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When I was a kid, my father would occasionally drag out a portable TV with built-in rabbit ears, plus an extension cord, so he could watch a baseball game on the back deck on a nice summer night. Today there are much better ways to do that.
First off, you need the right TV and that means an outdoor TV. TV’s designed to withstand the rigors of the untamed world are made by Sunbrite, Seura and other companies. While outdoor HDTVs certainly cost more than standard TVs, Hunter says they’re worth the price. “People may want to buy a cheap TV and put it on a patio,” he says, “but eventually they get tired of replacing them.”
Outdoor TVs are weather resistant, which means you don’t need to worry about rain and snow. Even if your patio if covered, it only takes a little rain blown in by wind or a squirt of a hose by the gardener to ruin a standard TV. Even high humidity, especially with salty ocean air, can damage a TV that’s not built to withstand the elements.
Aside from getting the right TVs, placement is an important factor. When you’re outside you have the sun to deal with, and the sun’s position changes throughout the day. “I almost always put outdoor TVs on full articulating mounts,” says Hunter. If there’s only one TV in the area, he wants the mount to be adjustable so the screen is viewable from multiple locations.
Atlanta Home Theater designed and installed this outdoor A/V system
Just like in home theaters, screen size is a factor. With an outdoor TV, viewers are often further away from the screen than they would be indoors. Anything smaller than a 46-inch TVs is probably too small unless you’re certain that the viewers will always be close to the screen.
Most outdoor TVs come with built-in speakers, just like regular TVs, but frequently Hunter will use external speakers for the TV audio. First, external speakers will sound better, and they can be part of a zoned audio system. If you’re having a pool party during a baseball game you can play the TV’s volume on speakers all around the yard.
A well-designed outdoor lighting plan can turn a plain yard or patio into a special retreat. Hunter recommends multiple lighting zones in a yard as well a multiple scene settings designed for different purposes—such as a party mode or a relax mode. Pathway lighting is useful for getting around late at night without tripping over things. If you frequently have guests over for evening events then pathway lighting is a must.
This elaborate lighting design was done by DSI Entertainment Systems
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.