There are pros and cons to putting a TV outside, which you'd know if you've read our guide on the difference between an outdoor cabinet and an outdoor TV. Adding your outdoor entertainment experience is obviously one of the major benefits. However, when a TV is placed outside, you have to combat environmental factors your indoor electronics are not designed to handle.
So how can you protect an outside TV?
You have a lot of options, so below we'll explain what you need to consider when placing a TV outside, as well as the 5 best ways to protect your outside TV. Additionally, we have a whole other article on using regular TVs outside in case you need more information.
For the most part, you cannot just put a TV outside and expect it to last. If you've seen our accompanying article on protecting outdoor speakers, you may already be familiar with some of the reasons why.
Unlike an indoor environment, there are plenty of variables outside that can cause your TV to die prematurely. However, there are three main hazards that can damage if not outright destroy your TV when placed outside.
Electronics rarely do well when exposed to water or condensation. Anywhere dew, heat, and humidity occur can damage your TV. Your standard TV does not account for environmental moisture because there are extremely limited, trace amounts within your home. Even if you seldom notice moisture in the air around you while outside, your TV may be exposed to higher amounts of liquid than it was designed to handle.
You may experience slight fluctuations in temperature within your house. But the temperatures outdoor fluctuate more often and to a much greater extend. Outdoor temperatures can also reach extremes we do not experience within our homes. TVs do not like extreme heat or cold. They also do not do well with rapid changes in temperatures, which can occur as the sun rises and sets, or as storms roll through.
When inclement weather occurs, we seek shelter. From rain and lightning to sleet and snow, the outdoors deliver weather that TVs are typically not built to experience. Constant direct sunlight can be just as dangerous for your TV. Exposure to these things can significantly impact the performance of your TV, if not outright destroy it.
Unfortunately, you also must keep in mind the vulnerability of an outside TV. Your home provides defense that protects your electronics. Outside, there is no such barrier. If you intend to hang a TV outdoors, adding some protection from criminals is a bonus.
Do the above factors mean you cannot put a TV outside? Absolutely not. However, understanding the nuances between indoor and outdoor environments can help you better protect your TV. Below are some of the most popular choices when it comes to protecting your TV outside.
A soft TV cover is perhaps the cheapest solution on this list. For $100 or less, a softcover like the Garnetics Universal Weatherproof TV Protector (on Amazon) can be purchased to throw over your TV when it is not in use. Much like a grill or motorcycle cover, these sheets are made of waterproof material meant to prevent inclement weather from penetrating the fabric. (You can sew your own as well if you have the skills!)
Two things affect the protectiveness of your cover, however. How you have mounted your outdoor TV can prevent the cover from fully encasing your TV. For example, if it is flush-mounted directly to the wall, the cover will not be able to fully enclose the back.
An open back means a potential leak zone. Additionally, if your cover is not able to fully seal, it can allow moisture to seep in. For example, if you cover the TV as you would a grill, with the bottom open, it can allow moisture to seep in through this area. Ideally, your softcover will wrap around your entire TV and seal, keeping moisture from seeping in.
Soft covers may also be a bit tricky to work. Most TVs are mounted at least slightly above our heads. If your soft cover slides over the top of the TV, you will need to account for that as well. Why bring this up? If slipping the cover on and off is a hassle, you may find yourself using the cover less and less. While a cheap solution, failure to use the cover will result in expensive damages.
If you are not quite so savvy when it comes to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) efforts – you can also buy an outdoor enclosure for your TV. Like the TV itself, these specially made enclosures can be quite costly, with entry-level options like the Storm Shell SS-55 Outdoor TV Enclosure (on Amazon) starting around $500. However, they offer an easy solution that is more protective than a softcover and less expensive than investing in an outdoor TV or adding a sunroom to your home.
One thing you need to consider is that you may have issues with trapping heat when the doors to your enclosure are closed. (Some of the more expensive units may include built-in fans or heaters, which can help control temperatures depending on your location.)
However, a pre-constructed outdoor enclosure may be made of materials that are more lightweight than those of a self-made model. After all, most people built their own enclosures out of wood as it is the easiest material to work with without specialized tools. Available in a wide range of materials, I recommend investing in a steel model as plastic and acrylic versions are more easily broken into.
In addition to trapping heat, enclosures that are not airtight or have been left over when moisture was present may also lead to condensation when the doors are closed. To help combat potential moisture damage, desiccant packets are highly recommended.
Designing and building your own protective cabinet ensures your TV is protected, but also allows you to tailor the look of the enclosure to your personal style. Additionally, it allows you to fit your weather-proof enclosure to a specific area outside, making it easy to put your TV exactly where you want it.
A weather-proof enclosure can be built out of almost any material. Like your indoor cabinets, it can be painted or stained to match your outdoor décor. This can help not only protect your TV from the elements, but also conceal it a bit from potential thieves.
Building your own cabinet is cheaper than contracting someone to build a custom model so costs for this may vary. It also requires a bit of research and is design intensive if you would like to include certain features – such as heaters, fans, or lighting.
For example, adding features like locks and motion sensor lighting can also make it harder to break into and/or steal. Desiccant packets are again recommended for a custom cabinet because you may deal with trapped heat and moisture.
Yes – there is such a thing! Designed to stand up to all types of outdoor issues, outdoor TVs like the SunBriteTV 43-Inch Outdoor Television (on Amazon) are extremely expensive. But you get a lot of features for that price, namely that the TVs can stand up to the elements indefinitely.
Today’s outdoor models tend to suffer from two issues: either the weatherproofing does not operate as promised or the image quality is sub-par when compared to your indoor TV. If you live in an area that does not experience much in the way of inclement weather or temperature fluctuations, however, this may not be that big of a deal. As technologies advance, outdoor TVs will likely improve in quality.
It is still recommended that you strongly consider placement if you opt to invest in an outdoor TV. Limiting the amount of direct sunlight and inclement weather is still important to preserving the TV. Whether throwing an awning over the area you want to mount the TV or placing it under an eave, purchasing an outdoor TV does not mean it will survive a monsoon.
For some individuals, adding a sunroom is a great way to add a protective surrounding for both the TV and anyone who may want to watch it. (It also has the added benefit of better protecting your TV from thieves, who may see your outside TV and take it.)
Depending on how you design your sunroom, you can protect your TV from all the outdoor threats. For example, a simple roof and screen sunroom can decrease the amount of heat and direct sunlight from damaging your TV. It also prevents inclement weather from coming in direct contact with your TV.
That being said, a fully enclosed sunroom with windows not only keeps your TV safe from inclement weather and direct sunlight, but also from heat and humidity.