The Best Smart Outdoor Lights for Ambiance and Security

The Philips Hue Calla Smart Pathway Outdoor Bollard is our top pick

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Outdoor pathway light on a lawn.

Dmytro Varavin / Getty Images

Smart outdoor lights are exterior lighting fixtures or bulbs designed for use around your house or yard that can also connect to the internet for additional features, including dimming, brightness and color adjustments, timers and scheduling, and remote control through an app or voice commands. 

"You can use a timer to automatically turn everything off late at night," says Giles Sutton, a long-time smart home integrator and executive at the home technology association CEDIA. "You can control everything together with an app or lighting system...It's really a continuation of the technology you have in a smart home." 

After speaking with Sutton about the key features of the best outdoor smart lights, we researched and chose top outdoor and landscape options based on ease of installation, useful features, and brightness and color customization. Our favorite is the Philips Hue Calla Smart Pathway Outdoor Bollard Light Base Kit, which offers excellent colors, detailed control options, simple installation, and comprehensive smart features. It's our recommendation for those willing to invest in a premium smart lighting platform. 

Here are the best smart outdoor lights.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Phillips Hue Calla Smart Pathway Bollard Light Base Kit

4.7
Phillips Hue Calla Base Kit

Amazon

What We Like
  • Excellent colors

  • Powerful features and effects

  • Wide compatibility

What We Don't Like
  • Hue Bridge required

  • No built-in motion sensor

  • Expensive

Part of the Philips Hue line of premium smart lighting, the Hue Calla Smart Pathway Bollard Light Base Kit is an IP44 (total protection against dust and jets of water) weatherproof and UL wet-rated bollard. Bollard lights shine down or all around from the top of a square or rounded post, ideal for illuminating a pathway or garden. The Calla is also excellent for outdoor parties and entertaining, thanks to its vibrant palette of 16 million colors. Even the temperature of its white light is fully tunable between cozy, warm light and daylight-like cool light. You can customize and save your color and lighting scenes and set timers and schedules to control when lights turn on or adjust. 

Using the Hue Calla and its robust smart features requires a Philips Hue bridge to serve as a hub. If you don't already use one, it adds more cost to a product that's pricey on its own. Not to mention additional Calla extension units if you want to set up multiple lights. When it comes to smart lighting ecosystems, though, Philips Hue has one of the more comprehensive, high-quality catalogs of indoor and outdoor lighting solutions you can invest in. 

Besides controls on the Hue mobile app, the Calla supports integration and voice commands from a wide range of platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and even Apple HomeKit, which is less commonly supported.

Wattage: 8 watts | Lumens: 590 lumens | Power Source: Power cord | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Smart Things, Apple HomeKit

Best Budget: Cree Lighting Connected Max Color Changing PAR38 Flood

Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart Led Bulb

Amazon

What We Like
  • Bright, tunable white light

  • Simple installation

  • Bluetooth option

What We Don't Like
  • Colors are fairly dim

  • No built-in motion sensor

  • No Apple HomeKit

Cree Lighting's Connected Max Color Changing PAR38 Flood smart bulb serves as a strong outdoor lighting solution for its low price. Its E26 base fits into a standard light socket, and it's UL wet rated for direct exposure to rain and other weather elements without needing to be within a covered fixture. 

This 14-watt LED bulb has a brightness equivalent to a 120-watt incandescent light bulb, making it much more energy efficient. The fully dimmable white light tops off at an impressive 1200 lumens, with temperature tunable between 2200 Kelvin and 6500 Kelvin. It can also change colors, but the colored light isn't nearly as bright or vivid as comparable indoor lights. 

The Connected Max PAR38 includes convenient features you'd expect from a typical smart bulb, such as app control for lighting scenes, groupings, and schedules based on the time of day or position of the sun. You can set other automated routines through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (but not Apple HomeKit), along with voice commands through a corresponding device. The primary connection method is through Wi-Fi, but you can also control it via Bluetooth if you're within close range.

Wattage: 14 watts | Lumens: 1200 lumens | Power Source: Light socket | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

Best String Lights: Govee H7020 RGBIC Warm White Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Smart Outdoor String Lights

Govee Smart String Lights

Amazon

What We Like
  • Dynamic colors and effects

  • Bluetooth option

What We Don't Like
  • Wide space between bulbs

  • No HomeKit

A simple but effective way to create exterior ambiance is by hanging outdoor string lights around your home or yard. The Govee H7020 Smart Outdoor String Lights (also known as the Govee Lynx Dream) display vibrant, festive colors through RGBIC light strip technology. This technology uses standard red, green, and blue (RGB) LEDs to reproduce 16 million different colors, plus an independent control (IC) chip that allows for more advanced, coordinated effects.

