The best reason for technology — app-controlled Christmas lights.
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to decorate for Christmas. Unwrapping ornaments was like visiting with old friends again — each one harboring a special memory. Light, however, has always been the bane of my Christmas joy. They get tangled and no matter how carefully I pack them away, the strands somehow short out before the next year. That said, I love the twinkle that the lights bring to decorations — they really help to set the scene. And, thankfully, technology has finally brought us a gorgeous set of app-controlled lights with the Gen II Strings by Twinkly.
Strings are made up of hundreds of LEDs strung together with the most advanced technology to make it to Christmas decorating. The RGB colors are highlighted by the newest 4.3mm Twinkly lens, which is matte and flat. The lens provides Twinkly lights with diffusion and therefore, a uniform look. Strings combine super-bright, multicolor RGB LEDs, a WiFi/Bluetooth enabled light controller and a state of the art smartphone app. Users are able to use preset effects and customize their own looks. The app also provides full access to an online gallery where additional effects and animations can be downloaded. According to Twinkly, the lens is “specifically designed with a flat head to intensify the light effects for great brightness and perfect tone of color.” The lights feature Music Sync and are fully integrated with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. They are rated for indoor and outdoor use (IP44).
- Model: 2019, Gen II
- Indoor/Outdoor: IP44
- Controller FeatureS: Bluetooth, WiFi
- Number of Lamps: Diffused Flat Lens
- Lamp Diameter: 4.3mm/0.17in
- Lamp Spacing: 8cm/3.15in
- LED: RGB
- Electric Wire: Black Wire
- Lead Length: 3.5m
- Lighted Length: 20m
- Adapter Input V: 120V US
- Adapter Output V: 24V (1.0A)
- Warranty: 1-year
- Long life span: Over 30,000 hours
- Package Content: 1 string, 1 controller, 1 adapter, 1 quick guide
With app-controlled devices, I would usually suggest downloading the app first, but in this case, I would recommend wrapping your tree (or whatever you plan on lighting) before you set-up the app. The main reason for that is because one of the set-up steps is to map the lights. I was shocked at how easily the lights spread out from their bundle. They laid into our tree’s branches softly and evenly. We have a large, full tree and again, I was surprised to see that only half of the lights covered the front side of the tree nicely. You have the option with the app to select 2D or 3D lighting effects. The 3D lighting effects refer to lighting on the front and back of the tree and 2D is only one side.
Because they didn’t tangle up and melted into the tree, I was able to have the strand of lights spread out within just a few minutes. Once I had them plugged in, I downloaded the app. Setting up the app is the biggest part of the process. The app is free to download and is available for both iOS and Android devices. The first screen you’ll see is one that gives you the option to Log In, Sign Up, or Sign in with Facebook. Once you choose one of those options, the app will then ask for you to select your version of the light strand and to grant permissions (location services and Bluetooth). It will then start searching for your lights and connect to them. Once you are connected, you will need to select what type of WiFi you want to be used. I selected Home/Office WiFi. I will admit that at this point, I did experience a bit of a delay. I think I just had a faulty connection.
Next, the app will ask to ‘map’ the lights. This is done so that the app knows how to send signals to the controller for the directions/animations of the effects. In the menu, you have the option to create effects, visit the Twinkly Store, change layouts, or view different devices you have connected. As cool as the controls are for the lights, I have to admit that I was especially taken with the beautiful glow the lights put out. Even if they weren’t app-controlled, I would use them. We usually have around 800-1000 lights on our tree and this one strand of 250 seemed to make the same amount of light. I was also really impressed with the presets included in the app. They were festive and unique.
I have to admit that one of my favorite parts of this set-up was learning that Twinkly has an LED calculator on their website. This feature of their website gives you an estimate of how many Twinkly lights you will need for your tree based on the height, decoration level, LED type, and decoration type. As an example, if you have a 7-foot tree and wanted to decorate it at the ‘fabulous’ level, with multicolor RGB, with lights all around the tree (3D), Twinkly estimates that you would need 1,200 lights. It’s very helpful, but also rather fun to see what the different combinations need to be illuminated.
While the Twinkly String lights are quite a bit more expensive than standard LEDs (the strand of 250 lights is approximately $166 USD – at the time of writing this article), it really is quite an improvement on what you get from standard store shelves. I like that the lights can be connected to Amazon Alexa or Google Home, but since my smart home ecosystem is based on Apple’s HomeKit, I didn’t get a whole lot of use out of the smart assistants. So, do I think these lights by Twinkly are worth the investment? Absolutely!