We Tried the Twinkly Smart Christmas Lights, and Now We Create Custom Light Shows
Deck your halls, patio, porch or tree with the Twinkly smart Christmas lights!
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As an interior designer and former professional holiday decorator, I know lighting can make or break a space. I’ve been a fan of multi-colored lighting used in set design and commercial settings since the early days of light-emitting diode (LED) innovation. Back then, smart apps didn’t exist to control the diodes, and set-up was too expensive for the average homeowner. Luckily, this isn’t the case anymore.
The next generation of Christmas cheer is here with Twinkly smart lights. These smart Christmas lights offer millions of color and pattern options for endless customization. Twinkly is a game changer, not just for holidays, but for adding atmosphere to home theaters, gaming rooms, outdoor parties or any place you have a strong Wi-Fi signal. Do these lights take indoor and outdoor holiday decorating to the next level? Find out if they live up to the hype in our review.
What are the Twinkly smart Christmas lights?
These certainly aren’t your grandma’s Christmas lights. The Twinkly Generation II string lights set the scene for a fully customizable light show controlled by a robust app (with the help of a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection).
Multiple strings can be controlled by the app, but they can’t be daisy-chained like traditional lights. These lights work in indoor or outdoor settings, so they can be strung on just about anything and plugged into a standard two-prong electric outlet. The connecting wires are thin and pliable, with a bulb placed every 3 inches on the dark green cord. Shockingly, these tiny lights are surprisingly bright! And the app has a brightness control to tone it down for indoor use.
We Tried It
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Twinkly Smart Christmas Lights Features
For starters, Twinkly smart Christmas lights power on and off with or without the app. However, the free app provides dozens of patterns and millions of color options with slide bars to control the speed and brightness of the effect. You can even control the angle of motion for some of the patterns. It’s easy to dim the lights for a gaming session or movie night. Plus, the Twinkly app has a built-in timer.
It’s a modern-day wonder how these little LED lights got to be so smart. Once you’re connected and your lights are hung on your Christmas tree, deck or gazebo, the app asks you to map them so it knows how to apply the patterns to your lighting display. To map the lights, you’ll need to allow access to the camera on your device. The app even allows you to draw a design or upload a gif. How cool is that?
Twinkly smart Christmas lights are compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Home Kit for convenient voice control. And if that’s not smart enough for you, grab the Twinkly Music device to sync your lights to your favorite tunes for the ultimate dance party or ambient vibe.
How We Brightened Up the Holidays with Twinkly Lights
When the lights first arrived, I plugged them in just to make sure they worked. Next, I downloaded the app and connected it via Wi-Fi using the 2.4 GHz network. I played with the effects, but wasn’t ready to place or map the string yet. I took them to our office for our artificial Christmas tree testing days and had to connect them to a new Wi-Fi for them to work. This was a bit of a hassle, because they wouldn’t connect for me without creating a new account.
Back home, I reconnected to the original network and ended up resetting my password to connect. I expected some frustration with it, but it quickly performed. I tested a 100-light strand on my 7.5-foot slim-profiled Christmas tree, which wasn’t enough to adorn the entire tree, just the front half. For this slim tree, I would use a minimum 250-light string while a 400-light or 600-light strand would be best for a full tree with a wider profile. For context, Balsam Hill recommends the 400-light string for a 6-foot tree. The 100-foot string I tested would be ideal for decorating a window, archway, mantle or tabletop tree.
Mapping Twinkly Lights
via iphone (3)
Once connected, I started the mapping process in the 2D mode. I watched the app magically detect every bulb, and actually sat on the floor and pointed the camera to get a wide shot of the entire tree. Since the lights were only in the front, I didn’t need to move around the tree in 3D mode to capture different angles in order to map all of the lights.
Customizing the Light Show
Sheri Kaz/Family handyman
Now, I was ready to try out the effects, patterns, colors, brightness and speed. I saved some effects to my favorites. It is worth noting that the app limits your saved effects to 15 and gives you an error message if you try to save more than that. However, it lets you single out a particular bulb to customize your look even further.
