Upgrade your yard lighting to LED the smart way — CNET


Brian Cooley/CNET

You seemingly have plenty of “good” gadgets round your property: speakers, video doorbellssecurity cameras, thermostats and extra. However have you considered taking these smarts exterior your property? 

One of many final “dumb” issues in your smart home is perhaps your out of doors lighting. If you’d like a smart outdoor lighting system to your backyard, you might cobble collectively an array of good house lighting merchandise from varied makers or use merchandise from one model, such because the Philips Hue outdoor line. However I like to recommend a distinct route: Improve the bulbs in your present out of doors fixtures to LED and use an outdoor plug adapter to make your backyard lights a part of your property management tech. You will not get all of the bells and whistles, however if you happen to can stay with out nightclub colour scenes or built-in lightbulb audio system, you will just like the outcomes of my low-cost and easy improve.

Learn: The best outdoor tech of 2021  


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The advantages of LED conversion

Retrofitting your present backyard lights with LED bulbs will ship 4 wins:

  • Energy effectivity: LED bulbs use rather a lot much less energy, which means you may run many extra lights along with your present transformer or get extra mild from the present quantity. I do know few owners who do not want their backyard lights have been brighter. 
  • Sturdiness: LED bulbs are recognized for his or her robustness and it could be years earlier than it’s important to hunker down within the grime once more to exchange a backyard bulb.
  • Ease of set up: Although low voltage panorama lighting fixtures are fairly simple to exchange, you will not must when upgrading your present ones to LED bulbs.
  • Low price: LED bulb upgrades are rather a lot cheaper than shopping for all new backyard lighting fixtures.

It is advisable to know a few things about LED bulbs earlier than you begin this improve. 

Bulb sort

The very first thing to find out is what sort of LED bulbs will match the sockets in your fixtures. Take away your present bulbs and examine the bottom: It’ll probably be a bayonet, bipin or wedge.


Three frequent sorts of low voltage backyard lighting bulbs.

Brian Cooley/CNET

Bipin bulbs are notably frequent and are available in all kinds of sizes that look nearly similar. The important thing differentiator is the spacing between the pins. A G4 bipin has 4mm spacing, a G5.3 has 5.3mm spacing, and so forth.


You may encounter plenty of bipin bulbs. They’re typically recognized by their “G” quantity, which displays the spacing of the pins, measured in millimeters. Proven are G4, G5.3, G6 and G8 bulbs in each LED (left) and halogen (proper) applied sciences.

Brian Cooley/CNET

Bulb brightness

We’re all used to expressing bulb brightness by wattage, however that is merely a misnomer baked in custom. Wattage tells you ways a lot energy a bulb makes use of, not how a lot mild it places out, although the 2 are not less than directionally associated. 


We’re accustomed to gauging bulb brightness by wattage score, however that is an historic misnomer. LED bulbs present as a lot or extra mild whereas consuming far much less wattage.

Brian Cooley/CNET

As you pull every incandescent bulb out of your backyard lights, attempt to learn the wattage score printed on it. Then store for LED bulbs whose wattage is promised as equal. For instance, chances are you’ll discover {that a} 1.5-watt LED bulb guarantees to exchange an 11-watt incandescent bulb whereas delivering as a lot or extra mild, a lot higher is LED’s effectivity. 


There is no such thing as a easy rule of thumb for changing incandescent wattage or LED wattage. You may need to belief the producer’s claims of watt equivalence or go by the extra correct lumens measurement of sunshine output.


That massive effectivity distinction is why you may add extra lights to your system with out working into limits of transformer output or wire run size while you convert your bulbs to LED.

Bulb colour

The color temperature of a bulb, expressed in levels Kelvin (Okay), tells you if the bulb emits heat or cool white mild. Typically something beneath 4,000K is a heat bulb, whereas something above 4,000K is a cool or bluish white. Which you select is a matter of style however wooden, vegetation and soil usually look greatest beneath heat mild whereas cement, stucco or blue water areas could current higher beneath cool white illumination.

Make it ‘good’

To make your present backyard lighting system good, which often simply means managed by voice or an app, take away all programming out of your energy transformer, swap it to the “on” place manually and go away it that approach. Then swap the ability to it on and off with a wireless outdoor outlet adapter supported by your good house system, be it SmartThings, Apple, Alexa or Google.

Professional suggestions when you’re on the market 

  • Every time you may, mount lights so that they shine down, not up, for darkish sky preservation and to restrict bleed into neighbors’ line of sight. 
  • Keep away from utilizing LED lighting in an space your pet is consistently uncovered to. Cats, dogs and many other animals detect light flicker that people cannot detect. Use incandescent in these circumstances; see my video above for a approach to that with 12 volts. 
  • Use 14 gauge wire in your low voltage system moderately than the cheaper, thinner 16 gauge, which introduces extra energy loss on lengthy cable runs.
  • Splice low voltage panorama wiring with weather-proof wire nuts which have a moisture-proof grease inside them to forestall splice corrosion in damp situations. Bonus factors for utilizing weather-proof crimp connectors which are completed off with a warmth gun.
  • Do not confuse this challenge with putting in these low-cost photo voltaic LED backyard lights. They typically have poor mild output as a consequence of battery limitations and should be discarded if any half fails. They’re very cheap, however you will be taught why the primary night time.

Need extra tricks to spruce your yard and patio? 

First revealed on July 10, 2019 at 10:53 a.m. ET. 

https://www.cnet.com/house/yard-and-outdoors/how-to-upgrade-the-low-voltage-lighting-in-your-garden-to-led/ | Improve your yard lighting to LED the good approach — CNET


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