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Do you really need a smart Christmas tree? Here’s how much it’ll cost you

There’s a special charm to the Christmas season. Each year, children look forward to getting the tree out of storage, putting it together, stringing the lights, and hanging the ornaments — while adults then have the less fun task of setting up timers and replacing bulbs that have gone bad in the intervening months.

Just the act of hunting down a blown-out light bulb in a long string of them can suck much of the merry right out of the Christmas season. One easy alternative is to invest in a “smart” Christmas tree that is prestrung and uses LEDs, not C7 and C9 bulbs.

The downside to a smart Christmas tree is the price. Even the most affordable options are $200. If you’re on a budget, it can be tough to justify the expense. The question then becomes: Do you really need a smart Christmas tree? If not, what other options are there?

The benefits of a smart tree

The most obvious benefit of a smart tree isn’t that it is prestrung, but that the lights themselves can be manipulated and changed at will. Do you want multicolored lights tonight? Great — just tap a button. Feeling like warm white another night? It’s just a press away.

The ability to change light color on a whim is a massive benefit that sets smart trees apart from traditional trees. The bulbs are also LEDs, which means a significantly longer life span and that the rest of the string won’t be affected if one bulb goes out.

Twinkly LED Programmable Lights
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another benefit to smart Christmas trees is that there are numerous effects available to users. For example, you can choose to have your lights flicker and cascade like snow. These animations can be customized and saved for later.

There’s voice control, too. When you can activate your Christmas tree with a quick voice command or through the app rather than fiddling with a mechanical timer, that’s a major win.

A smart Christmas tree doesn’t take the fun out of decorating — after all, it isn’t prefilled with ornaments. It simply gives you more customization and control over the lights, the schedule, and other features that often require finicky controls. Think of it as a way to get to the fun part of decorating just a little bit faster.

Smart Christmas tree price comparison

The smart Christmas tree market is not the most competitive space out there. Twinkly dominates most of the market and offers the majority of the features mentioned above, but there are a few other options if you’re looking for smart features without so many bells and whistles. Here’s a quick overview.

Name Price Height # of Lights
Twinkly Evergreen Classics Aspen Pine $400 7.5 feet 390
Twinkly Swiss Mountain Black Spruce $500 7.5 feet 600
Frasier Hill Mountain Pine Snow $330 6.5 feet 400
Mr. Christmas Vermont Spruce $350 9 feet 650
Evergreen Classics Washington Spruce $320 7.5 feet 400

If your budget has space for it, a smart tree is a great addition to your home — and it may actually save money in the long run. On the other hand, there are alternatives that are not as pricey as a smart tree and allow you similar options.

Smart tree alternatives

If a smart tree is a bit outside your budget, here are a few alternatives that might work for you. If you’re looking for the most affordable option, a $25 smart plug can add smart features to your existing tree and lights. At the very least, it removes the need to use the often-unreliable timers sold at this time of year.

You can snag a prelit tree for around $100. While you won’t be able to control the color of the lights, you can set schedules and turn the tree on and off with voice commands by adding a smart plug. It’s an inexpensive way to make decorating for Christmas just a little bit easier.

Another option that might grant a bit more control is to pick up a standard, nonlit Christmas tree. You can then purchase a strand of smart Christmas lights. There are dozens of options available, from simple monochromatic options to huge and customizable light strands, that range in price.

Vmanoo Solar Christmas Lights
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For example, a set of LED string lights from a third-party brand like N/V goes for as little as $26, while a strand of smart lights from Twinkly is $220. A middle-of-the-road option comes from XODO for $55 and can be controlled with all three major voice assistants.

These lights can then be strung around the tree and controlled from your phone. Because the lights are already smart, there’s no need for a smart plug — you can set schedules and control them with your voice, assuming the light brand you choose works with smart assistants.

You can also invest in a real tree for as little as $50 to $75, depending on where you buy. Combine a real tree with standard LEDs and a smart plug and you’re spending less than you would on an artificial, prelit tree.

  • A real tree with standard lights and a smart plug: $75 + $20 + 25 = $120
  • A prelit tree with a smart plug: $100 + $25 = $125
  • A real tree with smart lights: $75 + $50 = $125

These are average prices, of course — your actual cost will vary depending on the brands you invest in and the time of year you shop. If you wait to buy a prelit tree until after Christmas, then you can save a lot with clearance sales.

Do you need a smart Christmas tree?

You absolutely don’t  need a smart Christmas tree. Any type of tree can make this season a bit more festive and bring some of that holiday magic into your home. If you have the budget, though, a smart Christmas tree opens up features that you just can’t match with other options.

Artificial trees command high prices to start with. When you add on the price of strands of lights (if you purchase a tree that isn’t prelit), it becomes even more expensive. At that price range, it might be more economical to invest in a smart tree. The LEDs will last longer and, if stored properly, the tree itself will look great for years to come.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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