I was mainly interested in a warm-white effect and tried the snow effect, which was cold and blue. I adjusted the color to achieve a warm palette. I named it “yellow snow” (LOL). However, as the pattern changes, the lights emit red, green and blue rather than a consistent yellow light.
With so many fun effects and options to customize the animations, I had a blast playing with the looks. The lights are overall very bright and cool. Some effects allowed me to turn down the brightness and control the speed of the moving patterns. I downloaded a few other effects in search of the perfect peaceful holiday vibe and discovered another library of options.
- Multi-colored LED lights
- Lots of fun customizable effects and patterns
- Easy mapping process
- Convenient timer
- Works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Home Kit
- One app controls multiple strings
- Easy pairing and connectivity
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Uses less energy than incandescent lights
- No daisy chain connectivity
- White is cold and bright
Sheri Kaz/Family Handyman
Are smart Christmas lights worth it?
If you love customizing your lighting, syncing the lights to music and dazzling your friends and neighbors, smart LED Christmas lights are a must-have. Although smart string lights are more expensive than standard string lights, the features of these app-controlled lights are unsurpassed. When compared to incandescent lighting, LED lights run cooler, last longer and save money on energy consumption. Your investment in smart lights extend well beyond one holiday season, because smart lights are versatile and customizable for every occasion.
How do smart Christmas lights work?
Twinkly smart lights work with your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection, and are controlled by the app on your smart device. Twinkly has pre-programmed effects and many of them are customizable if you’re feeling creative.
How can I make my Christmas lights smarter?
Consider using a smart plug or timer to automate your holiday lighting. Using a a home network, like Alexa, will work to turn lights on or off with voice control, but standard lights won’t be able to create a spectacular light show like Twinkly can.
What Other Reviewers Had to Say
Over 4,600 people have given the Twinkly smart Christmas lights five stars (on Amazon alone!). Here’s what they’re saying about these magical string lights.
Jana von Hehn, a five-star reviewer, writes, “I had some angst about buying these lights because they seemed so expensive, but I’m over it. The light shows they do are just jaw dropping. It’s gorgeous and everyone who sees it even over the phone is so impressed. We are hesitant to decorate the tree because the lights by themselves are so amazing!”
“I have purchased a bunch of Twinkly lights throughout the years and loved every one of them. I have the first gen lights from when they first started and they are still going. The app that controls these lights is pretty easy to use and you can control all your lights with the single app. I currently have three trees that I control with the app,” says verified purchaser, Garrett. “I love these lights and get compliments on them all the time. I do not think I could ever go back to the traditional lights. These lights may be on the pricier end, but they are the future. They are very durable, long-lasting and absolutely gorgeous.”
Another verified buyer, Robert D., adds, “You can program in your own light patterns, use ones that are built in, or download patterns that other Twinkly users have uploaded to the Twinkly servers. The app will let you program a playlist, so you can automatically go through your favorite patterns in the course of the evening—and you can set the lights to turn on and off at specific times.”
Clark Griswold would have died for these smart Christmas lights. Twinkly Strings smart Christmas lights bring energy and fun to any occasion. I love that I have the ability to control multiple products from the same app, allowing me to decorate the front yard, backyard and indoors from the same app. The timer is a nice feature in the app, although some users report this function is finicky when using multiple strings. But it’s so easy to create the mood I want with the variable features, and decorating for Christmas just became that much more fun!
Where to Buy the Twinkly Smart Christmas Lights
Amazon offers a huge selection of Twinkly lights for indoor and outdoor use. A string of 100 lights costs under $60. You can also grab these brilliant lights at Walmart, The Home Depot, Target, Best Buy and Ace Hardware. You don’t need to be an electrician or lighting pro to create a spectacular light show this holiday season. Twinkly makes it effortlessly merry and bright.
We Tried It
Twinkly Smart Christmas Lights
Dazzle your neighbors with a custom holiday light show you can use year round. These multi-colored LED lights are safe, cool and save energy.