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Looking to take your home’s decorative lights to the next level? One way you can do that is by incorporating a lighting controller or controller system. Light controllers can help you enliven and update your lighting system throughout the year, and from year to year, but especially at Christmas time. If you’re interested in making it easier to get the most variety and use out of your decorative lights, check out the rest of this article to learn more about these controllers and what they can do for you.

What is a lighting controller?

A lighting control box remotely activates lights on demand. These controllers are helpful because they allow you to bypass the need to work your lights manually (for example, through physical light switches or by plugging and unplugging their cords from outlets). The control box wire setup lets you control LED bulb light strips from a single location, making it a convenient power supply for indoor use.

A Christmas light controller can also change permanent lighting systems to a color scheme that fits the current season or holiday or even program these lights to synchronize with music or display patterns based on the user’s input. 

Outdoor color-changing lights are becoming increasingly common. Whether they’re permanent or temporary, these lights can be adjusted to change their color depending on your mood or what you’re celebrating. Some of these lights have dozens of different colors they can display; others have hundreds or even thousands of variations. Many of them can not only change to a different solid color whenever you want, but can also display shifting colors by turning lights and colors on and off in ways that simulate movement or create interesting patterns (sometimes, these changes are synchronized with music or other sound effects).

Holiday lighting controllers are a way of simplifying this changing and programming process. With a holiday lighting controller, you can bypass the need for a smart home device or app that controls your lighting systems instead of working through the controller itself. 

Because it’s easier to control a Christmas light show with the right controller, we’d recommend a device that’s easy to customize and handles all the strain of the entire light display.

What can controllers do with Christmas lights?

Christmas light controllers are one example of this technology that you’ve likely seen being used in your neighborhood or nearby. Since Christmastime is one of the most common seasons for people to set up outdoor decorations, programmable Christmas light bulbs will be one of the most common places where lighting controllers are used.

And what can those controllers do with your Christmas lights? In short, quite a bit! Controllers can help you synchronize your lights to music, so that colors and patterns activate in rhythm along with the tunes you’re playing. Some people like to have entire “concerts” where a Christmas music playlist is put together and played alongside the customized light show. Depending on the equipment that you’re using, these shows can sometimes be set to run automatically, or you can activate your inner designer/DJ and plot out your own manual show. Christmas light shows are one of the best things you can do with a light string.

If you’re not looking to entertain your neighbors or passing light-watchers, or maybe you just want to keep things a little simpler, you can still get a lot of good use out of your lighting controller. Maybe you want to be able to turn on lights at just the right time to greet visitors, or as part of some festivities at your home. 

What are some ideas to make my display more exciting with changing movement and colors?

On the other hand, you might just want your lights to display movement and colors, or maybe just slowly change back and forth between different festive settings. For example, your lights could gradually fade from green to red at Christmastime, or you could set white lights to blink in a pattern that suggests falling snow or in ways that suggest movement and motion around your home. At the bare minimum, having control over when lights turn on and off (either manually or according to a holiday light timer) will give your display much more personalization and a greater range of uses.

Can you control holiday lights with smart home devices?

With some holiday lights, this is actually an option that you could consider. Smart devices, such as the Amazon Alexa or any number of other examples, are another piece of technology that is becoming more and more common in many locations. When you use lighting systems that are compatible with smart home devices and controllers, you can then use those devices to change your lights at will, or even to program them to turn on and off at specific times or in specific patterns. 

How do you do this? Well, that will depend greatly on both what smart home devices you have and what programmable/controllable lighting systems you have. You may be able to set everything up so that it works through an app, depending on how your systems are set up. Some devices will even allow you to set up different strands of lights or different programmed patterns and colors under specific names, so that you can verbally ask a smart home speaker to “turn on green front lights,” or something along those lines, and have things remotely activated whenever you’re close enough to a speaker.

Of course, if you want more control options, some controllers will be much more versatile in the moment than a smart home device. On the fancier side of things, lighting controllers may even include controller boards that allow you to run your light show in a hands-on, in-the-moment sort of way, almost like playing an instrument. Then again, if you already own a smart home device, using it to control a newly-installed set of lights will definitely be cheaper. 

Speaking of which, here’s another question that might have occurred to you:

Is setting up a remote or controller for your lights much more expensive than a regular Christmas light installation?

The short answer to this is no, it won’t usually drive up the price too much. However, like many aspects of home decoration, the price tag attached to your remote or controller will vary depending on how fancy you want things to get. 

No matter which option you decide is best for your home and situation, it is not usually going to cost much more to add on a controller system. Remotes, even nice ones, will probably not cost you more than $50. You can use remotes with both temporary and permanent lights, assuming that they’re set up properly to accommodate this (you may need a special adapter for their plugs to make the remote able to control them, for example, though these are also not normally too expensive). Control boards, on the other hand, might be a little more pricey.

This is because control boards do much more than simply turn lights on and off. They can also control how the lights display, including their colors and patterns. Some set up programs for the lighting system to follow, others can be modified whenever you want for in-the-moment control over the lights, and some can do both. Because of their increased capability, control boards are normally a feature for those who are really serious about their outdoor decorations. The price for these can run as high as several hundred dollars, or even up to $700 or so.

How can JellyFish Lighting help with your Christmas lighting?

Jellyfish Lighting is a company that helps homeowners install permanent decorative lighting solutions for their home’s outdoor spaces, including holiday lights. Consider contacting us to learn more about your options for Christmas lighting controllers and much more.