The Best Smart Outdoor Lighting Products For Any Scenario
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As our homes continue to get smarter there comes a point where you begin to look outside the house at opportunities to jazz up your entertaining areas. Smart outdoor lighting products enable us to tailor the mood of any space to the occasion, and outdoor spaces can benefit just as much from smart lighting as indoor ones in this respect.
Your particular landscape design will present various smart outdoor lighting opportunities where color or style can have a nice effect, but many ‘smart’ products only consider this to mean controlled by a smartphone app. I find you get far better utility when your outdoor lights are integrated using some form of smart home platform.
Finding outdoor smart lights that meet this requirement can be more difficult, but we’re starting to see a wider range of options hitting the market for outdoor use. I’ve put together a selection of the best outdoor smart lights in each category taking into account their integration potential, extra features, and build quality.
What Kind of Outdoor Smart Lights Do You Need?
When anyone thinks of smart outdoor lighting, they’re probably going to zero on in one of several distinct types. Everyone sees this differently, so I’ve gone ahead and broken this down into a few distinct categories to make sure we cover all the bases and perhaps give you some ideas you may have overlooked.
The most basic type of smart lighting is the smart bulb. While most of these are intended for indoor use, there are a few smart bulbs that are outdoor rated as well. These weather resistant models can be used in outdoor light sockets as normal, while being sure the smarts don’t get fried by dust and moisture.
Outdoor Lighting Fixtures
These are the typical decorative, hard wired lighting fixtures attached to the outside of buildings and other structures. Typically using standard light bulbs internally, they offer an appealing enclosure that protects the light socket from the elements. While you can use any standard fixture and simply insert a smart bulb, there are also some bespoke outdoor options that integrate LED lighting to create form factors that bulbs can’t do.
Not all smart outdoor lights are focused on aesthetics. Another important use is security lighting. A popular solution in this category is to go with smart floodlight cameras, those with a wireless security camera built-in like those from Ring and Eufy. But there are also good smart options for just a plain security floodlight without the cost of the camera.
This type of lighting is typically mains powered, although may still be low voltage. These lights are intended to provide wide angle, bright lighting over a large area and can be found in white or colored, wall mounted or garden varieties.
Also called pedestal or bollard lights, these freestanding devices are designed to be placed around paved areas and walkways to provide a minimum lighting level for moving around at night. Naturally some of these have gone a step further and offer color and brightness adjustment as well.
These lights are the opposite of floods, in that they put out a narrower light throw for highlighting garden features and adding ambiance to your outdoor space. They vary in brightness and may be battery powered or hard wired. While typically placed in the garden, some can be optionally wall mounted to act like down lights.
This one is a bit more open, as these decorative lighting options can come in various forms such as rope lights, light strips, or strings of individual lights. These have been the last to gain some degree of smarts, but we’re starting to get a few options now.
Consider Connectivity Up Front
While many smart outdoor lighting products do use plain Wi-Fi for remote control, there are some which use other wireless protocols like Zigbee. ZigBee in particular is the endorsed protocol of choice by major global lighting brands as it offers a number of benefits for whole home lighting installations. In order to connect a ZigBee system to your home network so it can be controlled, you’ll need a compatible smart hub of some kind.
Each smart lighting brand obviously has their own smart hub which can offer some value-added features but, as it’s a recognized standard, you can use certified ZigBee devices together with other brands. Generic hubs like the Smart Things Hub, Wink Hub, and Amazon’s Echo Plus can handle this or you can choose the one that goes with the lights you are looking at, as they usually have their own on offer as well.
Other proprietary systems, like Ring’s security platform, also need a smart hub specific to their system which does a similar job. In these cases you’d be looking at them if you had, or are planning to have, a greater investment in that system.
Finally, when looking at the smart outdoor lighting options below, keep in mind that the systems they can integrate with will greatly affect the functionality and benefits you can get from them.
