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6 Best Smart Outdoor Lighting of 2022

Aug 04, 2023Aug 04, 2023

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No more fumbling for your keys in the dark.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could control all your outdoor lighting without having to deal with tons of different switches and buttons, or even step foot outside? Well, you can! All you have to do is switch out your existing bulbs to smart outdoor lights. Since most smart lighting solutions use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or another wireless signal, you’re able to operate your lights through an app on your phone. Some smart outdoor lights are even compatible with voice assistants so you can ask Alexa or Google Assistant to light up the driveway or set a festive mood on your patio before party guests arrive.

At the Good Housekeeping Institute, our home improvement and tech experts have been testing smart devices and home lighting for years. We've installed and evaluated everything from smart light switches to smart light bulbs and smart plugs in our homes. To choose the best smart outdoor lighting, we reviewed top sellers, innovative products and brands we’ve tested and recommended in the past. We worked closely with the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab to vet smart outdoor lights for ease of use, performance, smart home compatibility, durability, connectivity and more. According to our experts, these are the best smart outdoor light bulbs, flood lights, string lights and more to purchase in 2022.

After our top picks, read further to learn whether smart outdoor lights are worth it and what to look for when shopping for smart outdoor lighting.

When it comes to lighting, it’s hard to find a better ecosystem than that of Philips Hue. Though you’ll need a Hue hub to reap all the benefits, once it's set up you can connect up to 50 lights throughout your home, including these outdoor PAR38 bulbs. Perfect for lighting up your garage, dark pathways or even the sides of your home, our pros like these bulbs for their bright white light and extra features like being able to sync up with the sun so your lights turn on outside once the sun has set.

You’re able to set routines and schedules, like having your lights turn on shortly before your arrival, thanks to the geofencing feature which detects when you’re a set distance from home, say around the corner or pulling up the front driveway. You can also program lights to turn on and off when you’re on vacation to make it look like you’re there. With a Hue bridge you can also use Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant to turn your lights on or off by voice. While we haven’t tested this particular bulb in the Lab, Philips Hue has performed exceptionally well in previous categorical tests and our pros love the intuitive Hue app that makes using smart lighting easier than ever.

These affordable PAR38 smart light bulbs are perfect for replacing any flood lights or security lights you may have outside your garage or porch. We love that they’re dimmable as well as able to produce millions of different colors and various white temperatures so you can customize your lighting to your liking. Want a spooky glow for Halloween? You got it.

They’re also easy to set up via Wi-Fi and are compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa so you can ask your favorite voice assistant to turn on the lights outside your home; just keep in mind that the bulbs will have to be within range of your Wi-Fi router to work properly. Though we haven’t yet tested these in the Lab, our pros like that these come with a 5-year warranty and are rated for outdoor use by UL with their wet rating, meaning that they can be exposed to water, according to the brand.

If you need a quick and simple solution to light up a long pathway, look no further than these path lights from Ring. They’re especially convenient if you already use Ring security cameras or doorbells and own a Ring bridge or a compatible Echo device, which enables you to sync with other Ring devices. For instance, you can set up your Ring security camera to notify you the instant one of your path lights detects someone approaching your home.

On top of built-in motion detection, our pros love that you can adjust the lights' brightness as well as how sensitive the motion detection is in the Ring app. Best of all, since these are solar powered, no cables, cords or power sources are necessary! Like other smart lights, you can set schedules for when you want the lights to turn on or have them all turn on at once when motion is detected, in addition to several other customizable features. They even feature a higher IP rating than most smart outdoor lights so you can leave them outside year-round without worry.

Fun, colorful string lights from Govee are a great choice for any patio or backyard space you want to decorate, whether it be for Christmas or your average weeknight. The lights come with 40 pre-set lighting scene modes you can choose from in the app to get the vibe right, or you’re able to select your own custom color.

Our pros like that there’s a music sync mode so you can get your lights to dance along with you (and your music) in perfect harmony. They’re also both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled and compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. Though we haven’t tested this model in the Lab, these string lights feature an IP65 rating, meaning they should be able to withstand most rain showers and weather conditions without easily shattering.

This bollard base kit comes with everything you need to light up your pool, patio, pathway and more with an enchanting glow. Though our pros agree that this smart outdoor light is pricier than most, it’s a beautiful and unique way to illuminate your outdoor space. We like that you're able to string five bollards together and that it's rated IP65, meaning these should be durable enough to survive a few summer showers or winter storms.

While we haven’t tested it in the Lab yet, our pros love the Hue app and all the lighting scenes and colors you can choose from. Just keep in mind that you’ll need access to an outlet for these to work, as well as a Hue hub, in order to access smart features like voice assistant control, timers, schedules and more.

All the features that make smart strip lighting a great option indoors (low cost, ease of installation and control, versatile lighting design) also apply to exterior-grade versions. Dan DiClerico, Director of Home Improvement & Outdoor at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recently previewed this new launch from Cync, whose other smart light products have performed well in past Lab tests.

He was impressed by the waterproof design of the strip lighting, though noted that installation was a bit more involved since the system uses mounting brackets, rather than the peel-and-stick adhesive that’s common with interior strip lights. “But once the outdoor Cync strip is installed, it should stand up to inclement weather,” DiClerico says. He also likes the dynamic lighting effect, which allows you to create multiple hues within the same strip, such as alternating blue and white for Hanukkah or red and green for Christmas.

