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5 Steps to a Better Outdoor Entertainment Space

A study by the American Institute of Architects showed that as homeowners look to make improvements, outdoor living spaces top the list. To create an outdoor space that you will use, even more, technology is a key element. HTA Certified home technology professionals can expertly outfit your outdoor spaces with technology in such a way that it will actually add value to your home in the long run. Here are some important things to consider when taking your entertainment outside.

1. Call a Home Tech Pro Early in Your Planning:

Outdoor audio video comes with a very unique set of requirements, from running outdoor wiring to locating equipment for optimal performance. That's why it's important to reach out to a home technology professional early in the process if the technology is in your plan. By making accommodations for outdoor entertainment from the beginning, you'll save both time and money by getting it right from the outset.

2. Extend Your Home Network Outside:

A home network may not be as exciting as that beautiful, big-screen TV. But then again, neither is trying to watch Hulu or Netflix only to have it freeze up because your home network is not up to snuff. And nothing will kill the mood like music cutting in and out because your Wi-Fi network is out of range. As an extension of your home's existing Wi-Fi network, outdoor networking devices ensure coverage that is as good poolside as it is in your home office. A home technology integrator knows the best outdoor-rated network components and where to locate them for even Wi-Fi coverage, everywhere. For a truly ideal outdoor entertainment setup, your home tech partner will hard-wire permanent outdoor TVs and speakers for reliability and the best audio and video performance.

3. The More (Outdoor Speakers) the Merrier:

Getting a great music experience outside can be a challenge, as sound can be dwarfed by the endless expanse of the great outdoors. The secret to excellent outdoor sound is having multiple speakers carefully placed throughout your entertaining space. This solution gives even sound coverage that envelops your landscape without having the problem of a few speakers turned up louder to try filling the expanse. Your neighbors will thank you. Luckily, options abound for powerful outdoor speakers that come in a variety of form factors. Some are designed to hide and blend in, others resemble architectural sculpture. Speakers that virtually disappear into the landscape may look like landscape lighting, others look like rocks or double as a planter. Some speaker designs use natural stone, such as marble, and blend into classical gardens. For a little extra bass, your technology integrator can bury subwoofers in the ground so that you barely notice they're there. In-ceiling speakers are great for tucking under an overhang, and can be custom-finished to match the surrounding structure. Whatever your space requires, music can be part of that plan without detracting from your carefully crafted outdoor aesthetic, not to mention the beauty of nature. Have a larger outdoor area to play with? A skilled home technology professional can create several outdoor areas that can be used simultaneously. You can control these “zones” of audio individually so that mom and dad can listen to a podcast on the patio while the kids listen to Spotify by the pool. Have an outdoor space that's plagued by adjacent street noise, leaf blowing gardeners, or whirring AC units? You can also treat your outdoors for acoustics. HTA Resource SH Acoustics, for example, is often brought onto a project by the architect when outdoor areas are overrun by noise. Barrier fences that are within code, noise cancellation techniques, landscaping, and more can all help to abate noisy outdoor speakers.

4. The Big Screen Experience, Al Fresco:

Outdoor TVs, while more expensive than indoor models, are rugged and designed to perform better in harsh sunlight. These TVs are extremely bright, can withstand snow, humidity, extreme heat, and even bugs! And if you want to hide it when not in use, your HTA Certified installer can install a motorized lift mechanism so the TV disappears when not in use. Large outdoor LED video walls are making headway as an option for residences. Commonly used for advertising purposes, LED video walls offer a bright, customizable, and weather-ready viewing experience for outdoor applications at home. If you're looking for a more cinematic experience, your integrator can engineer a projector and screen for outdoor use. They can install a lift so that the screen cleverly pops out of a storage bench or descends from the roofline of your home. While it's not a good idea to leave your video projector outside, your integrator can install it in weatherproof housing and ensure the projector is bright enough to watch outside. Another option is to mount a rear projection screen on an exterior wall so that the projector shines on the screen from behind and is therefore located safely inside the home.

5. Add Ambiance with Smart Lighting:

Exterior lighting is a necessity for any outdoor space, though should do more than simply illuminate the deck while you cook or light pathways. Properly designed and installed light fixtures can add ambiance, accentuate architectural and landscape features, and create the ideal atmosphere for outdoor entertaining.

By integrating light switches and dimmers into a control system, your home technology expert can automate lights to activate at certain times of the day or when they receive a command from your smartphone or tablet. Your integrator can also configure preset lighting scenes that stage lights to suit the occasion and integrate with other technology features. Touch “Party,” for example, and multiple zones of music begin to play at preset volume levels, walkways are illuminated, landscape lighting is turned on, the outdoor fireplace is lit, and water features, like a fountain or hot tub, begin to do their thing.

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