The phrase “smart home” often conjures up images of stuff that goes inside a house — an, a , a . But increasingly we’re seeing products that can help beyond your front door. You can use a lot of this tech year-round, like a or an . Others are seasonal.
Let’s take a look at seven categories of outdoor smart home products.
Smart gardening used to be focused on standalone plant sensors. Buy a Parrot Flower Power or an Oso Technologies PlantLink, stick it in a pot — or directly in your yard — and wait for it to tell you when to water your plant. These small devices were fairly limited, especially for folks interested in monitoring larger gardens.
Enter: Connected irrigation systems. From Rachio’s latest smart sprinkler set up to CNET’s homemade drip irrigation system, which we’ve used in the past to grow lettuce, jalapenos and Carolina Reapers, these systems help you track a larger space remotely.
Outdoor cameras aren’t new, but the variety of options have increased a ton in recent years. Where it was once limited to a standard camera, we’re now seeing cameras built-in to outdoor light fixtures, smart doorbells and even battery-powered cameras.
We’re most excited about the new LTE cameras that work over a cellular network, which effectively monitor garden pests outside Wi-Fi range.
Extend your Wi-Fi range
Netgear Orbi Outdoor
A wireless access point, also called an extender, is a great way to get your Wi-Fi network outside, if you don’t want an LTE camera or simply want to get internet out in the garden.
An outdoor extender, like the Netgear Orbi Outdoor, can easily handle this. Read our in-depth look at how to cover your yard in Wi-Fi here and more about Wi-Fi extenders we like.
We’ve covered indoor lighting extensively, but smart outdoor lighting is a relatively new space. Sure, you can control an outdoor light with an indoor wired Lutron switch, but what about smart LEDs that combat the elements?
There’s good news on that front — companies are beginning to introduce more outdoor-rated LEDs and fixtures. Here are some tips for upgrading your outdoor lighting.
Garage door openers
Chamberlain MyQ Home Bridge
Colin West McDonald/CNET
Yes, a garage isn’t technically “outside,” but it covers that space between your driveway and your home. For a lot of us, it’s where we store the lawn mower and the garden tools. Smart garage door openers let you open and close your garage doors using an app or a voice command. They even send reminders to your phone to let you know when you’ve left the door open.
You can track the weather in your area with a quick Google search any time, but smart weather stations are more customized. The BloomSky Sky2 Weather Camera Station tracks temperature, wind speed and rain and air pressure right in your backyard. Whether you’re a weather geek or want to monitor the latest forecast to determine when best to plant, water and harvest plants in your garden, products like this might be a smart investment.
Whether you’re working in the yard or enjoying an evening cocktail on the porch, waterproof Bluetooth speakers bring your favorite music or podcasts to you.
We especially like the affordable Tribit MaxSound Plus. This $56 battery-powered speaker is supposed to last for up to 20 hours on a single charge. And, bonus, it can survive rain storms and splashes from the pool because it’s waterproof.