Best Decorative Lights: XMCOSY+ Outdoor String Lights

For a patio or backyard deck, these decorative lights were the favorite among those we tried—easy to install and an easy-to-use app that lets you change colors, brightness . . . and yes, it works with Alexa and other voice assistants. 

What We Liked

• Bright!

• Multi-colored.

• Easy to install.

• App is easy to use.

• Can add more strings (a total of 4).

• Holiday settings plus different effects like fade, blink or chase. 

What Needs Work

• Make sure water doesn’t get in the connector joint.

Best Security Lights: Dusk to Dawn Light Bulb Sensor Smart LED Outdoor Lighting Bulbs

Security lights that turn on or off at dusk and dawn may not sound like the smartest of smart lights, but we know many folks just want this function. And numerous studies show that security lights can deter crime. 

We tried out several different options here before deciding these bulbs by Vigogfy are probably the best bet for most folks—they are affordable and get the job done. 

What We Liked

 No timers, no switches and no remotes—these lights just turn on at dusk and off at dawn.

• Sensor works well.

• Easy to install—just replaces a regular bulb that screws into a light fixture.

• LED light.

What Needs Work

• Don’t work well in frosted fixtures. 

• Bulbs can’t be too close to each other, or they can cancel each other out!

• Some users think they could be brighter. At 600 lumens, they aren’t as bright as some folks want . . . but can work well to cast just the right amount of light for a deck or other outdoor area.

Best Landscape Lighting: Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Lily XL Outdoor Smart Spot Light Base Kit 

Philips Hue lights aren’t a cheap option when it comes to outdoor smart lighting—but if you want the best overall quality and app-integration, Hue is it (in our opinion).

A few caveats here: to work this light, you must have a Hue Hub. That isn’t included in this package, which has just one light and a power supply. 

As part of our research, we purchased a Philips Hue Lily XL and did an unboxing (as always, we pay for products with our own monies at retail prices).

Here is what the box looks like:

Best Outdoor Smart Lights box 1

Inside the box are two boxes, one for the power supply/cords and a second one for the light itself:

Best Outdoor Smart Lights box 2

Here’s what all the components look like unboxed:

Best Outdoor Smart Lights box 3

Once you plug in the light, you use the Hue app to pair it with your hub (which isn’t included). The app is simple to use, either by entering the light’s serial number . . . or just plugging it in and having your network find the light automatically:

Best Outdoor Smart Lights box 4

Once paired, you name the light and configure the space it will be (outdoor patio, for example):

Best Outdoor Smart Lights box 5

The light itself is very bright, but it is hard to get a sense of that from pictures. Here is a our best try:

Best Outdoor Smart Lights box 6

Meanwhile, here are the pros and cons of this light:

What We Liked

• Great for lighting up trees.

• Easy to-use app.

• Quality construction.

• Includes 15 watt power supply.

• Includes stake mount or can mount flush with wall or pole.

• Smart home integration with Alexa and IFTTT, as well as other assistants.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

• Additional lights can be added—but these extension kits are also pricey.

• May need a WiFi extender if the lights are a far distance from your WiFi router.

Best Flood Lights: Geeni LUX Smart Floodlight

If you prefer your smart outdoor lights to be simple to set up (read: no hub required), we suggest these floodlights by Geeni. Yes, these lights sync with your home’s WiFi but we found that simple to do and the app is well-designed.

What We Liked

• Colors can be adjusted—warm or cool white, to match other light bulbs around your home.

• Bright!

• Pairs easily with Alexa and other voice assistants.

• App can set brightness, schedule and more.

What Needs Work

• More timer options would be welcome. 

• May need a WiFi extender if bulbs are far from the router.

About the Authors

Denise & Alan Fields are consumer advocates and best-selling authors. The Fields have authored 12 books with three million copies in print, including the best-selling guide to baby gear, Baby Bargains.

The Fields have been featured and quoted in the New York TimesWall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

As consumer products experts, the Fields have been guests on the NBC Today Show, Good Morning America and ABC’s 20/20.

How We Pick Products To Recommend

We often turn to our readers (3 million strong!) to find products to recommend. We ask our parent readers for their favorites and consider their real-world experiences in our recommendations.

When we test a product, we always purchase it with our own monies. We do not take free samples, as we believe that compromises our independence.

We also fact check manufacturer information with our own measurements. If a maker claims a product weighs X pounds, we will weigh it to make sure. If the battery life is supposed to be six hours, we will see how it stands up in the real world.

In some cases, we will do interviews with experts in the field to get additional feedback on products.

To get hands-on time with products, we regularly meet one-on-one with gear companies and even tour manufacturing facilities. (When we do this, we pay our own travel expenses).

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

We make our living from affiliate commissions, but we always recommend what we think are the best bets for our readers (not the ones that are the most expensive). We are always looking for products that offer the best bang for the buck.

Our independence is a key reason why we have been doing this so long. As we mentioned above, when we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!