, from easy to place spotlights and lanterns to using a smart relay switch to make your existing lights smart. In this article, I will show you some of the best Smart Outdoor Lights products and give you some tips on implementing them.

Replacing existing light bulbs

So before we go to the different smart light outdoor products we will first take a look at one of the more easier options.

Philips Hue Smart Bulb A19

You probably already have some outdoor lanterns or spots in your garden. The easiest solution to make your outdoor lights smart is to replace the dumb light bulb for a smart one.

One of the options you have is these Philip Hue Smart Bulbs. The advantage of the Philips Hue lights is that they work with almost every Smart Home Platform if you use the Philips Hue Hub. So you can easily add them to your existing smart home network.

But of course, any brand Smart Light bulb will work here. I have used the Ikea Tradifri lights in the garden and they work perfectly fine.

Range and fixtures

When using Smart Light Bulbs in existing fixtures you will have to keep in mind that metal fixtures can have a negative result on the range. I had the best results with using Zigbee lights from the same brand that I use indoors. One of the lights is more than 20mtrs away and works perfectly fine.

Smart Outdoor Lights

But other smart lights, that are only 10mtr away from the house were a bit more challenging. The fixtures are made from aluminum which will block a large portion of the signal. So to get these working I had to place a path light between the GU10 Spots and the house.

You can extend the range by adding more outdoor smart lights in the path between your house and the lights that are the furthest away.

Smart Outdoor Lantern

Outdoor Lanterns are one of the most bought outdoor lights. Almost everybody has one hanging on the porch or next to the front door. If you are looking for a smart outdoor lantern then Philips Hue has a wide variety of smart lanterns to choose from.

All the Philips Hue lanterns come with a Philips Hue Smart Light bulb. So to be clear, the fixture self isn’t smart at all, it’s the Philips Hue light bulb self that is the smart component here. Now the Philips Hue lanterns look really nice and the price is also great, so it’s up to you if you buy the total package or use another fixture.

Philips Hue Inara and Econic

Philips Hue Smart Lantern for Outdoor

The Philips Hue Inara or the Econic are one of the most traditional looking Smart Lanterns on the market. With Philips Hue, you will get a high-quality product that is controller locally with the Hue Hub. You can not only turn the lights on based on a timer but of course, also based on geofencing. So when you come home the lights will turn on automatically.

Philips Hue integrates nicely with most Smart Home platforms, like Google Assistant, Alexa, HomeKit, SmartThings, Homey, and others.

You don’t need a smart home hub to control the lights, Philips Hue lights can also be controlled from your smartphone, so that is a great way to get started with making your home smart.

Other options from Philips Hue are the Lucca or Econic Wall fixtures. These lights have a more modern look.

Smart Flood Light

Lanterns, path lights, and spots are a great way to illuminate your garden and give a nice look in the dark. But sometimes you simply want to cover a large area, like your driveway. The best way to do this is to use a smart flood light.

Some of them even come with a camera so you can also monitor the area and get notified when someone enters your garden.

Ring Floodlight

Ring Floodlight for Smart Outdoor Lighting

The most popular smart flood light on the market for sure and with a good reason. The Ring Floodlight comes with an HD Security Camera and is motion activated. The two bright spots will illuminate a large area when motion is detected in the specified area.

The Ring Floodlight works with all major smart home platforms, like Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and Homey, so you will get notified when someone walks up to your house.

Of course, you can also use the Geofencing feature to light up the driveway when you come home for example.

Philips Hue Ludere

If you want to stay with the Philips Hue line then you might want to take a look at the Philips Hue Ludere. These spots are not really a flood light, but they come close to it. They also don’t have a security cam, so these are just simple, but smart, flood lights.

The price of the Ludere is only 50% of the Ring Floodlight, and personally I think they look even better too.

Smart Path Lights

Path lights are a great way to illuminate your path to the front door or other paths in your garden. Path lights are also a great way to extend the smart mesh network throughout your garden so you can also place smart light in the back of the garden.

There are two great path lights on the market, one from Philips Hue and the other is from Ring. But there is a big difference between the two. The Ring Path Lights work on batteries and the Philips Hue lights are using a low voltage power cable.

