In this article, I explore which smart light strips are safe to use outside. I also consider the best ways to install smart light strips outside.
Smart light strips can only be used outdoors if they are waterproof. Many brands produce strip lights specifically for outdoor use. The IP rating of a smart strip light can also tell you if it is safe to use outside. Usually, you need a rating of IP65 or more. I discuss 9 important points in this post.
Smart lighting does not have to be limited to your indoor lights. You have probably seen photographs of beautiful garden scenes created using smart lights. Smart strip lights are especially popular in outdoor lighting because they are flexible. But you may be unsure if it is safe to use them outside.
If you want to set up smart light strips outside, keep reading!
- 9 things to consider before using smart light strips outside
- 1. Is the smart light strip waterproof?
- 2. What is the IP rating of the smart light strip?
- 3. The ambient temperature and sunlight exposure
- 4. The length of the smart light strip
- 5. Onto which surface do you want to attach your light strip?
- 6. How long do you want to use the strip light outside?
- 7. The strength of your Wi-Fi signal
- 8. Laws about light pollution in your area
- 9. The price of the smart light strip
- Home Streamliner's Take:
9 things to consider before using smart light strips outside
You can create beautiful lighting effects outdoor using smart light strips. But you can also ruin your light strips if you do not install them correctly. So consider these points before getting started:
1. Is the smart light strip waterproof?
Smart light strips that are only meant for indoor use are not waterproof. If they come into contact with water, the water can conduct electricity from the LEDs. This can cause electric shock or a short circuit.
Are LED strip lights waterproof?
LED strip lights are only waterproof if they have a covering to stop water from entering. Waterproof enclosures are made with silicone resin or a plastic heat-shrink coating. The IP rating of the strip indicates if it is waterproof. IP20 strips are not waterproof. This is explained in more detail below.
2. What is the IP rating of the smart light strip?
The IP rating of an electrical appliance stands for Ingress Protection rating. It indicates how well an electrical enclosure can keep out materials like water and dust. The higher the IP rating, the better the enclosure protects the electrical components.
The IP rating consists of two numbers.
The first number refers to the size of particles that the enclosure can keep out. The higher the first digit is, the smaller the particles that the casing can protect from are.
The maximum number of 6 indicates that the enclosure is completely dust-tight.
The second number indicates how well the enclosure can protect against moisture. This number ranges from 0 to 8. Lower numbers do not protect against water well.
Higher categories also consider how the water can come into contact with the light. They show if the casing protects from water that is dripping, splashing, or spraying. The angle at which the water hits the light strip is also important.
According to the Bud Industries Blog, three ratings are used for waterproof enclosures:
- IP65 enclosures protect against water projected by a nozzle of 6.3mm from any direction
- IP66 enclosures protect against water projected in powerful jets with a 12.5mm nozzle from any direction
- IP67 enclosures protect against immersion in water up to 1m for a short time.
To give you an idea, here are the IP ratings of two of the top outdoor smart light strips:
- Govee Outdoor LED Strip Light: IP65
- Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip: IP67
It is worth noting that an IP rating doesn’t consider protection against UV radiation. A higher IP rating doesn’t necessarily mean that the enclosure gives sunlight protection.
Would you like to know how to make your outdoor smart lights even smarter? We compiled the best features and what specifically you should look out for. Check it out!
3. The ambient temperature and sunlight exposure
Most smart strip lights have an operating temperature between -22°F and 140°F.
This means that your smart strip lights will work even during the cold winter months in most cases.
Higher temperatures present a greater challenge.
If the ambient temperature is lower than the maximum operating temperature, your LED strips can overheat.
This can happen if they are installed on a surface that absorbs a lot of heat. It can also happen if your lights are installed in direct sunlight.
If smart light strips overheat, the LEDs can be damaged.
You can avoid this by not installing your smart strip lights in direct sunlight.
High temperatures can also influence the adhesive of the strip light. Over time, heat can make the adhesive fail.
Check out point 5 below to find out how you can avoid this.
Can LED strip lights catch fire?
LED strip lights are much less likely to catch fire than incandescent lights. LEDs function at a much lower temperature. They can overheat if they are overloaded or made from cheap materials. If they are mounted on a surface like wood, a fire can occur. A good-quality light strip is your best choice.
Sometimes, retailers suggest using foil to cool strip lights. This indicates that the light strips themselves are of poor quality. Don’t buy them. Strip lights that have been designed correctly don’t need foil to cool them down.
4. The length of the smart light strip
Most smart light strips can be cut shorter. Many can also be extended easily using connectors.
There is a limit to how many light strips you can connect to a single power source. But there are also many ways in which you can increase the number of strips in an area. For example, you can add a second power source. You can also connect your lights in parallel.
Measure the length of the area you want to cover with smart light strips. This will help you buy the correct length of the strip light.
