If you’re considering setting up an outdoor home theater system, you’re in luck because now is the time and the options to do so are better than ever! These days, you can get an outdoor TV enclosure in large sizes and enjoy your outdoor home theater TV set up year-round.
With an outdoor TV enclosure, you don’t need to worry about hauling electronics inside your home due to weather, instead you can leave your TV outside all the time. This is just one of many reasons using an outdoor TV enclosure has become a popular outdoor theater system solution. This article overviews some advantages of TVs for backyard theater systems and details the advantages of outdoor TV enclosures.
Table of Contents
Outdoor Home Theater System Q&A:
What is an Outdoor Movie Theater?
An outdoor movie theater is the concept of transforming an outdoor space into a movie theater. This is typically achieved by using either an outdoor TV solution (pairing an outdoor TV enclosure with a TV for long-term use) or an outdoor projector (projectors typically are temporary solutions because the projector itself isn’t made to withstand weather for an extended amount of time).
What is an Outdoor Theater Called?
Synonyms for the Term Outdoor Theater:
- Outdoor home theater
- Outdoor home theater system
- Outdoor theater system
- Backyard home theater
- Backyard theater systems
- Outdoor movie theater system
- Outdoor home movie theater
- Outdoor theater setup
What are Outdoor Home Movie Theater Screen Options?
Options for outdoor home theater screens include weatherproof TVs, outdoor TV cabinets, and projectors. There are different considerations or pros and cons for these options such as a temporary solution such as a projector or permanent outdoor theater solution such as an outdoor TV cabinet, durability, size, price, and more.
This article offers a comprehensive dive into these options.
What are the Differences Between a Projector, Outdoor TV, or Weatherproof TV Cabinet?
Projector, Outdoor TV & Outdoor TV Cabinet Comparisons
Design and Experience:
Projector – Watching TV on an outdoor projector screen is a direct viewing experience without any panel over the projector screen. Depending on the type of screen, install, and weather conditions there may be rippling and movement of the screen from wind and elements. Graphics, color, and sound can be not as reliable as that of a TV. Note that a projector must be paired with an outdoor projector screen and most likely outdoor speakers as projectors aren’t known for good sound quality indoors much less outdoors. Projectors are not designed to be kept outside, so they must be taken outside and manually set up for each viewing. Keep in mind the materials used for most outdoor projector screens may offer some outdoor defense, but options like projectors or regular outdoor TVs are not nearly as durable against direct impact (such as flying branches, footballs, etc.) as outdoor TV cabinets.
Outdoor TV – Similar to a projector, an outdoor TV has no protective front panel. Keep in mind technology and picture quality options are not as well developed as an indoor TV. For example, outdoor TV brands tend to be behind on smart TV features and other latest technology developments. An outdoor TV can have a nice aesthetic look. It also is typically designed for mild semi-outdoor settings like on a screened in porch rather than completely outdoor harsh environments or next to a pool. Outdoor TVs aren’t as durable against direct impact (such as flying branches, footballs, etc.) as outdoor TV enclosures.
Outdoor TV Cabinet – Outdoor TV cabinets are TV protection covers designed to defend TVs in harsh environments. The most popular and quality outdoor TV enclosures (also known as cabinets) offer a sleek enclosure with a shatterproof anti-glare front panel through which the TV can be viewed. Not all enclosures have shatterproof front panels, some are only shatter-resistant, so look for options like The TV Shield that are truly shatterproof. There are high-end and low-end TV case options on the market. Some cabinets only provide limited protection, are made of low-quality materials, and don’t offer the same viewing experience as top-quality brands. Be sure to understand the design, features, and materials of the best outdoor TV cabinets .
Projectors – Outdoor projector screens are not made to last outside which is further explained by sources such as the article “ Can You Leave Your Outdoor Movie Screen Out in All Weathers? ” They are meant for temporary use in outside conditions and even then are at risk if bad weather arises. An outdoor projector screen faces a fair chance of rippling or being torn. Not only the screens, but actual outdoor projectors are also not designed to be left outside for more than brief time frames. Projector materials are not as strong as those of outdoor TVs and nowhere near as tough or long-lasting as outdoor TV enclosures.
Outdoor TV – An outdoor TV is marketed as a TV designed to be used outside… however, these TVs are meant for mild semi-outdoor environments like on a covered or screened in porch in very mild weather climates where things like extreme hot or cold temperatures, flying objects, wind, dust, saltwater air, theft, tampering, bugs, snow, and similar threats are not an issue. Some outdoor TVs are being developed to try to better meet those outdoor threats, but they are very expensive and still don’t offer true peace of mind for an outdoor setting. The reality is the materials used to produce electronics just aren’t compatible with most outdoor conditions, but the good news is there are TV enclosures that do truly stand up to outdoor environments.