Whether you just want to control them with your voice assistant of choice or want to leverage the power of a more comprehensive smart home platform, I’ve taken care to note the available options for each product.
Best Smart OutDoor Light Bulb
If you’re looking to smarten up existing outdoor light sockets and fixtures, simply swapping in a smart light bulb is an obvious answer. Depending on the location of the socket, you may get away with any brand of comparable indoor lights. I’ve certainly done this with Philips Hue lights where the socket is under cover without any issues, cobwebs and all.
Placement is not usually a huge issue as the sockets will be on the outside of the house and probably well within your Wi-Fi range, unlike some of the other smart outdoor lighting categories that can be a little too far to work reliably.
The best candidates here are from LIFX with their LIFX Nightvision smart bulbs (there’s a BR30 down light version as well). Not only are these specifically outdoor rated but have the added bonus of being able to put out infrared light in the appropriate frequency for night vision security cameras when they are ‘off’. This effectively illuminates an area the same as if the light was on, but without it being visible to humans.
They are super bright and handle the full range of colors with ease. Bright colors are one thing LIFX excels at, with very little of the discernable brightness drop-off that can affect other brands.
Unlike traditional bulbs that you might put in a ‘can’ fixture, these LIFX models are designed so that the lit part protrudes neatly outside the can to give much better horizontal light throw without sticking out too far. This might seem like it would look odd but it’s quite handy, especially if you’re making use of the infra-red capability.
This means you can set the lights up to switch to IR mode when not in use at night, providing much improved night vision capabilities for any outdoor security cameras you may have. They are available globally, they work on Wi-Fi so there’s no hub, and there’s pretty good smart home integration included with support for Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant.
✔ Available in BR30 and A60 models
✔ Infrared boost for security cameras
Best Smart Outdoor Lighting Fixture
While you can use a smart bulb with any standard outdoor lighting fixtures, there are some options with integrated lighting that offer some advantages in terms of weather resistance and different aesthetics. These options do tend to be more expensive, but it’s worth looking at what these devices offer over and above the standard light bulb option.
While they do need a smart hub, Philips Hue lights offer a wide range of these types of fixtures and I rank these highly because of their extensive platform integration options, reliability, and the powerful Hue app ecosystem. If you want quality smart outdoor lighting that works with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, Wink, Nest, Smart Things, Logitech or just about any other platform, then you can’t go wrong with Hue.
Philips Hue have a number of stylish fixture options in their range of outdoor smart lights, with versions for just about every market. Styles can vary a bit between countries, but for me the best option is the Philips Hue Econic. This light fixture offers a form factor that provides a modern uniform light across the entire surface rather than the more centralized glow of light bulb.
The Econic uses a high-quality metal and glass construction that will go the distance and is fully outdoor rated. It has a lower profile than fixtures that require a bulb and can be either wall or ceiling mounted which offers a good level of flexibility, and it’s a full color light source as well, configurable with the Hue app or through the impressive and industry leading range of smart home integrations via the Hue Bridge.
I’m keeping an eye on the market for other smart fixtures, but the competition that existed a year ago has dried up. As such I’ve picked another Hue light fixture, the Philips Hue Lucca, if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper. The Lucca offers a classic wall sconce style with a tune-able white color temperature, but not full color options. This keep the cost down and could well be fine if you're only interested in illumination over flair. With broad international availability, extensive smart home integration, and solid build quality, it’s a good deal for the price.
✔ Extensive smart home support
✔ High build quality
✘ Higher price tag
Best Smart Security Light
If you want a cost-effective motion sensing security light that can integrate with your smart home, then a good place to look would be Novostella. They have a great smart option with their new 45W Smart Security Light. There are other decent options in this category, but they either don’t use Wi-Fi or fall short in features or brightness.
The Novostella option features 3 adjustable LED light panels with a whopping 4500 lumen light output. The lights themselves output a bright white light with a tunable color temperature between 2700K and 6500K, and the built-in motion sensor can turn the lights on for a configurable period between 5 seconds and 1 hour.
