We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best
products—learn more about
our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Smart outdoor lights are exterior lighting fixtures or bulbs designed for use around your house or yard that can also connect to the internet for additional features, including dimming, brightness and color adjustments, timers and scheduling, and remote control through an app or voice commands.
“You can use a timer to automatically turn everything off late at night,” says Giles Sutton, a long-time smart home integrator and executive at the home technology association CEDIA. “You can control everything together with an app or lighting system… It’s really a continuation of the technology you have in a smart home.”
After speaking with Sutton about the key features of the best outdoor smart lights, we researched and chose top outdoor and landscape options based on ease of installation, useful features, and brightness and color customization. Our favorite is the Philips Hue Calla Smart Pathway Outdoor Bollard Light Base Kit, which offers excellent colors, detailed control options, simple installation, and comprehensive smart features. It’s our recommendation for those willing to invest in a premium smart lighting platform.
Here are the best smart outdoor lights.
The Philips Hue Calla Smart Pathway Bollard Light Base Kit, with its strong color lighting quality, advanced control features, and overall usability, is an excellent smart outdoor lighting option for both entertaining and everyday use in your yard or garden. If you don’t already use the Philips Hue platform or aren’t interested in investing in it, you can consider options like the Cree Lighting Connected Max Color Changing PAR38 Flood. This affordable smart bulb can easily add a lot of brightness, flexibility, and convenience to a standard light fixture.
Since most smart lights feature dimmable brightness, outdoor lights with high maximum brightness (measured in lumens) are generally desirable since they offer more range to work with. “Brightness is an important consideration if you’re lighting a walkway, or where it’s important to see in the dark,” says Sutton. “And from a security aspect, lights need to be bright as a deterrent.”
Many types of outdoor lighting, particularly for decorative use, don’t get very bright simply because they don’t need to. “But when it comes to other areas, it’s nice to have flexibility over brightness, as in being able to dim or change color temperature,” adds Sutton. “Some of the more striking applications of outdoor lighting is in the landscaping, and for that, you don’t necessarily need more brightness. It’s not functional lighting, it’s decorative. It’s creating an aesthetic.”
For any smart product, part of the installation is connecting to the internet, often to your home’s Wi-Fi network, and sometimes syncing with a smart hub or other devices. Manufacturers usually present the process as quick and straightforward, but technical hiccups are always possible, and troubleshooting can be frustrating for some.
In terms of installing the physical fixtures, most smart outdoor lighting for the consumer market is simple enough to install—potentially as easy as screwing in a light bulb. With some fixtures, you may need to mount them on the wall or stake them into the ground. You then need to connect to a power source, so it’s important to know how to install outdoor lighting safely or consult a professional installer or electrician.
“You can often have more options if you’re using a hardwired fixture as opposed to a wireless one,” explains Sutton. “You can have so many different varieties of light fixtures if you run an electrical cable to it, so that’s something to consider. But with landscape lighting, it’s very easy to find options that don’t necessarily need wiring.”
Smart lighting of any kind connects to the internet through Wi-Fi or another wireless protocol, which provides access to certain features that are generally common across manufacturers and products. You typically use the brand’s free mobile app to turn the lights on or off from anywhere or set them to switch on/off automatically based on a certain schedule, sunrise/sunset times, etc. You can control lights individually or group compatible products together. Some platforms, like Philips Hue or Ring, may offer richer feature sets and easy integration with the brand’s other smart devices (like cameras, motion sensors, or other lighting), but often require a separate hub specific to those devices.
Another signature feature of smart lighting is voice control, which means pairing them with a virtual assistant and associated devices like smart speakers that pick up voice commands. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are most commonly supported; compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit platform and Siri voice assistant is a rarer find. Integrating with these systems also allows you to set up other routines supported by that platform, such as location-based triggers or coordination with your wake-up and bedtime routines.
If you have existing light fixtures, say on the side of your house, that use typical light bulb shapes and sizes, you can simply replace your traditional bulbs with smart bulbs designed for outdoor use. For other fixtures you don’t want to completely replace with new smart fixtures, it’s possible to add technology to them through electrical components.
“There are a number of systems that will allow you to add remote dimmers to existing electrical cabling running to light fixtures,” Sutton says. “These in-line dimmers tend to be products that are professionally installed by an electrical contractor or systems integrator. But certainly, you can retrofit an entire lighting control system if you want, and what I’ve found is a lot of homes don’t tend to have dimmers for outdoor lighting, so that’s often a popular upgrade.” Sutton also recommends checking the transformer requirements for dimming. “Another thing to think about is making sure you have the right transformer to run with your lights so they dim properly. If it’s an older fixture, it might not necessarily have dimming capability.”
To use smart bulbs outdoors safely and effectively, use products that indicate outdoor use, rather than ones only designed for indoors. Reputable bulbs can be UL listed for either dry, damp, or wet locations. If your bulb is rated for damp locations, you should only install it in a fixture not directly exposed to rain and wet conditions, like a covered patio or under an awning. For completely exposed outdoor lighting, find bulbs specifically rated for wet locations.
Another factor to check with LED bulbs, in particular, is whether they’re rated for use in enclosed fixtures. The excess heat in an enclosed fixture can damage the LED technology in bulbs that aren’t designed for it, leading to malfunctions and potential safety issues.
The choice of LED versus incandescent or halogen bulbs or other types of lighting isn’t quite as important with smart outdoor lighting since most of today’s smart lights use LED technology. LED lights are very energy efficient, and modern products deliver the light quality and features that most homeowners need.
“Most of the lighting technology we see in outdoor lighting now is LED because they give you the brightness and the low energy and the color temperature control as well,” explains Sutton. “That technology has really accelerated over the past couple years.”
Anton Galang is a contributing writer for The Spruce, specializing in smart home products and other consumer technology. He has been writing, editing, and testing in the tech space since 2007, with work published in PC Magazine and Lifewire. He uses smart lighting, speakers, displays, and other gadgets in his own home and is always looking to grow and update his collection.
His work on this article expanded on his previous research on smart light bulbs and smart plugs for The Spruce, considering outdoor lighting offerings from over a dozen manufacturers and factoring in various lighting types, installation options, smart features, brightness and color quality, and price ranges. He also discussed additional installation, application, and functionality considerations with Giles Sutton, former smart home integrator and current Senior Vice President of Member Success and Sales at the global home technology association CEDIA.
Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.