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Automating Your Christmas Lights

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It’s Christmastime again!  There’s nothing like Christmas traditions – finding just the right tree, decorating it with Christmas lights, adorning your halls with Christmas decorations, setting up the manger set and advent calendar…and don’t forget those outside Christmas lights that really set the tone.

Our family loves Christmas!  It’s a season of joy, peace, and wonder.  But sometimes…OK…often, the season tends to go by too quickly as we hustle and bustle with finding gifts, wrapping them, trying to ensure they are mailed in time, getting Christmas cards out BEFORE Christmas, attending Christmas parties, putting up our Christmas lights, and fill in the blank __________.

We love coming home at night and seeing our outdoor Christmas lights on and stepping inside to see our lights all aglow on our Christmas tree.  There’s nothing like it, they emit joyful and warm feelings.

But trying to remember to turn them on or off sometimes takes away the fun.  Wouldn’t be great if they were on when we wanted them on and off when we don’t?  Yes, one solution is an old-fashioned timer.  But we’ve progressed!  There are tools you can add to your Christmas lights arsenal to customize the experience to your liking.

 

Automating Your Christmas Lights

I wish there were little fairies or elves that do all the decorating for you.  Even though you can do a lot with automation, you still need to put up and take down the Christmas lights!

There are tons of choices out there to automate your Christmas lights (and your home).  But we’re going to simplify it to a couple of products we’ve tested and use in our own home so you can be sure they’ll work for you.

 

Outside Christmas Lights

The GE Z-Wave Plus Wireless Smart Lighting Control Outdoor Module can be plugged in an outside outlet.  It is weather resistant, designed to withstand damp and wet conditions.  Plug your outdoor Christmas lights into it to wirelessly schedule and control them.

You can schedule your Christmas lights to turn on at a certain time or turn on when the sun sets.  Have them turn off at 11pm.  Using your phone, you can turn them on or off with a touch of your finger.  When Christmas is over, you can use the outdoor module for other things like lighted or airblown Halloween yard decorations.

To be able to schedule and wirelessly control your Christmas lights, you will need to buy a Z-Wave certified gateway hub like those offered from Pulse, Trane, Wink, Nexia, Honeywell, HomeSeer, Smart Security, Harmony Home Hub Extender, Vera, Connect, Iris, and SmartThings.  It even works with Alexa (using an Alexa Hub) or Google Home, so you can verbally ask for the lights to turn off or on.

 

You can purchase the GE Z-Wave Plus Wireless Smart Lighting Control Outdoor Module on Amazon for $31.99 including free shipping during the holidays.

 

 

Christmas Lights for the Tree

Decorate your Christmas tree like you normally would and plug it into a WeMo Mini Plug, plugged into your wall outlet.  This immediately gives you automation capability. 

Now you have three choices.   You can…

  1. download the WeMo app to control and schedule your Christmas lights
  2. connect your WeMo Mini Plug to an automation hub like SmartThings, Nexia, Vera, etc. to control with more feaures
  3. use your voice to control your Christmas lights by connecting the WeMo to Alexa or Google Home hubs

The addition of using your voice to control your lights adds a fun factor to your Christmas tree lights and an extra element of “cool!”  It will definitely impress your friends!

 

Purchase the WeMo Mini Plug through Amazon for $29.97 with free shipping.

 

 

SmartThings Auto Turn Off When You Leave

In addition, you can use a  SmartThings Hub to add an extra element to your Christmas lights scheduling.  I use SmartThings to help me with my indoor Christmas lights when I leave our home.  With my Christmas tree lights plugged into my WeMo Mini Plug, I used my SmartThings app to notice when I leave the house and when I do, turn off the Christmas tree lights.

I love this feature because I enjoy having the Christmas tree lights on when I am working at home.  When I walk around the house I can see them.  But with my many carpool pickups during the day, I would need to remember to turn them off each time (for safety).  Too much of a bother – in the past I’d just leave them off all day.

But with SmartThings, it turns off my lights when I leave.  How do I know for sure?  I have a security camera in my family room so I checked from afar to ensure they were off.  And of course, when SmartThings knows I’ve arrived back home, they turn back on again.  SmartThings determines my comings and goings due the proximity of the app on my phone.  When my phone leaves, lights turn off.

 

Samsung SmartThings is available on Amazon for $74 including free shipping.

 

 

Red & Green Lamp Christmas Lights

Use Philips Hue Bulbs and IFTTT to turn your lamp lights into Christmas colors.  Using IFTTT a free online tool that works with many home automation products.  IFTTT is a platform where users have programmed certain controls called a “recipe” and made them available for others to use. 

This recipe calls for red and green lights for Philips Hue Bulbs, but there are countless others available.

Here are some other Christmas ideas you can do with Philips Hue Light Bulbs, created by some of their fans.

Philips Hue Bulbs do need a small bridge to be able to connect to each other and to your app.  You have the ability to change the color of just one bulb or all the bulbs throughout your home.  Choose from 16 million colors to change the atmosphere of your room with a touch of a button.

 

You can purchase the Philips Hue White and Color Ambience Starter Kit, including the hub and 4 bulbs for $139.97 at Amazon with free shipping.

 

 

 

The best thing about using a hub like SmartThings is that you can coordinate several things like lights, music, the thermostat, and so much more, even though your devices come from different manufacturers.  It’s an easy way to automate your home.  You can start your automation small and grow from there as you feel comfortable with what’s possible.

Another thing I like about SmartThings is that it can understand signals from both Z-Wave and Zigbee devices and provide you with seamless control of all of your devices.

 

Looks for after Christmas sales on these items so you can dabble with your Christmas light automations this year.  Then enjoy these devices all year long as you discover what’s possible in automating your home, customizing it to your family’s needs.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 



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