Summer Living is Outside Living

When it’s summertime in Southern California, we tend to live most of our lives outside. The weather is warm, it doesn’t get dark until 8 o’clock, and we want to take advantage of the fact that most of our culture is on board with the summer relaxation mindset and encourages us to spend a little more time at play than at work. Why shouldn’t we continue that outdoor celebration when we’re at home?

Summer is the best season to establish your outdoor living space. Sure, people may have nice backyard furniture and a grill—but to really utilize your outdoor living, you also want to have your entertainment and technology outside with you. The best of barbecues have a little music—but this is also the season of world soccer championships and binge-watching all the shows you didn’t get to see because of a busy quarter at work. It’s a shame to have to go back inside, and you could bring the expensive flat-screen TV out to the patio, or lug the fancy speakers outside when you want to hang out in the hot tub or pool. But keep in mind that indoor electronics can suffer—not just from accidental splashes or knocks, but from the evening air, especially if there’s any moisture.

Fortunately, there are now many electronics made exclusively for the outdoors.

Outdoor flat-screen TVs:

Is there a difference between your living room flat-screen and one made for the outdoors? Absolutely. Outdoor TVs are made from heavy duty materials to be weather and temperature resistant and in some cases even rain-resistant. Often, they contain cooling fans and heaters to compensate for all-year weather. Another crucial feature of outdoor TVs is the anti-glare coating, which makes for easy and clear viewing even in daylight (this is a benefit that projector-and-screen systems do not have). Also, the built-in audio system is sufficient enough for a small viewing area—although for outdoors, an external audio system and surround sound is recommended for bigger spaces.

The downside? If there is one, these TVs usually don’t have the extras such as 3D or Smart TV systems. Also, because they are heavy-duty, they are more expensive than the equivalent LED/LCT TV.

SunBrite and SkyVue are two high-end brands that offer a variety of screen sizes in prices ranging from mid $2,000s to the $7,000s.

The Screen-and-Projector route:

This type of system is more “special event” than “everyday relaxing by the fire pit.” Of course there are the do-it-yourself options, evoking nights in high school with your parents’ white sheet hanging against the wall of the house and displaying Jack Torrance’s face coming through the chopped up bathroom door. And if you only plan on watching a movie outside once a year or two, then maybe this option is enough for you.

Otherwise, you can purchase a free-standing portable screen, offered in sizes as large as 100 inches. Your image will be much clearer, and if you go opt for a projector with a high lumens with a large screen, you can entertain a large group who will be able to see the screen from the back of a sizeable yard. Vivitek, Panasonic, and Epson are some of the best options, and they range in price. The best of these models range between $800-$1100.

Another option is the Open Air Cinema System, which provides a whole backyard theater system in one. You get a projector, Blu-ray player with speakers, and an inflatable screen that deflates for easy storage when not in use. Open Air Cinema System even offers a gaming option, packaged with a PlayStation 4. Screen sizes range from 9 to 20 feet, with options for 720p and 1080p HD. So far, Open Air Cinema System sells four residential packages, designed to accommodate between 30 and 500 guests.

Don’t forget the speakers:

You have built-in and wireless options, depending on your needs and preference. 2.0 systems are more cost effective and practical, as they require minimal wiring. There are many great models from Aperion Audio, B&W, Definitive Technology, Paradigm, and Polk Audio.

At Modern Home Systems, we favor the Sonance, which has both a Landscape Series and Sonarray and its eight satellite speakers and below-ground subwoofer that can beautifully fill a 2,000 square foot yard with sound—without blaring. Sonarray can be hidden under plants while the Landscape Series includes speakers that resemble rocks or blend in with your outdoor foliage for an unobtrusive but crystal-clear sound.

Sure, there are people who will ask, “Is this necessary?” Well, iPhones weren’t technically “necessary” until everyone had them and discovered they couldn’t live without them. And why not utilize every opportunity to spend outside in this great climate?

At Modern Home Systems, we can help you plan your entire home theater experience, as well as help you set up a personalized smart home. For additional information, contact us at