Enhancing a vacation home with smart tech

Summer is nearly here and it’s the perfect time to take a trip and relax. That’s right, vacation season is upon us. People are heading to the beach or away from the sweltering heat to something cooler. If you’re lucky enough, you may have a separate vacation home that you can stay at for a few weeks or months throughout the year.

Now, you might have some smart home devices in your current or main home where you’re currently residing. Some of those devices will overlap with what you’d want at your vacation home, but some can be more specific to account for the shorter amount of time you’ll be staying there. Let’s go over all those devices worth adding to a vacation home.

Security

reolink camera mounted on the corner of a house.

First and foremost, you’ll want to keep the home protected. Security is vital, especially if you don’t plan to be there throughout the year or plan on renting it to others during some months. Starting outside the home, you’ll want to add some security cameras. One of the best security cameras for a rental home come from Reolink, specifically the Reolink Argus 3 Pro security camera line.

These cameras are a good option because you don’t need a Wi-Fi connection for them to work. So, it’s ideal for those who shut down utilities for parts of the year. These cameras can aslso operate from cellular data and save video feeds either locally or to the cloud. They also have 2K video resolution for incredible details. Finally, they are weather-sealed to survive whatever elements the environment throws at them when you’re not there. Some models support a solar panel to help power them throughout the year.

You don’t have to go with a camera system like this and instead opt tp use a more prominent name-brand smart security system camera, but remember to count in extra costs like cloud subscriptions or permanent internet bills.

Along with security cameras, you’ll need sensors to keep you aware of potential home issues. For example, sensors such as the Flo by Moen can detect water leaks from your home’s pipes. If it detects a leak, it can automatically shut off your water before any severe damage happens. Along with water leak sensors, door/window sensors can show when someone opens a door or cracks open a window.

Lastly, having a smart door lock, ideally one with a keypad or NFC pad, can really streamline getting into your home. One of our favorite door locks is Schlage’s Encode Plus. It features Bluetooth, NFC, and keypad entry, and it can connect to smart home ecosystems (including Apple HomeKit) if you have one set up in your vacation home.

Heating and cooling

ecobee thermostat mounted on a wall.

Finding a thermostat for a smart vacation home is more straightforward. Pick up a thermostat from Nest or Ecobee, and you’re all set. Ecobee models, in particular, work with all major smart home ecosystems if you like to have all your smart home devices tied together.

This category is easy to navigate since most smart thermostats learn your patterns and adjust the temperature to keep your home comfortable for you and your bills manageable. They know when you’re staying and leaving, and change the temperature according to who’s occupying the house at that current moment. You can also create smart thermostat settings to fit your needs. Ecobee thermostats can also shut off gas and heat lines if it detects a fire or smoke — another safety measure tied into this product.

Lighting

multiple colored hue lights on inside a living room.

Smart lighting lasts longer than traditional bulbs and costs less to run over time. You can also choose to get bulbs that need Wi-Fi and a hub or go with some that are Bluetooth-only for less maintenance. Read our guide to smart lights to learn about all the choices.

Philips Hue is our go-to choice in smart lighting for those with full-time internet access, as its hub makes it easy to program and use many advanced features. With a hub, you can also control more than 10 lights at once if you have a bigger home.

If you want to control your lights without Wi-Fi, then LIFX is a good option. The company has a wide range of lighting products that are bright and vibrant, with unique features not seen in other brands. However, note that Bluetooth-only bulbs only work when you’re within range, so you won’t be able to manage them for guests or flicker them at random to make people think someone lives there full-time.

Audio

the sonos roam speaker wet.

If you have a summer home near a beach or any other outdoor oasis, then you’re going to want to listen to tunes outside. You’ll need an outdoor speaker system or you can invest in a smart outdoor speaker. In that category, the Sonos Roam is one of our favorites. Inside, you can connect the speaker with your smart home or use the multitude of services available in the Sonos app.

To have your smart home available to you while on vacation, a HomePod Mini, Echo Dot, or Nest Mini is small enough to pack in a bag without a second thought. Of course, these won’t sound nearly as good as the Roam, but at least you can talk to your assistant to control the rest of your smart home.

Household

a roborock s5 sucking up dirt on the floor.

One area that people don’t always think about is general smart products to use throughout the house. In the summer, who wants to turn on the oven. In that case, the June Oven Plus is for you. It’s a 7-in-1 oven that can air fry, broil, slow cook, toast, and more, all in a smaller package. You can tell it what you’re cooking, and it may automatically have proper cooking controls built-in so you can set it and nearly forget it until it’s done.

Another smart home treat is the robot vacuum. A robovac can deliver a decent level of cleanliness and, with many models, you don’t even have to empty it. If you get a device like the Roborock Q5 with its extended dirt tank, you can have it clean for you without emptying it after every session. It can potentially last 30 days without having to empty the tank. You can extend that even longer if you don’t have to run it often. Think of all the sand you won’t have to sweep up manually.

Lastly, you might want to consider smart automated lawn care. With the Greenworks Pro Optimow, you can have a robot vacuum-like device for your yard. This robot mower will automatically cut your grass on a set schedule. While these devices have a much higher initial cost, they will save you from paying for professional labor. Plus, you won’t have to worry about HOAs or angry neighbors that may not like the look of an unsightly yard.

These are a few products that can help elevate your vacation home into a smart (and secure) vacation home. Whether you keep the house for personal use or rent it to others during the off-season, these devices will help add value to your home while potentially reducing annual upkeep costs.

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