That amounts to 40 preset scene modes and fully customizable effects, along with a music-sync mode that reacts to the audio your phone hears. Each bulb also uses a warm white color to create more varied shades and tones for mood-setting. 

The Govee H7020 supports connectivity over both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, depending on your distance from your home wireless router or mobile device, respectively. You can control the lights through the Govee Home app or voice commands if you sync them with your Alexa or Google Assistant devices. The product is fully waterproof and shatterproof and available in 48-foot or 96-foot strings. With either length, the bulbs are 3 feet apart, which may make them look too sparse in certain settings.

Wattage: Not listed | Lumens: 50 lumens | Power Source: Power cord | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

Best Pathway: Ring Solar Pathlight

Ring Solar Pathlight

Amazon

What We Like
  • Solar-powered battery

  • Easy installation and Ring integration

What We Don't Like
  • Only bright for short time

  • Requires Ring bridge or other hub

Outdoor lighting for walkways and pathways serves the double duty of providing essential nighttime visibility along with appealing aesthetic touches, making them a leading candidate for smart upgrades. The popular Amazon-owned Ring line of smart security devices and lighting includes a wireless Solar Pathlight that conveniently recharges during the day and lights your way at night. 

This waterproof pathway light is dim until you switch it to full brightness through the app or something triggers the built-in motion sensor, in which case it shines to its maximum of 80 lumens. It's nowhere near the brightness of a regular bulb, but it's quite strong for a pathway light. It doesn't stay at max brightness for long, though, potentially only 30 seconds, according to Ring customer support, so it doesn't serve well as a constant light source. 

Because it requires a Ring bridge or another compatible Amazon Echo device to serve as a hub, it's most valuable for homes that already have a Ring system and other Ring security products in place. If you're interested in starting off with these pathway lights, you can find kits that include a hub device and up to six pathway light units.

Wattage: Not listed | Lumens: 80 lumens | Power Source: Lithium-ion battery, rechargeable via solar power or Micro USB | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Ring

Best Motion Sensor: Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor PAR38 Bulb

Sengled Smart LED Motion Sensor Bulb

Amazon

What We Like
  • Bright white light

  • Wide integration through Sengled hub

What We Don't Like
  • Zigbee hub required

  • No white temperature tuning

A staple function of automated outdoor lighting is to kick on when someone is nearby, to either guide someone who's welcome or deter someone who's not. Sengled's Smart LED PAR38 Bulb is great at that job. Its built-in motion detector makes it an instantly functional security light that screws into a standard socket. 

When the sensor detects movement within 30 feet, it will light up for 90 seconds, with a powerful max brightness of 1200 lumens. The white light is a warm, yellowish 3000 Kelvin, but unfortunately, the color temperature isn't adjustable. 

Controlling and configuring the bulb with smart features requires a hub that uses Zigbee wireless technology, which keeps your Wi-Fi signal free and allows devices to form a mesh network with one another. Example hubs include Samsung SmartThings, Wink, certain Amazon Echo devices, and the brand's own Sengled Smart Hub. The available features depend on your hub, but with the Sengled Smart Hub, you can connect with Alexa, Google Assistant, and even Apple HomeKit for voice commands and other advanced automation options.

Wattage: 12.5 watts | Lumens: 1200 lumens | Power Source: Light socket | Compatibility: Zigbee hub (Sengled, Samsung SmartThings, Wink), Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit

Best for Security: LIFX Color BR30 E26 (Nightvision Edition)

LIFX Smart Light with Nightvision

Amazon

What We Like
  • Excellent brightness and colors

  • Invisible infrared light

What We Don't Like
  • No built-in motion sensor

  • Pricey for a single bulb

The LIFX Color BR30 E26 (Nightvision Edition) is a uniquely equipped companion to security cameras with night vision capabilities. This bulb can shine an invisible infrared light that the naked eye won't detect but will enhance the image picked up by night vision camera feeds. Imagine a light that appears fully illuminated in security footage, while in person, it looks like it's turned off. 

The infrared feature, unfortunately, raises the price higher than comparable smart bulbs and calls for a separate security camera and motion sensing to take full advantage. But outside of night vision mode, the bulb still produces very bright white light, with tunable color temperature from very warm 1500 Kelvin to very cool 9000 Kelvin. 

The RGBW LEDs create up to 550 billion rich, vivid possible color options. Physically, the bulb has a BR30 wide-flood shape and a standard E26 base, and it's UL rated for use in wet locations. It also has an IP65 weather-resistant rating that indicates full dust-proofing and protection against low-pressure water from any angle. Installation doesn't require a hub, just a Wi-Fi network, and it supports integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.

