Are you ready for summer? Would you like to move more of your entertainment to the outdoors this summer? Have you considered installing an outdoor theater system?
Creating an outdoor entertainment space can be challenging in many ways. For audio, you have to contend with potential background noise – wind, traffic, animals, etc. Likewise, you don’t want your party to carry over into your neighbor’s yard and bother them. From a video perspective, it can be difficult viewing outdoor TV’s or screens due to lighting conditions. To get the most out of an outdoor theater, you need to consider many things during planning or get an audio / video consultant to help you.
Outdoor Audio Considerations
It is recommended that your speakers are placed about 12 feet away from the actual seating and listening area. The speakers should also be spaced apart – usually 8 to 10 feet. When trying to cover a large area, consider more speakers, not higher volumes. Placing the speakers higher than ground level can help disperse sound. And of course, if you want some solid bass, place your larger speakers near corners of your walls.
You should also consider the weather. Your speakers should be protected from weather conditions where possible. Many speakers are “weather-resistant”, but note, that is different than “weather-proof”. Many “resistant” models require placement under protection (eaves and overhangs) to not void warranties. Also, remember your irrigation system. You might need to move or re-direct some sprinklers. Temperature also can have an effect on speakers and their lifetime – again, using available protection helps.
Installation and Wiring
Just like your speakers need to be durable, so does your wiring. The wiring should be tough enough to carry sufficient power over long distances while it withstands the harsh weathering, water and other factors. Some communities require all outdoor wiring to be run through conduits; so you should double-check the code in your area.
When wiring your theater system, outdoor use rated wiring is recommended. It will have a label of CL2 or CL3. Some cables may require burying and you would want to use cable labeled “direct burial”.
You don’t want to keep digging up and moving cables – so it is recommended to test your speakers thoroughly prior to actually running, cutting and burying wire. Some outdoor speakers are now wireless and/or battery powered.
Choosing an Outdoor TV
A projector/screen combination is the best and most affordable option for a large movie theater outdoor viewing experience. However, for more intimate area and TV viewing, there are now many self-contained outdoor TV options. Most outdoor TV’s use LCD or LED technology or a combination of the two. They typically run from 32” to 65” models.
A good outdoor TV usually incorporates fans (or heaters, but rarely in Texas) to help cool the unit for use even during a harsh Texas summer. The construction itself should be temperature resistant and water/weather resistant as much as possible.
As mentioned, sunlight and glare can be a real problem. Outdoor TV’s come equipped with anti-glare coatings so you can see them during bright daylight. This is one advantage over projectors / screens.
Some outdoor TV’s will have built in audio systems that will work for small areas, but for a larger, noisy area – separate speakers should be considered.
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