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5 Ways to Smarten Your Patio This Fall

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Summer is here, and as the weather stays hot and the days stay long, your patio becomes one of the most important parts of your home for hosting cookouts and pool parties with friends and family.

With your patio getting more use the next few months, it’s a great time to make your outdoor entertaining smarter — and add convenience, security and fun while you’re at it. Here are our favorite ways to bring your smart home outdoors. (You can also check out our grilling tips that will impress your friends, and how to lower your air conditioning bill.)

Read also5 Things to Consider When Buying Outdoor Furniture

Closeup of a Ring Floodlight Cam

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

Ring Floodlight Cam

Install a smart camera

Keep your eye on all your outdoor entertaining spaces (and the valuables in them) with an outdoor smart camera, like the Arlo Pro 3. Want a camera that sheds light on your outdoor space for added security? Check out the Ring Floodlight Cam, which adds a lighting element and includes a siren and live camera feed in the Ring app.

If you’re on a budget, the Wyze Cam V3 is rated for indoor or outdoor use and costs just $36.

If you have a backdoor near your patio, consider a smart 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.

Ring pathlight in a garden bed beside a lawn

Whether for convenience, security or decoration, consider adding a pathlight to your home’s exterior. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Set the mood with smart outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting adds a special ambience to any patio or entertaining space. Smart outdoor lighting has come a long way and you have more options than ever before.

Philips Hue has a collection of smart outdoor lights, including a path light and several wall-mounted fixtures. Ring’s lineup is more affordable. Of course, you can always opt for smart bulbs in your existing fixtures. The Wyze Bulb works well as generic bulb replacement.

If your patio space has a ceiling and is relatively protected from the elements, consider a smart fan. You’ll 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.

Closeup of an outdoor smart plug

Molly Price/CNET

Schedule your devices with smart plugs

Patios have plenty of “dumb” devices just waiting to be smartened. Whether it’s patio string lights, a space heater, a mosquito lamp or an outdoor sound system, you can control your outdoor devices remotely, check their status and even schedule them to turn on and off with the help of a smart plug made specifically for the outdoors.

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

Turn up the volume with outdoor-friendly smart speakers

Adding music to your outdoor spaces is a no-brainer for any gathering. With the right smart speaker, you can bring your voice assistants outdoors as well.

The Tribit MaxSound Plus is our favorite waterproof portable speaker under $100. If you 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.

If you’d like to take the Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker you already own outdoors, try a battery case. Clip in your device and you’ll have a portable smart speaker with up to 12 hours of battery life.

Netgear Orbi Outdoor Extender outdoors against a brick building

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

Chris Monroe/CNET

Extend your Wi-Fi outdoors

All the smart home improvements to spruce up your patio 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.

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.

No matter what devices you add to your outdoor spaces, bringing your smart home outdoors has never been easier. There are plenty of products out there to help you enjoy the great outdoors while staying connected to the rest of your home.

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