Updated April 2022
Best Outdoor TV Review
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Buying guide for Best Outdoor TVs

In pleasant months, it can be tempting to take a television outside to the porch or patio to enjoy the nice weather and a good movie or show. But regular televisions aren’t designed for outdoor use. They’re sensitive to the elements and can’t get wet or too hot or cold. What’s more, their brightness can be washed out by a bright outdoor environment.

So how can you watch TV in your outside space? With an outdoor TV specifically designed for the outdoor environment.

An outdoor TV is a television that has been engineered to withstand the rigors of outdoor use. Quality outdoor TVs can tolerate the climate of whatever area you’re in while resisting the ravages of sun, rain, dust, and even pests. And, outdoor TVs display a picture bright enough to display vivid, sharp images for your enjoyment — even in sunlight.

outdoor TV
Some outdoor TV manufacturers take factory model TVs and weatherize them to withstand outdoor use.

What to keep in mind when considering an outdoor TV

Outdoor TVs may be classified as full shade, partial shade, or full sun models. The classification depends on how much exterior light they can tolerate and how much weather they are built to withstand.

Location and placement

Consider where on your property you want to enjoy your outdoor TV. A covered patio, porch, terrace, or lanai would be a good place for any outdoor TV. (Even full-sun outdoor TVs can benefit from shade and shelter — and so will you!)

Note where in your space you want to install the outdoor TV. Also, think about how you want it mounted. The size of your space helps determine the size of the TV, and vice versa.

Make sure you have a safe and convenient power outlet nearby. If you can, place your outdoor TV facing north or south, depending on whether you’re in the northern or southern hemisphere. That way, your outdoor TV has the sun at its back.

Climate and weather

The climate you live in helps determine the types and features you should consider in an outdoor TV.

  • Precipitation: How rainy does it get? Does it rain often? How strongly does it rain? If you live in a part of the country that gets frequent thunderstorms or even hurricanes, you may want to look into protecting even a full-sun, fully weatherproof outdoor TV.
  • Temperature: How hot or cold does your locale get during the year? Even full-shade outdoor TVs have a much wider range of operating temperatures than regular TVs. That said, it’s still good to check what your average and extreme temperatures are and to compare them to an outdoor TV’s operating range.
  • Humidity: All outdoor TVs are much more tolerant of humidity than regular TVs. But, like temperature, it’s good to know what your average and extreme humidity is so you understand what your outdoor TV has to work with.
  • Salt: People who live in coastal areas know the salt in the air seems to corrode almost anything. If you live in a coastal area, consider an outdoor TV that is specifically designed to resist salt air.
  • Sand and dust: Both beach dwellers and people who live inland in arid areas must contend with windblown sand and dust. Outdoor TVs have tougher ingress protection than regular TVs, meaning sand and dust have a tougher time getting in — and they cause less damage if they do.

What about outdoor projectors?

Choosing between an outdoor projector and an outdoor TV can often come down to how big and clear you want the image to be. Outdoor projectors can project an image bigger than most outdoor TVs, but that picture is often inferior in brightness and clarity — especially in bright sunshine or shade — to the picture of an outdoor TV. And 4K projectors can cost as much as 4K outdoor TVs.

VESA stands for Video Electronics Standards Association. A VESA mount complies with a set of standards for mounting flat-panel displays to stands and walls. The standards are used by most major equipment manufacturers.

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Features to look for in an outdoor TV

Weatherproofing

All outdoor TVs should be internally weatherproofed, meaning their internal components have been treated to withstand the elements. Partial-shade and full-sun models are fully weatherproof, with both internal and external protection like a weatherproof skin or wrap.

Outdoor TVs often boast metal construction instead of plastic; sealed seams; weather-protected ports with covers and gaskets; and protected vents to keep out water, dust, and pests.

Brightness and anti-glare protection

Outdoor TVs have screens that are much brighter than regular TVs. Whereas regular TVs typically offer only 250 to 350 nits, outdoor TVs, especially those with LED technology, can offer brightnesses from 400 to over 2,000 nits.

These TVs also offer anti-glare protection, which can range from special coatings to physical filters.

Full-sun outdoor TVs have higher operating temperatures, full anti-glare screens, and sunlight protection.

Resolution and HDR

Outdoor TVs usually offer HD or 4K resolution. Considering the size, conditions, and viewing distance involved with an outdoor TV, 4K resolution would be best for most circumstances.

Also look for an outdoor TV that offers HDR, or high dynamic range. This helps provide a more vivid picture with darker darks and brighter whites.

Temperature range

Unlike regular TVs, which are designed for climate-controlled interior environments, outdoor TVs can operate in a wide range of ambient temperatures.

Some fully-weatherproof outdoor TVs offer operating temperatures from a freezing -40°F to a seething 140°F. Outdoor TVs often feature active temperature control with built-in fans and heaters.

HDBaseT, HDMI-over-Ethernet, and WiFi

While an outdoor TV is built for the outdoors, most cable boxes, media players, routers, and audiovisual receivers are not. Connecting these items to an outdoor TV can get complicated… and risky with the chance of moisture exposure.

