Mills Custom Audio Video

Industry Trend: Outdoor Technology

 In which “room” in your home do you most frequently entertain guests?  A recent study by interior design and decorating website Houzz shows that outdoor spaces are most often used for entertaining. In the study, 83% of respondents use their backyards as entertaining spaces (download the full Spring Houzz Landscaping Trends Study here).  Additionally, 56% of homeowners are making updates to their yards for the purposes of entertaining.  With so much entertaining going on in the backyard – what can outdoor technology add to the party?

 Three of the most popular outdoor technologies for entertainment: Outdoor Music, Outdoor TVs and Outdoor WiFi

Outdoor Music

There is a better way…
Probably no outdoor technology has undergone greater change in the past five years than music systems.  Outdoor music used to mean a pair of speakers on the back of the house, firing out into the yard.  Not the best set-up.  Sit too close and the music is too loud; sit too far, and it’s too quiet.  Often with this setup, music is readily broadcast into neighbors’ yards.  Aesthetically, these speakers can stand out in comparison to the exterior finish of the home.
Enter Landscape Speaker Systems: A larger number of smaller speakers reinforced with hidden subwoofers.  These new speaker systems have a number of advantages, including:
  •  Sound Performance. The combination of strategically placed high-quality satellite speakers and smooth bass from hidden subwoofer(s) results in an amazing sound quality that perfectly blankets the area.
  •  Even Sound Coverage.  The speakers are placed around the perimeter of the property, directing the music toward the listening area.  Consequently, 90% of the sound remains in your yard, and you’re not bothering the neighbors.
  • Scalability. Because landscape systems are completely scalable, they are suitable for everything from small patios to large residential or commercial rooftop decks to any size yards.  

    Sonance, outdoor speakers, outdoor technology, outdoor music

    A system around the perimeter. Directing the music to the listening area.

  • Aesthetics. The speakers and subwoofers are easily camouflaged into plants and foliage.  Additionally, subwoofers can be below-ground and seamlessly blend into landscape, or can be built into patio furniture or planter boxes.

No visual distractions, only great sound quality.

outdoor music, outdoor entertaining, Sonance Landscape System

Outdoor Television

Why a TV outdoors?  The deck, porch and backyard are increasingly becoming another room for entertainment and family time.  Just as you would put a TV in the Family Room, the outdoors can also be a great place to get together for TV.  Watch the big game on a cool evening, host an outdoor movie night, or a barbeque with friends.

Seura outdoor television, outdoor entertainment, outdoor technology

Durable and protected against moisture, dust, heat and insects.

Why an Outdoor TV? Given the relatively low costs of today’s televisions, many think they can purchase one of these, use it outdo
ors for a year or two, and then replace it.  Noteworthy reasons to use outdoor televisions outdoors:
  • Brightness. One of the biggest differences between indoor and outdoor televisions is brightness.  Because there is more ambient light outdoors – even in the shade – outdoor televisions are much, much brighter than indoor units.  Generally if you attempt to watch a regular
  • television outdoors during the day, all you will be able to see is a black screen – you can’t make out the image. Outdoor televisions are available in models either appropriate for shade or for bright sunlight.  So, to actually enjoy your viewing experience outdoors, it is important to choose the model most suited for your application.
  • Environment.  Outdoor TVs are built with a barrier that protects against heat, cold and moisture. Therefore, they can remain outdoors all year.  Indoor televisions are not built to survive out in these conditions. In the Chicago climate, that means uninstalling and reinstalling a TV every season.
  • Reliability.  An indoor TV will eventually fail if placed outdoors.  It is impossible to know if the TV will break down on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or right before company is coming over the watch the big game.  All we know is that it will fail – possibly at an inopportune time. Outdoor TVs are designed for safety and durability in outdoor use, meaning all electrical connections are properly protected, and all critical devices properly sealed.

 Outdoor WiFi

There are a number of reasons that outdoor WiFi might be a great addition to a deck or yard.  Since exterior walls are often the thickest in the home, they tend to block wireless signals. Meaning no or slow coverage outside. The best solution? A WiFi access point rated for outdoor use.  Why use WiFi outside?
  •  Communication. The assumption is: we can get strong cellular signals outdoors.  However, there are outdoor locations where this isn’t always the case.  Near Lake Michigan cell phone service is spotty because of geography and the placement of cell towers.  The same is true for some homes in urban areas, where tall adjacent buildings can block cellular signals.  Homeowners living in these areas may need to utilize outdoor WiFi.  And since most laptops and tablets utilize WiFi instead of cellular signals, working outside on a nice day may only be possible with outdoor WiFi.
  •  Control.  Often the best way to control music or television outdoors is through a smart phone or tablet.  However, for nearly all systems, that phone or tablet needs to be on the WiFi network to control these devices.  It can be frustrating to have to walk indoors to get on WiFi, just to change a song or adjust volume up and down, to turn around and walk outside again.

Interested in adding some outdoor technology to your space? We are happy to assist- give us a call today! Do you want to demo a landscape system? Contact us for details on our demo and weekend programs!