For some extra smarts there is also an ambient light sensor included, this allows you to refine your motion activition to only kick in when the light is below a certain threshold.
You can control the lights via the Novostella app, the Tuya smart home platform, Alexa, or Google Assistant, and you won’t need a hub as the work directly over Wi-Fi. They have a very high rating of IP65 for weather resistance but are only available in North America at this stage. Use the code SECURITY to get 20% off if you buy direct from the Novostella store.
✔ Integrated motion and light sensors
✔ IP65 weather rated
✘ All plastic body
Best Smart Outdoor FloodLight
A good color smart outdoor floodlight can easily create a vibrant color wash across your yard or house, and you can configure them through your smart home platform to deliver different scenes for different purposes, all without having to set up individual light colors every time.
For me, Novostella is the go-to brand for Wi-Fi compatible outdoor washer floods. The Novostella 60W Bloom Floodlight is the king in smart floodlights dishing out a huge 6,000 lumens in whatever color you want.
With a wide throw and full RGB colored light they are a great outdoor floodlight. They’re made of die cast aluminum and IP66 rated so easily able to handle the elements and be placed in the garden or wall mounted as required. The rear body is a powder coated aluminium with an integrated heat sink on the back, and a plastic front. These higher-powered flood lights can get hot with prolonged use, and the heat sink helps keep it cool so it can be used inside as well as outdoors.
Novostella has used Wi-Fi and compensated for possible distance issues by including a built-in external antenna for greater signal strength. While they have their own app for remote control, they also integrate with Alexa and Google Assistant, which opens up the automation capabilities nicely.
For other options you could also check out our WiFi Flood Light buyers guide.
✔ Wi-Fi antenna for extended range
✔ 2 year warranty
✘ No remote control
✘ Some Wi-Fi issues
Best Smart Outdoor Path Light
The smart light options in the path lights category are pretty limited. While there are plenty of path lighting options, ones with smart home integration are harder to find. My go to option here is the robust Philips Hue Calla. We have a full color, low voltage bollard design with easy, flexible, low voltage wired installation, and a wide lighting area at up to 600 lumens.
These are a staple in my own yard, and you can see my full review for details on that. Like other Hue lights these are ZigBee powered, so you’ll need a Hue bridge to use them. If you don’t have a Hue bridge yet, the added cost can be worthwhile as the mesh network created between the lights can really help with placement further from the house as it allows them to pass communications between each other. It’s also offset by the broad smart home support options it affords, and a quality fit and finish.
This option is worth a look if you need integration with a platform other than Amazon or Google, or you are an existing Hue user. Notably you can run five of them off one power supply, which simplifies installation of multiple lights in the same area as you’d typically have with this type. There’s also an optional 100W power supply available which ups this to ten with the option of two different cable runs.
A robust metal construction, surface and stake mounting included in the box, and easy-to-use weatherproof cable connectors make this a great addition to anywhere you need ambient or safety lighting nearer to the ground.
✔ High build quality
✔ Easy installation
✘ Not super bright
✘ Plastic diffuser (glass would be better)
Best Smart Outdoor Feature Spotlight
Similar to the path lights, smart outdoor lights in this category are tougher to find, but the Philips Hue Lily makes a great companion to the Calla path lights above. I use these to complement the path lights by providing feature lighting on things like trees, water features, and flower beds around where the path lights are in use.
You get a very durable metal construction which can easily withstand the elements, as mine have for several years now, a soft 600 lumen output with a wide throw, and the ability to mix and match with the Hue Calla and other Hue outdoor lights on the same power supply. These are very much designed to light specific features and not wider areas. For that use case look to the floodlight section above.
In the box you get both surface mount and stake mount hardware with option riser extensions, so you can get that perfect placement. You can even use them as downlights if you mount them on a wall or supporting beam.
