I compared three of the most popular manufacturers

Making Christmas Smart: Three lightings in a comparison test.

Making Christmas Smart: Three lightings in a comparison test.

Imagine a world in which light not only shines, but also awakens emotions, transforms spaces and transforms everyday life into a colorful spectacle. I know I’m a little late, but maybe it will work this year or at least be a valuable suggestion for 2024.

I examined three of the leading smart fairy lights: Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights, Philips Hue Festavia und Twinkly Strings (Gen 2).

Are you looking for the perfect magic lights for your home? Then you are exactly right here. I compare the features, ease of use and the magical effects of these three smart Christmas tree lights.

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What have I tested?

The fairy lights were provided to me by the three manufacturers. There was no obligation to publish the article. There was also no say in the nature and content of the article.

Technical data, lengths and prices

Twinkly StringsPhilips Hue FestaviaNanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights
Number of color LEDs250250250
Long20 m20 m20 m
Length: power cable to 1st LEDca. 3,8 m4,4 mca. 3,8 m
Shared chain2 x 10 m1x 20 m2 x 10 m
Smarthome connectionGoogle Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Razer Chroma RGBGoogle Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, MatterGoogle Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Razer Chroma RGB, Matter
Inside OutsideAnd, IP44And, IP44And, IP44
Price (OVP)120 Euro220 Euro120 Euro

Even though the Twinkly (left) is only shown once, like the Nanoleaf chain (middle), it is divided into two 10 meter lengths. Only Philips Hue Festavia is a continuous string of lights of 20 meters.

Setup, apps and smart home

The two inexpensive models make it easiest for you. They do not require a separate hub and can therefore be integrated directly into the iOS and Android smart home apps. However, I recommend that you use the manufacturer’s apps in order to really be able to use all the functions.

With both Google and Apple you are only limited to brightness and colors. Effects can only be set via the manufacturer’s apps.

There is a store for scenes in the Nanoleaf app.

There is a store for scenes in the Nanoleaf app.

In the Nanoleaf app, for example, you can not only choose from different scenes or have a magical scene created. There is a tab for discovering new scenes from the community. You even have the option to search for specific topics there. There are all kinds of choices for Christmas.

Interestingly, however, I was unable to add the fairy lights to a schedule. For this you have to switch to other apps.

Twinkly scans your tree and lets you get creative.

Twinkly scans your tree and lets you get creative.

There is a schedule option in the Twinkly app, but it is very inflexible and you can only choose one time slot for the entire week. However, the app offers several special features.

This means you can not only select animations, but also scan your tree to apply them correctly. At the same time, you can let your creativity run wild and draw your own patterns into the scanned tree and add effects. Only Twinkly offers this option!

With Philips Hue there is little choice and options for the fairy lights.

With Philips Hue there is little choice and options for the fairy lights.

Unfortunately, the bottom in terms of variety is Philips Hue Festavia, which also has the highest price. There you could choose from six effects and import scenes from the gallery. However, the scenes again rely on the familiar effects, but perfectly integrate other Philips Hue lights.

You can find some individualization in the color wheel. You can define several points, which then appear as a color gradient on the tree.

You can create color gradients in the Hue app.

You can create color gradients in the Hue app.

For Philips Hue, the manufacturer’s hub is necessary to integrate the fairy lights into your smart home.

Overall, the setup process is similarly easy for all three models. However, it worked most easily with Nanoleaf, who included a sticker for Matter / HomeKit that you simply scan with the camera and it is immediately taken into the setup process of your pre-installed smart home app.

Speaking of smart home: All three fairy lights support Google Home, Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa – voice control via Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa included. Both Nanoleaf and Philips Hue are already compatible with Matter. In principle, all models can be integrated into automations or schedules.

At this point I would also like to mention that Nanoleaf and Twinkly are integrated into your network and smart home via WiFi.

The Twinkly app scans your tree and shows you the exact position of each (detected) LED.

The Twinkly app scans your tree and shows you the exact position of each (detected) LED.

This can lead to connection problems when used outdoors, for example. Philips Hue, on the other hand, communicates via Zigbee with the hub, which is connected to your home network via cable.

Zigbee offers the advantage that the devices – similar to Matter – are not only receivers, but can also forward the signal, which of course extends the range. If you already use Philips Hue lights, they act as amplifiers.

The pre-made scenes from the cloud tab offer many cool ways to use the fairy lights for Christmas.

The pre-made scenes from the cloud tab offer many cool ways to use the fairy lights for Christmas.

What can the fairy lights do?

Short version: They all glow in different colors and can enhance your Christmas tree.

Of course, that’s only half the truth. They also have different scenes and twinkle modes in the respective apps. All three can also let light shine to the music if desired, although this only works with the Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights as standard.

The two competitors also need optional accessories.

With additional accessories, you can connect the chains from Nanoleaf and Philips Hue to your TV to synchronize the light with it.

The most expensive model has the fewest predefined modes or scenes. Twinkly, on the other hand, provides the real wow effect, which some people could probably comment with “What’s the point?”

There you can choose countless animations, patterns and more. You can use the camera to show the app the positions of the lights in order to execute the animations correctly. A nice gimmick.

Editorial conclusion

Benjamin Otterstein

All three fairy lights have their own strengths, although Nanoleaf notes that they are only just arriving in the fairy light market. The first serve is more than solid and at a good price. In addition, all important standards are supported and outdoor use is also included from the start. What’s particularly cool is that it can be easily integrated into existing Nanoleaf systems and invites you to play colorful games even outside of the Christmas season.

With Philips Hue you immediately notice that they are pioneers of smart lighting technology and everything here is designed for comfort and longevity. Although the bridge can be perceived as annoying, the Zigbee protocol ensures stability and greater range, which could be useful in outdoor use, for example. However, it also has by far the highest price in comparison. On offer, it is certainly worth considering for Philips Hue users.

Twinkly is the exotic of the three models. While the others are less intrusive and offer more subtle effects, Twinkly is packed with animations and can also be connected to Razer Chroma RGB, which might make gamers happy. If you are looking for an eye-catcher, Twinkly could be the perfect choice.

Basically, I can’t make the choice for you because, as always, it depends on your budget and your own ideas as to what a smart light chain has to be able to do for you.

My personal choice

However, I can give you an insight into my personal choice. In the house I will probably use the Nanoleaf Smart Holiday String Lights for the Christmas tree. This is partly due to the WiFi connection and the fact that I don’t want anything too conspicuous on the tree. Ideally, it will be used as decoration on my cupboards in the summer.

Philips Hue is coming to the sugar shack in the garden. I actually would have liked to use it indoors, but both the range and the continuous length of 20 meters make me decide.

Twinkly will be decorating my bushes in the future, although I’ll have to see how well it works with the WiFi connection.

Now that you have received a comprehensive insight into the world of smart fairy lights from Nanoleaf, Philips Hue and Twinkly, you may already be one step closer to making your decision.

Perhaps you have also had your own experiences with these or other smart fairy lights that you would like to share. Which string of lights has captured your heart or which one would you like to try? Do you have creative ideas on how to use these fairy lights outside of the Christmas season? Let us know in the comments which fairy lights are your favorite and how you use them in your home or garden.

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