It’s that time of year when all you can think about is relaxing in the backyard without a care in the world. Whether you’re gathering with friends around the patio table, sinking into the hot tub, or just lazing about in a hammock, making your space the best it can be pays dividends. Not only will you save money on restaurants and bars by making your place better than going out, but you’ll also be able to de-stress, get a great nap in, and really enjoy the summer.
The outdoors can be tricky for a tech fan due to the elements, limited Wi-Fi range, and lack of places to plug in. With advances in battery storage, connectivity, and waterproofing, your problems have been solved. It’s time to make your backyard that perfect oasis you can escape to when work’s over for the day. We’ve got some great picks to help make things exactly the way you want and automate things along the way.
Philips Hue Outdoor lights
Add color to your garden
- 16 million colors with adjustable output to 900 lumens
- Weatherproof operation in all conditions
- Freestanding or screw-clip mounting options
- Simple installation with extension kit available for longer runs
- Support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Strips can’t be cut to size
- Drab silicone cladding
Outdoor lighting is a key first step in creating the perfect backyard ambiance. Added lighting can keep you safer from hidden hazards you might trip on and also from prowlers. Best of all, it can really make a statement. Imagine your yard lit up in colors, allowing you to keep the party going long after sunset.
Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strips are a great choice here. You can use them to line the walkway, make a border for a flowerbed, or hang them from the side of your building. They come with mounting clips for placing them along railings or posts. These lights have an IP67 rating, meaning they can endure pretty much any kind of weather without worry.
They work with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, and you can create routines to turn them into specific colors and modes. You can also control the appearance and brightness of the lights with the Hue app. The lights are dimmable, have a diffused lighting effect, and can change color.
Bose SoundLink Flex
Waterproof sound for rugged pursuits
- Small, portable
- Great sound
In the past, outdoor speakers meant either carrying your boombox around or running a lot of speaker wire to a location that was safe from rain. These days, we have wireless connectivity and waterproof devices. You can take your tunes anywhere and even customize the sound and point it where you want. There are a couple of solid options for wireless outdoor speakers.
The Bose Soundlink Flex offers high-quality sound from a relatively small speaker. Bose has made a name by providing amazing speakers, and the Soundlink Flex is no exception. It has a 30-foot range from your device and remembers the last eight devices paired to it. The app offers custom algorithms and sound balancing, and the speaker can also receive calls from your phone. It offers 12 hours of playtime before recharging and has an IP67 rating. It even floats!
JBL Flip 6
Popular and effective
- Solid build quality
- Loud and clear sound
- Lightweight and portable
- Excellent water and dust protection
- EQ offers some sound tweaking
- Works with JBL Portable app and PartyBoost
- Can't stereo pair with non-Flip 6 JBL speakers
- Doesn’t work as a speakerphone
- Not drastically different from Flip 5
JBL’s Flip 6 allows you to stream music from two separate mobile devices so that you can share DJ duties. It has a two-way speaker system and even features a separate tweeter to expand the sound range. Like the Soundlink Flex, it’s IP67 rated, so it can withstand the elements, and the battery should last 12 hours before needing a recharge. It also offers simple controls on the unit itself and an app to fine-tune the sound. It comes in a number of fun colors and designs.
Ring Spotlight Cam
Add light and security
- Robust, compact, and weather-resistant
- Integrated spotlight, siren, and motion detection
- Simple installation
- Ring controller app offers lots of features
- Video recording requires subscription
- Delays when editing motion zones
It's always a good idea to have an extra set of eyes on your home. That's where security cameras can help.
Ring has a great line of outdoor cameras, whether you have a place to wire them or need a battery-powered model. They feature two-way audio, advanced motion detection, and a wide field of view to ensure the whole yard is in the frame. The app allows you to see the camera live or review captured footage. They’re also compatible with Amazon Alexa.
Weber Genesis II 3-Burner Gas Grill
All the grilling power, plus tech smarts!
- Nice design
- Durable build
- Easy to light
- Smart technology built in
- AC or Power bank option for smart module
- Lots of storage
- Extra burner is handy
- Learning curve with Weber app
- Assembly takes a while
The party isn’t hopping until the grill is lit, and smart grills are all the rage. They’re adaptable and will help you ensure your food turns out perfect every time. You can use the app to connect to probes on the grill and watch cooking temperatures as the day progresses.
The Weber Genesis Smart Grill has built-in probes that connect wirelessly to their app, allowing you to monitor the temperature of what you're grilling. The app also walks you through the recipe step-by-step from prep to serving and will alert you when it’s time to take the food off the grill. There’s optional grill lighting that illuminates the cooking area and the front knobs.
Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
Use less water on your grass during the summer
- Effortless control
- Easy to program/schedule
- Works Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit™, Google Assistant, Nest, IFTTT, and more
- Need a full sprinkler system already
- May not be compatible with all systems
Rachio has made managing your sprinkler system almost effortless. Install the sprinkler control box, then connect to your smartphone or another device to set the schedule and see how much water your grass is getting. It also checks local weather to determine if there’s been rain. If so, it will change the schedule to avoid overwatering. The system will also adjust the amount of water the sprinklers are using based on what you’re watering (bushes, vegetable garden, grass, etc.).
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