What makes outdoor TVs weatherproof? Exactly how weatherproof do you need one to be?
You want to choose the best outdoor TV for your home or business, but how to make sense of all the techno jargon?
I hope that this article will help to make sense of at least one aspect of shopping for Outdoor TVs: Weatherproof Ratings.
In this article, I'll be answering the following questions:
- What makes an outdoor TV good for “outdoors”?
- What are the Outdoor Elements?
- How are Outdoor TVs Weatherproof-Rated?
- What is IP Rating?
- How much Weatherproofing do you need?
Ok, let's get started…
What Makes a TV an Outdoor TV?
First things first. What is an outdoor TV, and what makes it good to use outdoors?
In an article I wrote about How to Choose the Best Outdoor TV, I said that an outdoor television has two jobs:
- Withstand outdoor elements; and
- Provide good picture in outdoor light.
I've already written articles about outdoor TV brightness and picture quality. So, in this article, I'm going to talk a bit about those outdoor elements, and outdoor TVs weatherproofing.
What are the “Outdoor Elements”?
The “outdoor elements” that will affect your outdoor TV are more than simply “bad weather” like rain and snow.
Your TV is exposed to a number of “threats” to its circuitry and functionality, simply by being outdoors.
Temperatures can fluctuate between very cold to very hot, from night to day, and from season to season.
Rain and humidity bring water; Wind brings dust and salt; Insects bring themselves.
For those reasons, outdoor TVs are designed to handle a number of outdoor elements, including:
- Extreme Temperatures
- Precipitation (rain, sleet, snow…)
- High Humidity
- Salt Air
Despite that long list of threats to outdoor TVs, weatherproofing against them comes down to these two categories:
- Extreme temperature changes
- Invasive particles and liquids
In other words, resisting damage from heat or cold, or from stuff getting into your TV, is what makes outdoor TVs weatherproof.
Each of the many outdoor TVs weatherproof against these outdoor elements a little bit differently. Some better, or more thoroughly, than others.
And, of course, the better the outdoor TV handles these categories, the more expensive it will be.
So, the trick to saving money on an outdoor TV is to be aware of the level of weatherproofing you need.
Then, you'll be able to narrow down your options to only those outdoor TVs that handle your particular environment. Rather than just buying the most expensive of the outdoor tvs weatherproofed to handle elements that aren't even a threat in your particular situation.
So, how are the two categories of outdoor TVs weatherproof levels rated?
Outdoor TVs Weatherproof Ratings
Two categories of weatherproofing means two ratings to look at:
Let's look at Temperature first, since it's the simplest.
While the electrical components of a regular indoor TV are generally designed to work at room temperatures (from about 50°F to 90°F), outdoor TVs are built to work in extremely colder and hotter temperatures.
Without getting too much into the tech of it, I'd say that all you really need to know here is that you need to match the temperature range of your outdoor TV to your environment.
Ratings will simply be upper and lower temperature limits at which you can operate the TV.
I've seen some rated to work from as freezing cold as -30°F (yes, minus 30°) to as sweltering hot as 140°F.
(Why the heck anyone would want to watch TV outside at these temperatures is beyond me, but there ya go.) 🤷🏽♂️
So, ask yourself: What are the highest and lowest temperatures in my area?
If your outdoor TV installation is permanent and year-round, you'll want the high temps of summer and the low temps of winter.
Or, if it will only be installed temporarily for certain time of the year, just get the range for that season—taking cold nights and hot days into consideration.
Then, make sure your outdoor TV is rated to work at those extremes.
IP Ratings for “Weather-Resistance”
“IP Rating” is a fancy-looking technical term being used to describe outdoor TVs weatherproof levels in marketing.
For example, you might find an outdoor TV or enclosure that makes a claim something like:
“Weather-Resistant Durability IP57 Rated”
Sounds impressive! But, what does it mean, really?
Personally, I think it's overused and overly technical. But, it looks cool, and makes for good marketing.
And, actually, it's quite simple to understand.
“IP Rating” Simplified
“IP” stands for Ingress Protection. Ingress means “entering” or “getting inside.”
So, the IP Rating is a way of measuring how well outdoor TV weatherproofing keeps stuff that could potentially damage the TV from getting inside.
Here's a technical description:
What is IP Rating?
IP Rating is a 2-digit code followed by “IP” (for “Ingress Protection”) that rates the level of protection against the penetration of solids & dust (first digit), and liquids (second digit) in electronic device enclosures.
So, the big takeaway from that is, for your shopping purposes, you just only to look at those last two numbers.
In my example above, you would just toss away the “IP” and focus on the “5” and the “7” separately.
The first number goes from 1-6 and rates resistance to “solid objects” — where 1 refers to larger (“hand-sized”) objects, and 6 refers to small particles (like dust).
In the best outdoor TVs and enclosures, that first number is usually a “5” or a “6” where:
- Dust-Resistant: Protected against an amount of dust that could interfere with normal operation, but not fully dust-tight.
- Dust-Proof: Complete dust-tight protection.
At both of these levels, you wouldn't have to worry about insects getting inside to eat away at your electronics, or sand blowing into it. Salt in the air is defended against at the higher level, when combined with water resistance…
*NOTE: Ingress Protection is Not Physical Damage Protection
This Solids protection is against “ingress”—particles getting into the outdoor TV. Not protection from physical damage to the exterior. For example, this doesn't mean the TV is protected from rocks being thrown at the TV. For that kind of protection, look into an outdoor TV enclosure.
The second number rates resistance to liquid (or, more accurately, liquid applied under some level of pressure).
It goes from 1-8, where 1 is for “dripping water,” and 8 is for “full immersion in over 3 feet of water.”
For the best outdoor TVs, look for that second number to be anywhere from a “4” to an “8” where:
- Water-Resistant against splashes of water.
- Water-Resistant against jets of water.
- Water-Resistant against powerful water jets.
- Waterproof: can be submerged in up to 3 ft. of water.
- Waterproof: can be submerged in up to about 10 ft. of water.
Those lower numbers would be sufficient if you live in a drier climate. Or, if you mount the TV under a cover and only have to worry about light rain, or splashes from a nearby pool.
Higher numbers are better in a humid environment, or by a large body of water. Or, where you have your TV exposed consistently, in a climate where it “rains sideways” on occasion.
How Much Weatherproofing Do You Need?
Only you can decide how much weatherproofing you'll really need for your outdoor TV.
The important thing is to take inventory of your environment before selecting the best outdoor TV for your situation.
- Will the TV be installed year-round? Or, just temporarily in the warmer season?
- What are the coldest and hottest temperatures during that time?
- How much water will it be exposed to from rain, humidity, or splashing from people?
- Is it windy? Will the wind bring particles like sand or dust to the TV?
Then, you can determine the minimum levels of protection for your outdoor TVs. Weatherproofing doesn't have to be expensive or overly extensive.
I mean, if money is no object, then by all means buy the highest level available. If you're trying to save a bit of money, this could narrow your choices down to more affordable options.
I hope this article has been helpful in your research for buying the best outdoor TV. For more research, please check out my other articles about outdoor televisions.
If you have any questions, or advice for other readers about outdoor TVs weatherproof ratings, please add them to the comments below.
Thanks for reading,