Wattage: 11.5 watts | Lumens: 1100 lumens | Power Source: Light socket | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT

Best With Camera: Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus

Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus

Ring

What We Like
  • Very bright floodlights

  • HD security camera

  • No hub required

What We Don't Like
  • Subscription needed to record video

  • Hardwiring could require professional

  • No HomeKit or Google Assistant

For many homeowners, security cameras go hand in hand with outdoor lights, and the Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus is a smart-featured two-in-one solution. The lights themselves are a pair of powerful LED floodlights that produce up to 2000 lumens each. Some security lights run even brighter, but these offer plenty of brightness to fill the area with light. You can also customize the motion-sensing zones that trigger the lights for precise control of the active area. 

The 1080-pixel camera delivers a decent high-definition video feed, but you need a Ring Protect subscription in order to record any of the footage. Installation should be relatively straightforward, especially if you're replacing an existing floodlight. However, if you need to set up new wiring or simply aren't confident with electrical work, you may need a professional to install the device. 

This particular product doesn't require a Ring Bridge, but it does make sense to add it to a broader Ring security setup that gives you a single point of control for devices like doorbell cams, other smart lights, and more. 

Wattage: Not listed | Lumens: 2000 lumens | Power Source: Hardwired | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Ring

Best Spotlight: Phillips Hue Lily Outdoor Spotlight, 3-Pack

Phillips Hue Lily Spotlight, 3-Pack

Amazon

What We Like
  • Excellent colors

  • Powerful features and effects

  • Wide compatibility

What We Don't Like
  • Hue Bridge required

  • No motion sensor

  • Expensive

Spotlights accentuate specific points of your home's exterior or landscaping with dramatic light and shadow. The Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Spotlight lets you do so with advanced control and flexibility. 

Its 600-lumen max output isn't exceptionally high (the Lily XL model jumps to 1050 lumens if you need more brightness), but it still casts very effective decorative lighting when combined with the tunable color temperature and high-quality color options. The Lily base kit comes with three spotlights, the required power supply, and power cables, an expensive bundle that doesn't account for the Philips Hue bridge required for all the smart features. 

With the bridge and the Hue app, you can customize and save light and color settings to work just about anywhere in your yard, adjust manually as your landscaping or lighting needs vary, and change automatically throughout the day. You can also connect to the leading smart platforms and voice assistants, including Apple HomeKit and Siri, for other ways to sync your outdoor lighting with your devices and daily habits.

Wattage: 8 watts | Lumens: 600 lumens | Power Source: Power cord | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings

Best Holiday: Twinkly Strings Multicolor RGB LEDs

Twinkly Strings Multicolor RGB LEDs

Amazon

What We Like
  • Impressive effects and animations

  • Map out and customize your lights

What We Don't Like
  • Limited app/voice controls

  • Expensive for holiday lights

For many homeowners, holiday lights are a much-anticipated and meaningful type of outdoor lighting, and Twinkly's Strings can elevate the experience. Available in strands of 100, 250, 400, or 600 individual bulbs spaced about 3 inches apart, the RGB LED lights come together to create bright, dazzling displays of color—all weather-resistant for hanging around your house or on the trees in your yard. 

The animated light and color effects are much more elaborate than the options on traditional lights, with a catalog of presets and essentially endless customization possibilities. You can even scan in a 2D or 3D mapping of your own light configuration, which you can then paint effects onto with your finger. 

Besides playing with lighting effects, you can use the app to set timers for turning the lights on and off, but you won't find more complex scheduling and control options found on other smart lights. Similarly, you can sync with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit for basic voice commands and additional routines, but not detailed animation controls. The price tag is also quite high for lights that likely will only see use at certain parts of the year.

Wattage: Not listed | Lumens: Not listed | Power Source: Power cord | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit

Final Verdict

The Philips Hue Calla Smart Pathway Bollard Light Base Kit, with its strong color lighting quality, advanced control features, and overall usability, is an excellent smart outdoor lighting option for both entertaining and everyday use in your yard or garden. If you don't already use the Philips Hue platform or aren't interested in investing in it, you can consider options like the Cree Lighting Connected Max Color Changing PAR38 Flood. This affordable smart bulb can easily add a lot of brightness, flexibility, and convenience to a standard light fixture.

What to Look For in Smart Outdoor Lights

Brightness

Since most smart lights feature dimmable brightness, outdoor lights with high maximum brightness (measured in lumens) are generally desirable since they offer more range to work with. "Brightness is an important consideration if you're lighting a walkway or where it's important to see in the dark," says Sutton. "And from a security aspect, lights need to be bright as a deterrent."

