A little over 5 years ago, I decided that my football tailgating needed some ingenuity to not only simplify it but also take it to the next level. Smart devices were still in their infancy in 2013, so I built my own solution.
It turned heads and got me a lot of questions.
Fast forwarded to 2018 and the technology has gotten smarter, lighter, and faster, so I have ditched this and instead turned to the latest and greatest smart devices for tailgating. Want to know how to get the best football (or any ball/puck) tailgating experience? Let’s kick off!
LED smart TVs are a great way to entertain your tailgating group either before or after your home game. They are light and if you go with the TCL Roku Smart TV we reviewed, then you can usually grab one refurbished.
A refurbished smart TV is the way to go. Why risk spending extra for a pristine, brand new smart TV, if there’s a chance it could get chipped and scratched? A refurbished smart TV usually looks like new, comes with a warranty, and a much cheaper price tag!
A refurbished smart TV usually looks like new, comes with a warranty, and a much cheaper price tag!
Bonus tip: Keep your TV size less than 40″. This will ensure it’s light enough, small enough, and less likely to topple over.
With rabbit ear antennas able to pick up local TV channels in HD, why would you want a smart TV? The answer is streaming! However, you’re going to need a vital component…
4G LTE hotspot
Look around your tailgating parking lot and you’ll likely see a few satellite dishes on display. These take a long time to set up and also consume a lot of power. Instead, use a 4G signal to provide a wifi hotspot to your smart TV! How cool is that? If you have an unlimited plan, you should be able to get enough bandwidth to provide the approximately 1GB of data per hour you will need for streaming content to your smart TV.
As long as you get at least 10Mbps you should be able to stream in HD
Of course, you also need to make sure that your mobile network has a strong signal at your location. In order to make sure of that, head to your parking space with your phone and open up Fast.com. As long as you get at least 10Mbps you should be able to stream in HD.
Bonus tip: Before you head to your first game with your tailgating smart TV, set its wifi network to your phone (instead of your home wifi) to make sure it connects and ready to roll!
Our pick is Project Fi by Google. Not only does it have the option of 3 different mobile networks to connect to automatically to get the best speed and signal but it also stops charging for extra bandwidth once you hit 6GB in a month.
Portable Smart Speaker
When you see the phrase “smart speaker” you may think of an Amazon Echo or Google Home. If you have your phone with you, you will not need such an extravagant smart speaker for your tailgate. However, you should bring along a cheap bluetooth speaker so you can listen to music.
Bonus tip: make sure the bluetooth speaker also has a 3.5mm input too. That way, you can connect it to your LED smart TV, should you need some extra bass from ESPN.
LED Smart Lights
Once the sun goes down, why not turn on some fun LED smart lights?
Hang them around your folding table, or string them throughout the frame of your tailgating tent. Then, use your smartphone app to change the colors, change the brightness, or sync to music!
Bonus tip: cut them to length or connect to reels of lights together to extend them!
You may worry that you need a super expensive Honda portable generator. Worry not! Instead, buy a marine battery from your local auto store. It will have enough power to run all of your smart tailgating devices for at least 4 hours. Need, more running time? Buy two? They should cost you less than $150 each and last decades!
Bonus tip: Make sure you get a “deep cycle” marine battery, the kind used on boats and RVs. And also pick up a trickle charger to keep it juiced up between games. 😉
Now that you have your power source, you’ll need a way to convert that DC power to AC power. A 300+ watt power inverter will be enough to run all the devices you connect to your marine battery.
Look for a power inverter that offers regular power outlets and USB outlets
Bonus tip: Look for a power inverter that offers regular power outlets and USB outlets–so you can charge your phone while it eats up battery as a hotspot.
Do you use any smart devices while tailgating? Let us know what you love in the comments below!