Nothing says summer like watching a favorite movie outside in the fresh air. Luckily, you don’t need to wait for your city park or art’s center to put on a screening – you can create your own, private outdoor cinema for backyard movie nights at home. You may even already have some of thealready, things that can be from other rooms around your house.
What you’ll find below is a list of someto help achieve the and for a backyard movie night. You can also grab cushions, pillows and a lawn chair or two to accommodate as much seating as you need around the projection screen. Just don’t forget the popcorn, ice cream and other .
For the biggest movies you’re going to need a projector. Any projector will work, but the brighter it is, the easier it will be to see the picture. That’s especially important outdoors, when even on a dark night some ambient light — from your neighbors, your deck lights or tiki torches — can affect the picture. Brightness also determines how large an image a projector can create. The Epson Home Cinema 2250 is one of the brightest projectors we’ve ever reviewed, and it’s able to create a fantastic image overall.
There are also plenty of other projectors to choose from. Here’s a list of some alternatives for backyard movie night.
- Epson’s ($1,000) is smaller than the 2250, and has a better speaker built-in, although it’s not as bright.
- The ($550) is even dimmer, but it has an internal battery so you don’t need to be near an outlet.
- The ($800) is a cute little lunchbox of light, and has pretty good speakers too. It’s a little expensive, but it’s 1080p.
- The ($2,800) is more expensive, but it’s super bright and detailed, and one of our top choices in 4K outdoor projectors for the money. This would make an excellent choice for regular indoor movie nights too.
See our list of, and for other options.
Assuming you don’t have analready, you could bring your outside. Keep in mind, however, that TVs are very delicate. One wrong twist and you can crack the screen. Even small TVs should be carried by two people. Treat it like you’re carrying a thin, expensive sheet of glass. Technically, that’s exactly what it is. . That’s sure to destroy it, and quickly.
You’re also not going to want to rely on any projector’s built-in speaker. Here are some options to let you hear the movie as well as see it.
Anker’s $109 Soundcore Motion Boom is what Executive Editor David Carnoy calls a mini boombox speaker. It has a big handle, weighs a little over 4 pounds and even floats.
If you’re using a traditional projector, you’re going to have to run electrical power. Since you’re running power anyway, why not just connect an actual speaker? A good soundbar will be significantly louder than a Bluetooth speaker, and probably sound a lot better too.
We like the inexpensive Vizio V21, which can connect via HDMI or analog and produces a surprising amount of bass for its size and price. More expensive soundbars might have better sound overall, but you can’t beat the Vizio for its combination of price and power.
Don’t forget that you’ll need a cable to connect it to the projector. Nearly all projectors have an analog audio output, which can connect to most soundbars including Vizio. Some have HDMI, so you’ll need anfrom the soundbar to the projector.
We don’t have a specific suggestion here, but we do have a few tips while you’re looking.
Rigid-frame screens are more expensive and a little harder to assemble, but are more resilient against wind and typically have smoother screens for a better overall image.
Inflatable screens need to be secured to the ground, and any wind is going to set them rocking. However, they tend to be easier to set up and take down. Keep in mind that their fans run constantly, so in a smaller or enclosed yard, this can be annoying.
There are also infinite DIY options; basically anything fairly reflective and lacking color will work. It’s worth noting that you’ll be able to see any texture in the screen’s surface, so a garage door or the side of your house won’t be ideal because you’ll see any design, seams or imperfections.
The easiest way to get something to watch on your outdoor projector is via a streaming stick. Most modern projectors have a USB connection so you can connect a streaming stick without running an additional power cord.
We like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K for its ease of use and wide range of content options. It’s also a better choice than the Roku Express 4K Plus because it’s a streaming stick, not a small box. Or you can kill two birds — sound and streaming — by choosing the Roku Streambar.
This assumes your home’s Wi-Fi is strong enough to reach into your yard. If it’s not, we’ve got some ways to fix that, below.
Depending where and how strong your Wi-Fi router is, you may not have enough signal to stream anything in your yard. You might be able to fix that: Check out the Wi-Fi tips in our article on how to improve internet speeds for Netflix, Hulu and more.
If none of those options works, consider a Wi-Fi extender. These connect to your main Wi-Fi, then broadcast essentially “more” Wi-Fi from a different point in your house. We like the TP-Link RE220 (aka the AC750). As Ry Crist said in his review, “Nothing else I tested was able to match [the RE220’s] level of performance, which makes the RE220 a steal at $30.”
Or just tether your phone
Another option that might work is to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. This uses a cellular signal for internet, and then broadcasts a little Wi-Fi bubble near the phone. Streaming a movie chews through data, though, so make sure you’ve got plenty or are on an unlimited plan.
Most modern phones have a feature that lets you create a hotspot. Once it’s active, you just connect the streaming stick or projector to it just like it’s “normal” Wi-Fi., but will work for connecting any device.
Keep in mind, too, that running a hotspot typically drains your battery fairly quickly, so you should also consider a, or plug it in via an extension cord.
If your Wi-Fi isn’t strong enough to reach your makeshift theater, and you don’t want to burn through all your mobile data, Blu-ray players are very inexpensive and should have your viewing needs covered. You still have some discs, right?
For the most part we recommend getting a 4K Blu-ray player at this point. They’re only a little more expensive, will play standard DVDs and Blu-rays too, and 4K discs are the best way to take advantage of a 4K-compatible TV or projector (and I’m assuming you’ll be using this for indoor movie nights as well). Theshown here is our pick for .
Alternatively, you could get aor an for some outdoor gaming on a huge screen. Both also play Ultra HD 4K Blu-rays.
Having one of these is important for any high-performance outdoor theater. The outdoor ones are far more rugged, so they should survive being stepped on no problem. I like the ones with. It’s better to have too many than too few. Connecting this to a grounded or GFCI outlet is probably wise as well.
Or you could connect a power strip with a fuse in it, but these aren’t designed for use outside, so proceed at your own risk
Lastly, this is the thing that kept me sane through quarantine. Don’t underestimate the relaxing powers of a good hammock. You could get one from Hammock Hut, Hammocks-R-Us, Put-Your-Butt-There — really any will do. I’ve had for years and it has held up surprisingly well.
The only problem with watching a movie in one is that you’ll be asleep halfway through the second act. Nothing wrong with that.
As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000 mile road trips, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all his tours and adventures.