The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute have tested every smart lighting solution you can think of, from indoor smart light bulbs to strip lights to outdoor Christmas lights. We compiled this list of our favorite smart outdoor lighting solutions based upon an extensive review of top sellers, innovative products and brands we’ve used and recommended in the past. When selecting our favorite picks, we evaluated each smart outdoor light for ease of installation and use, smart home compatibility, durability, brightness and extra features like motion sensors or impressive app interfaces.

Smart outdoor lights are absolutely worth the investment in the long run, whether you want to light up your driveway, pathways or any dark spots around your home. Not only do these LED bulbs typically feature longer life spans, but they're convenient and easy to install. While some smart lights have built-in motion sensors so they turn on when motion is detected, others enable you to create schedules or routines in an app so your lights automatically turn on or off at a specific time (like when the sun sets). Some smart outdoor lights are even compatible with voice assistants like Google or Alexa, making it easy to turn your outdoor lights off when it's time for bed. Best of all, you can purchase smart outdoor lights that offer millions of colors and various shades of white so you can adjust the lighting to your liking depending on the occasion (for instance, the holidays).

✔️Ease of installation/use: Most smart outdoor lights are relatively easy to install. For flood lights, all you have to do is replace your existing bulb with the smart one, while string lights and certain pathway lights can be decidedly more complex and may require an outlet. Once you’ve installed your smart lights, you’ll set them up with an app on your smartphone by connecting to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Some smart lights require a branded hub that uses wireless technology like Zigbee or Z-Wave to offer smart features. Though Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are often the easiest options, keep in mind that you’ll need to be aware of the range and how far your smart lights are from your router or your device. Check your lights for their Bluetooth range, which typically will be under 100 feet. If your Wi-Fi range isn’t strong enough to reach your smart outdoor lights, consider investing in a Wi-Fi mesh router to extend your signal or opt for smart outdoor lighting that uses a hub. Lastly, if you’d like to use Alexa or Google Assistant to operate your smart outdoor lights, check for compatibility as well as whether it will easily integrate into your smart home ecosystem.

✔️ Brightness: How bright do you want your outdoor lights to be? Our pros recommend that for flood lights you look for bulbs around 700 to 1300 or more lumens to ensure dark outdoor spaces will be properly illuminated. Path lights, however, don’t require quite as many lumens since most of the time you’ll have multiple lights set up. About 100 to 200 lumens should do the trick for these lights. Remember, the more lumens, the brighter your lights will be.

✔️ IP rating: Since you’ll be leaving your smart outdoor lights outside, always double check their IP (Ingress Protection) Rating, when provided. This rating will indicate how well your lights can withstand exposure to environmental conditions such as rain, dust, wind and dirt. The higher the number, the more protection your lights will have. The first number refers to solids (i.e., dust) and how durable the product is, while the second is for liquids (i.e., water). “In most cases, an IP rating around IP65 will be right for outdoor lighting fixtures,” DiClerico says.

✔️Extra features: Since smart lights can be operated with an app, make sure the brand you pick has an easy-to-use and intuitive app. Philips Hue and Ring are great choices if you’re looking for vast smart home compatibility and robust apps, according to our pros. “These are two well-established brands with proven track records for reliability,” says DiClerico. “The smart home category sees a lot of smaller startups come and go, so it’s good to stick with bigger known companies.” Also consider whether you want built-in motion sensors in your smart outdoor lights, or if being able to set up schedules is enough. Lastly, some smart lights only offer one white temperature. If you want to be able to adjust your lighting from cool to warm, opt for smart outdoor lights with tunable white. Also, check whether your lights feature colors, if that’s something you’d like.

Media & Tech Reviews Analyst Olivia Lipski oversees product testing and covers everything from consumer tech to smart home devices and appliances, health, home and fitness. She continues to stay on top of the industry’s latest innovations and helps readers make better buying decisions by testing and reviewing the best gadgets to hit the market.

Dan DiClerico is the Director of Home Improvement & Outdoors at the Good Housekeeping Institute. For more than two decades, he has written about all things home-related, from big-ticket remodeling projects to routine home maintenance. Dan has reviewed thousands of consumer products across a wide range of categories, including appliances, building materials, fixtures, outdoor power equipment, home technology and more.

Olivia (she/her) is a media and tech product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, covering tech, home, auto, health and more. She has more than five years of experience writing about tech trends and innovation and, prior to joining GH in 2021, was a writer for Android Central, Lifewire and other media outlets. Olivia is a graduate of George Washington University, with a bachelor's degree in journalism, political science and French, and she holds a master’s degree in communications from Sciences Po Paris.

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Our top picks:Perfect for lighting up your garage, dark pathways or even the sides of your homemillions of different colors and various white temperaturesno cables, cords or power sources are necessary40 pre-set lighting scene modes you can choose from in the applove the Hue app and all the lighting scenes and colors you can choose from✔️Ease of installation/use: ✔️✔️ Brightness: ✔️ ✔️ IP rating: ✔️✔️Extra features: ✔️