30 Pro Tips for Outdoor Electronics
Custom electronics pros share their advice on locating TVs, speakers and other technologies in the great outdoors.
Installation by Electronics Design Group. Credit: William Psolka
May 29, 2013 by EH Staff

11. Locating and wiring source components to an outdoor video display can be a major challenge. The first rule of thumb is to try to keep as much of the gear inside the house as possible, preferably in a central equipment rack.

12. Work with the home or landscape architect early on so conduit and electrical cabling can be trenched into the ground. Ask for multiple 2-inch conduits or larger.

13. Run all outdoor cabling through conduit. This will protect it from rodents and garden tools. 

14. Even if you’ll be using conduit, always use direct-burial cables.

15. It’s always a good idea to separate power and A/V cables. Run two or three conduits to accommodate all types of cables and to future-proof your outdoor area.

16. The length of outdoor cabling can cause problems. “You really have to think about what the distance will do to the audio, video and control signals,” says Curt Hayes of Audio Design in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

17. Wiring runs often can’t be completed at rough-in, so look to “stub out” cable bundles to a weatherproof, surface-mounted box where connections can be made later.

18. Run 14/4 speaker cabling between the source components and an outdoor junction box with a cover plate. Use direct-burial cabling from the box to the speakers.

19. RG-6 and Category 5 Ethernet cabling are safe bets for all other outdoor equipment. Dedicate an individual Cat 5 for each audio, video and control path or two shielded Cat 6 for an HDMI extension.

20. Some CE pros add fiber-optic cabling for HDMI, especially when the run is over 100 feet. Hayes says it’s less expensive and has become easier to terminate, but he warns not to run it in lieu of Cat 5 (just in addition to).

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