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5 Ways You Can Make Your Patio Smarter and Enjoy it All Summer Long

 5 Ways You Can Make Your Patio Smarter and Enjoy it All Summer Long


Summer is right around the corner and that means many will be spending more time outside enjoying the warmer weather. OK, so warm may not be the best descriptor for the blazing and humid heat that is inevitably on the way, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s a cookout on the grill with some friends and family or an evening sitting around a fire pit, hot or not, there are good times to be had.

We have put together a few ways that you can turn your patio into a relaxing or entertaining, or both, for the summertime. The past few years have seen a rise in smart home devices that can help elevate your outdoor spaces along with some options to add some nature to your patio by growing your own herbs and vegetables for your weekend barbecues.

1. Install a home security camera

Sure, a security camera doesn’t sound all that exciting, but neither does having your outdoor oasis tampered with. Setting up any one of our top outdoor smart cameras is a great way to keep tabs on what’s going on on your patio. Whether your budget is a bit more and you can put up a rock-solid option like the or want to save a few bucks on a very capable Blink Outdoor 4, you can have peace of mind knowing that should something happen to your beloved outdoor space, you’ll have some way to track it down.

If you’re on a really tight budget, we have a list of the best cheap home security cameras to ensure you get a reliable option while saving money.

Another option to keep an eye on your patio is if you happen to have a door that faces your outdoor space, you could also consider a doorbell camera like the Nest Doorbell or the Arlo Video Doorbell. No matter what camera style or function you choose, adding a set of smart eyes to your patio space lets you monitor your outdoor space with ease.

Closeup of a Ring Floodlight Cam Closeup of a Ring Floodlight Cam

The Ring Floodlight Cam includes live video, automated lighting and a siren to deter intruders. 

Ring Floodlight Cam

2. Set the mood with smart outdoor lighting

Lighting plays an important role when enjoying the indoors or out. Being able to properly light your space is key. When you’re cooking and then it’s time to eat, you may want the lights a bit brighter and with a cooler tone. But when it gets a bit later and it’s time to relax and converse with friends and family, then something a bit warmer. Perhaps it’s time to turn up the music on your outdoor speakers and have a little party, then you’ll want your lights to be a bit livelier.

There are a lot of amazing smart lights to choose from depending on the lighting fixtures you have available and the look you are going for. Of course, you can always opt for smart bulbs in your existing fixtures. But you can go beyond the boring smart bulb with some impressive outdoor string lights like the new Nanoleaf Smart Outdoor String Lights I just put up. Another option is these really great Govee Outdoor Ground Lights to illuminate the path.

If your patio space has a ceiling and is relatively protected from the elements, consider a smart fan. You’lld get the climate-enhancing benefits of a fan with smart lighting built in. Fan manufacturers like Hunter and Haiku make models that work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.

Close up of a single Nanoleaf String Light bulb during daylight with trees in background Close up of a single Nanoleaf String Light bulb during daylight with trees in background

Outdoor string lights, like these from Nanoleaf, are a great way to have flexible lighting options for your outdoor spaces.

Chris Wedel/CNET

3. Schedule your devices with smart plugs

One of my favorite ways to turn a dumb device or space a bit smarter is with a smart plug. However, keep in mind that if the outlet you want to add the smart plug to isn’t in a dry place, you’ll want to opt for one of these excellent outdoor smart plugs to be safe. Before I installed the Nanoleaf Smart Outdoor String Lights, I had some basic dumb string lights. While these lights looked nice, they had limitations.

One of the main drawbacks were that you can’t schedule the lights to turn on or off and when we were done being outside, we would tend to forget to shut them off. Meaning we had to walk back out to the patio to take care of the lights. With a smart plug, you can manage all of these issues from your phone.

Our favorite models from TP-Link and WeMo work with multiple voice assistants, include scheduling, and are rated for water and dust resistance.

Closeup of an outdoor smart plug Closeup of an outdoor smart plug

Smart plugs can turn “dumb” devices into smart ones. 

Molly Price/CNET

4. Turn up the volume with outdoor-friendly smart speakers

Soundcore by Anker Motion 3000 outside on a wooden deck in the rain. Soundcore by Anker Motion 3000 outside on a wooden deck in the rain.

David Carnoy/CNET

No outdoor space is complete without some great tunes — at least not for me. An easy way to bring all of your new smart devices together on your patio is with a smart speaker. Not only does this mean you’ll have access to music on demand from the top streaming services, but you’ll also have voice control over things like your lights, timers and more.

If you’d like to take the Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker you already own outdoors, try a battery case. These handy devices are great for making your smart speaker, which is usually tethered to the wall, portable and allow you to access all the features you love.

If you want to go the route of a booming Bluetooth speaker, check out the Tribit MaxSound Plus, which is our favorite waterproof portable speaker under $75. If you still want to add Alexa to the mix, the Ultimate Ears Megablast is a portable, fully waterproof Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker that has Amazon’s voice assistant built in.

5. Extend your Wi-Fi outdoors

Of course, to access any of the wonderful smart devices you have added to your patio, you’ll need one thing: good Wi-Fi. If your home’s signal doesn’t reach every corner of your outdoor living space, there are a few things you can try to extend your Wi-Fi outdoors.

Netgear Orbi Outdoor Extender outdoors against a brick building Netgear Orbi Outdoor Extender outdoors against a brick building

The Netgear Orbi Outdoor Extender takes your Wi-Fi signal farther. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Mesh Wi-Fi systems are one way to go. If you already use Netgear’s Orbi mesh network, the Orbi Outdoor can take your signal to the outdoors and is weather-resistant, so you can rely on your outdoor Wi-Fi signal year round.

Bringing Wi-Fi beyond your home’s walls has never been easier. Extending your Wi-Fi to cover your patio and other outdoor spaces means you can enjoy some of the comforts of inside while you’re outside. Flexible lighting, security, audio and more are all ways you can enhance your outdoor environment to ensure you can take full advantage of all your home has to offer — both inside and out.

To make the most of your time outside, make sure you know how to repel mosquitoes and how to grill like a pro. 

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