A study reveals integrators’ specific product feature desires, with durability in finishes and connections topping demands. The median number of outdoor projects in 2019 is 10 at a $9,500 Canadian price point.

Audio is still the king of outdoor installations. Dealers report that 73% of their outdoor projects last year included speakers. Networking was the next-most-common subsystem, with 51.4% of projects including an outdoor access point. Video surveillance was next (50.8%), following by video (45%) and landscape lighting (28%).

Breaking down the audio components, obviously running cable is going to be the most common task, with 55% of outdoor projects requiring dealers to bury cable underground. On the speaker side, buried in-ground models are the most common product used with 33% of projects including them. Staked satellite speakers are a close second, with 30% of projects including them.

Meanwhile, 70V products continue to gain favour. They are used in 28% of projects, which represents solid growth from last year when dealers said they used 70V products in 23% of their outdoor jobs. The use of outdoor amps is also on the rise, with 16% of projects now including one, up from 9% last year. The use of outdoor soundbars and rock speakers also rose in 2019.

On the video side, it’s no surprise that flat-panel TVs are prevalent, used in 46% of outdoor video projects. Dealers still report that they are installing indoor TVs from manufacturers like SonySamsung and LG Electronics outdoors, but more are using environmental enclosures. The percentage of projects with an outdoor weatherproof enclosure rose to 11%, up from 9% last year. Meanwhile, outdoor projectors and screens were used 6% of the time. That is still a small number but it represents a significant jump from the year prior when just 3% of outdoor video projects used a projector/screen combination.

Here are the most installed outdoor brands according to our 188 respondents.

On the lighting side, security lighting is the No. 1 most-used type of lighting installed (22%) of projects, while pathway lighting is also common (21% of projects). More decorative lighting, such as wall washes and accent lights for plants and trees are also high on the list of installed exterior lighting systems. The biggest growth category for lighting is exterior motorized shades.

In 2018, integrators reported installing exterior shades on 6% of outdoor projects. In 2019, that number grew by 50% to 9%.

From a networking standpoint, outdoor access points are installed frequently. Cellphone signal boosters, weather stations, pool and spa controls and waterproof remotes are all niche solutions. In terms of security, outdoor video surveillance cameras are by far the most common products installed.

Challenges and Service Agreements

One new question for this year’s survey related to service agreements. Integrators are seeing opportunities to cover outdoor systems with service agreements, primarily due to the need to replace equipment that can be damaged by the weather, or more commonly by landscapers. Accent lighting on plants is another common installation that is well suited for a service agreement because as the plant or tree grows, the accent lights will need to be adjusted. However, service agreements specifically for outdoor technology are still rare. Dealers report that just 5% of their outdoor installations are covered by a service agreement.

The biggest challenge faced by installers in the outdoor environment is one that is not dissimilar to a big hurdle on a project inside the home: working with the designer or architect. Dealing with the landscape architect is the No. 1 challenge dealers face, according to the survey. Weather-related concerns also remain a problem for many dealers.