As the weather gets warmer, I find myself spending more and more time outside, Taking in the sun and relaxing by the pool. I also enjoy watching TV. It’s not only entertainment, it is a bonding experience for me and my family. My wife and I love watching prime-time television, talking about the characters, as well as giggling about the latest reality show drama. So why not combine outdoor living and TV binging for the ultimate relaxing Sunday afternoon? Let’s talk about what outdoor TVs are protected from and how they do it.
Outdoor TVs are weatherproofed through different types of techniques. Traditional weatherproof TVs use enclosures, gaskets and seals to prevent water and dust from entering the frame. Heating elements and cooling fans are used to regulate temperature. Some companies even take traditional indoor TVs and apply a weatherproof nano-coating to the interior and exterior of the unit.
What Are Outdoor TVs Protected From?
Okay, let’s jump in a little deeper shall we? The point of getting a TV specifically made for outdoors is to keep the weather off of it’s sensitive electronic components. Not only to ensure the lifespan of the TV, but for safety right? You don’t want it to catch fire or anything. Here is some of the things an Outdoor TV may be protected from.
- Precipitation (Rain/Snow/Sleet/etc.)
- Extreme Temperatures
- Salt Air
- Physical Damage from Impacts
The number one reason why you are probably here. Can an outdoor TV get rained on? Yes, in most cases an outdoor TV can definitely be left out in the rain. There are a few caveats to this. Some outdoor televisions use gaskets and seals. These seals wear over time and reduce their efficiency. These worn seals have a higher chance of allowing water in, which may damage the electrical components inside.
That being said, a new outdoor TV has fresh seals and a warranty to cover any defects in those seals. Outdoor TVs may also use hydrophobic coatings to repel water molecules away from the components. Other forms of precipitation like snow and sleet have similar levels of protection. Hail may require a beefier frame in order to protect in from physical damage.
High heat can cause screens and plastic to warp, fade, and discolor. As a result, some outdoor TVs have screens and enclosures made with aluminum frames and tinted glass to withstand the suns punishing rays. Cooling fans are also used in these TV enclosures in order to push the hot air outside of the unit.
Most people, including myself, tend not to think about freezing temperatures in electronics because we put so much effort in keeping them cool. Electronics DO have minimum temperatures needed in order to operate correctly. LCD screens also contain liquid, which can freeze in extremely low temps. To combat the cold, heating elements are used in order to keep the electronic components above these minimum requirements.
Moisture, Salt-Air & Sand
Some climates that are close to bodies of water my have air with high levels of moisture, salt-air and/or sand. These are obviously not good for the lifespan of your TV. Enclosures with dust filters can prevent sand from entering the television, and the use of nano-coatings can prevent moisture and salt-air from damaging the components on the inside and weathering the seals on the outside.
Outdoor TVs have to put up with slightly more punishment. Whether it be sticks and leaves, a ball haphazardly kicked by the kids, or a rogue beer bottle at a party. Safety glass and rugged frames are used in order to protect the TV from the increased physical abuse.
Tip: Not all outdoor TVs protect you from all elements. It is best to review the TVs specs or talk with a professional in order to find an outdoor TV that fits your specific climate and needs.
Television Weatherproofing Techniques
There are a few ways that Outdoor TV companies weatherize their televisions. These can be used separately or even in combination with each other to increase their sturdiness, I’ll call it.
- Gaskets and Seals
- Heating & Cooling Tech
- Hydrophobic Coatings
Gaskets & Seals
Gaskets and seals are used throughout the TV. They are installed on the physical buttons, between the frame of the TV and where the frame connects to the display. These create a surface on the exterior of the television where moisture and debris cannot enter into the frame. Fan and cable outlets have special seals around them as well.
Outdoor TVs may carry an IP Rating. This IP rating, a.k.a Ingress Protection rating measures the effectiveness of these seals. You may have seen these ratings on your smartphone as well. The most common IP rating for an outdoor TV is IP65, which means it is dust-tight and can withstand the average rainstorm and water coming from your garden hose. A rating of IP66 increases the water resistance up to heavy rain and high-pressure jet. (Source: IEC)
Note: Not all outdoor televisions carry an IP rating, this does not mean it does not protect against dust and water, it simply has not been tested against the rating criteria.
Heating & Cooling Technology
To combat extreme temperatures outdoor TVs have heating elements and cooling fans in order to keep the temperature within optimal operating ranges. There is no need to have the television display on for the elements and fans to work as long as it is plugged in to a working outlet. Sensors read the ambient temperature inside the TV frame and activate the devices as needed.
Some companies use hydrophobic coatings or nano-coatings (same meaning, different jargon used by different companies). The coatings basically provide a thin layer on top of the televisions surface that repels water. and prevents the water molecules from touching the sensitive components of the TV. These coatings may be used in conjunction with other weatherproofing methods, or as a standalone measure.
Low and mid-tier indoor televisions typically use plastic frames and screens as durability is not of major concern for the typical household. Shatterproof or shatter-resistant screens are used on outdoor TVs so they can better defend themselves against this heightened punishment it may endure. Aluminum frames made from rugged rubber or plastic may be used around the display for complete protection. A few outdoor TV’s may have an assigned IK rating. This rating measures the resistance of TV to physical impact. The better the rating, the more punishment the TV can endure.
The Levels Of “Weatherproof-ness”
Generally there are 3 levels to outdoor TVs. These correspond to the location of the television as it relates to the sun. These are full-shade, partial-shade, or full-sun. While these levels generally refer to the peak brightness and glare-reduction capabilities of the model, it may also impact the types of weather protection in use on these models. For example, a television meant for “full-shade” may not include any special seals and only have a hydrophobic coating. A television rated for “full-sun” may have a shorter warranty. This is why it is important to carefully go over the features and warranties of an outdoor TV before making a purchase.
Outdoor televisions have so many things going on in order to protect them from the elements that the higher asking prices seem reasonable. All outdoor TVs do have a shelf life, just like indoor TVs. Seals weather and water resistant coatings fade. They do however give a sense of security and ruggedness that really can’t be met with an indoor TV without using an external enclosure. That durability combined with generally better brightness levels, I can say that an outdoor TV is a wise investment for most people.
Can I use An Indoor TV Outdoors?
Yes, you can use an indoor TV outdoors. However, the manufacturers’ warranty will be voided if used outdoors, and insurance will most likely not cover any damages. An indoor TV will fail much quicker than one meant to withstand the elements so an external enclosure is recommended to provide additional protection.
Do I need an outdoor TV For the garage?
You generally do not need an outdoor TV for the garage. If your garage has adequate shelter from the elements you should be able to use an indoor television. If you use your garage for woodworking, automotive work, or you would like to keep your garage door open often, an outdoor TV may be a good idea