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Once you’ve smartened up the inside of your home, it’s time to get hold of some smart devices for the outdoors.
Some of these gadgets will prove super useful, saving you time and helping with a more convenient life. Others, such as the smart bird feeder, are just a bit of fun with added smarts.
Keep reading for my comprehensive list of the best smart devices for the garden and other outdoor areas.
Smart Garden Lights
Just as you can light up the inside of your home using your voice, thanks to outdoor smart lights, you can now do the same in your garden or back yard too.
There are three ways you can use smart lights in your garden:
- Ambient Lighting – Light up areas where you want to socialise in the evenings such as a patio or decking. This can also be used to light up walkways or even your doorstep.
- Security Lighting – Smart lights are a significant improvement to the traditional floodlights as you can be alerted when they are activated and sometimes they have two-way communication too.
- Feature Lighting – Add that special touch to your garden with some feature lighting such as rope lights around the edge of the lawn, spotlights in your planters, or fairy lights around your trees.
My Top Picks
For Ambient Lighting: The Philips Hue Discover Wall Light provides a powerful 2,300 lumen of light which is enough to keep the party going after dark. Access the full colour spectrum and integrates with your favourite voice assistant.
For Security Lighting: The Netatmo Integrated Floodlight is both a smart floodlight and security camera all in one. Any motion detected will turn the light on and trigger a notification to your phone so you can check-in and see what (or who) has activated it.
Smart Parcel Box
Amazon are definitely on to something with their Amazon Hub Lockers that allow you to collect your delivery from your nearest convenience store. But, imagine if you could have one at home for all of your parcels! That’s where smart parcel boxes come in.
Top Pick: iParcelBox
iParcelBox are leading the way and the only ‘smart’ parcel box you can get right now. Of course, there are a growing number of dumb ones too, but where’s the fun in that.
The steel box can be anchored to the floor or wall and allows delivery drivers to simply place the parcel inside without any code. Once it detects a parcel inside, it will automatically lock so nobody can nab your parcel.
The iParcelBox will notify your smartphone when there is a parcel so you can collect it once you’re home. If there are subsequent deliveries, you can remotely allow the box to open.
Outdoor Motion Sensors
If you’re hoping to automate your garden with Alexa or Google Home Routines, then a motion sensor is a great addition to your smart garden setup.
For example, motion can turn on your smart lights, tell a nearby smart camera to start recording, or you can even activate a garden speaker to play a noise and scare off any potential intruders.
Top Tip: At Halloween, I love to use an outdoor smart speaker to play scary noises in the garden when an outdoor sensor detects motion.
Top Pick: Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor
My top pick here is the Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor. It’s a typical PIR (passive infrared) sensor but I love that it can be mounted in a variety of different ways and has lots of customisation over the sensitivity of the motion that triggers the sensor.
Once you have set up your Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor, it can be used to control any Philips Hue lights or used as a trigger within Alexa routines to create useful (or just plain fun) automations.
Outdoor Smart Plug
With a smart plug, you can turn any device into a smart one. You can’t use a regular smart plug outdoors, however, there are now dedicated outdoor smart plugs with weatherproofing to stop any water from getting inside.
Whether you want to turn on your outdoor heater with your voice, integrate your existing ‘dumb’ outdoor lights to your smart home, or create a schedule for your water features, a smart plug is versatile enough to help you out.
Top Pick: Knightsbridge Outdoor Smart Plug
The Knightsbridge outdoor smart plug is the best on the market right now. It has an industry-standard IP66 rating and supports Alexa and Google Home.
However, keep in mind that it will need a professional to install it as it’s very similar to a traditional outdoor plug.
Outdoor Smart Speaker
It’s no good having all these smart features outdoors if you can’t bring your favourite voice assistant outside to control them. That;’s why an outdoor smart speaker makes a great addition to your smart home.
This will allow you to play music outside from your favourite streaming service but, depending upon the device, will also allow Alexa to join your next BBQ. I personally have one next to the Hot Tub so I can still control the music without having to get out.
Top Pick: Sonos Move Outdoor Speaker
Outdoor smart speakers are still in their infancy so there’s not a huge range to choose from right now, however, the Sonos Move Outdoor Speaker is an excellent pick.
It’s one of few devices with both Alexa and Google Home support built-in and with an IP56 rating it can withstand water from all angles.
It connects to the internet via Wi-Fi but also has Bluetooth for the far ends of the garden or when you want to take it away with you to the park or camping.
Robot Lawn Mower
If I told you that the robots will be around to mow the lawn so you don’t have to, you’d think I’m living in the world of The Jetsons. But I’m not kidding.
