Spring has sprung, and we’re fast approaching those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer. And that means it’s time for some fun in the sun. So why not move your next party or hangout session outdoors?
You can have access in your backyard to all the same entertainment systems you can access from your living room couch. However, the setup might look completely different.
Therefore, to help you out, we’ve written a complete guide to setting up an outdoor entertainment system for your mobile home.
Outdoor entertainment system must-haves
What makes home entertainment systems exciting is that you can create a tailor-made setup. You get to pick and choose what you want and need. This way, you can prioritize certain aspects of the system and also leave out other aspects, which can be good for your budget.
Do you go nuts for surround sound? Or would you rather opt for quality over quantity in terms of speakers?
It’s all up to you.
Nevertheless, there are some essentials that feature in most setups – big or small. And they include the following.
First, you need to make sure that you buy speakers that are made specifically for outdoor use. Your regular indoor system won’t cut it.
Outdoor speakers need to be able to handle anything that the great outdoors can throw at them. This includes snow, rain, wind, temperature fluctuations, and so forth.
Luckily, the quality of these speakers keeps on improving. Now you can even buy ones that will visually blend in with your garden. For example, Niles has designed a whole series of outdoor speakers that look like rocks.
Cables and connections
Next, you want to make sure that you get CL2 or CL3 rated in-wall speaker cable. You will probably need an entire spool. It’s generally a good idea to buy a length of cable that’s slightly longer than you need.
However, if you are going to run parts of the cable underground, you should get special wiring that is appropriate for underground conditions.
Also, keep connections safe by using banana plugs instead of bare wire.
Don’t try hosting or hanging out in the dark.
You will most likely want to use and enjoy your entertainment system at night. So this means you will want to install lighting so that you can easily use and navigate the space at night.
Aside from this, you can use lights to bring some magic to your backyard. Warm bulbs can create an inviting atmosphere and a beautiful backdrop for your party. String lights can be another fantastic addition.
If you want more control, you can add a smart lighting system to the mix. This can give you the ability to adjust the lights as you wish or even set them to change automatically.
Content source device
Another crucial addition to your outdoor entertainment system is a content source device. Simply put, this is the device from which you can play the content that you want, such as a movie or music.
You could go with a wireless setup to which you can connect via Bluetooth or Wifi.
Otherwise, you can add a DVD or CD player to the mix. If you don’t want to buy a dedicated device, you could also plug in a laptop when needed and move it when you’re done.
Television or screen
You can take your outdoor entertainment system to the next level by adding a television or screen. Imagine how much fun it would be to host a movie night under the stars or watch the big game while you barbecue.
You have two main options for this. First, you can buy a television. Once again, you need to make sure that it is specifically meant for outdoor use. These models have all kinds of additional features, such as features that can help to reduce glare.
On the other hand, you can go “old school.” You can hang a pair of white sheets for a screen and set up a video projector. The visual quality might not be as good. But this option scores brownie points for the almost unlimited size of the screen.
Centralized control system
Finally, you will need a way to control the various parts of your entertainment system.
In these days of smart technology, many people opt to control their setup through their phone, tablet, or PC. Systems to do this are improving at an astounding rate. In some cases, you might even get an app that allows you to control your lighting, audio, and visuals from one virtual place.
Another option is to invest in an AV receiver. In short, this is a device that can receive audio and video signals from multiple sources. It can then process them and route them to output devices like monitors and speakers. You can also power some of the smaller pieces through the receiver.
From here, you can control aspects like the volume of the audio on the different speakers and so on. The more pieces you add to your setup, the handier an AV receiver becomes.
You can even connect your indoor entertainment system to your outdoor one if you have an amplifier that is powerful enough.
Now that we have the necessities out of the way, you can start thinking about any extras you might add. These are all optional. However, they can help to round out the setup and enhance your experience.
Here are our favorite bonus additions to an outdoor entertainment system:
- Security camera or alarm to protect your equipment
- Bar fridge
- Comfortable seating
- A charging port for your devices
- Bug screen.
Outdoor entertainment challenges
Before you start installing wires and even buying speakers, you should get a grip on potential challenges that await you. Generally, there are several obstacles that you need to work around with any outdoor entertainment system.
These will be specific to your mobile home, park, and lot.
Weather in the great outdoors
As we’ve mentioned, your outdoor entertainment system will need to withstand all kinds of weather conditions. Purchasing specialized speakers and appliances is a significant first step. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so you still want to be smart about how you treat even your weatherproof tech.