You’ll need a Hue bridge to use them, as with other Hue options, but the mesh connectivity provided by ZigBee is particularly useful in extending the range out into the garden and allows for easy integration of other devices like the Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor and wireless Click switch. The bridge also provides extensive smart home integration support for just about any platform you could want to use.
✔ High build quality
✔ Easy installation
✘ Not super bright
✘ Plastic diffuser (glass would be better)
Best Smart Outdoor Light Strip
Rope and fairy lights have been an outdoor entertaining staple for a long time, and now we’re starting to get some smart lighting options that can integrate with our scenes and triggers. Some of these are just app controlled via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so I’ve selected a more integrated smart outdoor option.
The Sylsmart Neon Rope Light has RGB Independent Control, which means each LED can be set to a different color. This allows for a range of cool effects such as moving colors and patterns, which can also by synchronized to your music by an audio pickup on the control box. It’s cheaper than the Philips Hue option, but only supports Alexa and Google Assistant for smart integration. Conversely it can be cut to length, which the Hue strip cannot.
While you can mount this under railing or something similar to product a nice glow effect underneath, it can also be shaped in full view to create a wide range of cool feature wall designs.
This strip communicates over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you won’t need a hub. The Bluetooth is also used to aid initial pairing and Wi-Fi setup. This avoids the common hassle of trying to discover a new device from the app.
It comes with mounting clips and adhesive pads to make for easy installation, can be cut to length at defined spots, and is IP67 rated. You can get it in 10 ft or 16 ft lengths and, using the app, it can be synchronized to music using one of 9 music modes. The main downside is this is only available in the US at the moment.
✔ High waterproof rating
✔ Scenes and music sync included
✘ Only available in United States
✘ Controller is not waterproof
Maybe A Smart Switch Will Do?
With all these smart lights to choose from, it can be easy to overlook an alternative way of integrating your existing outdoor lighting fixtures with your smart home: smart switches. You can do this in two ways depending on the light concerned, either replacing the light switch connected to that socket with a smart switch or using a plug-in smart outlet to control plug-in landscape lights.
Smart switches aren’t always an easy option, though, as they will almost always require switch wiring that includes a neutral wire. Some homes don’t have this as a simple switch doesn’t need it to break the circuit to the light socket. If your switches have such a wire (usually white), or if you use one of my recommended no-neutral smart switches, then swapping out the old switch for a smart one is fairly easy, and most can be done DIY.
Most of these smart switches are very similar, fit standard in-wall switch boxes, and will physically turn the power on and off to the light. An affordable and versatile choice is Aqara’s line of Wall Switches which come in single and double paddle configurations, and both neutral and no neutral options. All support Alexa, Google, and HomeKit, but do need Aqara’s Zigbee hub to connect them to your network.
If you’re looking for a no-hub smart switch option, the Treatlife Smart Switch offers a simple Wi-Fi connection and supports Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, so long as you have a neutral wire.
Smart outlets on the other hand will work fine with any plug-in low voltage lights you have, just be sure to get a weatherproof model. Using an indoor device, even under cover, will probably end in failure as humidity and temperature extremes will adversely affect the electronics. If you’re in a bind, you can try and fit them in a weatherproof enclosure, but heat may still prove an issue.
I have done this with an Eve Energy as I had no other options available for what I needed to do. It works but tends to stop responding on hot days. Switching it off at the wall for a day always brings it back to life, so far at least. The point is, without using a correctly outdoor rated device your mileage will vary, and your warranty won’t cover it.
There are quite a few outdoor smart outlets on the market supporting various combinations of Alexa, Google, and IFTTT, but my pick would be the Meross Outdoor Plug. It supports Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, and provides two 110V outlets. Simply plug it into an outdoor socket and get smart control of your existing plug-in garden or fairy lights right away.