Outdoor TVs are often found with either HDBaseT or HDMI-over-Ethernet connections. HDBaseT is a standard that combines power, video, audio, networking, USB, and control signals over a single Ethernet cable. HDMI-over-Ethernet transmits video and audio signals over Ethernet as well.

Many outdoor TVs also come with WiFi and Bluetooth and function as smart TVs with fully wireless streaming from popular services.

Weatherized remotes

Outdoor TVs offer remote controls that are also weatherized. These remote control units sport sealed buttons and resistance to water and dirt.

outdoor TV
DID YOU KNOW?
If you live in Earth’s temperate regions, between the tropics and the polar circles, facing your nearest pole means having the sun behind you, regardless of time of day or year.
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Outdoor TV accessories

Mounts and cabinets

Outdoor TVs are typically VESA-mount compatible, allowing you to attach them to walls, posts, table stands, or even ceilings, with a heavy-duty outdoor-rated VESA-compatible mount. If you don’t want to permanently mount your outdoor TV, you can get a table stand for a media center or TV cabinet. A TV cabinet can offer another layer of protection and shade for your outdoor TV, especially if it’s sealed with caulked seams and weather stripping.

Antennas

If you don’t want or don’t need the benefits and expense of cable, HDBaseT, or wired networking, you can simply attach an outdoor TV antenna to your outdoor TV and enjoy over-the-air programming.

Speakers

A good outdoor speaker setup can complete your outdoor entertainment space. Look for speakers or soundbars that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Those that connect simply to your outdoor TV or media center are ideal.

Streaming devices

If you choose an outdoor TV without built-in networking or WiFi, you can always add smart TV functionality by attaching a streaming device, such as a streaming stick or dongle. Since most streaming devices aren’t specifically made for outdoor use, try to choose those that plug directly into an outdoor TV’s HDMI port to keep them protected, and remove them when necessary.

Covers

Just because your outdoor TV can withstand the sun and the elements doesn’t mean you should leave it exposed if you don’t have to. A simple outdoor TV cover can extend the life of the TV and keep it protected when you’re not around.

How much do outdoor TVs cost?

Inexpensive

Even inexpensive outdoor TVs cost between $1,000 to $2,000. These TVs may feature smaller screens or lower resolutions and may lack connections like HDBaseT or WiFi. They may only offer internal weatherproofing and require full shade.

Mid-range

Mid-range outdoor TVs cost between $2,000 to $5,000. Aside from larger screen sizes, outdoor TVs in this price range are more likely to offer at least partial shade performance, 4K resolution, smart TV functions, and wireless connectivity.

Expensive

Above $5,000 are outdoor TVs with full-sun performance, full weather protection, and all the bells and whistles of a premium regular TV, like 4K resolution, HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDBaseT, Wi-Fi, and more. These TVs make your outdoor entertaining space feel extra indulgent.

Network and telecom cables are classified from Cat1 to Cat8.2. For HDBaseT and HDMI-over-Ethernet, it’s best to use Cat5e or better Ethernet cables.

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Tips for outdoor TVs

  • Keep it secure. As expensive as even the least-costly outdoor TVs are, they’re attractive targets for theft. If you use a VESA mount, look into those with locking mechanisms. Or, attach cables, chains, and locks yourself, and try a locking cabinet.
  • Keep the current safe. It’s best for an outdoor TV to have a GFCI outlet, or ground-fault current interrupting outlet, which can shut off electric power within moments of a detected fault. Consult an electrician if you don’t have one for your outdoor space.
  • Extend your network. If you want to use your outdoor TV with WiFi, make sure your WiFi signal can reach it without dropouts or dead spots. Upgrading your router by adding a WiFi extender or investing in a mesh system can help alleviate WiFi dead spots.
  • Don’t grill your TV. It doesn’t matter how sun-proof or weatherproof your outdoor TV is. If it’s too close to your grill — especially a big, hot grill — it will get damaged. Keep your grill at least 6 feet away from your outdoor TV.
outdoor TV
Consider professional installation when purchasing an outdoor TV. A professional installer can help determine the best location and run the right connections for your outdoor TV.

FAQ

Q. Can you use a regular TV outdoors?

A. No, it isn’t advisable to use a regular TV outdoors. Regular TVs are not made to operate outdoors. Using a regular TV outside may void its warranty. There are enclosures available which allow a regular TV to function outdoors, but unless your budget is restricted, a true outdoor TV works better.

Q. Can you use an outdoor TV indoors?

A. Yes. Compared to regular TVs, outdoor TVs offer a lot more flexibility in terms of where they can be used. But outdoor TVs cost more than regular TVs at any given screen size and feature set, so it’s not really economical to buy an outdoor TV for indoor use.

Q. Can an outdoor TV get wet?

A. Yes, within limits. An outdoor TV, especially a fully weatherproof, full-sun outdoor TV, can stand up to exposure to rain and garden sprinklers. Still, it’s smart to use a cover or cabinet to protect an outdoor TV during storms or hurricane season. And always use caution around electric cords or outlets.

 

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