‘Tis the Season to Use Wi-Fi
You can do more with your home internet connection than stream your favorite holiday classics this season; you can also use Wi-Fi to control your indoor and outdoor lights!
Smart Lights Offer Convenience & Efficiency
If you’re tired of crawling beneath the Christmas tree or venturing outdoors in subzero weather (this is South Dakota, after all) to plug and unplug your holiday lights, there’s an easier — and warmer — solution right at your fingertips: your wireless router. Best of all, you may be able to control your holiday lights with your smartphone … or even your voice. Take that, Clark Griswold!
While you still need to hang the lights yourself (there’s no app for that just yet), using Wi-Fi to control your lights is easy and efficient. There are a wide variety of options to choose from; depending on your needs and budget, you can pay as little as $7-8 a strand, or as much as $200. In addition to powering your lights on and off, you may also be able to change their color or pattern or create your own custom display.
Dee Sleep, Golden West Marketing & Communications Manager, relies on a traditional timer for her outdoor lights but uses a programmable outlet for her indoor lights.
“They’re on a timer, but I can also override the timer using an app on my phone if I want the lights turned on or off at a different time,” she explains. “I like it because I don’t have to remember to turn the lights on, and they also automatically turn off.”
You have a couple of choices when it comes to getting smart this holiday season.
If you already own Christmas lights and don’t want to invest in more, smart plugs (available as outlets or power strips) may be your best option. They insert into existing wall outlets, enabling you to plug in other devices that are then controlled via your home’s Wi-Fi network. Popular features include:
- Smartphone control. Turn the power on or off no matter where you are using your phone.
- Scheduling. Set up a schedule to turn on your lights at a certain time every day.
- Programmability. Connect various devices to have them interact with one another.
- Voice controls. Pair your smart plug with an Amazon Echo, Google Nest Home, Apple HomePod or other virtual assistant to control your smart plug with simple voice commands.
Smart plugs work not only with other smart devices (e.g., speakers); they’ll convert anything you plug in into a smart device, too — including existing holiday lights. Make sure you purchase a smart plug suitable for either indoor or outdoor use depending on where you’re going to hang your lights and look for a plug that is either designed for the platform you’re using or IFTTT (“if this, then that”) compatible, which will give you the flexibility to connect most virtual assistant devices regardless of brand.
- Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Plug. Compact, stackable, space-saving design enables voice commands with compatible devices. $15 – $20.
- Meross Outdoor Smart Plug. Weatherproof, dual outlets, smartphone and voice controls. $25 – $35.
- Kasa HS300 Smart Plug Power Strip. Six smart outlets, surge protection, energy monitoring, app and voice controls. $60 – $80.
If you’d rather not bother with smart plugs, which may not be rated for outdoor use, consider opting for Wi-Fi enabled holiday lights instead. These are ready to go straight out of the box and many provide the same convenience and ease of use, including smartphone controls, automatic programming, and custom patterns and designs. Here are a few options for various budgets:
- Twinkly Custom LED String Lights. 16 million+ colors, custom iOS and Android apps, pre-loaded lighting effects, can be synchronized to your favorite holiday music. $180 – $200.
- ELlight Outdoor String Lights. Waterproof, safe for indoor/outdoor use, Dream Color Mood Lighting allows you to control everything from blink speed to colors. $90 – $100.
- Minger RGB Fairy Lights. Battery-powered, waterproof, controlled by an app, features seven preset scenes and dimmable brightness. $8 – $15.
If you have questions about your home Wi-Fi network or would like help maximizing speed, contact Golden West at 1-855-888-7777.
Golden West does not endorse any products or services in this article that it does not provide.
Sources: Some information for this article was provided by online articles from PC Mag, Home Depot, OnlineTechTips.com, and imore.com.