Free Special Report: Outdoor Audio/Video and Control Systems

Tips and Trends in outdoor audio, video, lighting and automation

Outdoor living spaces are hot. According to reports by the National Association of Home Builders, the lines between the indoors and outdoors are becoming increasingly blurry, as home builders and buyers are incorporating and demanding functional, comfortable exterior living spaces with many of the same high-tech conveniences normally reserved for the interior spaces of a home.

Here are five smart electronic amenities that can turn a standard backyard into a sensational spot for relaxing, entertaining and even catching the latest blockbuster on a big-screen TV:

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Intelligent outdoor lighting. Think beyond traditional timers as a means to control your home’s exterior lighting. When tied to motion sensors, architectural lighting control system and automation systems, landscape fixtures, floodlights, sconces, swimming pool lights, even gas Tiki torches can be designed to light pathways through gardens, accentuate a home’s unique architectural and landscape features, add ambiance to patios and decks and create an atmosphere that’s elegant and inviting.

Smart swimming pools and hot tubs. Imagine being able to warm up the hot tub on your drive home from work from your smartphone. It’s possible with a few extra pieces of technology. Many swimming pool manufacturers offer their own downloadable apps to facilitate monitoring and control of the swimming pool system from anywhere. For greater effect, the swimming pool and hot tub can be synchronized with the outdoor lights and speakers.

Weather-hardy TVs. It’s like a drive-in movie theater … only better, when you add a TV to the deck or patio. A wide variety of flat-panel TVs are available that have be engineered to withstand extreme heat and cold, so there’s no need to worry about damaging your electronics investments. Video switchers will enable the outdoor display to share A/V components (Blu-ray players, DVRs, Apple TV, etc.) with the indoor TVs.

Landscape loudspeakers. Positioned strategically throughout the yard (contact a custom electronics professional for advice), loudspeakers can blanket the area with beautiful music. For the best listening experience connect the speakers to a whole-house music system. This way, you can select a source (media streamer, satellite radio, Internet radio, iTunes collection, etc.) from a smartphone or tablet and direct the tune to specific areas (including indoor spaces). The speakers can also be set up to emit a chime when someone rings the doorbell to notify you of guests.

Surveillance cameras. We’re not suggesting your turn the outdoor area into Fort Knox, but by aiming surveillance cameras at the swimming pool, perimeter of the yard and other areas that you feel like keeping an eye on, you can rest easy knowing that your property and family is safe. While you’re inside the house, at work or on vacation, you can grab your smartphone or tablet to view the scene from any and all cameras. If you’ve invested in a home automation system (see suggestion#6), you’ll be able to react accordingly, like flashing the outdoor lights to scare raccoons from the trash bin or using the outdoor speakers to broadcast a warning to the kids to stay in the yard.

For more on outdoor A/V and automation, download the FREE Electronic House Focus Series guide: Great Ideas for Outdoor Music, Video and Home Automation

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