Outdoor Living Project Guide

Lighting & Tech: Technology

Smart Entertainment and More

Today’s technologies are taking outdoor living to the next level. Not only can we enjoy music, TV, mood lighting and a fire, but we can also control them with the touch of a button on our smartphones. As Eric Davis, spokesperson for the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, notes, it’s the perfect recipe for entertaining. “Our outdoor spaces have evolved over the past generation to focus more on entertaining,” he says. “And it’s a very special kind of entertaining that relies on having as premium a setup as possible — having the latest gadgets involved to create a memorable experience.”

Beyond entertaining, of course, there are smart technologies that allow us to control our sprinkler systems, our climate control systems and other mechanisms — creating safer, more pleasant outdoor spaces. Here are five favorites from Dan DiClerico, HomeAdvisor’s Smart Home Strategist.

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A bunch of major brands, including Char-Broil, Lynx, and Weber, have come out with high-tech grills with built-in temperature probes that allow you to monitor cooking times from your smart phone. Not in the market for a new grill? Weber’s iGrill Mini is a $50 app-connected thermometer that works with any outdoor cooker.

For $100 or less, portable wireless speakers play music from your favorite streaming service, like Pandora or Spotify. The Bose SoundLink Color II wireless speaker comes in four different colors and a water-resistant exterior. If money is no object, the company PlanterSpeakers makes a hard-wired product that delivers high-fidelity outdoor sound from beautiful planters made of teak, terra cotta, and flagstone.

After investing time and money in your outdoor living space, you’ll want to keep it secure. A weatherproof WiFi camera from brands like Arlo and Nest will let you see your property from your smart phone, no matter where you are in the world.

Smart lighting is much more common indoors, but there are some good options for exterior applications. For example, Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting has a whole-yard system that homeowners control from their smart phone, creating scenes for different activities, such as dining and entertaining. For more of a DIY solution, consider the Kuna Powered Smart Security Light, an app-controlled fixture that also includes a camera and two-way intercom.

Motorized awning systems provide protection from the sun with the press of a button. Besides adding comfort, awnings reduce solar heat gain by as much as 77 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The manufacturer Somfy has an awning that can be controlled from a smart phone, allowing you to create shade—and savings—even when you’re away from home.

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