Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights Review: Don't Buy Holiday Lights Again Until You've Seen These
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Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights Review: Don't Buy Holiday Lights Again Until You've Seen These

Oct 25, 2023

These stunning and versatile outdoor lights are pricey, but worth every penny. Never put up holiday lights again!

The Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights are truly awe-inspiring, going well beyond the capabilities of your average holiday lights. Extendable up to 150ft, versatile and app-controlled, these all-year-round lights offer stunning brightness and a huge array of ready-made and music-reactive scenes, as well as the ability to make your own custom patterns.

While they may be pricier than your average fairy lights, the longevity and advanced features make them a worthwhile investment. And just think of the time savings you'll make never having to put up Christmas lights again!

These are a game changer.

The Govee permanent outdoor lights are awe-inspiring. Govee has come up with some pretty compelling products over the years, but these are on another level. Govee has gone from being the perky little upstart with cheap LED strips looking to disrupt the smart lighting market away from the incumbent Philips Hue, to absolutely dominating it with a range of innovative products.

For years now, fans of Govee have been begging them to make a set of decent weatherproof outdoor lights, and finally, they delivered. The Govee Outdoor Permanent RGBIC Lights are precisely what you’d expect from the world's leading smart lighting brand: extendable, versatile, app-controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, great value, and most importantly, they look stunning.

The largest pack Govee sells currently is to cover 100ft, or 30m. That retail for about $300 each (though they're on sale for $254 for the next three days only, so be quick!). That sounds like a lot, but it works out to about $3 dollars per foot, and for IP67 weatherproof permanent lighting solutions, that's actually good.

Inside each 100ft pack, you’ll find a long power adaptor, an extension cable, and six strands of LEDs, each measuring 16.4ft (5m). The extension cable can be inserted in any of the breakpoints as needed, for instance, if you want to cover your roofline and then drop down to the ground floor without lights in between. If you don't want to use the full 100ft, you can leave a section or two off (which can then extend another set, though they won't work on their own).

However, these are still in 5m sections, so they're unsuitable for going around small window frames or exact lengths; you can't just cut them in the middle.

You can extend one set up to 150ft total by purchasing additional packs in 5m/16.4ft lengths or using leftover parts from another set. The extensions currently cost $50 each.

Disconnecting and connecting these strings is simple. Just unscrew the waterproof cap and insert the plug. There are no concerns about polarity, because you can only connect them one way. On the other hand, make sure you connect the light strings before installing them and test. Otherwise you might find you've put them up the wrong way around.

Your installation difficulty will, of course, vary according to your house layout. We needed two full kits to fully cover just the roof line of our house. As everyone knows, the best time to put up lights is in the pitch black of night while climbing a ladder, with the lights on and blindingly bright. So I did that and got the easy bit out of the way first. Don't do this at home, folks.

Our house built into a hillside, so while the road side is easy enough to reach by hand, the rear is two stories tall. I figured this was a great justification to buy a scaffold tower. Then I realized I'm terribly scared of heights beyond a few meters, so I sent my wife up to finish the job on the tall bit.

The Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights are quite easy to attach; peel off the sticky pad backing on each LED and push for a few seconds. You can use a couple of cable clips on either side if needed (optionally these can can be screwed in). If one comes unstuck, replacement pads are included.

Each LED module is quite large: about a centimeter deep and 3cm square, with a pronounced dome where the LED is. Ideally, you want them facing downwards and an inch or three away from the wall, but in my case, that wasn't possible as we don't have a lot of overhang other than a facia board.

The only complicated part is figuring out how to power them. Of course, they need an AC socket, and in my case, there's no easy ingress into the house other than through the roof. I ended up having to cut through the fascias a little because they weren't quite wide enough to fit the full diameter of the connector plug—it's about a centimeter in diameter.

Once you're through, there's quite a generous amount of cabling and a physical controller on the other side. You can use that to power on and off, or rely on the mobile app.

In terms of visual quality, the Govee permanent lights have a definite shape to them. They aren't just a wash directly down from the light, and instead feature a distinctive triangular profile close to the LED. On the rest of the wall, they offer a great wash with the light blending neatly between each module.

Of course, your results will vary depending on the color of your exterior walls. We recently repainted with pure brilliant white, so any light is reflected beautifully in the original color. Don't expect the same results if your house is natural wooden cladding or duck blue.

Each LED is about a foot apart, with the 100ft set containing 72 LEDs in total, each supposedly giving off around 26 lumens of light. Anecdotally, they are tremendously bright. Not just for effect lighting, these could realistically provide a complete outdoor lighting solution, perfect for parties.

Even from two stories up, I was blown away by the vibrant color washes being blasted onto our patio. If you're trying to put children to bed, make sure you have blackout curtains!

The Govee Home app is the most comprehensive and confusing smart lighting app I've ever come across, but to their credit, there is so much in there that it's difficult to see how else they might have done it.

Predominantly, you’ll be using the Permanent Outdoor Lights in scene mode, which has a total of, at present, around 75 different scenes, including Christmas, Halloween, romantic, various chase sequences, and rainbow patterns. Some are more subdued, while some are downright coma-inducing. But it's a vast selection that's constantly being added to.

On top of that, you can come up with some entirely custom DIY scenes. This is where complexity arises with a bit of a learning curve to it. It is, however, relatively easy to paint them pixel by pixel for a special event in your team or flag colors, then animate that to a chase.

If you're having an outdoor party, prepare to be amazed, because the Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights are feature some compelling music-reactive modes, with audio input either from your smartphone or from the device controller itself. For more accurate audio sync, or to link multiple strips and other Govee lighting products together, you can use the Music Sync Box.

They are expensive compared to your average fairy lights, but they’ll last a lot longer—and don't forget to factor in the time you'll save not having to put up holiday lights every single year. On top of that, the feature set is incomparable. There are no other outdoor light systems that you can sync up to music so effectively as Govee; that you can remote control over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth; that you can create completely custom patterns for. Your house will be the talk of the neighborhood.

See that little house on the hill? That's us from a quarter of a kilometer away.

You can, of course, use these all year round if you want, but if, like me, you live in a designated dark sky zone, I would suggest restricting usage to special occasions only. Govee estimates that three hours of usage per day, every day, would only cost you about $8 per year in the US. You can quadruple that for current UK energy costs.

To be honest, we'd given up on outdoor holiday lights, choosing to only decorate our hallways. It just wasn't worth the time, effort, and cost of constantly replacing them once the salty Cornish air had battered them.

But the Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights are a game changer. At least, for now they are. If they've broken after a year, I'll be sure to update the review.

Do I have any complaints about them? Not really, but the shape of the light might not be to everyone's taste. It is distinctive, and if you want completely uniform wash of color down from the roof as you would with a diffused LED strip, this might not be the solution for you.

I do have one feature request, though. Govee, if you could add a DMX control mode, that would take you beyond consumer lighting into stage and theater. There's a whole other industry out there waiting to be disrupted.

James has a BSc in Artificial Intelligence and is CompTIA A+ and Network+ certified. When he's not busy as Hardware Reviews Editor, he enjoys LEGO, VR, and board games. Before joining MakeUseOf, he was a lighting technician, English teacher, and data center engineer.

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