“Decking out your home with smart strip lights won't cost a fortune with Govee's offering.”
- Affordable price point
- Lots of features
- Impressive music effects
- Bright and vibrant lights
- Poor setup experience
- Disorganized app
Light strips add an element to décor that normal lights just can’t match. Think about how many home theater setups you’ve seen with ambient lighting on the back of the television, or a string of lights underneath a chair. Not many. The problem is that the best light strips, like the Philips Hue Lightstrip or the LIFX Z LED, are sometimes prohibitively expensive, reaching prices of as much as $70 or more.
Govee’s RGBIC Strip Lights offer much of the same functionality as higher-priced models, but for a fraction of the cost. A 16.4-foot section starts at $23, while a 32.8-foot section starts at $49.
Installation and setup
Installing the Govee strip lights is an easy task. All you have to do is plug the power supply into the wall, and plug the lights themselves into that. A physical controller allows you to swap through different color options and turn the device on and off, while 3M tape on the back of the strip makes it easy to mount to the underside of a counter, along the wall, or any other place you want to place the lights.
Setting up the strip light, on the other hand, is a little odd. The Govee app isn’t the most well-designed application I’ve ever used, and when it came time to connect the lights to Wi-Fi, it didn’t automatically detect the Wi-Fi network, nor did it give me the option to choose from any of the available connections. I had to manually type in the SSID and password of the network. Govee also has a lot of different strip lights to choose from, so you need to know the model number of your lights to find it in the app. The app’s organization leaves a bit to be desired.
However, once I completed that section of the setup process, everything else flowed smoothly. You should note that the lights cannot be cut, unlike some RGB strips. RGBIC lights are controlled by a single IC chip, so cutting the strip can cause malfunctions on both sides of the cut, especially if you don’t cut it in the correct location. The cut section also cannot be reconnected to another power supply.
Something else to be aware of is the heat generated by these LEDs. The majority of LED strip lights barely get warm, but the Govee Strip Lights can become unpleasantly warm if left rolled up. Make sure to unroll the strip before using it, even if you don’t need the full length. Leaving it rolled causes the lights to get dangerously hot.
Features and performance
The features list is where the Govee RGBIC Strip Lights stand out. The lights are capable of displaying up to 16 million different colors through its bright 5050 LEDs. The luminosity of these LEDs is impressive — they are significantly brighter than other LEDs in the same price range.
The lights can be controlled via a physical controller that provides access to a wide range of solid colors, as well as multiple color-changing effects. The best features lie within the app, though. It provides users access to all of the top options for using the Govee strip light, including the Timer feature and the ability to manipulate the brightness or change between the four different modes.
The luminosity of these LEDs is impressive.
The Music Mode causes the lights to flash and change in time with music. It listens to music using the phone’s microphone, but you can adjust the sensitivity if it’s picking up too many background sounds. You can choose between Party, Dynamic, and Calm options, as well as whether Music Mode will automatically shift the color or allow you to choose it manually. Party Mode is the most frenetic option and shifts the color option the most rapidly, while Calm Mode provides the slowest transition. You can also choose between a number of other options, some of which don’t make a lot of sense based on their names: Shiny, Sprouting, Day and Night, etc.
Color Mode is self-explanatory and lets you change the colors of the light. However, there’s more than just basic colors available. You can choose to set different segments of the strip to different colors, adjust the brightness, and more. You can save custom colors, too. The “recommended color schemes” function lets you choose between a variety of styles, scenes, and color-matching methods to customize the appearance of your light strip. Some quick math shows there are millions of different color combinations and setups for just solid colors alone, much less the flashing light options.
The Scene Mode offers more than 64 preset scenes for nearly every occasion. The Scenes are divided between Life, Emotion, Festival, and Natural. I recommend either the Lightning or the Deep Sea scenes — both make impressive use of the lights and do a great job imitating their namesakes.
The final mode available in the app is DIY. This mode lets you create your own effects for the light strip with a wide range of customization. There are little to no instructions about how this mode works, though, so you learn through a lot of experimentation and trial and error. I haven’t fully grasped how it works yet, but the ability to make my own scenes and flickers was really impressive.
The Effects Lab is another feature that’s worth checking out. It’s divided between a Color Gallery, an Effects Lab, a Gaming Lab, and the Harmony Lab. The last one — the Harmony Lab — truly stands out. Any one of the selections plays sound through your phone and has a scene to match. Some of these effects, like Rain Drops or Stream, create almost meditative experiences. The effects are soothing and far beyond what I would expect from a set of strip lights. You can always turn off the sound and keep the flicker effect, too.
At full brightness, the lights are almost too bright to look directly at and they work best as ambient lighting. However, you can adjust the brightness anywhere from 1 to 100, with the lower range providing more than sufficient light without blinding you.
According to the specifications, this light strip only works with Bluetooth. However, I found I was able to control it even with Bluetooth disabled using only Wi-Fi.
Smart assistant integration
The Govee Strip Lights work with both Alexa and Google Assistant. Alexa can easily create routines, change the color of the lights, or even activate specific scenes if you know their names. The assistant cannot, however, set the lights to any of the effects from the Effects Lab.
Within the Alexa app, you can change the color, set up scenes, and create specific routines. You can trigger the lights to turn on and off at certain times, too. I placed the lights in my loft as part of a game room setup, and they work perfectly with the rest of the décor in the space. Unfortunately, they cannot work as ambient lighting. I found no way to connect them to the scene on a television to match the ambient color on the screen.
My first impression of the Govee RGBIC Strip Lights wasn’t a great one. The setup process left me frustrated and confused at the lack of features that seem like they should be included by default, but after that, I learned to enjoy these lights. The vast range of features and color options is truly impressive, and I appreciate the physical controller. Some lights I’ve worked with in the past, like the LIFX Z LED, don’t include physical controls. Sure, it takes up more space on the cable, but if the phone is out of reach or the lights haven’t been linked to a smart assistant, it’s useful to have an actual button to press. All in all, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially at this price.
Is there a better alternative?
There are alternatives, but few better options at this price point. Philips Hue and LIFX both have light strips that are loaded with features and tremendous construction quality, but both are also far outside the price point of the Govee RGBIC lights.
The Twinkly Line has a lot of features and presets, but costs $67. You can also go ultra-budget for lights that have no smart features, but cost only $8 for a 16.4-foot strip. If you want a lot of smart features and smart assistant integration, the Govee RGBIC Strip Light is the best bet at this price point.
How long will it last?
The controller’s plastic isn’t the highest quality, but it doesn’t feel overly fragile, either. With proper care, these lights should last for years to come. Just be aware that the adhesive is one-time-use only. After you place the lights, if you peel them off, they’ll need help to remain attached anywhere else. Even if you accidentally place it wrong and peel the lights off to reattach them, you’ll find that section sags and breaks free.
Should you buy it?
Yes. At this price point, you would be hard-pressed to find any lights that come close to this level of quality.
- The best smart light bulbs
- GE Lighting launches colorful, customizable rope lights with a built-in microphone
- Nanoleaf opens preorders for its first-ever Matter smart lights
- 8 things you didn’t know smart lights could do
- Nanoleaf reveals new Matter-enabled smart lights at CES 2023