Many types of outdoor lighting, particularly for decorative use, don't get very bright simply because they don't need to. "But when it comes to other areas, it's nice to have flexibility over brightness, as in being able to dim or change color temperature," adds Sutton. "Some of the more striking applications of outdoor lighting is in the landscaping, and for that, you don't necessarily need more brightness. It's not functional lighting; it's decorative. It's creating an aesthetic."

Installation

For any smart product, part of the installation is connecting to the internet, often to your home's Wi-Fi network, and sometimes syncing with a smart hub or other devices. Manufacturers usually present the process as quick and straightforward, but technical hiccups are always possible, and troubleshooting can be frustrating for some. 

In terms of installing the physical fixtures, most smart outdoor lighting for the consumer market is simple enough to install—potentially as easy as screwing in a light bulb. With some fixtures, you may need to mount them on the wall or stake them into the ground. You then need to connect to a power source, so it's important to know how to install outdoor lighting safely or consult a professional installer or electrician. 

"You can often have more options if you're using a hardwired fixture as opposed to a wireless one," explains Sutton. "You can have so many different varieties of light fixtures if you run an electrical cable to it, so that's something to consider. But with landscape lighting, it's very easy to find options that don't necessarily need wiring."

Smart Features

Smart lighting of any kind connects to the internet through Wi-Fi or another wireless protocol, which provides access to certain features that are generally common across manufacturers and products. You typically use the brand's free mobile app to turn the lights on or off from anywhere or set them to switch on/off automatically based on a certain schedule, sunrise/sunset times, etc. You can control lights individually or group compatible products together. Some platforms, like Philips Hue or Ring, may offer richer feature sets and easy integration with the brand's other smart devices (like cameras, motion sensors, or other lighting), but often require a separate hub specific to those devices. 

Another signature feature of smart lighting is voice control, which means pairing them with a virtual assistant and associated devices like smart speakers that pick up voice commands. Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant are most commonly supported; compatibility with Apple's HomeKit platform and Siri voice assistant is a rarer find. Integrating with these systems also allows you to set up other routines supported by that platform, such as location-based triggers or coordination with your wake-up and bedtime routines.

FAQ
  • How do I make outdoor lights smart?

    If you have existing light fixtures, say on the side of your house, that use typical light bulb shapes and sizes, you can simply replace your traditional bulbs with smart bulbs designed for outdoor use. For other fixtures you don't want to completely replace with new smart fixtures, it's possible to add technology to them through electrical components. 

    "There are a number of systems that will allow you to add remote dimmers to existing electrical cabling running to light fixtures," Sutton says. "These in-line dimmers tend to be products that are professionally installed by an electrical contractor or systems integrator. But certainly, you can retrofit an entire lighting control system if you want, and what I've found is a lot of homes don't tend to have dimmers for outdoor lighting, so that's often a popular upgrade." Sutton also recommends checking the transformer requirements for dimming. "Another thing to think about is making sure you have the right transformer to run with your lights, so they dim properly. If it's an older fixture, it might not necessarily have dimming capability."

  • Can I use smart bulbs outside?

    To use smart bulbs outdoors safely and effectively, use products that indicate outdoor use rather than ones only designed for indoors. Reputable bulbs can be UL listed for either dry, damp, or wet locations. If your bulb is rated for damp locations, you should only install it in a fixture not directly exposed to rain and wet conditions, like a covered patio or under an awning. For completely exposed outdoor lighting, find bulbs specifically rated for wet locations. 

    Another factor to check with LED bulbs, in particular, is whether they're rated for use in enclosed fixtures. The excess heat in an enclosed fixture can damage the LED technology in bulbs that aren't designed for it, leading to malfunctions and potential safety issues.

  • Are LED lights best for outdoor lighting?

    The choice of LED versus incandescent or halogen bulbs or other types of lighting isn't quite as important with smart outdoor lighting since most of today's smart lights use LED technology. LED lights are very energy efficient, and modern products deliver the light quality and features that most homeowners need. 

    "Most of the lighting technology we see in outdoor lighting now is LED because they give you the brightness and the low energy and the color temperature control as well," explains Sutton. "That technology has really accelerated over the past couple of years."

Why Trust The Spruce?

Anton Galang is a contributing writer for The Spruce, specializing in smart home products and other consumer technology. He has been writing, editing, and testing in the tech space since 2007, with work published in PC Magazine and Lifewire. He uses smart lighting, speakers, displays, and other gadgets in his own home and is always looking to grow and update his collection. 

His work on this article expanded on his previous research on smart light bulbs and smart plugs for The Spruce, considering outdoor lighting offerings from over a dozen manufacturers and factoring in various lighting types, installation options, smart features, brightness and color quality, and price ranges. He also discussed additional installation, application, and functionality considerations with Giles Sutton, former smart home integrator and current senior vice president of member success and sales at the global home technology association CEDIA.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.