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Waterproof Outdoor Speakers or Weatherproof Speakers?

Outdoor speakers need to be able to stand up to the elements. Electronics by nature don't do well in environments that include frequent temperature changes, sun, rain, not to mention snow and ice. Just because the speaker system is listed as being "waterproof" doesn't mean it's going to be weatherproof. What you want to do is have a heart-to-heart with the dealer before you purchase anything. Here are some questions to ask:

How long are they designed to last if they are left outdoors year around? (Look for 5-10 year warranties with outdoor speakers.)

Are the speakers weatherproof and waterproof? (Sometimes outdoor speakers are "weather-resistant" or weatherproof without actually being waterproof, and sometimes waterproof speakers can handle getting wet, but can't stand up to the other elements such as changes in temperature.)

What sort of tests do the manufacturers perform on the speakers before putting them on the market? (Look for speakers that pass ultraviolet light tests, rust, salt spray if near the water, and extreme temperature changes.)

Ask what the temperature range is that the speakers are designed to operate in (are you going to be able to listen to them outdoors on extremely warm days or in the dead of winter?).

Ask how involved the installation process is and how much power will be required (indoor stereo systems may run 10-40 watts per channel, but outdoor systems generally need 4-8 times as much power since there are no walls to amplify the sound).

Source: March/April 2005 issue of Smart HomeOwner

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