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I spent $300 on these water-resistant holiday lights, and they're actually worth it

My Halloween and Christmas displays will never be the same, but these lights are fantastic year-round, too.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • Govee's permanent outdoor lights cost $300 for the 100-foot set, making them a relatively affordable home upgrade.
  • While holiday displays are the true sizzle here, these weatherproof lights provide great accent lighting year-round.
  • Never climbing a ladder to fight with Christmas lights again makes this product more than worth its price.

I've lived in my current home for a little over 10 years now, and I've always wanted to add Christmas lights every winter, but the highest peaks of my house are about 18 feet high, which is a tad above my ladder comfort level. Sure, I could do it a time or two, but the idea of scaling nearly 20 feet high several times a year -- and fighting with a tangle of lights while doing so -- was enough to keep my visions grounded.

Fortunately, I found an answer in Govee's permanent outdoor lights.



Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights

Govee's permanent outdoor lights are designed to keep you from scaling a ladder every time your home needs a little holiday touch, but they have fantastic year-round use too.

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I'd been eyeing these lights for a while, but I was honestly a little worried they'd make my home look like a gas station. A Prime Day sale brought down the price to an almost irresistible level, and after a realtor friend assured me that any outside accent lighting was a plus, I made the jump. 

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Govee claims the lights are weatherproof and good for 50,000 hours, which would be more than 17 years of use at eight hours every single night -- so these lights truly are intended to be permanent.

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

The lights come in strands of 12 bulbs, and hook together much like traditional Christmas lights. Installation was straightforward, and simply involved peeling a sticker off the back of each light and pressing it to the underside of the soffit for five seconds. There is an option to use additional screw mounts, but that would have added significant time to the install, and given that I was already a little higher on a ladder than I wanted to be, I went with the basic sticker. The stickers are very strong, and after applying them, I honestly have no worries about them peeling away.  

Govee recommends installing the lights two to four inches away from the wall, but in watching some installation videos online before I did mine, I saw people putting theirs up to eight or nine inches away. The closer the lights are to the wall, the more "cone" effect you get; the farther away, the more "wash" effect. I chose to go a little closer and actually used a spatula from my kitchen, which is a trick I saw online, to place each light, and it worked perfectly. 

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The lights are not visible at all from the street, but you can clearly see them if you're looking up at the house as you walk in, and it's clear, at least in my opinion, that this was a DIY addition. I'm just fine with that, but if you're going for a super clean/flat aesthetic, this approach might be a problem.

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

After actually installing the lights, the setup was simple. The Govee app detected the lights as soon as I plugged them in, and I was very quickly on my way to choosing a look. 

There are three main categories of look: static colors, where you simply select what you like; present scenes designed around specific holidays, events, or mindsets; and a music sync mode, where your lights flash along with music.

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There are more than 16 million basic colors to choose from, Govee says, and 73 different "scenes" or preset displays. For colors, you can select from basic primary colors, from colors geared towards a certain time of day, from official MLB, NFL, NHL or NBA team colors, or from a color wheel where you fine tune your desired shade.

Screenshot by Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Some of the scenes involve motion, some are static colors, but there's an immense selection of options. Aside from scenes for every holiday (some have multiples), there are displays for nature, like sunrise, spring, and downpour, ones for day-to-day life, such as morning, afternoon, and twilight, and even for emotions, including romantic, soothing, mysterious, and enthusiastic.

You can control the brightness and color of each individual light, even turning off specific bulbs. I found this flexibility pretty useful when I chose to dim the six lights or so that run along a small portion of the side of my home that directly faces my neighbor.  

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The app has a timer option to set when your lights turn on or off, there's an auto-play feature to set a scene playlist of sorts, and there's even an AI section that lets you upload a photo and set your lights to match tones in the picture. Your lights can also be controlled away from home, which is a nice touch. 

However, where these lights truly shine is the Govee community uploads section. While the main app has four different scenes for holidays, all of which are basic "moving lights" displays, the community page has dozens more. Halloween, for example, has user creations that involve running lights, but also has several displays that mimic lightning strikes. This setup added an incredible level of atmosphere to my Halloween display, and I had about a dozen people specifically ask what brand they were and how hard they were to install.

Govee outdoor
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Christmas has several dazzling display options as well, including one with a wash/shadow effect that I had to stare at a while to figure out how it was even working.

The basic options are just fine, and I'd be happy if that's all I had access to. But uploads from other users elevate the lights to a true "wow" factor -- if you're into displays that are a little more over the top, of course.

Holiday displays are the star attraction with these lights, but they also have a tremendous amount of everyday appeal. My wife has been complaining about how dark the outside of our house is at night for some time now, and our new Govee lights provide plenty of outdoor ambiance with the soft white setting that I have them set to.

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I've had the lights up for nearly a month now, and haven't had any technical issues except for a few hours on Halloween night when scenes were unavailable. The app gave some kind of vague "connection" error, and I chalked it up to something being wrong with my home internet. It wasn't until the next day, when I happened to see several people on Reddit complaining about the same issue, that I realized the issue was indeed a Govee problem. Outside that small glitch, I have no complaints on the technical side. 

ZDNET's buying advice

I couldn't be more happy with Govee's permanent outdoor lights. I'm getting more use out of them than I thought I would, and the use I planned on (holiday displays) is even better than expected. Actual installation can be a little tricky and obviously depends on your specific home's layout, but the actual product is one of the easiest-to-use tech devices I've tried in a long time. 

Your $300 gives you not just a nice year-round accent to your home, but next-level seasonal lights. If you're looking for a home upgrade that's not just functional but fun to use during the holidays, look to Govee permanent outdoor lights.

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