Home tech isn't all about making life easier inside your home. Here are seven home technologies that will make your backyard the coolest place on the block
Every day seems to bring with it new technology meant to make our homes more comfortable, more livable, and more automated. While all of this newfound convenience is a wonderful addition to the inside of our homes, what about the outside?
According to one study, adults spend roughly 10 minutes a day on lawn and garden care. That's an hour and ten minutes each week working on your yard instead of enjoying it.
Of course, there are a considerable number of individuals who enjoy puttering around their yard. Which brings us to the next point—what if that favoured hobby could be made just a bit easier?
Or, forget the yard work—what if you want cool stuff for your backyard that makes it more intelligent than every other house on your block? After all, a home isn't truly smart unless it's thinking both inside and outside the box.
Whether you dream of leisure time or having the most tech-savvy yard in town, here are seven home technologies to take your backyard to the next level.
Let's begin our list with the most obvious and celebrated of backyard pursuits—mowing your lawn. Okay, maybe it's not so celebrated.
Some homeowners, of course, enjoy cutting their grass. For everyone else, technology has given them a reprieve with the Husqvarna Robotic Mower.
Similar to how robot vacuums have evolved as an unsupervised cleaning service for your home's interior, the flexibility of the robot mower is perhaps its greatest attribute.
After the initial installation, which includes laying a perimeter "virtual fence" a couple of inches below ground, the Husqvarna mower requires very little intervention on your part. You can use an app to set its schedule, and then let it do its thing.
Over time the mower learns your yard, including its flower beds and tree islands. Instead of cutting when the grass gets tall, it trims the grass on a more consistent schedule than that of a busy human. You can even set it to work at night, considering it runs nearly silent.
You won’t need to worry about charging it either since it returns to its base station on its own. If you're a parent with a son or daughter who cuts the grass, you can't always say the same.
The major drawback is the cost, but it's by no means prohibitive—which is especially true for those who've committed to a smart house and are ready to take that intelligence outdoors.
Smart Sprinkler System
Maintaining our focus on your lawn, the other hot technology aimed at keeping your grass healthy and green is intelligent sprinklers.
You may be thinking that sprinklers already come with built-in automation, and that's true to a point. While you can set and forget it, you still need to do so at the system's central hub, often hanging on a wall in your garage. There's no real flexibility beyond that, and most sprinklers don't account for changes in weather patterns, either.
Smart sprinkler systems—effectively swapping your old control pad for one with wireless connectivity—provides far greater control over how and when your lawn gets watered.
A controller like those from Rachio can access weather forecasts to make predictive watering decisions based on rain, wind, and temperature. It also provides feedback on water management, so you can avoid giving your plants too much or too little H2O. Finally, it gears your water usage to the specifics of your yard, saving you money and scoring you points for environmental friendliness.
Considering every single feature of your irrigation is now manageable from your smartphone, you no longer have to venture into the darkest reaches of your garage to monitor a dusty old terminal.
The WiFi Grill
It might seem a bit blasphemous to hardcore grilling aficionados, but the outdoor cooking staple has gone high-tech.
First up is Traeger Grills' WiFire Enable Grills. A pellet grill that's controllable from the palm of your hand, their WiFire series comes in three lines—the Pro, Ironwood, and Timberline. Their convection-based heating system lets you set the time and temperature for your food while the grill does the heavy lifting.
But these are so much more than just a grill with connectivity. Each of the Traegers gives you the ability to grill, smoke, barbeque, bake, roast, and braise. They’re pretty much an outdoor oven on wheels that gives everything you cook a coveted wood-fired taste.
For a different experience, cook with infrared tech—or your voice—with the Lynx Smart Grill. Connect with the Smart Grill app, select the appropriate recipe, and the grill will automatically determine the perfect grill time and temperature for the food.
The Lynx can also take cooking one step further by learning a user's preferences and tastes and remembering them the next time you cook with it. Nothing says backyard tech quite like an AI-powered grill.
If you’re looking to brighten up your backyard after the sun goes down, it's hard to choose against the industry leader in smart, outdoor lighting. Since the start of the smart home revolution, Philips Hue has produced some of the best bulbs on the market.
Their outdoor solutions include bollards, floodlights, strips and step lighting, and wall lights, all in an array of colours and automation. The latest additions to the Hue lineup feature a unique pathway pedestal LED light brightened with millions of colours.
The Econic Outdoor pedestal uses Hue's own HueBridge setup. The lights connect with your router and generate a mesh network with each other, eliminating the need to widen the reach of your base WiFi signal.
The same specs also extend to the Econic Outdoor wall light and the Lily XL Outdoor spotlight.
Outdoor Concert Series
Backyard tech isn't complete without a high-performance speaker system, and the sound magicians at Bose have you covered on two fronts.
The 151 SE and 251 Environmental Speakers are both outdoor mountable and weatherproof to the extreme. Case in point, if your backyard features a lake, a river, or an ocean, the Bose speakers include a recommendation for boat mounting.
If you’re interested in something more terrestrial, Bose has something for that too in their green cabinet-clad Free Space 51 Environmental Speakers. Designed to blend in with their outdoor surroundings, these speakers will carry your tunes with pitch-perfect sound throughout your backyard.
Now, for something that literally rocks, the folks at Klipsch have the perfect backyard setup. Their outdoor rock speakers—in granite or sandstone—will blend in with any outdoor oasis while providing a sound that you and your guests will love to rock out to.
Robot Pool Cleaner
Yes, much like an indoor vacuum and outdoor lawn mower (see above), robots are also coming to our pools. And it's a good bet the innovation behind the Dolphin Triton PS Plus might prove to be your favorite robot of all.
Taking ownership of the least enjoyable part of owning a pool, the Triton cleans your pool in a couple of hours, sucking up rocks, leaves, and algae along the way. Best of all, it cleans deep into hard-to-reach areas such as drains and steps, and even maneuvers vertically to clean the waterline.
While you can set up cleaning schedules and leave the robot to do the dirty work on its own, the Triton's app puts some fun back into cleaning the pool. Should you opt to do a little cleaning yourself, the app allows manually steering directly from your smartphone.
Another popular robotic pool cleaner comes from Polaris. It includes WiFi capabilities providing anytime, anywhere access to set or run a cleaning schedule.
Pool Safety First
Beyond cleaning, you also need to ensure the water is safe to swim in. The cFloat pool monitoring system fills that gap.
An elegantly designed orb that floats atop the water, you can access the cFloat 24/7 via its smartphone app to check on a number of variables, including water and air temperatures, pH levels, oxidation, and water evaporation, as well as the UV levels around your pool—all monitored from the palm of your hand.
Its safety features extend to a motion sensor that alerts you when there's movement in the pool. cFloat even knows how to have a bit of fun, as it can measure the size of your cannonballs or the precision of your dives (assuming your pool is deep enough to dive in, of course).
And as a bonus, since you'll be using your smartphone to access all of this next level backyard tech, it's worth investing in this solar-powered umbrella with USB ports.
A backyard can be a big selling point in and of itself, and a backyard with the latest and greatest amenities is even better. Whether you consider the pool the crowning achievement or want to dine alfresco in the utmost style, home technology can help you take it to the next level.
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