Digital Decorating 101: Outdoor Decorating, Part 2 - Setting up a Projector Outside

Welcome to back to Digital Decorating 101! In our last article, we started looking at how to create some awesome outdoor displays using audio. Now let’s examine how to maximize the visuals with well-chosen projector placement. (Updated September 2021)

Creating Outdoor Effects with Digital Projectors

Combining AtmosFX Digital Decorations with a little creativity can produce so many different types of awe-inspiring effects. Some of the most dazzling examples we’ve seen involve placing a projector outside to project onto outdoor props, Hollusion Projection Material, or directly on the walls of a house. Decorators like Brent Franker, Shawn Beuscher, and James Mandell have all won acclaim as an AtmosFAN of the Week with their outdoor projections.

Brent Franker dazzled his neighborhood with a yard display using 14 projectors! Go Brent!

After seeing examples like these, many decorators want to know how they can create outdoor effects too. However, most projection equipment is not designed for outdoor use, which creates many 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.
  • Dirt and Dust - Projectors have vents which can suck in dirt and dust particles. Protect your projector from all small particles.
  • Ventilation - Projectors require airflow to avoid overheating. Do not block cooling fans or place a projector in a box with no airflow.
  • Extreme Temperatures - If your climate is too hot or too 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.

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.

Most projectors are not weather-sealed and can be damaged by exposure to rain or dirt. That’s why using a projector outside will void the warranty on most digital projectors, including the AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kits.

Although some weatherproof projectors do exist, they are usually remarkably expensive. To keep your decorating gear safe, you should consider an outdoor projector enclosure. We’ll get into more detail about enclosures later.

Projector Specifications

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

You’ll need a very bright projector to create a good-looking decoration, especially if you plan to decorate before night time. Other light sources like street lamps can make your decoration harder to see. Some projectors may not be bright enough to create a visible decoration, depending on your environment and the limitations of your projector.

The size of your projection is also very important to consider. All projectors have a maximum throw distance that limits how large your projection can be before it is out of focus. If you’re trying to project onto a very large surface, first find out the largest possible image size your projector can create.


The size of your projection is determined by your projector’s throw distance

Professional Outdoor Projector Enclosures

Professional-grade outdoor enclosures do exist on the market, and they are designed to be both waterproof and completely ventilated so that your projector can stay dry without overheating. They may also feature a lock to secure your projector from theft.

Professional outdoor projector enclosures do exist but can get pricey quickly.

Unfortunately, these options can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If it sounds like a good solution for you, find out more by searching for “outdoor projector enclosures” in your favorite search engine.

There are also lots of great ways to make your own DIY projector enclosure. For the final article in the series, we’ll be taking a close look at some of those options in the next article in this series.

Click the links to see the other articles in this series:

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