Both have their own advantages, the lights from Ring can be placed anywhere in the garden and will turn on based on motion (from there own sensor or other Ring sensors). Wherewith Philips Hue you will need to place wires throughout your garden, but they can stay on 24/7 if you want.

Ring Smart PathLight

The Ring Smart PathLight 17 inch (43cm) high lights with a motion sensor built-in to it. To connect the PathLight together or to the rest of your house, you will need to buy the Ring Bridge.

The lights work on 4 D-Cell Batteries which are not included in the package. Ring claims that these light will work up to a year on those 4 batteries with normal use.

I like the concept of these path lights, they allow you to quickly illuminate a dark path in your garden without the need of pulling wires. If you already have a Ring Bridge then you can get a single path light for around $30 which is a really great price.

Philips Hue Calla Smart PathLight

The Philips Hue Calla is a really nice looking path light that is only 10 inches (25cm) tall. The Calla is more expensive than the Ring Path Light, but just like the other Hue lights, you can change it to 16 million colors, dim the light or use one of the preset scenes.

The Philips Hue lights are a great way to give your garden a little extra, the different colors are a nice touch when you give a party.

If you are going for the Philips Hue Calla, then make sure you buy the base kit first. This includes the power adapter that you will need for the other lights.

Outdoor Smart Plug

Outdoor String lights are getting really popular, but what if you want to make them smart? Or holiday lights? It would be great if you can turn them on automatically when it gets dark or when you come home.

Photo by Nick de Partee on Unsplash

Well, you can simply use an Outdoor Smart Plug for this. Just like for in-house, the outdoor smart plugs allow you to make dumb devices simply smart. There are a couple of options in the market for these outdoor smart plugs:

GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Outdoor Switch

The Outdoor Smart Plug from GE is using the Z-Wave protocol to communicate. The GE Smart plug works with almost all the Smart Hub systems in the market, so that is a great advantage.

You can connect only one outlet plug to it and it’s of course fully weatherproof. To turn the light on or off you will need a smart hub. GE doesn’t come with its own app or hub.

Teckin Outdoor Smart Plug

The Teckin Outdoor Smart Plug has two sockets that can be controlled individually. Another advantage of Teckin is that it can be controlled with your Amazon Alexa device or Google Assistant.

The Teckin Outdoor Smart Plug is connected to your network through your Wireless network. So you will need to make sure that you have some wireless network range on the location where you want to use this smart plug. (You can check this article if you want to know more about extending your wireless network into your garden)

Smart Spotlight

Spotlights are a great way to illuminate threes your house or other objects in your garden and to let them stand-out in the dark. With the ability to dim the lights or change the color temperature you can really give your house that luxury look.

The Philips Hue Lily is the best smart spotlight on the market. Just like the other hue lights, you can use 16 million different colors and great different preset scenes.

If you already have a Philips Hue Bridge then you can easily connect them to your Smart Home just like the other hue lights.

Make sure you buy the Base kit first, this one includes the power adapter that you will need to get started.

Making your existing low voltage light smart

If you already have a low voltage garden light system in your garden then you probably don’t want to replace them. But if you want to make them smart there is an option to use a Smart Relay for this.

You can place the Smart Replay in a weatherproof junction box and use your smart home hub to turn the lights on or off.

I have used a smart relay for our built-in led lights next to the stairs in the garden. You can check this article if you want to know more about installing a Smart Relay in your garden.

Conclusion

Smart lights for outdoor use don’t have to be expensive. Some light fixtures can be made smart with a simple smart bulb. When you are planning your outdoor smart lights make sure you keep the range of your smart network in mind.

If you stay withing 30 feet (10mtr) of another smart light you are most of the time fine. Otherwise, you can always add an extra light between it.

Keep in mind that you can do more than only turning the lights on or off. What I personally like to do is keep the lights dimmed when it’s dark, but turn them brighter when motion is detected. These little things really give a nice touch to your smart home.

If you have any tips on making your outdoor lights smart then just drop a comment below!

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