How-to add smart home automation to your outdoor lights on a budget

outdoor string lights

Warmer weather is upon us and with more time at home, you may be thinking about how to upgrade your outdoor setup. Chances are, you’re also thinking about integrated smart home control into the mix. However, putting it all together into a dependable (and affordable) build can be a tricky proposition. We’ve put together a guide below that walks you through putting together a voice-controlled lighting system this summer for HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant users. If you’re not ready to hand over control just yet, there’s something for you too. Hit the jump to get started.

Choose your lights |

There’s primarily two schools of thought when it comes to building out an affordable smart home lighting system. For those going the trendy route, having a nice set of outdoor string lights can be a great way to add ambiance to any setup. Making sure you go with a weatherproof build is imperative to ensuring that your setup can withstand the summer rains.

Here are a few options depending on the length you require:

Those that would prefer to light a larger section of trees or your house will want to consider something like this nifty accessory. You can put two light bulbs of your choice, likely something like this, and illuminate your space.

The key to automating on a budget is using lighting solutions that have a standard household plug. Investing in smart bulbs, such as Philips Hue certainly is an option for some, but you’ll end up paying much more upfront with less flexibility.

HomeKit |

For Apple users looking to automate on a budget and bring Siri control into the mix, a great option is the meross Smart Outdoor Plug.

Aside from HomeKit control one of the defining features here is a dual-outlet design, which is a big bonus for outdoor setups. This will give you more flexibility when controlling various lights around your outdoor space.

Buy meross Smart Outdoor Plug

Google Assistant |

TP-Link’s Kasa lineup includes its own dual-outlet smart plug that’s suitable for these situations. Alongside a waterproof design and a built-in sensor for automatic scheduling, this particular plug arrives with an IP64-rated design with Wi-Fi range up to 300-feet.

Buy TP-Link Kasa Smart Outdoor Plug

Alexa |

While the TP-Link option above is compatible with Alexa, as well, there’s one particular alternative worth calling out. Century makes a 3-outlet outdoor smart plug that delivers another level of functionality. Instead of being limited to two outlets, adding a third brings more flexibility and the option of controlling additional lights if needed.

Buy Century Smart Outdoor Plug

Other alternatives |

If you’re unable or not ready for a full-blown smart home setup, there are alternatives. Consider reaching for a mechanical outdoor timer instead. This option from Century has 48 setting options and two 3-prong grounded outlets. You’ll obviously miss out on the smartphone and voice controls, but it will still get the job done otherwise.

Buy Century Outdoor Mechanical Plug

Looking to outfit your house with additional automation this year? Be sure to check out our previous guide to the best smart plugs of 2020 so far for more.

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