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Outdoor smart lights are best for expressing your patriotism this 4th of July

Independence Day is that time of year when friends and family can gather for a shared outdoor experience that combines good eats, plenty of beverages, and neighborhood-wide explosions — which often begin in the weeks before the holiday and carry through a majority of the summer. We’re talking, of course, about good-old bombastic fireworks.

A staple of every 4th of July extravaganza both big and small, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find elaborate displays of these colorful pyrotechnics at your local stores, dedicated fireworks shops, or even under pop-up tents on the side of the interstate (where one should purchase with caution). Fireworks are an iconic way to express your Independence Day cheer, but they’re not exactly quiet or completely safe. In the dog days of 2020, illegal firework activity was more commonplace than ever, with many parts of the country dealing with decibel disturbances long into the predawn hours. Then there are the numerous injuries and fatalities that are directly attributed to fireworks use, even under the safest conditions.

While we’re not here to deter you from going out and spending your hard-earned cash on whatever patriotic gear you desire, what we can do is share our thoughts on a much safer celebration alternative that is sure to impress your entire Independence Day gathering.

Enter smart lights — the smart home replacement for all things bright and kaleidoscopic.

Why outdoor smart lights?

MiPow Garden Lights on display.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When we think about smart lights, many of us may presume that these luminous products are exclusively for indoor usage in floor or bedside lamps, ceiling fans, and other fixtures. That’s simply not the case, as many smart light applications can be used both indoors and outside. Let’s focus on the latter for a moment.

In an outdoor setting, smart lighting can be implemented in anything from a front door patio fixture to rows of walkway accent lights. With the availability of bulb kits, floodlights, stand-alone fixtures, and even stringed strands that can hang over your porch railings and fences, there’s a smart light to match every style of outdoor decor.

Many outdoor smart lights utilize energy-saving LED tech to keep bulbs burning brightly year-round, along with weatherproof casing that keeps your hardware protected regardless of what Mother Nature has in store. Outdoor smart lights are also more than just an aesthetic investment, they’re a peace of mind solution, too. Whether you’re seeking extra luminance on your way to the front door, or want to link your lights to motion sensors that will sound an alarm and flash the outdoor bulbs when a prowler is detected, smart lights have got you covered.

AOP Outdoor String Lights in a yard.

Speaking of linking: Like the most popular indoor lighting kits, many outdoor smart lights offer connected controls through Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings, and other voice assistant suites that allow you to create lighting schedules, adjust brightness, and program intricate color overlays to set the tone for your next outdoor gathering.

With 4th of July right around the corner, we thought we’d impart a few of our own outdoor smart light recommendations to replace those cumbersome fireworks with something longer-lasting and certainly more unique.

Philips Hue for the red, white, and blue

4th of July lighting by Philips Hue creates a festive atmosphere.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Familiar with Philips Hue? If not, let’s just say that when it comes to smart lights of any kind, Philips Hue is one of go-to brands. Whether you’re looking to kickstart a basic lighting package or build an advanced system across multiple zones of illumination, inside and out, Philips Hue has the tech to get the job done. But what about 4th of July-themed lighting? Let’s look at some Hue outdoor applications.

Philips Hue offers two distinct types of outdoor lighting: Standard line voltage (wired into your home’s existing electrical system) and low-voltage applications that connect to an electrical outlet. Products include regular bulbs and dedicated spotlights and floodlights, as well as different kinds of lighting strips. Whatever color-changing Hue product you’ve chosen, once the lights are added to your Philips Hue app, you’ll want to go ahead and create some custom lighting scenes for the bulbs and fixtures you’re using. For 4th of July, create a red scene, a blue, and a white palette to make up the three shades of the American flag.

Next, use the Living Scenes formula in the Hue app to program your lights to cycle between the three color scenes, resulting in an all-American medley. In addition to standard lighting gear, you can also use a number of light strips as red/white/blue accent pieces throughout your patio space for the finishing touch.

Enbrighten for a patriotic veranda

Enbrighten Color Changing LED outdoor lights.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Maybe you’re looking for something a little less automated and a bit more in keeping with your outdoor aesthetic. If you’d like to add some Independence Day flair to your patio, deck, veranda, or other backyard hangout, there’s a great solution from the folks at Enbrighten.

Sold as a 48-foot spool, these LED string lights feature a tough jacket over the bulb-to-bulb wire, keeping your lights protected from squirrel snags and inclement weather. Once you’ve got the lighting in place, go ahead and set the scene for the 4th of July. Instead of automated controls through Alexa or Google Assistant, the Enbrighten lights are controlled through the included long-range remote. Choose red, white, and blue (there are up to 16 total color options), the appropriate brightness level, and then watch as your Enbrighten spool launches into a patterned Independence Day display.

Best of all, you can connect up to 750 feet of multiple Enbrighten strands to expand your themed lighting all the way around the yard. You’ve always wanted to put the neighbors’ outdoor lighting to shame. Now’s your chance!

ChangM for your Independence Day floodlights

ChangM RGB color-changing floodlights at a wedding.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What if we told you there was a way to actually emulate a firework display with your outdoor smart lights? A brand called ChangM offers a four-pack of LED color changing floodlights that’ll do just that. Featuring over 16 million color options and 20 distinct lighting modes, these are excellent floodlights for festive holidays and the perfect way to accent your landscaping, if you so choose.

So let’s get to that 4th of July fireworks show. Once your ChangM lights are powered and paired to your mobile device, you’ll first want to angle your lights to face upward into the tree line. Next, go into the ChangM app and change the floodlight colors to red, white, and blue. Then, choose between pulsating, strobe, or rainbow-jumping modes to create that iconic fireworks-in-the-sky simulation.

A few things to keep in mind with these ChangM lights: These are 15-watt powered lights, meaning each floodlight requires an electrical outlet. We’re also looking at Bluetooth setup and controls as opposed to Wi-Fi (like you’d find with Philips Hue and other brands). While this isn’t necessarily a detriment, as home networks can run a little slow if too many devices are connected, do keep in mind that Bluetooth has a limited control range. All this may mean for you and yours is that you’ll need to be outside when attempting to use the ChangM app, instead of inside the house.

Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
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