How to set up smart outdoor lighting

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I’m about to throw an outdoor party and I want to spruce up my patio that doubles as a driveway. In addition to moving the car to the street and sweeping up, I plan to add some smart outdoor lighting.

There will be a lights hung on a rose arbor and a floodlight to bathe the area in a soft glow. Hopefully, it will create the right mood for eating, drinking, and conversation.

If this were an indoor party, this task would be a snap: Plug in a smart outlet and put the beer on ice. But this is an outdoor party, so it requires equipment that is both smart and safe.

The outdoor smart lighting gear I’ll need

Mixing electricity with rain, sleet, and snow is inherently dangerous, so this installation calls for special electrical devices. I’m using the $40 Belkin Wemo WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug. It’s weather-resistant with an IP44 rating, which means that it can stand up to being splashed with water and is safe to use outdoors four seasons a year. It just can’t be safely immersed in water, such as for the underwater lighting in a koi pond. (The article at the following link will tell you everything you need to know about IP codes.)

In addition to a lit on/off switch, the Wemo smart plug has two outlets with fold-open covers to protect them when not in use. What the WiFi Smart Outdoor Plug doesn’t allow is independent operation of its two outlets or dimming for that matter. In other words, it’s all or nothing when it comes to control. 

Belkin Wemo WiFi Outdoor Smart Plug Belkin

The Belkin Wemo outdoor smart plug has two outlets and can support a maximum load of 15 amps or 1,800 watts between them.

Finally, I will be using the smart plug with an outdoor outlet that has both a plastic cover and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection. This type of electrical equipment is generally used outdoors as well as in kitchens and bathrooms, basically any place where water might be an issue. It works by quickly cutting the power if it loses its path to earth; as such, it’s good protection for outdoor use.  

Prepare for outdoor smart lighting installation

Before I got started with installing t he smart outdoor outlet and lights, I checked a few preliminaries.

  • First, I made sure that the string and flood lights I want to use are below the switch’s 15-amp (1,800 watt) rating. Check.
  • Then, I tested my Galaxy Note 20’s Wi-Fi connection. Check. If I couldn’t get online, I would have needed to add a Wi-Fi extender to my network.
  • Next, I made sure that the phone’s Bluetooth was turned on. Check.
  • Finally, I downloaded and installed the Wemo app and created an account. Check.

Using a step ladder, I strung the lights on a rose arbor I made several years ago. I used zip ties to hold the wiring in place.

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