This story is part of Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Fall is officially here and that means it’s the ideal sitting outside season. With less extreme heat and humidity across the US, your patio becomes one of the most important parts of your home for hosting outdoor gatherings. Whether you’re hosting a football party or cuddling around your fire pit with family, your patio becomes an oasis for rest and relaxation.
With your patio getting good use before the cold winter 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 five easy ways to bring your favorite smart home tech outdoors. (You can also check out our tips for growing your own herbs and tips for growing your own vegetables at home.)
1. Install a home security camera
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Keep your eye on all your outdoor entertaining spaces (and the valuables in them) with an outdoor smart cameralike the Arlo Pro 3. Want a camera that sheds light on your outdoor space for added security? Check out the Ring Floodlight Camwhich 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.
2. 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 lightsincluding 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.
For more lighting options, check out the best outdoor string lights and best smart lights.
3. 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 heatera 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 Of Mo work with multiple voice assistants, include scheduling, and are rated for water and dust resistance.
While we have compiled our favorite outdoor smart plugswe also have a list of our favorite indoor smart plugs too.
4. 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 speakeryou 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.
5. 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.