Smart Home

These smart string lights are a holiday game changer

With 16 million color options, you can use the lights year-round.

Govee WiFi Smart Outdoor String Light review Credit: Govee

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When it comes to outdoor lighting, smart plugs can help turn a basic strand of standard string lights into one that you can control remotely. However, you still have to buy the smart plug, on top of the cost of lights.

There’s something appealing about buying a set of smart outdoor string lights that already has all of these easy-to-use features built right in, so I decided to test it out for myself with a strand of Govee’s Outdoor Smart String Lights.

The right set of market lights can provide some seriously cozy ambiance when you’re sitting by the fire pit or hanging on the patio, but Govee’s outdoor smart lights go above and beyond what a typical strand of string lights can do by offering fun color-changing features that can be synced to music and more.

These smart string lights might sound like a luxury you don’t really need, and they aren’t without their drawbacks, but after testing them for a few weeks, I’m hooked.

What are smart string lights?

Strand on ground
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Up to four stands can be connected and controlled simultaneously.

Most smart string lights can be controlled via a companion app, and, some integrate with smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Govee’s smart outdoor string lights are all that—and then some.

Each strand comes with six bulbs that can be individually customized to a certain color or set color patterns. Up to four strands of Govee’s outdoor smart string lights can be connected together (a total of 24 bulbs) for a larger display. There are 16 million color options (and all of the shades I tried displayed rich and vibrant tones). Since these lights display 80 Lumen on every single bulb, they’re brighter than the regular 20 Lumen bulbs that are more commonly found in string lights.

In addition to integrating with Alexa and Google Assistant, the lights can also be controlled via a remote control that’s included in your purchase (with a range up to 45 feet) and the Govee Home app for iOS and Android devices. Since they're waterproof, these lights can stand up to the outdoor elements if you’re using them on your front porch, rooftop, patio, or backyard.

What we like

Govee Home app view
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The Govee Home App makes it easy to change the color of each bulb, set a timer, control the brightness, and other features.

The lights can be controlled using Google Assistant and Alexa

For me, the initial appeal of outdoor smart string lights is the fact that I can control them remotely or by using Google and Alexa. When paired with Alexa or Google, you can turn the lights on and off. Within the Google Home app, you can also select colors, control the brightness, and there’s a button to turn the strand on and off if you don’t want to use your voice.

To make sure Alexa or Google Assistant knows which lights you want to turn on or off, you will need to adjust the device name in the Govee Home app. When you initially connect the string lights in the app, the device name automatically registers as a series of letters and numbers that is just too much of a mouthful to repeat aloud.

Do yourself a favor and rename the product to “outdoor string lights” (or some variation), so it’s easy to control using a smart speaker like our favorite Amazon Echo, the Echo (3rd generation), or Google’s latest high-definition smart display, the Google Nest Hub Max.

You can choose from 16 million color options

There’s no lack of color options when it comes to these string lights. The strand has a total of six bulbs, all of which can display an individual color, a pattern of colors, or you can make the entire strand the same color.

In the Govee Home app, there is a visual representation of the 6-bulb strand. To change the color, select the bulb or bulbs you’d like and then choose from one of seven preset colors in the app. You can also use the app’s color wheel to find the perfect shade for the bulbs.

The strand has a total of six bulbs, all of which can display an individual color, a pattern of colors, or you can make the entire strand the same color.

Or, if there’s a very specific color you want to match the bulbs to, try using the “Camera pick color” feature to capture a color. This is a nice extra if you’re hosting a party and want to carry the color scheme throughout the whole event or just want the bulbs to match your outdoor decor in general.

They can sync up with music

No, these smart lights don’t play music. However, they do have the ability to “dance” to the beat of a song—and it’s a really neat feature. In order to work, the lights must be set to the “Music” mode in the Govee Home app. There’s no pairing required, as the string lights have a highly sensitive mic built right into the strand itself.

I tested the feature using my Sonos One speaker and it worked like a charm. Govee recommends placing the speaker within 16.4 feet of the smart lights in order to best capture the beat of the music. Due to the placement of the electrical outlets on my outdoor patio, my speaker and the string lights were within pretty close range of one another (under 5 feet). I played a variety of upbeat (and not-so-upbeat) songs and these bulbs had no problem keeping up with the shifting rhythms.

The setup process is so easy

This was my first experience with smart string lights and it really couldn’t have been any easier. The set up was simple and worked on the first try. It takes mere seconds to connect sync the account with Alexa and Google Assistant. And, finally, the app is extremely straightforward and simple to use. Even my 6-year-old daughter was able to control the lights without my help.

What we don’t like

White color setting
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Although there are 16 million colors to choose from, I couldn't get "white" to display anything but a pink-ish hue.

There's no true white color

All told, Govee’s Smart Outdoor String Lights are pretty cool. There’s one thing that’s lacking, though. As much as I love being able to customize the entire strand with any color of my liking, the plain “white” setting isn’t really true to color. Despite the fact that you can select specific colors from the color wheel and even control the warmth and coolness, I couldn’t get the “white” color to my liking. It’s more of a light pink and purple shade than white.

This isn’t a total dealbreaker, but I’d like these lights even more if they had the ability to look like the kind of market lights you see strung across outdoor patios and at restaurants. Something about the warm white glow really sets the mood when you’re eating dinner outside or sitting by the fire pit.

Despite the fact that you can select specific colors from the color wheel and even control the warmth and coolness, I couldn’t get the “white” color to my liking. It’s more of a light pink and purple shade than white.

Unable to connect to external speakers

And, while syncing the lights to the beat of the music isn’t necessary, it’s a cool feature that could use a little improvement. The built-in mic works well, but the ability to connect the lights to external speakers would be a welcomed addition. I found that I had to turn the music up fairly loud in order for the bulbs to display colors to the rhythm of the song. This is all fine and dandy until you go to have a conversation with someone while nearby and it’s too loud to hear.

Is it worth it?

Rainbow
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

The lights are waterproof and the bulbs feel durable instead of fragile.

If you’re looking to spruce up your backyard patio or add some fun to your front porch, Govee’s Smart Outdoor String Lights make a great addition. The fact that you can customize the color of the entire strand or by bulb makes these string lights great for casual, everyday use or you can use the lights to create a festive display for the holidays.

The string lights are great for families, too, as my 18-month-old and 6-year-old couldn’t stop staring at the color-changing string lights (and my eldest had too much fun creating her own color combination). I’ll be leaving these up year-round.

Get Govee Smart Outdoor String Lights on Amazon for $49.99

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