5. Onto which surface do you want to attach your light strip?
Most smart light strips come with an adhesive attached to the strip. You simply need to peel the backing off and then stick your strip wherever you want it.
Certain surfaces work better when sticking strips onto them. In general, light strips stick to smooth surfaces better.
So if you want to stick your light strip onto a plastic gutter, for example, it will stick quite well.
But if you want to stick it onto a brick wall, the adhesive will not last long.
How do you install LED strip lights outside?
To install light strips outside, you can stick the adhesive strip onto a surface. Clean and dry the surface before you stick your light strip onto it. More permanent options are often a better choice. You can use extra adhesive tape, mounting clips, or mounting tracks. Here is an explanation of each:
If you would like to find out how to install Smart Strip Lights Around Corners, have a look at this article we wrote on the subject. You might learn a thing or two.
You can use extra adhesive tape
This tape is stuck onto the surface first. The strip is then stuck onto this tape. This doubles the bond.
You can use LED Strip Mounting Clips
You attach the brackets to the wall first and the strips are then clipped into them.
Many smart light strips come with extra mounting clips.
You can use a mounting track or LED channel
A mounting track is an aluminum extrusion into which you can place your light strip. You can mount the track to the wall or other surface.
A UV-protected lens also slides over the top of the strip. This gives a diffused light effect.
Using a mounting track eliminates the flexibility of the light strip. You’ll only be able to install it on a flat surface.
You can also staple a light strip onto a wooden surface.
You will need roofing staples and a matching staple gun.
6. How long do you want to use the strip light outside?
If you only want to install your strip lights for a short time, the adhesive may be sufficient.
For example, if you only stick them up for a party, the adhesive should hold. If you have a smooth surface, of course.
But the longer you let the strip lights hang outside, the greater the chances are that the adhesive will fail.
Using a more permanent installation, as explained in point 5, is a better option.
Can I place my smart strip light into my pool?
You can place a smart strip light into a pool if it has an IP67 or IP68 rating. A strip with a rating of IP65 or lower will be damaged if it is submerged in water. If the strip has an IP67 rating, it can be immersed for a short time. This works for a party. For longer, you will need an IP68 rating.
7. The strength of your Wi-Fi signal
If you want to control your smart light strip with your phone, it has to be connected to your phone. Your phone communicates with your strip lights via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.
Many smart lighting systems also need a hub. The lights connect to the hub and your hub connects to your phone. Your hub may also require Wi-Fi to connect to your smart light strips.
If your lights connect to your phone via Wi-Fi, your lights must have Wi-Fi connectivity. This is often not achieved outdoors because your lights are too far away from your router.
Lights that connect to your hub or phone via Bluetooth usually have a range of about 30 feet.
To ensure that your outdoor lights communicate with your hub or phone, you can:
- Move your router to a more central part of your home (closer to your outdoor lights)
- Add a Wi-Fi booster to your home. This will strengthen your signal in other parts of your home.
- Move the controller of the smart lights. Sometimes this is enough. This is the part that communicates with your phone or hub. Try plugging your light strip into a power outlet closer to your home.
8. Laws about light pollution in your area
Many states and municipalities in the United States have laws about outdoor lighting. These laws are designed to reduce light pollution. They do this by promoting shielded light fixtures that are less bright.
In many areas, your outdoor lighting may not bother your neighbors. This means there should not be too many lights. They should not shine directly into your neighbor’s home but point down. They should also not be too bright.
Smart light strips have the benefit that you can control their brightness. So even if you have quite a few lights installed, you can dim them so they don’t bother anyone.
Installing light strips under a surface also reduces light pollution. For example, they can be stuck onto the bottom of your garden benches.
9. The price of the smart light strip
Outdoor smart light strips are usually more expensive than indoor strips. This is because the outdoor lights need an extra protective covering.
To give a comparison, the Govee Wi-Fi + Bluetooth RGB LED Strip Lights (25ft x 2 Rolls) costs $45.00. The Govee Phantasy Outdoor LED Strip Lights (32.8 Ft) cost $59.99.
However, this Govee Outdoor strip light is still cheaper than the indoor Philips Hue Lighstrip.
It is worth investing in good-quality outdoor light strips. These usually have a warranty, so you can replace them if they get damaged. The chances of them catching fire are also lower.
Home Streamliner’s Take:
There are some awesome effects that you can create by installing smart light strips outdoors.
However, I would never try to install indoor strip lights outdoors to save money. In the long run, you will lose money because the strips will be damaged.
If you only want to install your strips outside for one night, for a party, it might be worth the risk. If no rain is predicted, of course.
But if you want to have strips outside as a permanent feature, invest in a brand that specifically makes outdoor light strips.
Install them correctly, and you will have years of beautiful scenes and effects to enjoy.