Preferably, you will still place any electrical appliance or cable where it will be relatively protected. For example, you don’t want to put a speaker in a depression in the ground where water can build up.
Unfortunately, costs can run quite high whenever you are putting together an entertainment system. In the end, you might need to buy a whole host of devices, each of which can be quite expensive.
Therefore, you want to set out a clear budget from the beginning. Work out exactly how much you can spend and what you can get with that amount.
Don’t try to “wing it.” You might run out of money and end up with a system that doesn’t work because you can’t buy a powerful enough amplifier or can’t buy a source device.
If you blast your music way too loud, you might become the new noisy neighbor in your park. Keep in mind that the walls of a building can help to block and muffle the sound when you’re dealing with indoor setups. But when the speakers are outside, there are fewer barriers to travel through.
Surprisingly, noise isn’t only a nuisance. It can, in fact, negatively impact people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, policies like The Noise Control Act of 1972 have been put in place to curb sound pollution.
These regulations place restrictions on the levels and type of noise that are permitted at certain times. The policies and their enforcement can vary widely between states and local governments, so it’s essential to do your research.
Besides that, landlords and parks usually have their own rules regarding noise. For example, your rental contract might state that you can’t play the music that disturbs your neighbors after eight o’clock in the evening.
So be mindful of where you place your speakers, how may you will have, and how loud they will be.
Sound waves don’t travel the same way outside that they do in an enclosed space as they usually reflect off walls. This means that both the quality and volume of the system can be affected when you’re in an outdoor environment. Your audio might end up sounding whiny and soft, instead of loud and full.
One effect of this is that you often need more power to reach the right level of performance with your speakers.
Installing an outdoor entertainment system
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of solution for installing outdoor entertainment systems. Typically, there are just too many factors that are unique to each setup to offer one “right” way. But we can give you some general guidance on how to install systems for different types of environments.
How to install a system for a small area
All in all, this is the least challenging option for an outdoor entertainment system setup. You can control the sound much better, and you will have a far smaller area to cover. As a result, stereo speakers are typically perfect for this.
The best way to place them is to put each speaker in its own corner on the same horizontal line. Angle each of them to face slightly inwards. You want people to be able to hear audio from both of them at the same time, so you shouldn’t place them farther than ten feet apart.
If your porch is completely covered, it’s best to go with in-ceiling speakers. Otherwise, you can mount them under the eaves of your mobile home.
This setup will also give you the option of merely running wires through the walls to power the equipment.
Wireless vs. wired
Undoubtedly, small, individual, wireless Bluetooth speakers can be the easiest to set up. You can move them around, place them “wherever,” and connect them to your phone. Then you’re ready to play your favorite tunes.
However, they usually aren’t suitable for wide-open spaces. Their sound quality and noise level often aren’t enough for the outdoors.
And keep in mind that many inexpensive portable Bluetooth speakers aren’t optimized as well for panning. (This refers to a sound mixing technique where different sounds or instruments skew toward the right or left “channel” of an audio setup).
So you might not be getting the best out of the music.
The one place Bluetooth speakers can work fairly well is on your patio or in another small space where people won’t be too spread out.
How to install a system for a large yard
Here is where it gets tricky. If you want to cover your whole yard with sound, you will need to divide the area into zones. Generally, you can think of this as the rough equivalent of setting up an indoor entertainment system where you have several rooms.
In this case, a stereo speaker setup like the one above usually won’t work. Instead, you want individual speakers which can play both the left and right channels at the same time.
Your two main options are to buy ones with both left and right connections or to buy an amp that can combine the two signals before sending it to the speakers.
Significantly, you will need a more powerful multichannel amp for this type of setup.
You might want to draw out some plans for the layout of the entertainment system first to ensure you can get a similar audio experience in each area. Some trial and error will probably be involved. In most cases, it works best here to place the speakers on the ground.
In all, it will probably work best to run the wires for this type of setup underground. To protect them, you can run them through hard plastic pipes.
Get the party going
Hopefully, this guide has shown you that you don’t need to leave your home to be entertained. All you need is time, basic DIY skills, and tech items to install the entertainment system of your dreams.
You can easily transform your mobile home into a place you want to spend all your time. For more ideas on how to turn up the fun, check out these apps that can help keep you busy and the best indoor entertainment updates for 2020.