Robot lawn mowers are one of the most popular smart devices for the garden right now thanks to several excellent robots on the market. They use a cutting method called mulching, this means they cut the grass into tiny clippings which drop into the soil providing nutrients to your lawn.
Top Pick: Flymo Easilife
The best robot lawn mower in the UK right now is the Flymo Easilife range. This can keep your lawn at a set length and uses onboard sensors to schedule cutting when it’s not frosted over or raining. They are an excellent price which makes them very accessible for everyone, choose from three different Easilife mowers depending upon the size of your lawn.
However, if you have a little more money to spend, the Bosch Indigo S+ 350 has a cellular connection so it can be controlled from anywhere and you can integrate it with Alexa to control it with your voice.
If you’re getting yourself a robot mower, then you need to check out these robot mower garage ideas to create a little home for your new gadget.
Smart Bird Feeder
The concept of smart bird feeders won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re a fan of the feathered friends that visit your garden it’s something to get excited about.
As well as acting like a traditional bird feeder, they usually have built-in cameras so you can say hello to your new visitor up close and get alerts whenever there’s a bird to see.
Top Pick: Bird Buddy
There are a few smart bird feeders on the garden with basic Wi-Fi cameras built-in, but one to get really excited about is Bird Buddy. It’s not on general sale yet but you can pre-order through Indigogo or Kickstarter.
As well as the typical camera that gives you a live stream of the feeder, it can recognise types of birds and keeps a record of which ones have visited. Plus there are helpful tips in the apps to attract new species.
Even sprinkler systems are getting added smarts thanks to this handy garden gadget. With a smart sprinkler system, you can control the sprinklers from your phone and sometimes with Alexa too, depending upon the device.
This allows you to easily adjust the schedules depending upon the weather or give your lawn an impromptu watering when it seems a little dry.
Top Pick: Netro Sprinkler System
This Netro sprinkler system is Wi-Fi enabled and suitable for connecting up to 6 different zones. These can be managed and monitored from the companion app anywhere in the world.
You can either set your own schedules or allow the system to check local weather forecasts and historical usage to determine how often the sprinklers should come on.
Smart Irrigation System
Along the same lines as a smart sprinkler, a smart irrigation system can be used to microdrip water to your plants and save you the trouble.
This allows you to create more advanced schedules than you would with a standard water timer, for example, you can change the schedule by the time of year or have them take the weather into consideration.
Often smart irrigation controllers can double up as smart sprinkler controllers and vice versa.
Top Pick: Eve Aqua
My favourite smart irrigation controller right now is the Eve Aqua. This is really simple to install as it connects directly to your tap and is compatible with any hose or multi-channel controller.
I particularly like that it supports Siri and has both Bluetooth and Thread (mesh networking) built-in which makes it very futureproof. However, it doesn’t have Alexa or Google Assistant support.
Soil Moisture Monitor
How do you know if your plants need watering? They tell you of course. Not literally, but digitally thanks to this next smart gadget, a soil moisture monitor.
These can be placed in the soil to keep an eye on the moisture in the soil and alert you when you need to act. Although typically used in plant pots or hanging baskets, you could also use them straight in the ground too.
Top Pick: Wanfei Soil Moisture Meter
I recommend the Wanfei Soil Moisture Meter as it’s one of the most advanced monitors of its kind.
As well as monitoring the water in the soil to alert you when the plants need watering, it also keeps an eye on the sunlight, temperature, and nutrients in the soil.
All of the data is shared back with you via the Flower Care app which connects to the monitor via Bluetooth. You can also tell the app what flowers you are growing and it will compare the nutrients in your soil to the perfect composition from its database.
Robot Pool Cleaner
I’m not lucky enough to have a pool in my garden, but I know some people who do and I can assure you that cleaning and maintaining the pool is no mean feat.
Luckily pool owners won’t need to spend as much time with nets and brushes to clean their pools thanks to a range of robot pool cleaners that are hitting the market.
Granted, most of the automatic pool cleaners currently available in the UK aren’t what I’d call ‘smart’ as they don’t connect to the internet. However, there are a few that incorporate app-based features for scheduling
The robot pool cleaner you opt for will depend upon the size of your pool and the type of debris it collects (i.e. small debris like sand and dirt or larger debris like leaves and weeds).
Top Pick: Dolphin Triton PS Plus
My top pick for an in-ground swimming pool up to 50 feet is the Dolphin Triton PS Plus. This is suitable for all pool types and will scurry around at the bottom of the pool picking up debris.