Outdoor TV Enclosure – The best outdoor TV cabinets (also called outdoor TV enclosures) are shatterproof and protect from flying objects, storms, extreme temperatures, water, dust, rain, moisture, tampering, theft, and more. These enclosures protect against snow, severe storms, corrosion, and more. Some are even used at beaches and on boats and yachts to protect TVs from saltwater air damage. When comparing projectors, outdoor TVs, or outdoor TV cabinets, outdoor TV cabinets are by far the safest option for true robust durability to withstand outdoor threats.
Projector – There are screen sizes up to 240” which is huge! However, getting into those sizes means prices around $7000. 100” to 120” are the most used outdoor home theater projector sizes.
Outdoor TV – 55” to 75” are popular weatherproof TV sizes for common use. An additional fun fact is the article, “ The World’s Largest Outdoor TV is Coming in 2020- and It Will Cost You $1.5 Million ” reports that as of 2020 the largest outdoor TV in the world is 301 inches (that’s 25 feet). However, it’s price ticket is $1.5 million!
Outdoor TV Enclosure – Outdoor TV cabinets such as The TV Shield PRO can be custom built up to 98” and are available up to 85” in standard sizes.
Installation and Components:
Projector – An outdoor projector set up typically requires the projector screen, the actual electronic projector, probably an external speaker system, and the device you want to play content from like a Roku or blue ray player. Currently according to the latest research as of May 24, 2022, an outdoor electronic projectors and devices like Roku cannot be kept long term outdoor or exposed to the elements. So, a projector set up means putting those elements back inside after each use.
Outdoor TV – An outdoor TV install involves installing the outdoor TV and the device you want to play content from like a Roku or blue ray player. Keep in mind it is up to you to place your additional devices like Roku, Apple TV, or mini-PC in a protected and safe space after each use as they are not designed to be kept outside. An external speaker system is optional.
Outdoor TV Cabinet – An outdoor TV enclosure install involves installing the outdoor TV enclosure (with the TV inside) in your outdoor space. Additional devices like Roku, Apple TV, mini-PC, etc. can also be stored and protected within the TV enclosure. An external speaker system is optional.
Technology and Specs:
Projector – Outdoor projectors are now offering up to HD, which is an improvement from the past. However, indoor TVs offer more options such as HD, Ultra HD (UHD), 2K, and WUXGA. Some outdoor TVs are starting to offer HD. Both outdoor TVs and outdoor projectors usually are behind on including the latest technology and compatibility with modern devices. On the other hand, a weatherproof TV cabinet can house any off-the-shelf TV which is a way to put the latest tech TV or lowest cost TVs outdoors.
Outdoor TV – Outdoor TVs don’t keep up with regular TVs regarding technology and features. Indoor TVs are significantly ahead of outdoor TVs and projectors with Ultra HD (UHD), 2K, 4K, WUXGA, and many more options. As a rule, indoor TVs first develop enhancements and eventually outdoor TVs integrate some of them. So, placing an indoor TV in an outdoor TV case is the best solution for the enjoying latest technology and quality outdoor movie theater setup.
Outdoor TV Enclosure – Notable quality and technology advantages of outdoor TV cabinets is they allow customers to choose and protect their preferred TV as well as the latest technology or whatever tech they want in a TV. Shoppers also save money by buying lower cost TVs and pairing them with TV enclosures. Another perk to outdoor TV cabinets is in addition to protecting the TV, they also house and protect devices like Roku, blue ray player, Apple TV, etc. So really, there are no limitations to the technology when using a weatherproof TV cabinet.
Price and Value:
Projector – Even if you’re investing in lower end options, at minimal typically by the time you include the price of the projector, plus a projector screen, plus any add-on features you can easily end up spending $2000 minimal on a temporary set up that can’t be left outside continuously. Anyone getting an extremely large screen size will pay significantly more. At the end of the day, if you’re not looking to exceed 98” in screen size, you’re most likely going to find a better value with an alternative solution such as an outdoor TV cabinet. If you’re looking to exceed that screen size, a projector may be your only option.
Outdoor TV – Weatherproof TVs are expensive. For a mid-range outdoor TV, you’re looking in the region of $4000, but don’t be surprised if, for the features you need to really combat the weather and security problems, you end up paying $7000 or more. On the other hand, the best quality outdoor TV cabinets start at just $399. Even if you buy a new TV to go in the enclosure (if you don’t have an old one to use) and need a complete outdoor TV kit, then you’re still saving a lot of money.
Outdoor TV Enclosure – Top-of-the-line outdoor TV enclosures are extremely affordable starting at $399. Even if you need to buy a TV to go in it (if you don’t have an old TV available) so you need to get a complete weatherproof TV and TV case kit, prices start under $800.
Is a projector, outdoor TV, or outdoor TV cabinet the best outdoor movie theater solution? For a screen size bigger than 98” an outdoor projector is the way to go since outdoor TV enclosures aren’t an option larger than 98”. Whether it is for your home or business, for smaller than 98” an outdoor TV cabinet offers the best outdoor durability (with shatterproof screens), allows you to enjoy the latest technologies, can protect some additional devices such as Roku or mini-PC, and are affordable. That’s hard to beat!
