Sick of climbing that ladder every year to put your lights up? Consider a permanent set of smart lights. This weatherproof model from Govee scores an IP67 rating (IP65 for the control box) and can handle temperatures of –4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. They are designed to be up year-round. I (Simon) tested the 100-foot string (200-foot is also an option), which comes divided into six sections, with an extension cord to branch from the lower level to your roof line. Each bulb is around an inch and a half square and juts out an inch. A flat cable joins them together at 18-inch intervals. Installation was fairly easy for the most part, with the adhesive sticking well to the plastic underhang of my home. I used the supplied screw clips to tidy up some cables and fix them more securely. You can cut them, and connectors are included, but this task is not for the faint of heart.
Govee offers everything but the kitchen sink in its busy companion app. You can set colors in zones (two per section), tweak the color temperature, and choose from a frankly bewildering array of lighting effects, called Scenes. Christmas is well represented in the Festival section of the Scenes, but there are also some nice effects in there for other holidays like Halloween. Depending on your home, they can serve as feature lights. The white looks quite classy, and they can get pretty bright (up to 50 lumens a bulb). There is Matter support for easy setup, and you can use voice commands with Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you already have other Govee lights, you will enjoy the ability to group them for shared effects, and you can schedule them, create effects, and even sync them to music or sound, though this feels gimmicky. They seem pricey until you compare them to other permanent lighting. If you don’t have much of an overhang, the lights will cast shadows and make shapes on the wall (Govee suggests installing 1 to 3 inches out, and I would recommend further if you can). My house is fairly small, so I only needed four sections. I wish the lights were closer together, and a little more subtle. If visible bulbs and cables annoy you, these aren’t for you.