Note: This Buying Guide is specifically for TVs made to be used outdoors. While many people use regular TVs outdoors, this is not recommended by TV manufacturers. If you choose to use a regular, non-outdoor TV for your backyard, please take extra caution to ensure the safe operation of the TV.
Table of Contents
Location: Where should I place and outdoor TV?
While you may have some variability in where you can place your patio furniture, fire pit, etc., you may be limited in your options to place an outdoor TV. Here are several factors to consider when considering a location for your outdoor TV:
- Power source: Your first consideration for an outdoor TV is to locate where the TV will get power. You may have an excellent wall location that will provide a perfect viewing area to your guests – but if there isn’t a plug nearby, this location won’t work (unless you hire an electrician to install a plug for you). So, note the areas that provide proximity to a power source.
- Content source: Next, you should determine how you will get content on your TV. In other words, do you want to connect to your home cable or use other smart TV options to provide content to watch on your TV? If you want to connect to your home cable, you will need to ensure that your TV is in a location that is close to your cable connection. If you plan to use smart TV options (either internally through the TV or by other smart TV devices like Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast), you will need to ensure that you have a strong WiFi signal to where your TV will be located.
- Nearby seating: Ideally, you will want your TV to be where you and others will gather. So you should choose a location that will be viewable to common gathering spots in your backyard.
- Weather safe area: In some manner, your TV will be exposed to the elements outdoors. If possible, it is recommended to find a location that provides shade and protection to your outdoor TV. Providing cover to your TV will help extend the useful life of your TV even though it is designed to be used outdoors – more on this below.
TV Size: What is the right size for an outdoor TV?
There is no one ‘right size’. Instead, the right size TV for you depends on two core considerations: the available mounting area and the viewing area.
- Mounting area: If you followed the section above, you have an idea of where you want to put your TV. Now, you need to measure how big this area is. This will help you determine the size limitation of your TV. Important note: You will find most TVs measured in inches, for example, “New 55 inch Smart TV”. This measurement is the diagonal length of the display screen only, not the entire TV. When evaluating TV options, it is best to find the detail of the height and width of the whole TV frame to make sure the TV fits within the dimensions of your mounting area.
- Viewing area: To find the right size TV, you need to consider how far away from the TV you expect to be when watching the TV. This can be estimated by measuring the distance from your expected TV location to where your seating is located. With this number (measured in inches), divide it by 2 to determine the appropriate TV size for your area. For example, it is about 120 inches (10 feet) between where you want to locate the TV and your seating. 120 / 2 = 60 inches > a 60 inch TV will be the appropriate size for your area. However, use this more as a rule of thumb to help you make the appropriate purchase. Could a 55 inches or 65 inches TV work too? Absolutely. At this point, it is more of a personal preference. But if you are looking at a 50 inch TV and the formula determines you should consider a 75 inch TV, you should probably make some adjustments to your seating area or expectations on TV size.
Outdoor TV Types: Can outdoor TVs be in direct sunlight, or should they be in the shade?
Outdoor TVs will usually be marketed as one of the following three types:
- Full shade: These TVs should be placed in areas that receive constant shade throughout the day. These are typically meant to be used in patio or screen porch locations.
- Partial Shade: These are TVs that can be placed in areas that will experience some direct sunlight throughout the day.
- Full Sun: These are TVs designed to experience constant sun and high temperatures throughout the day.
Outdoor TV Weatherproofing: How should my outdoor TV be weatherproofed?
Outdoor TVs are designed with some form of weatherproofing, and this weatherproofing will be stated in the form of an IP rating. However, what does it mean if you see something that is IP 55, IP 56, etc.?
IP stands for Intrusion Protection. The following two digits denote the level of protection the product (your TV) is designed to protect from objects/particles (first number) and moisture (second number).
First Number Scale
0: no protection
1: protection against objects >50mm (your hand)
2: protection against objects >25mm (your finger)
3: protection against objects >2.5mm (a screwdriver)
4: protection against objects >1mm (a wire)
5: Dust protection, but a limited amount may enter that will not interfere with the operation of the product
6: Dust-tight – no dust will enter
Second Number Scale
0: no protection
1: Protection from falling water droplets (vertical)
2: Protection from falling water droplets (15° from vertical)
3: Protection from spray water, up to 60° from vertical
4: Protection from water splashes from all directions
5: Protection from low-pressure water jets from all directions
6: Protection from high-pressure water jets from all directions
7: Can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter
8: Can be submerged in water for longer than 30 minutes at a depth up to 3 meters. The manufacturer will specify the exact time limit and depth
9: Protection against high pressure and high-temperature water jets
Most outdoor TVs will have a rating of 5 or 6 for the first number. Additionally, most outdoor TVs will have a rating of 4-6 for the second number. In summary, you will often find outdoor TVs rated as IP 54, IP 55, IP 56, IP 64, IP 65, or IP 66, with some being more prevalent than others. The one that is right for you will depend on where you plan to place your TV outside.
Outdoor TV protection: Should I cover my outdoor TV?
You can provide extra protection to your TV by buying a cover, enclosure, or cabinet.
- Covers can provide additional protection from dust and water, especially if you bought a TV with a lower IP rating. Additionally, covers can provide some protection against dings and scratches to your TV.
- Enclosures and Cabinets, like covers, can provide additional protection from dust and water. Given that these are sturdier materials, these can also provide extra protection from hard objects hitting the TV.
TV Brightness: How bright should my outdoor TV be?
Outdoor TVs are designed to have a brighter display than regular indoor TVs due to sunlight making screens look dim. You may experience this effect when you use your phone outside – the screen may automatically get brighter, so you can see your screen better due to the ambient light outside.
The way to measure screen brightness is by ‘nits.’ Simply, nits measure the display brightness. Indoor TVs usually have nits from 200-400 brightness. If you have an outdoor TV in the shade, you will need a TV rated 400-700 nits. If you have a TV in direct sunlight, you will need a TV with 700+ nits (preferably 1000 or more).
TV Mount Types: What are the different ways to mount an outdoor TV?
There are several ways to mount your outdoor TV, but the best way to mount your TV will depend upon the location you expect to place your TV. Below are several mounting options:
- Wall mount: This is the most popular way to mount TVs outdoors and indoors. Wall mounts can come with different swivel, tilt, and pan options to offer the best positioning for your TV.
- Ceiling mount: These are mounts that attach to the ceiling of your patio, porch, or overhang. These can be adjusted to give you an appropriate viewing angle for your backyard setup.
- Pole mount: These options offer the ability to place a TV when there isn’t a wall or ceiling area to mount the TV, especially if you want to put a TV in an open area.
- Table mount: Table mounts offer the ability to mount a TV to an outdoor table securely.
TV Mount Considerations: How do I find the right mount for my outdoor TV?
As you shop for TV mounts, ensure that the mount you chose is rated for outdoor use. Additionally, you will need to ensure that the mount you select fits the specifications of your TV:
- Weight: Most mounts will state a weight limit that they can hold. Ensure that your TV does not exceed this weight limit
- Size: Most mounts will state a TV size (in inches) that it can support. For example, a mount may note that it is appropriate for TVs from 50-75”. Ensure that your TV falls within the stated size limits of the mount
- Mounting holes (VESA pattern): An essential specification is the mounting hole pattern (or size) of your TV and the mount – these need to be compatible. For example, your TV may have a VESA pattern of 400×400. You need to ensure your mount can support a 400×400 VESA pattern. Both of these dimensions should be prominently stated in the specifications for both the TV and mount.