Can I use the internal TV outside?

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Getty Images / Images OJO

When the weather turns nice or you are in a part of the world that is always nice, your mind logically turns to spending as much time outside as possible. Watching a big game with friends, movies at night with your family, even sitting by the pool and watching a new program are all activities to have a better time having fun on the big screen.

So why not have one television outside? They’ve certainly gotten cheap enough. Simple wall mount, maybe an extension cord for a nearby external outlet, and you’re ready, aren’t you?

Not so fast. Same as put the TV in the bathroomeven if your display appears to be away from direct splashes, it is at risk. Mounting an ordinary TV outside is the fastest way to destroy it, other than enthusiastic defenestration. This is why.

The fragility of televisions

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No Groot, we can’t watch Tree of Life again.

Getty Images / Kelvin Murray

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Heat, humidity and direct sunlight are the enemies of all televisions. For example, here’s what LG lists as the operating temperature of one of its LCD TVs:

  • Operating temperature 0 ° C to 40 ° C (32 ° F to 104 ° F)
  • Working humidity below 80%

Most parts of the United States fall outside this range at least a few times a year. LG also says to “keep the product out of direct sunlight” and not to place the TV in “[a]n area exposed to rain or wind ”. Other manufacturers use similar temperature and humidity ranges for their televisions.

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Anyone know where I can get more salt for this margarita? Wait, whatever.

Getty Images / Matthais Clamer

You may think, “I have a perfect place that is sheltered and out of reach of the sun.” Is it possible to install a regular TV set in a seemingly “safe” environment? Of course you could. Nobody’s gonna stop you. I’m sure it will work even on the first few tries. Just know that televisions are complex, fragile devices. Used normally, they can last for many years. A TV set used outside of its designated environment, such as heat, humidity, and sunlight, ages much faster. If you can afford to replace your TV every few months or every year, then you do. I am sure the TV manufacturers will be extremely satisfied. Just don’t expect any guarantees.

Dedicated outdoor TVs are expensive

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Samsung

Several companies make televisions designed with the elements in mind. This is harder than it sounds. Sealing the TV against moisture and any curious animals limits the TV’s ability to cool itself. Warm, as we discussed earlieris by far the worst enemy of television’s longevity. So this solid redesigned, plus additional components and a weather seal add to the price.

For example, we have previously reported by Samsung The Terrace. It has an IP55 degree of protection, so it can withstand a gentle wash or a baby with a Super Soaker. It is also 4-10 times more expensive than a normal Samsung TV of similar size.

Another big name in space SunBritewe also discussed. They have a few models that cost a little less than The Terrace, but are probably not that bright. Their more powerful models are much more expensive.

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The Nature channel in 8K looks so realistic!

Getty Images / UrbanCow

This means that not only isn’t it cheap to get the job done “right”, it probably is beyond anyone looking to just watch Netflix on their patio. Fortunately, there are a couple of other options.

“TV” under the stars

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What, mom, you told us to go outside. Was outside.

Getty Images / Andy Ryan

Another option, although still not “cheap”, is the TV housing. They help protect the TV from the elements, including the windshield, the vents in the back, and so on. Some models even have optional anti-glare screens, which is very important as even a bright TV will have a hard time competing with the sun. They can also have heaters or fans to keep the TV in its comfort zone. However, these enclosures often cost the same as the TV itself. They will also extend the life of your poor TV, but not indefinitely. Now it’s not an external TV. It’s a TV in a room with a nice coat.

If you only plan to watch at night, consider a projector instead. These are probably cheaper than a TV plus a case, and are small enough to be easily brought back inside when you’re done for the night. They can be displayed on the side of the house or even better on a folding screen. Even a large sheet works quite well. The battery-powered models aren’t particularly bright, but they only need Wi-Fi for streaming. For larger, brighter models, you must route the power cord. However, they can easily create images of 100 inches or larger, so that backyard movie night something really special.

If neither of these options work, consider purchasing a trolley so that the TV is only outdoors while you’re watching it. It’s definitely not as cool or as simple as mounting your TV outside, but it will save you money on replacement costs in the long run.

March 2022 Note: This article was first published in 2012 but has been thoroughly updated with new information and images.


In addition to discussing television and other display technologies, Geoff does photo tours around cool museums and locations around the worldincluding nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castlesepic 10,000 miles of road travel, and more. Check out Technical hiking for all his trips and adventures.

He wrote best-selling science fiction novel about city-sized submarines, along with continued. You can follow his adventures Instagram and his Youtube channel.

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