You might think that smart home technology is only for control of indoor devices, like thermostats, home theaters and security systems. But high tech has come to the backyard. Let’s talk about some of the outdoor smart home technology now available.
Outdoor smart home technology is revolutionizing the oldest form of cooking.
You can kick charcoal and lighter fluid to the curb with some of today’s grills. Wood-pellet grills deliver fuel via an electronic auger drive and light as easily as a gas grill, yet deliver the delightful smoky taste of charcoal. You can dispense with fuels altogether and harness the sun with the GoSun Grill, which can cook at temps as high as 550 degrees.
Models such as the Weber iGrill allow you to monitor meat cooking temperature from your phone using an app. The Char-Broil SmartChef and other brands let you monitor gas levels, food temperatures and burner heat with an app.
Outdoor televisions and speakers
Wind, water, heat and cold generally aren’t compatible with electronics, but outdoor smart home technology has strengthened entertainment equipment against the elements.
Television brands such as SunBrite and SkyVue are built with a tough outer casing, ultra-sharp HD and a brighter picture to compete with the sun. SkyVue offers access to Netflix, Hulu and more. Outdoor televisions start at around $1,500.
Outdoor speakers have to be tough enough to survive the elements while offering great sound and volume levels capable of competing with the outside world. One of the top makers of audio equipment, Sonos, offers those qualities with Sonance. This system delivers terrific sound quality from elegant speakers that withstand nature’s onslaught and are controlled with a phone app. Sonos outdoor systems start at around $800.
Outdoor smart home technology has come to exterior lighting, which includes floodlights, wall lights, path lights and landscape spotlights.
Phillips Hue lighting lets you control elegant outdoor lighting from a smart assistant such as Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit. The Phillips Hue smart lighting system includes all forms of outdoor illumination, including Lily spots for highlighting landscaping and walls and Calla lights for path lighting.
Ring offers both a floodlight and a camera in a single unit for monitoring the property around your house. GE Z-Wave allows you to make string lights and holiday lights smart from its outdoor wall-plug connection.
Mow no more
Imagine a beautifully mown lawn without gasoline, sweat or deafening engine noise. That dream can now come true with sensor and smartphone technology. Sleek robot mowers can zip around the yard and head for their docks when moisture is sensed. They’re also considerably quieter than the old fume-belching, gas-engine mowers. Several good brands offer mowers capable of cutting from a quarter to one and a quarter acres. Robot mowers aren’t cheap, averaging over $3,000, but what price would you pay to avoid the hassle of mowing your yard yourself?
A home sprinkler irrigation system is far better at watering your landscape than a hose, and outdoor smart home technology has made irrigation systems even more efficient. Manual dials and buttons are giving way to smart hub assistants. With brands such as Rachio, you can set a watering schedule, or improvise with a voice command to begin watering. An eight-zone Rachio controller costs around $230. Longtime irrigation veteran Rain Bird also offers Wi-Fi smart controllers.
You can replace an older model controller with a new smart one, but you need to know how many stations, or watering zones, you are plumbed for. Make sure your new controller can handle that number.
Pool monitoring and cleaning
Much of the manual labor of maintaining a pool can be alleviated with outdoor smart home technology. From the touch screen of your phone, you can monitor the pH level and other chemistry of your pool’s water and control the pump system and a robotic cleaner. Using GPS, outdoor smart home technology allows you to warm up your hot tub while you are on your way home.