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12 Tips for Installing TVs Outdoors (and What to Avoid)

Whether you’re just starting to install outdoor displays or consider yourself a pro, know that this offering has its own very specific but easy-to-follow set of rules.

Having a TV outside can entertain, inform and even put people just a wee bit closer to the action. It’s becoming a selling point for many restaurants, businesses, theme parks, stadiums, and other attractions, making it something commercial installers really need to know about.

Whether you’re just starting to install outdoor displays or consider yourself a pro, know that this offering has its own very specific but easy-to-follow set of rules. We asked a few electronic professionals for pointers, tips and other ideas about what to do and what to avoid when it comes to installing outdoor displays.

1. Indoor TVs and outdoors TVs are not interchangeable. Ask anyone who’s installed an outdoor TV what the number one mistake is; the first thing they blurt out is how you shouldn’t even dream of using an indoor TV in an outdoor environment.

They love to talk at length about it, because it really is the worst possible decision for you, your client, and especially the equipment.

Sure, we know plenty of people love to drag the TV out to the backyard on a nice summer evening. And yes, it’s a cheaper solution. It also isn’t a long-term solution. If your client is looking to make a TV a permanent fixture, it needs to be rated for outdoor use. That means that these displays have extra-bright panels and can fight off glare, resulting in a better picture under outdoor lighting conditions.

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For commercial applications, they are rated for longer duty cycles & continuous operation. They also fight off things like wind, water and bugs. And besides being able to withstand hot and cold, an outdoor TV can dissipate heat. It’s nice to gather around a fire outside, as long as that fire isn’t coming from the TV!

2. Remember the warranty! On the off-chance you’re still thinking about using an indoor TV outside (don’t do that!), remember that even most TV manufacturers advise against this. Look in the manual (you still have that, right?).

That fine print in the back typically suggests you keep the TV inside and will actually void the warranty if you do otherwise.

3. Mounts need weatherproofing love, too. Just like the TV, a mount needs to be rated for outdoor use as well. A regular mount can deteriorate under extreme hot and/or cold conditions.

It looks bad, it rusts, and it could even fall apart. It needs to be able to withstand all of the elements, just like the TV. Also, outdoor mounts are made to handle the weight of outdoor Displays, which are typically heavier than the average flat screen. Yes, you want it heavier because your client won’t want it to blow away.

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It’s worth noting that a drop-mount or ceiling mount may not be the best choice in windy areas. Instead, consider an articulating outdoor-rated mount. This delivers a wider range on the viewing angle and it won’t limit the audience to one viewing area, allowing users to tilt the TV toward the patio, the pool, the fire pit, or anywhere else people will congregate.

4. Ditto on the cables. Just like lawns, patio furniture, and everything else that lives outside, cables can wear down and even crack when exposed to the outdoor elements. Like the TV and the mount, the cables need to be rated for outdoor use with UV protection.

5. Consider a drip loop. Speaking of cables, a drip loop is highly recommended for an outdoor TV installation. It’s basically the TV cable, but formed into a 180-degree loop that lives right near where the cable enters the display or any outdoor device. Having this gives water and moisture a place to go and helps prevent water intrusion—which can lead to costly repairs and replacements. 

6. Size matters! The size of a screen can determine not only where you place it, but also the weight and mounting restrictions that should be considered. Of course, you need to have a spot that can support the size of the screen being installed. However, it not only needs to fit that spot, but should include a little wiggling room for maintenance needs.

If you do have the space, however, consider going big, which can deliver an awesome view to even the largest crowds.