Home & Garden

High-tech lights jazz up holiday decor

GE offers iTwinkle holiday light sets and pre-lit Christmas trees. Each bulb holds three LEDs – red, green and blue – that can be combined to create thousands of color choices.
GE offers iTwinkle holiday light sets and pre-lit Christmas trees. Each bulb holds three LEDs – red, green and blue – that can be combined to create thousands of color choices. GE

The Associated Press reported erroneously that Lumenplay's RGB lights are available only in 10-foot strands. The strands for residential use are 12 feet long.

Clark Griswold would be proud.

Thanks to advances in lighting technology, suburban dads (and moms) across the country have a lot to choose from when it comes to creative ways to deck their halls this year.

RGB lights

Single light bulbs that hold three LEDs – red, green and blue – are the secret behind a new category of holiday lights that offer up to 16 million color combinations.

Known as RGB lights, they can be dialed up or down in a variety of ways via smartphone app. And because their color range is so varied, they can be kept up year-round and used for any number of holidays – Halloween, Fourth of July, Easter, you name it.

Lumenplay offers more than 16 million colors. It doesn’t come cheap ($79.99 for a starter pack) and is only available in 12-foot strands. But you can string as many as 500 lights together on one controller, which comes with the starter pack.

GE also offers RGB lighting technology with its new iTwinkle light sets and pre-lit Christmas trees.

‘Smart’ lights

Another holiday lighting trend is “smart” lights or lighting systems controlled by your smartphone.

The Lumenplay and iTwinkle systems are operated via apps available for Apple and Android phones. With just a swipe of your screen, you can dim or brighten outdoor lights, set them to music, or choose new colors and patterns.

With iTwinkle, you can even record a greeting to play, such as “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”

Most of these apps have a range of up to 150 feet, meaning you can control the action while plopped on your couch watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” (or the Griswolds in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”) for the 10th time.

Technical Consumer Products recently unveiled a system known as Connected by TCP, which links to a home’s Wi-Fi or mobile network and is controlled via smartphone, computer or a special remote.

Projected laser lights

Using small spotlights, this technology projects thousands of tiny pinpoints of red, green or red AND green lights onto your home or any other hard surface. BlissLights offers them for $179 or $199 each, depending on whether the lights are in motion.

To a passerby, “at first glance, they look like traditional holiday rope lights, but actually they float freely across the house’s exterior, plants and more to create a display that neighbors will think took hours to design and hang,” BlissLights spokeswoman Natalia Barclay says.

No wires or cords are involved with the laser lights, says Nick Burks of Atlanta-based Pinnacle Lighting Group.

Battery-powered lights

Once limited to smaller, incandescent strands that you’d put in a window box or small porch display, now they come in LED strands up to 30 feet long with batteries that are much more powerful and longer-lasting. Many feature auto-timers and buttons that control blinking and other patterns.

At Lights.com, you can connect up to six strands for 600 LED lights on one battery pack, spokeswoman Aimee Majoros says.

And that means 180 feet of energy-saving holiday sparkle.