Take the Party Outside!
26 September 2021
As Debbie and I have been spending a lot of time lately working on plans around our patio (see last week’s post about solar shades), it has me thinking more about the entertainment elements and the infrastructure to support them. Our patio will be a space designed for us to share a cup of morning coffee, keeping up with game scores as we work in the yard and entertaining large groups on holidays and special occasions. So the goal is accessibility and flexibility.
There are two ways to access the patio from the house. One is a ‘pass-through’ bathroom that Debbie and I can use as a mudroom to clean up after yardwork or for easier access for guests without having to go through the house. The patio will also have a fireplace in one corner with room for seating with the largest adjacent wall intended for a TV.
The TV will have the standard infrastructure in place to support whatever content is desired:
- Power — This may seem like a no-brainer but the reason I mention this is that way too often walking through new homes or homes under construction, power is installed at the standard floor height so cables are exposed, instead of behind TV near the mount.
- Ethernet (Cat6) cabling — With the prospect of us being ‘cord cutters,’ internet access is essential for streaming content and other ‘smart’ elements we plan to integrate. There will be at least two separate cable runs (also installed near the power, behind the TV) — one for direct connection to the smart TV and the other for the smart assistant to support voice commands and automation on the patio.
- Coax cabling — Though it seems a bit counter to the idea of cord cutting, coax cabling actually aligns with it. Part of cord cutting is maintaining access to local channels for news, sports, etc. That’s easily done with over the air high definition antennas. See my previous posts on cord cutting and antennas. We’ll run coax cabling to all of the TVs in the house, connect to HD antenna(s) in the attic. It’s just a good idea as well in case internet access is offline.
The biggest challenges with outdoor TVs are environmental. Our patio TV location is fairly sheltered but we will still have to address the concerns to maximize video quality and weatherproofing. In the course of a year, Amarillo will experience sub-zero and snow (average 13" annually) to 100+ degree days while also being the windiest (and possibly dustiest) place in the US. And as out patio faces west, during the summer we will get direct sun as late as 10pm. The goal is to install a 4K UHD resolution TV, color-calibrated for ideal picture settings in both shade and full sun that also eliminates glare and reflection .
Obviously there are other viewing considerations that are universal. TV size is certainly the first consideration. As the patio space aligns with the living room in our floor plan, the viewing distances are similar. My recent post discussing this helps point to a TV size of 70–85" looking at the patio space as there are other factors like transiency of viewers and standing versus sitting view.
Luckily there are plenty of options to accommodate our specific needs. Here are some of the possibilities we’re considering:
- Peerless-AV Neptune 75" Shade Series Outdoor 4k UHD TV — The Peerless-AV Neptune Shade Series Outdoor TV is an all-season solution for outdoor entertainment and living. This outdoor TV is all weather rated, maintenance-free and has an operating temperature range of -22°F — 122°F. With 4K resolution and an IPS panel, Neptune meets the full UHD specifications, providing exceptional color and video quality from any viewing angle. The input compartment and built-in IR repeater provide safe storage and IR control for small video equipment.
- Séura Shade Series 2 75" Outdoor TV — The Séura Shade Series Outdoor TV is IP56 rated to withstand powerful water jets and protect against dust and solid particle ingress. Carefully designed and tested to thrive outside year-round with protection against rain, snow, dust and changing temperatures from -24°F to 140°F. 700-nit brightness makes this TV three times brighter than indoor TVs. Couples 4K Ultra HD picture clarity with the contrast, color, and detail of High Dynamic Range (HDR) for a bright, vivid, true-to-life picture in outdoor environments. The weatherproof compartment supports Roku, Chromecast and includes 3 HDMI inputs and 1 USB ports.
- Séura Ultra Bright 86" 4K Ultra HD Outdoor TV — The Séura Ultra Bright Outdoor TV is IP54 rated and fully sealed to keep out rain, snow, ice and dust to thrive outside year-round. Their proprietary active heating and cooling system provides the necessary temperature control to protect the TV’s electronic components in temperatures from -40°F to 140°. 1,000-nit brightness is 30% brighter than competitive full sun TVs. Couples 4K Ultra HD picture clarity with the contrast, color, and detail of High Dynamic Range (HDR) for a bright, vivid, true-to-life picture in outdoor environments. Adaptive Picture Technology continuously adjusts multiple settings as lighting conditions change to maintain optimal picture. Weatherproof compartment supports Roku, Chromecast and includes 4 HDMI inputs and 3 USB ports.
Obviously lots of good options and varying price points depending on your budget. Regarding budget, many might argue it makes more sense to use a typical $700 indoor 70" TV on a patio versus models in the thousands of dollars. Trust me, it’s a valid argument though the indoor TVs aren’t engineered for outdoor brightness. If picture quality isn’t a critical factor or you can’t justify the higher cost as you don’t entertain enough for the ROI, then even replacing the TV 2–3 times over a few years is less expensive in the long run.
Audio is another consideration for the patio TV experience. I already plan on installing ceiling speakers in the patio as well as outdoor speakers under the eave for the backyard for music. So integrating the TV audio makes sense as the onboard TV speakers are just not going to cut it in that space. As I’m already a sound bar fan in lieu of full blown surround sound, I’m considering the Sonos Arc sound bar. The biggest reasons for this option is that it has integrated Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (and works with Apple Siri) and can incorporate the ceiling and outdoor speakers to spread the audio throughout the patio and backyard with the Sonos Wireless Multi-Room Technology. I’d prefer to connect the Arc via Ethernet versus wifi for the smart assistant integration and for access to music content on my home network but that’s not an option as it only has physical HDMI connectivity. NFC is also an option but more ad hoc than a permanent option in my opinion.
I’ll update as our patio design moves forward. Once we finalize this space and other decisions around the front exterior elevation we’ll be wrapping up our floor plan with the architect. Once done, next step is putting the plans in front of builders for bids on the project. There’s a slim chance we may still get our foundation in before the end of the year, more likely late February/early March as the weather improves and we can avoid issues with pouring concrete in extreme cold. With the concerns over the price of lumber easing that takes another issue off the table. The prices will never get back to pre-pandemic levels but they’re getting close.
As we have yet to decide on details for our patio, we’re curious what your thoughts are on this. How does your patio setup (or dream set up) compare with what I’ve proposed here? What do you like? What would you do different? Let us know in the comments, DMs and email as we love hearing from you. We’ve found the comments thought-provoking and have incorporated quite a few suggestions and ideas in our plans. Until next week …
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