Connect it to your WI-Fi network and use the companion app to schedule cleans, cycle through various settings, and instruct it to perform a spot clean. However, you still need to take it out and clean the filter regularly so it’s not yet fully automated.
Smart Security Camera
This next smart device is a no-brainer but I thought I’d give I a mention anyway, it’s a smart security camera. These vary in terms of features from budget sub-£50 cameras up to £200+ devices with two-way audio, spotlights, and more features.
These can be used to monitor your outdoor areas and check in on your garden whenever you like, no matter where you are. Most of them will keep video clips whenever they detect motion and will usually store this onboard via an SD card or in the cloud.
Top Pick: Ring Spotlight Cam
My top recommendation at the moment is the Ring Spotlight Cam. There’s a battery version which can be powered by quick-release batteries for easy swapping to recharge or there’s a wired version.
Being owned by Amazon, Ring devices work very well with Alexa so you can pull up the live feed on your Echo Show or FireTV with your voice. It also has two-way audio so you can talk to anyone spotted on the camera.
Keep in mind that a subscription is required to get full use of Ring products.
Smart Weather Station
Now, this is where things start to get very clever. With a smart weather station, you can get ultra-local weather forecasts as well as check-in on air quality.
But where are the added smarts I hear you ask? Well, you can integrate a smart weather station with your other smart devices and automate your entire garden based on the weather. Tell the smart sprinklers to switch off because it’s going to rain soon? No problem.
Top Pick: Netatmo Weather Station
The Netatmo Weather Station is a clear winner in this category. It has both an indoor and outdoor monitor. The outdoor monitor can tell you the temperature, humidity, air quality, and barometric pressure.
It integrates with Siri and Alexa, so you can simply ask ‘Hey Siri, what’s the weather like?’. You can also use the readings as part of Alexa routines. Plus, it doesn’t look ugly like older weather stations, it’s very discreet and elegant, just as a modern smart device should be.
Whilst there aren’t yet any smart locks suitable for outdoor use here in the UK, there are outdoor smart padlocks which could be used to secure garden gates, sheds, or garages.
Now you no longer need to keep a key on you or remember yet another pin code. With a smart padlock, you can unlock the lock with your phone.
Top Pick: eGeeTouch (4th Gen) Smart Padlock
The eGeeTouch (4th Gen) is currently the best pick right now which has both Bluetooth and NFC. It’s available as a long shackle or short shackle depending upon your needs, although I’d recommend a long shackle to be safe.
Using Bluetooth, it can automatically unlock when your phone is in range, or alternatively, with NFC you can use the included NFC fob to unlock it or any NFC-enabled device such as a smartphone or smartwatch.
Smart Outdoor TV
Now that you’ve got your smart lights and your outdoor speaker, all your entertainment area really needs now (besides an outdoor bar) is a TV.
Of course, you’ll want to make it a smart one so that you can access all of your streaming services and link it to your other devices.
Top Pick: Samsung The Terrace
Samsung’s The Terrace TV is an absoloute monster. With options from 55” up to 75” this outdoor TV has a glare-resistant screen and an IP55 rating. Being a Samsung TV, you can connect it to SmartThings too.
However, this might be out of the price bracket for most people, myself included, so I recommend you consider a Chromecast and any outdoor TV.
But, now Alexa can help open your gates for you with a smart gate controller. These tend to retrofit to an existing automatic gate opener so you’ll need to have one already installed.
Top Pick: iSmartGate
The iSmartGate kit is a popular choice in Europe right now. Their devices retrofit to most major automatic gate brands and can also be used with garage doors (although a better suggestion for this below).
As well as the native app, the iSmartGate allows you to control your gates with HomeKit, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and iFTTT.
My final smart device for the garden (although you could argue it’s more for the home) is a smart garage door opener. This is great for voice-controlled opening of your garage door, especially if you have an Echo Auto in your car.
Once installed, a smart garage door can also be included in your routines. For example, when you arrive at home, a routine might turn on the outside lights and open the garage door.
Smart controllers are usually retrofitted to your existing garage door controller, so you don’t need to go out and get yourself a new door system altogether.
Top Pick: Meross Smart Garage Door Opener
The Meross Smart Garage Door Opener is my top choice here. You can add smarts to your garage door for less than a meal out for two at a restaurant, it’s an easy decision.
The device is a simple add-on controller that works with all major garage door manufacturers including Hormann, Chamberlain, Skylink, Liftmaster, and Somfy.
On the smart home side, it is compatible with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and IFTTT, there’s surely an integration for you somewhere in there.