Ready to Find the Best Outdoor TV Enclosure?
What is the Best Outdoor Movie Screen?
The following are some reasons that pairing any TV of your choice with an outdoor TV enclosure is a great outdoor home theater system solution....
- Picture quality
- Sound quality
- The ability to leave the TV of your choice outside all the time (in the enclosure) without having to take anything inside due to outdoor elements
- Not having to worry about screen damage or weather/water damage to the TV in general
- Ability to store and protect external media devices like Roku or Apple TV within the enclosure
What is an Outdoor TV Enclosure?
An outdoor TV enclosure is a weatherproof TV cabinet which is engineered and designed to protect TVs in harsh environments. Popular for both homes and businesses, a true top quality and robust outdoor TV enclosure is shatterproof and protects from rain, dust, water, extreme temperatures, moisture, tampering, theft, bugs, and much more. An outdoor TV enclosure makes a great outdoor home theater solution.
- Protection Capabilities – The best outdoor TV cabinets protect from harsh impact, extreme temperatures, water, dust, rain, moisture, tampering, theft, and more. These enclosures are shatterproof and can handle snow, severe weather, extreme temperatures, and more. Some enclosures even provide comprehensive corrosion resistance for use in environments with excessive saltwater air.
- Large Sizes – Outdoor TV enclosures can now be custom made up to 98” and are available up to 85” in standard sizes which is impressive.
- Installation and Components – An outdoor TV enclosure install simply involves installing the outdoor TV enclosure in your outdoor space. An external speaker system is optional.
- Options and Technology – One of the big advantages to outdoor TV cabinets for your outdoor home theater is you can use an old TV you own, choose your preferred TV with the latest technology, find the lowest price TV you want, or in general select whatever TV you wish. You can also protect devices like Roku, blue ray player, Apple TV, etc. So really, there are no limitations to the technology.
- Price and Value – Top-of-the-line outdoor TV enclosures are an extremely affordable outdoor movie theater system option starting at just $399. Even if you need to buy a TV to go in it (if you don’t have an old one on hand) and need a complete outdoor TV kit, you’re still looking at massive savings - with prices under $800.
Whether it is for your home or business, there are many reasons an outdoor TV enclosure is a popular choice for an outdoor theater system. And who doesn’t love the idea of setting up an outdoor theater system? From relaxing watching your favorite TV shows and football by the pool on lazy days to throwing movie parties in the backyard, you can’t go wrong with backyard theater systems. Visit this link to explore outdoor TV enclosures.
What is the Best Speaker for an Outdoor Movie Theater System?
TVs (being paired with an outdoor TV cabinet), outdoor TVs, and projectors typically come internal speakers, so an external speaker is not needed. However, just as the sound quality may vary for a TV you put in your home, the same is true when putting a TV outside.
Efforts to cut production costs can cause outdoor TV sound quality to be questionable. Most times, outdoor TV listings say they include speakers, but don’t specify which speakers ( see this outdoor TV example). In general, most components of an outdoor TV are not the quality of an indoor TV because the materials used to build an outdoor TV must be more friendly to outdoor elements, which limits the technology options. However, a high sound quality indoor TV paired with an outdoor TV cabinet is a great alternative. Simply turn the TV volume higher than you would indoors and you’re good to go.
5.25" Bluetooth® Outdoor Patio Speaker Pair w/ Waterproof Power Supply , 4" 80W Outdoor Speaker Kit - Mini Amp and Cables , and 4" 3-Way Black Outdoor Speaker Pair - 80W are some popular outdoor speaker options .
What are the Best Furniture Options for Backyard Theater Systems?
Regarding outdoor home movie theater seating, you could pick either on the ground or raised seating or a combination. Below is a list of popular outdoor blankets, chairs, and couches.
- Angemay Outdoor and Picnic Blanket (extra large sand proof and waterproof portable mat)
- Best Choice Products Outdoor Hanging Curved Steel Chaise Lounge Chair Swing w/Built-in Pillow and Removable Canopy
- Best Choice Products Set of 2Adjustable Steel Mesh Zero Gravity Lounge Chair Recliners w/Pillows and Cup Holder Trays
Complete Outdoor Home Theater Checklist
Ready for the ultimate outdoor home theater? Below is a final essentials and accessories checklist of home theater supplies to really make the atmosphere stand out.
- Outdoor TV enclosure
- Media device (Roku, Apple TV) – this can be housed and protected in a TV enclosure
- Outdoor speakers
- Outdoor furniture
- Blankets and pillows
- Outdoor popcorn maker
- Outdoor bar
- Outdoor firepit
- Outdoor kitchen
- Weatherproof popcorn maker
- Bug spray, citronella candles, or tiki torches with ultrasonic pest repellent
- Outdoor lighting such as torches or LED string lights
- Fire pit
- Pool and/or hot tub
Ready to Find the Best Outdoor TV Enclosure?