9 Outdoor Tech Upgrades for 2017

BY JESSE DARLAND ON MAY 25TH, 2017

blog-image Robomow RC306 (MSRP \$1,299)

Home weather sensors – Netatmo Weather Station (MSRP $149)

You won’t have to rely on your phone or TV to know what weather conditions are like in your backyard. With a home weather station (like the Netatmo) you can get up-to-the-minute temperature, humidity, pressure and pollution information. It can even send an alert to your phone for certain events, like rain. Data is available through a phone app 24/7, and you can configure the software to send you notifications based on temperature or if it starts to rain.

Smart garden sensors – Edyn Garden Sensor (MSRP $99)

The Edyn Garden Sensor is a cheerful yellow box topped with a solar panel on one side and a spike on the other that you press into the soil of your garden. Once in place, the Wi-Fi-enabled device will monitor soil moisture, soil nutrition, light level and overall humidity in your garden. Data is send to a smartphone app so that you can keep tabs on how your garden’s growing. This will help you avoid under- or over-watering. You can also pair the garden sensor with a smart garden hose valve that will automatically start and stop watering your plants when the soil gets too dry.

Sprinklers and irrigation – Rachio Sprinkler Controller (MSRP $199)

Have sprinklers in your yard, or considering having them installed? This gadget replaces the dumb controller box with a smart one that monitors local weather to automatically switch the sprinklers on or off depending on the forecast. If you’ve ever returned home during a rainstorm to see your sprinklers merrily watering the yard anyway, the smart control functionality make you (and your wallet) happy. You can also use your smartphone or Amazon Alexa to adjust the watering schedule or manually turn the system on or off.

Security camera – Netgear Arlo Pro (MSRP $249)

If you want to keep an eye on your home while you’re out and about this summer, an internet-connected security camera might be a good investment. The Arlo Pro offers HD-quality recording and a rolling online archive that keeps the last seven days’ worth of recordings accessible in the cloud. If you’d like more storage, you have the option of plugging a USB drive into the base station to store a larger archive. You can use a smartphone app to view live footage or look through the archived recordings. The cameras offer two-way audio, so that you both hear and speak to someone, and you can combine multiple cameras on the same system.

Robot lawnmower - Robomow RC306 (MSRP $1,299)

Who among us hasn’t looked out over a teeming lawn in the mid-August heat and wished the grass could just mow itself? With a robotic lawnmower, that dream is a bit closer to reality. The Robomow RC306 is pricier than some of the other robotic options available, but it makes up for it with an 11-inch cutting width, the ability to mow St. Augustine grass and even mow on a (slight) incline. As with most robot lawnmowers, this one comes with a base station to recharge its on-board batteries and perimeter wire that’s fastened to the ground to mark the edges of your yard or places where the mower shouldn’t mow. The Robomow RC306 also includes a smartphone app that lets you set your mowing schedule – so if you want your lawn shorn daily, have at it!

Outdoor Wi-Fi – Netgear Orbi (MRSP $399)

So many people now get their music from online streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora, but most in-home Wi-Fi access points can’t provide a strong signal to reach the patio or backyard reliably. The Netgear Orbi uses a new type of Wi-Fi technology called mesh networking. Rather than use a single base station, the Orbi uses a group of wireless base stations spread throughout your home – and beyond. The devices communicate with one another and all your internet-connected devices to share an internet signal across a wider area. You can place one of the Orbi satellites outside on your patio to extend coverage across your yard. Just be sure that it’s in a waterproof location.

Smart outdoor lights – Sylvania Lightify by Osram Landscape Lighting Set (MSRP $69)

Smart lights are internet-connected lights that you can control with your phone or through a digital assistant like Alexa or Siri. Most smart lights are only suitable for indoor use, but the Sylvania Lightify line includes several options that can be used outdoors. The landscape lighting set includes nine staked garden lights that you can place along a pathway or border. Not only can you set a schedule and adjust their brightness with a smartphone app, but they can also change color, so you can create whatever mood you like in your outdoor space.

Outdoor speakers - Yamaha NS-AW294BL (MSRP $149)

These speakers are Bluetooth-enabled, so you can control them with a phone or computer while you listen to music on your deck or by the pool. (If you plan on using a streaming music service, see outdoor Wi-Fi above.) They are weatherproofed – an important consideration for speakers that go outside – and available in white or black to help them blend in with your outdoor décor. They can be mounted vertically or horizontally, which can be a plus if you’d like to tuck them under the eaves of your home.

Outdoor TV – SunBriteTV Veranda 65-inch (MSRP $3,499)

If you’ve ever wheeled an indoor TV out to the patio to watch an afternoon game, you know that most TVs can’t compete with the intense brightness of sunlight. Plus, their delicate nature means that you’ll need to be vigilant about wet weather or else find yourself shelling out for a replacement. The SunBriteTV offers both waterproof construction and a bright, 4K-ready screen that’s visible even in direct sunlight. While it’s not cheap, if you plan on enjoying football season outdoors, it will do everything you need.

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