How do I set up my decorations outside?

Decorating outside is a great way to dazzle your decorating audience. However, most projection equipment is not designed for outdoor use, which creates some unique challenges. If you want to try decorating outdoors, please follow the tips in this article to make sure your decorating is safe, effective, and well-executed.

Safety Concerns

If you want to set up a projector outdoors, first please consider the following potential dangers!

  • Rain - Rain can permanently destroy your projector. Even a light mist can cause damage so projectors should be covered in a well ventilated space.
  • Dirt and Dust - Projectors have vents which can suck in dirt and dust particles. Protect your projector from all small particles by keeping it a clean environment.
  • Ventilation - Projectors require airflow to avoid overheating. Do not block cooling fans or place a projector in and enclosure with poor airflow.
  • Extreme Temperatures - If your weather is very hot or very cold, outside exposure can damage your projector. Do not use in freezing temperatures or high heat.
  • Theft - Expensive equipment left outside can be stolen. Don’t leave your projector unattended.

Although some weatherproof projectors do exist, they are usually remarkably expensive. Most projectors are not weather-sealed and can be damaged by exposure to rain or dirt. That’s why weather damage will void the warranty on most digital projectors. 

The biggest challenge when using a projector outside is to protect the projector from rain and dirt but still allow proper ventilation. Projectors produce a lot of heat, and can become permanently damaged by overheating. To keep your decorating gear safe, you should consider an outdoor projector enclosure. We’ll get into more detail about enclosures later.

Projector Specifications

There is a wide variety of projectors out there, and not every projector will work well for outdoor decorating. So, before you get too far picking out the right enclosure, it’s a good idea to test your projector outside.

The most important conditions to consider are your projector's brightness and the light levels around your display surface. Some projectors may not be bright enough to create a visible display, depending on your environment, especially if you plan to decorate before night time. Other competing light sources like street lamps or passing headlights can make your decorations hard to see.

The size of your display is also very important to consider. All projectors have a limit on how large your projection can be before it loses focus. If you’re trying to project onto a very large surface, first find out the biggest possible image size your projector can create. This is called “throw distance.” To learn more about throw distance, click here to read our Help Center article on the subject.

Projector Enclosures

Professional-grade outdoor enclosures do exist on the market, and they are designed to be both waterproof and properly ventilated, so that your projector can stay dry without overheating. They may also feature a lock to help secure your projector from theft. Unfortunately, these options can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If buying a pre-made enclosure sounds like a good solution for you, find out more by searching for “outdoor projector enclosures” in your favorite search engine.

Lots of decorators create custom enclosures at home, which has lots of potential to add a creative touch to your display. To see some examples from other AtmosFX fans, click here to read our blog article about DIY projector enclosures.

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