Easy Halloween tech hacks; decorate with smart lights + MORE!


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John Ruiz

how to halloween smart lightsThe benefits of integrating smart home gear into your household don’t just end with convenience. When the occasion calls for it, you can also give your smart home a break from the daily routine and prep it up for something festive! With Halloween just around the corner, you may dress up your smart home gadgets for fright night too with just a little bit of hacking here and there. Check out our easy and fun ideas for how to use tech to decorate for Halloween.

The Best Spooky Tech for Your Halloween Smart Home

Setting the Stage

Getting your rooms ready for a techie Halloween might sound stressful at first if you aren’t into the technical stuff, but don’t panic. A good way to start off in the right mood is to not think about the back-end stuff and focus on simple home decorating and rearranging if necessary.

In truth, the easiest way to have a little fun with your Halloween decorating is to use smart lighting.

How To Use Smart Lights for Holiday Decorating

The marketplace is flooded with all sorts of smart light bulbs and string lights, but generally, all the mainstream brands have at least one thing in common – the ability to change color after receiving a command from a smart home assistant. A quick way to set the Halloween tone is by simply changing the smart light colors to orange, yellow, or any Halloween-themed preset and repositioning them near your Halloween décor to give your room that ghostly aura.

How much you can customize your lights can vary depending on the brand of your smart lights and the smart home ecosystem you are in. Take the time to update your smart home and smart light apps to their latest versions and explore the features even if you cannot find any Halloween-themed options. Don’t be afraid to explore say a Christmas option and check if a customization option exists so you can tweak the preset to and end up with a custom Halloween one. Pricier smart lights and string lights may have extra features like a microphone that can sync with sounds and music while others might rely on your smartphone mic. Just imagine some spooky scenarios where you can have your smart home assistant play spooky music and have the smart lights blink or change color right on cue.

how to halloween smart lightsIf you still feel lost, try to explore the social media pages of your lights’ brands. During occasions like Halloween, you might find some ideas on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and other avenues. Look out for any Halloween hashtags too and click on them so you can absorb as many ideas as you can from other smart home Halloween fanatics.

Haven’t bought any smart lights yet? Check out my best smart Christmas lights guide as you can use any of my picks to cater to your Halloween lighting ideas. Make sure you evaluate your smart home gadgets first and compare them to your shortlist to check for compatibility issues. If you are still not feeling very creative, also give Erin’s smart light hacks guide for Christmas a look!

Bonus Hack

Not in the mood for smart light decorating or just want a quick fix for a pale room? Consider getting a star projector, preferably one with smart home support. These devices take up very little space but can project light into a wide area normally covering a couple of walls and your ceiling! Products like the Panamalar Smart Star Projector come with Wi-Fi and are compatible with the common “Smart Life” app many budget smart light products rely on so you have the full suite of RGB controls and presets.

Use your Smart Speakers

Smart speakers can be used to play haunted house sounds, ghostly howls or other ghoulish audio, both indoors and out.

Keeping your smart speakers as concealed as possible is key to making the sounds feel natural as if they come from your room’s decorations and fixtures. Even if you have an old speaker such as an Echo Dot, you can get creative by hiding the speaker in a fake pumpkin or skeleton skull decoration so it looks as if the sound is coming from there. Having multiple speakers of the same brand helps here as you can sync them together and have them all play the same audio track for a more immersive soundstage. Sound can tune up the spooky factor even if your home lacks smart lights.

What you can do with your smart speakers depends on what music streaming services you are subscribed to. A good first step is to scour those services for any Halloween-themed playlists and add or bookmark them. Also remember that music streaming services don’t just offer music; search around for ambient sounds and other royalty-free sound effects and you might just find some cool tracks that fit right into your unsettling Halloween environment.

Bonus Hack

Some speakers like the JBL Pulse speakers and Playbulb products can play your creepy beats while emitting light shows of their own! This makes them great options for any extra rooms that lack speakers and lights.

Motion Sensors

how to halloween smart lightsMotion sensors are your basic building blocks for smart home automation and an inexpensive way to give your smart lights and speakers that subtle “jump scare” capability. We reviewed various motion sensor products on the site often together with smart bulb products so I advise you go for a motion sensor with the same brand as any smart lights you might have so you can use the same app to configure them. From there, you just have to do the usual trial and error and position those sensors and test them to see if they work.

Bonus Hack

Did you know that some Amazon Echo products can serve as motion detectors too? These devices can emit ultrasounds to detect footsteps and it supports Alexa’s Occupancy Routines feature. Check out Erin’s guide and video to setting that up so you add some basic automation to your lights and speakers.

Tying Them All Together

Once you have your smart home components and Halloween decorations in place, you can finally wrap things together with your smart home assistant apps. As long as your smart devices have the proper integration, you should be able to add your devices to your Alexa, Google Home, or Apple Home apps in just a few steps. These apps also have Routines features for configuring any motion sensors you may have so you can issue commands to the other gadgets as soon as they detect motion. Want your smart lights to flash when someone rings the doorbell? It’s possible.

IFTTT HalloweenBonus Hack: Use IFTTT to create custom Halloween routines

The standard smart home apps are quite basic when it comes to triggers and actions but if you ever want to level up that automation, IFTTT is a great online service to try out. IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That” and it serves as an extra layer offering a wider range of triggers and actions. Essentially its an app and website that lets you choose different brands of smart home devices, then link them together with a series of commands or actions. IFTTT’s biggest strength is its wide support for third-party services and APIs. For instance, you can configure Philips Hue lights to blink every time somebody rings your Ring doorbell.

My favorite things about IFTTT are its ease of use and the fact that you don’t need any programming experience. Just check the IFTTT website or app, or the dedicated IFTTT pages of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and you can see several examples of automated workflows called ‘applets’. Your preferred smart home assistant will usually serve as the “If This” side of the equation while your “Then That” represents the action after you trigger your smart assistant. The idea is to find any third-party smart home brands you own and discover what kind of triggers and actions they offer. From there, you just figure out what combinations to use to add some automated suspense to your Halloween setup. IFFTTs HomePod integration is pretty rough but the service supports Apple Shortcuts.

IFTTT is free to try allowing you to create up to 2 applets at the time of writing. If you need to make more, you must subscribe to IFTTT Pro. See more about IFTTT’s plans for getting spooky on their website.

Start the Tinkering Now!

Getting your hands dirty with creating routines and IFTTT applets is a deep rabbit hole to get into, so I recommend you start now if you want to make a living and breathing smart home in the Halloween mood. It sounds like a tedious project but playing with the combinations is a fun activity and you might just get tempted to automate more aspects of your smart home post-Halloween or maybe prepare for the Winter holiday season. Stay tuned for more smart home tips!

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