The holiday season is well underway and we’re imagining you’ve got your decorations ready for the festive period. What better way to deck the halls with smart home technology?
What can you do to embrace smart home technology and take the tedium out of Christmas lights and decorations?
Luckily, you’ve got a number of options at your disposal which we’ll highlight today.
So, do you want to get going without spending more than a few bucks?
If so, think about some basic outlet timers to get the party started. This works well if you’re operating on a tight budget. It’s also a decidedly beginner-friendly approach to automation.
1) Cheap and Cheerful Outlet Timers
In many ways, a precursor of the smart tech that’s embedded in most homes these days, outlet timers enable you to automate your festive decorations without endlessly scuttling over to the power outlets.
While functionality is pretty limited, these timers are cheap enough that they fall in whim purchase territory while allowing you to ensure your lights go on and off on time.
For any low-powered appliances like Christmas lights and lamps, this is a cost-effective method of kickstarting some automation.
Here are 2 great options from Westek to consider:
The beauty of this small but perfectly formed timer is that you won’t need a hub, subscription or any tech skills to get going.
The space-saving design allows you to leave the other outlet unmolested while you add in a nifty little timer to another. If you need something even smaller, this timer comes in a 1-outlet model, too.
The device is rated at 15 amps and you’ll be able to accommodate the majority of lights and appliances along with motors up to 1/3 horsepower. All you need to do, then, is pop your lights into this outlet and then take care of scheduling in-app.
When you’re away from home, you can randomize lighting to give your house the appearance of being occupied. For something specific like Christmas lighting, select on and off times for days or groups of days. You’ll never need to remember to switch your lights on and you won’t waste electricity by leaving them on overnight.
This timer is a neat way to automate your indoor lights while potentially cutting down on squandered power consumption.
How about if you need to perform the same task outdoors?
Fortunately, Westek have you covered there, too.
Much like the timer outlet above, this outdoor-rated version is tailor-made for those outdoor decorations and landscape lighting that brightens up the holiday season.
There’s a basic on/off button you can use to manually override settings. We’re pretty sure you won’t be resorting to manual control, though. The lean and intuitive Westek app allows you to create your own personalized timing schedule.
Setting things up and including this device on your home WiFi network is a cinch and operation is just as straightforward once you’re up and running. The most effective part of Christmas decorations is the auto-off feature. You’re unlikely to forget to switch your lights on but how often do you end up going to bed and leaving them all ablaze? Kiss goodbye to that for less than the cost of a round of drinks.
Weather-rated for outdoor use in hostile conditions, this 2-outlet timer is well worth grabbing before the holiday season begins.
How about if you want to keep things simple but you fancy ramping up functionality slightly?
Well, you should seriously consider a smart plug…
2) Ramp Things Up With Smart Plugs
While many outlet timers simply allow you to choose a set on/off time, you’ll get more flexibility with a smart plug.
You’ll be able to better customize your lighting coming on and off. Perhaps, for example, you’ll want the lights on much more during the day at weekends. This is not always possible with a smart timer but is super-simple with a smart outlet.
If you’re prepared to invest in a home hub, you’ll also be able to build out location-based automation tasks. This allows your festive lights to snap into action when you return home and to power down when you head out.
With the addition of a smart speaker or smart display, you’ll be able to introduce hands-free operation since most smart plugs work with the major digital assistants.
This neat 3-pack of compact smart plugs should give you all the firepower you need to automate those festive lights and decorations.
We particularly like the stackable design of these plugs. You’ll be able to use a pair of these devices in a single outlet.
Take advantage of smart timing to create schedules or get your decorations on and off with sunrise and sunset.
Whether you’ve got a home WiFi connection or you make use of mobile internet, you’ll enjoy remote control of your Christmas decorations even if you’re not at home.
Interoperability is superb. Wemo plays nicely with both Alexa and Google Assistant. You can get even more creative by building IFTTT recipes to further enhance automation.
If you’re hunting for a no-nonsense way to automate lights and any other decorations, just pop them into one of these outlets. You’ll get all the benefits of automation even if you’re a complete beginner to smart home technology.
So far, so good. You’ve now seen how to uprate the intelligence of your existing lighting but how about a more specific solution?
For that, you might want to consider some smart lighting.
3) WiFi-Enabled Smart LED Lights
If you want some LED lighting that’s got inbuilt smarts and doesn’t call for one of the plugs outlined above, there’s plenty of choices. Unfortunately, many of these customized lighting solutions are also eye-wateringly expensive.
What can you do instead if you want the twenty-first-century festive lighting on a reasonable budget?
These stunning LED string lights can be controlled in-app from your smartphone but how do you actually get them working?
Well, although these lights are highly effective at Christmas, you’ll be able to use them year-round, too. Using smartphone camera mapping, you can create your own designs or opt for the preloaded settings.
Fully IoT-enabled, you can use the app on both Android and iOS and you’ll enjoy hands-free compatibility with Google Assistant for that perfect party piece.
All you need to do is set up the 225 LEDs and then sync in-app. You’ll be able to build some really ambitious effects giving you an exceptional return on investment.
Rated IP44 for outdoor use and fully waterproof, while these lights are not exactly cheap, we feel they represent stellar value. Do something different with your tree this Christmas and turn it into a real conversation piece.
4) Use On/Off Modules
If you’ve got an Insteon ecosystem at home, you’ll already be aware of the total reliability you enjoy with this robust dual-mesh network.
Maybe you’ve got older lights and decorations that have sentimental value but are not performing as you’d like them to.
Perhaps you’re operating on a tight budget this year and you don’t like the thought of buying replacements.
Whatever your reasons, there’s no need to lose out on a treat. Invest in an Insteon On/Off Module and you’ll turn your old dumb lighting into a solution you can control hands-free and remotely.
From connecting Christmas lights indoors and out in the yard to automating inflatable characters you bought for the kids, it’s gotta be Insteon.
The Insteon On/Off Module is a modern classic with just cause. Wonderfully simple to install and use yet deceptively powerful in terms of functionality, what can you do with this module?
Just choose the Christmas accessory you’d like smartened up and plug it into this module rather than a regular outlet.
5) Get Started With Alexa
“Alexa, it’s Christmas.”
- Christmas radio is played
- Lights turn on
- Inflatables blow up
- Christmas tree lights up
Well, you should have a wide array of options now if you fancy smartening up your Christmas decorations the easy way. We always advise you to personalize any smart home buying decision and this is absolutely crucial if you want to automate your decorations. Think about your needs and budget then create a solution to match rather than expecting a single, boilerplate strategy to work.
Don’t forget to bookmark our blog if you want all the latest smart home news. We’ve got a busy slate over the coming holiday season so keep checking back as we update our content daily.
If you like the idea of any of the above products but money is a little tight, why not sign up for our email newsletter? Not only will you get even more great content, but you’ll also qualify for 20% off your first order here at Smarthome. What are you waiting for?