Create an outdoor home theater: part one

Written by
  • Shelagh M.
  • 7 years ago

Create an outdoor home theater for summer viewing under the stars.

If you are feeling nostalgic for the drive-in, you can re-capture the fun of watching by creating your own outdoor home theater. You’ll need to do a few adjustments and you’ll be set to go in no time.

Location, location, location

First you’ll need a designated storage space that is secure and dry for your equipment. Your garage or storage shed is probably the most convenient spot.
Find the best location that avoids streetlights or backyard lighting since the yellow light will wash out the picture on screen taking away from the viewing fun. Be sure to set up away from the swimming pool and BBQ since water and smoke are enemies of your projector.
Depending the location your driveway might be a suitable spot since it’s already got a level surface where you can set up your projector, screen, loudspeaker and chairs.
You’ll want room for your screen but also close proximity to electricity. Be sure to use a heavy-duty extension cord and plug into a clear circuit that won’t overload and cause a power outage on the middle of the flick.

Protection, protection, protection

Protect your projector from humidity and moisture by placing it either inside or on a lower shelf of your rack. Make sure there is still plenty of air circulation along the sides and back of the projector to prevent it from overheating and shutting down. On really hot days you may need to add a supplementary external fan for additional cooling.
Have an umbrella or a plastic sheet handy in case there are sudden showers. Be sure you can quickly move the equipment into your dry storage spot. Never leave the equipment out overnight since the morning dew will ruin your equipment.

Timing is everything

You can’t fight Mother Nature when it comes to projecting movies outside. That means sunlight is going to wash the screen no matter how much your turn up the lights. Watching at dusk will give you haze on the screen and a full moon will wash out the screen. Wait until the sun goes down and choose an evening with very little moon so you can get the black levels and contrasts needed for a great picture.


Be sure to let your neighbors know you are setting up your outdoor theater. Invite them over for a hassle free evening so you can be sure you’re not keeping them up against their will. It’s also a good idea to keep the movie PG since younger children may be able to see your screen from nearby windows.
Read about what screen to choose and how the adjust your projector for outdoors movie viewing in Create an outdoor home theatre part two.


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