One of the last dumb things in your smart home might be your outdoor lighting. If you need a smart outdoor lighting system for your garden, you could cobble together an array of smart home lighting products from various makers or use products from one brand, such as the Philips Hue outdoor line. But I recommend a different route: Upgrade the bulbs in your current exterior fixtures to LED and use an outdoor plug adapter to make your garden lights part of your home control tech. You won’t get all the fancy tricks possible, but if you can live without nightclub color scenes or speakers built into lights, you’ll like the results of my cheap and straightforward upgrade.
The very first thing to determine is what kind of LED bulbs will fit the sockets in your appliances. Remove your current bulbs and inspect the base: It will most likely be a bayonet, bipin or wedge.
Bipin bulbs are particularly common and come in a wide variety of sizes that look almost the same. The crucial differentiator is the spacing between the pins. A G4 bipin has 4mm spacing, a G5.3 has 5.3mm spacing, and so on.
We’re all used to showing bulb brightness by wattage, but that’s merely a misnomer baked in tradition. Wattage tells you how much energy a bulb uses, not how much light it puts out, though the two are at least directionally related.
As you pull each incandescent bulb from your garden lights, try to understand the wattage rating printed on it. Then shop for LED bulbs whose wattage is promised as equivalent. For example, you may find that a 1.5-watt LED bulb promises to replace an 11-watt incandescent bulb while delivering as much or more light, so much greater is LED’s efficiency.