Decks and Patios Go High Tech

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 12, 2016 | Go to article overview

Decks and Patios Go High Tech


Byline: Erin Chan Ding CTW Features

Stars dot an inky sky. Heat lamps flare as shrimp skewers and tortilla chips dot tables of people chatting.

Songs by Drake and Demi Lovato thrum a rhythmic background as people surround a translucent, blue-tinged pool. A playoff game rivets a group surrounding a 65-inch TV that functions regardless of bright sun or relentless rain.

It could be the patio at a high-end Las Vegas sports lounge. Except it's not a sports lounge. It's a backyard deck.

Relaxing outdoors may have started with lawn chairs, a small table and a grill, but as the deck has evolved to become an extension of the home -- with accoutrements like cushy sectionals, fireplaces and hot tubs appearing -- families have created whole entertainment spaces outdoors.

"People are saying, 'Well, if I'm going to buy this nice patio set and this nice sofa or sectional to put on my patio, why not have some electronics, some sound or a TV to go along with that?' " says Jim Kozicki, the home audio and furniture buyer for Abt Electronics in Glenview. "It's all intertwined together. It really started with the improvement in outdoor furniture, and it's now gone full-bore into creating a true entertainment space on their patio and on their deck."

As weatherproof televisions withstand colder and hotter temperatures and patio heat lamps become more effective, geography and climate have proved less formidable obstacles to outdoor entertainment spaces.

Kerrie Kelly, an interior designer and founder of the Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, says changing deck and patio concepts have also contributed to the emergence of electronics outside.

"With the popularity of covered patios, televisions and the amenities that we enjoy indoors are effortlessly spilling outdoors, too," Kelly says. "This helps expand our square footage and allows us to use our living spaces in an entirely new way."

The start of electronics migrating to outdoor living spaces, Kozicki says, began with inflatable projection screens that hooked up to compressors, allowing people to watch movies in their backyards.

"But now it's grown beyond that, beyond the occasional thing of showing an occasional movie in their backyards to where they're actually building it as a permanent living space," Kozicki says. "So we're seeing that trend continue to evolve. It started out very rudimentary, and it's grown to a point where people are actually putting intricate sound systems and permanent TV structures on their patios."

When it comes to outdoor televisions, two brands, Kozicki says, have come to the forefront, Sura and SunBrite TV. These TVs can withstand extreme temperatures because as along as they're plugged in, he says, they have an internal thermostat that regulates the temperature of the television.

The Sura Storm Ultra Bright series is designed to withstand temperature variations from -30 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit while SunBrite Pro televisions can operate from -40 to 122 degrees. Both brands of televisions can withstand weather elements like rain, snow, sleet and dust and have anti-glare capacity so that bright sunlight doesn't warp or blackout images. …

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