When talking about the smart home, it's easy to think of smart heating, lighting, door locks and entertainment systems. But for those with some outside space, including backyards, front porches and gardens, there are ways to enhance how you live outdoors too. The smart garden is now a flourishing industry, and weather-proofed devices can expand how you spend time in the open air, while boosting the value of your smart home in the process.
- Best smart garden irrigation systems
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- Upgrade your garden with these weatherproof outdoor speakers
Smart lighting, speakers and even televisions are now available for the garden, along with smart irrigation systems from the likes of Rachio, and smart security cameras and flood lights from Nest, Vivint and Ring.
All of this equipment can be packed up when you move, but with gardens and outside spaces varying in terms of size, style and layout, taking everything with you when you move — especially something like a smart irrigation system — could be more effort than it's worth.
Leaving connected devices behind may actually increase the value of your home to both buyers and renters, who might consider a smart home as one that's 'move-in ready.' All the more reason to consider these options to add value to your home now, and for potential buyers in the future.
Smart irrigation system
The smart irrigation system is the most likely connected device to leave behind when you move. These are often installed to work perfectly with a current garden, so may not be the right size for a new property. Digging them up could also be more effort than it's worth.
Options like the Rachio 3 and Orbit b-hyve take data from hyper local weather forecasts to determine exactly how much water to deliver to a garden each day, or to skip a day entirely if it has rained sufficiently. Smart irrigation systems can also be configured based on the type of soil and plants, and the amount of sun and shade a garden gets through the year.
When showing potential buyers around, you could explain how the garden effectively cares for itself, watering everything just the right amount, depending on soil type, plant type and recent weather.
As with most smart home devices, you will need to log out of an irrigation system's smartphone app when you move out, then show the new owners how to create their own account log into your system, and demonstrate how you can't regain access to the account, for their peace of mind.
This last step matters less for a harmless irrigation system, but is obviously of utmost importance when leaving devices like security cameras behind for new owners.
Outdoor smart lighting
A cornerstone of many smart homes, smart lighting now extends into the garden. The popular Philips Hue range includes several weather-resistant options designed for life outdoors, including lights for the driveway, paths, exterior walls, and flowerbeds.
You can also install weather-proof LED light strips, and just like those part of the indoor Hue system, which can change brightness, color and temperature. They are controlled by the Hue smartphone app, or by speaking to Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant.
Although a potentially expensive outlay, especially if you plan to fit smart lighting throughout the home too, this is a desirable feature to draw in potential buyers. Do note that outdoor lighting is also likely to feel like a more permanent addition to the home, given the need to possible add outlets to the exterior or a home, and attach lighting fixtures to walls or fences.
As with the irrigation system, you'll need to log out of the lighting app and hand over control to new buyers if you choose to leave everything behind.
- Bulbs, switches and bridges: A complete guide to Philips Hue smart lighting
- Installing smart lights in a rented home: Your complete guide
Connected outdoor speakers
Connected speaker company Sonos produces a range of weather-resistant outdoor speakers. These are designed to live outside, bringing music to your pool, decking outdoor bar, or barbecue area.
The speakers work just like their indoor relatives, controlled via the Sonos smartphone app or through Alexa and the Google Assistant. You can create a space called 'Garden,' for example, then have music play through that set of speakers, or through the entire home — inside and out — all at once.
Instead of being wireless, the speakers — which cost a hefty $799 per pair — need wiring to the $599 Sonos Amp, which is designed to stay inside the house. So, while your barbecues and garden parties can certainly benefit from Sonos sound, you'll need to perform some DIY to get all the wiring set up, and have a substantial budget too. Being wired in and a permanent feature of your home, they could help make the outdoor space more attractive to potential buyers, but given their price we wouldn't disagree if you chose to the them with you to your new property.
Weather resistant TV
The Terrace is a weather-proof, 4K outdoor television by SamsungSamsung
Even televisions can live outdoors now, thanks to weather-resistant models made by the likes of SunBrite. These displays are waterproof, making them perfect for bringing TV into the garden without fear of being damaged by rain, humidity, or water from the pool or a sprinkler system.
As well as waterproof, these televisions can offer up to three times the brightness of typical televisions, allowing them to be viewed even on a bright summer's day. Sizes range from 32 to 75 inches, with Ultra HD 4K models that include HDR also available.
Although not smart TVs, these sets include HDMI cables which means a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV can be attached for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Spotify.
Samsun also recently entered the outdoor TV market, with the 2020 launch of The Terrace. This range of televisions have 4K displays and are offered with display size options of 55, 65 and 75 inches. Designed for outdoor use The Terrace has an IP55 water and dust resistance, plus an anti-glare display to fight against sunlight, an extra bright screen with up to 2,000 nits of brightness and all of the smart-connected services you would expect from a modern TV.
Outdoor smart plug
Outdoor smart plugs bring smartphone connectivity to non-smart devicesTP-Link
Just like their indoor relatives, outdoor smart plugs bring a degree of smartness to previously unconnected devices.
Smart plugs work by attaching non-smart devices that then switch on and off via a smartphone app. You can also control them by speaking to a voice assistant like Alexa or Siri. You will need an outdoor outlet on a property to use them.
TP-Link offers circa-$25 weather-resistant smart plugs designed for working outside plus a Wi-Fi connection that can, ideally, work up to 300 feet from your router. Of course, a smart plug can easily come with you when you move to a new property but leaving it behind will shown your buyers how easy it is to run devices outside, like water fountains, lights, or that waterproof television.
Smart cameras and flood lights
Amazon-owned Ring, Google-owned Nest, and Vivint are among companies that offer a range of outdoor smart security cameras. These vary in price and ability, and some devices are powered by a rechargeable battery, while others are powered from a wall outlet.
The latter requires more installation, such as running a cable outside from your home, so you may be less inclined to take these cameras with you when you leave — especially if they are mounted high up and were bought with your specific property and backyard layout in mind.
Security cameras (and perhaps some flood lights and video doorbells, too) should be an attractive extra feature for potential buyers. Instead of installing their own system, they can move in, set up a Ring or Nest account if they don't already have one (or Arlo cameras are also an option here), and they're ready to go.
The only issue here is — again — ensuring that you have logged out of the app and cannot get back in again. Naturally, buyers of your home will want to know you can't remotely access their security cameras or the video they record. This is perfectly doable, but requires a degree of cooperation between buyer and seller to ensure everyone is happy with the smart devices — and the new smart home — they've just acquired.