Benefits of Smart Outdoor Lighting
As with indoor smart lighting, there are various benefits to be had by integrating your outdoor lighting with a smart home platform. Be it Apple’s HomeKit, Samsung’s Smart Things, or even just connecting a popular digital assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant for app or voice commands, you can gain convenience, remote control, and automation capabilities that can enhance your home entertaining and your home security.
A nice benefit that most integration options will give you is some sort of scene control. This enables you to set up a range of smart lights and appliances to activate with a single command or button press. You could, for example, set a bunch of smart outdoor lights to various preset colors, turn on a water feature and start a playlist on your outdoor speakers.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can leverage other smart devices in automation rules. Security cameras, motion sensors, or contact sensors on gates or doors can trigger certain smart lights automatically, and then turn them off again when not needed. This can both act as a deterrent to intruders and provide better lighting for capturing nighttime activity on security cameras. Similar smart features can help save on energy usage as well.
Some of the smart landscape lighting options below will include a built-in motion detector, which is a nice bonus, where others will require a separate device. Depending on your smart home platform you may be able to integrate third party motion sensors to control your lights, use security cameras themselves as motion triggers, or you’ll need to stick with the same brand if they offer a sensor, such as Philips Hue or Ring.
Frequently asked Questions
This depends on the type of light you're working with. Many garden lighting options will be low voltage. This means they use a 12V or 24V line running from a power pack of some sort. These simply plug into an outdoor outlet, and you run the low voltage cable to wherever you need.
More permanent fixtures will need hard wiring, either in the ground or on the wall, and will probably require some degree of additional work to install mounting brackets or run electrical cable. Of course, if you have an existing socket, you can simply choose outdoor rated smart bulbs and be done with it.
There are absolutely smart downlights available. These come in a variety of sizes, and for outdoors you’ll typically be looking at a PAR38 or BR30 with an outdoor rating. For smaller smart LED down lights like GU10 or below, you’ll need to ensure they are well protected from the elements as none of these are currently rated for outdoor use.
The two most common forms of smart lights for garden use are the path light and the feature spotlight. These can both provide ambient illumination as well as highlighting features of interest and are best used in combination.
Flood lights can certainly be used, and colored lighting with these can be very striking, but it’s a bit more of a brute force approach. The combinations you use would depend on your layout, objectives, and power outlet availability as you can typically get multiple path lights and spotlights to run off one transformer.
Smart outdoor lighting generally requires permanent power in order to power the lights themselves and the communication radio they use to talk to your smart home and enable voice control. There are some exceptions that are battery powered, but these are much more limited in both brightness and capability.
Many smart devices, including most smart lights, use Wi-Fi to communicate, but some rely on lower power mesh protocols like ZigBee or Z-Wave to provide fast, reliable control signals over longer ranges. By communicating with a smart home platform, smart features like scenes, schedules, timers, and sensors can be used to automate and improve the efficiency of your home’s lighting.
When looking at smart lights or smart landscape lighting there are quite a few sub-categories with different uses to consider. Some of these categories have little to offer the smart home enthusiast, but we are starting to see some movement in this space. Philips Hue lights, while at the top end of the price scale, has charged full speed ahead into this market with a diverse and rapidly growing array of options across all of these categories.
Their comprehensive smart lighting system, build quality, and integration capabilities tend to make them my first choice for the best smart outdoor lights in each case. While it’s hard to ignore them in favor of lower cost alternatives, they are expensive and we’re starting to get some viable options on the cheaper end.
Sylsmart is one such brand trying to cover a similar range now, but of course they have limited integration support and far fewer models on offer. LIFX is dipping their toe in as well, with a different take on outdoor bulbs with their nightvision range. These are a bit more limited as they only cover existing fixtures, but they have the unique feature of boosting infra-red to aid outdoor security cameras when they’re ‘turned off’.
Overall, we do have options in each of the smart outdoor lighting categories, but maybe not with the connectivity you were hoping for. Even so, considering the alternatives may be worth your while and open up more opportunities for other expansion as well.