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Weathering the Storms

It’s time to design outdoor products with climate change in mind.

It’s more important than ever that our industry designs outdoor lighting and audio products that defy the elements.

Having lived and worked in South Florida, I’ve experienced first-hand the severity of climate change on the coasts. Outdoor technologies are enduring significant wear and tear and, as a result, AV needs to be stronger, tougher, and more resilient.

Coastal Source Bullet Light and Ellipse Bollard near a lake

It’s time to come to terms with global climate change and design outdoor technology accordingly. Products that ensure high-quality outdoor living spaces look and sound their best — like exterior lighting fixtures and loudspeakers — must be engineered, designed, and manufactured to endure the tough environments they are constantly exposed to.

Understand the Environment to Design for the Environment

Franco D'Ascanio, founder and CEO of Coastal Source
Franco D’Ascanio, founder and CEO of Coastal Source

The first step in designing resilient outdoor lighting and audio is to learn what you’re dealing with. Unless you’ve lived through a hurricane, tidal surges, and torrential rainfall, it’s difficult to grasp the severity of the situation and design a product that can defy these elements.

When mapping out product design, manufacturers need to evaluate how salt water, humidity, and high winds wear away at speaker housings and light fixtures; analyze how these conditions impact performance and reliability, and learn when and where to expect maintenance and repairs to occur.

Then they must evolve design and manufacturing approaches to align with climate change and sustainability practices. They must also learn which materials, technologies, and designs work in wet, windy, and salty environments and which don’t. Put outdoor products through the wringer before they make it to market by testing their resilience and endurance in the field and inside salt and UV chambers. Doing so mitigates surprises and risks when products are placed outdoors — creating better outcomes for homeowners, dealers, and manufacturers alike.

Product Flexibility Can Reduce Long-Term Damage

Through rigorous testing in the field and in the lab, manufacturers must determine the ideal composition to withstand heat, moisture, and other outdoor elements. Outdoor conditions are growing more intense every day, so keeping a close pulse on designs and selection of materials is important. For example, brass, extruded/machined aluminum, and specialty composites resist corrosion better than other materials like the commonly used and inexpensive cast aluminum.

Coastal Source outdoor light by a walkaway

Also, consider easy detachments and replacements when designing for outdoor use. Over the years, we’ve tested and seen our outdoor light fixtures shine brightly underneath a flooded yard and speakers stand up to extreme heat. Still, there’s always a chance that something will malfunction. Rather than toss out and replace the entire fixture, we’ve created new lighting lines that allow integrators to detach a module containing all the technology and circuitry from the fixture, which stays intact. A new module snaps back in place, which streamlines maintenance and reduces waste. As new modules are introduced, they can be added to keep the system up to date.

Find Outdoor Lighting Tips in the Residential Lighting Best Practices Guide.

Meanwhile, our speakers feature a unique field-tested sealed enclosure to prevent water, moisture, and dirt from seeping into the circuitry but with strategically placed, protected vents to ensure optimal audio performance. You get all the advantages of a sealed cabinet without the typical audio compromise.

To combat heat build-up that occurs naturally when speakers are exposed to high temperatures and sunlight, we’ve developed a unique internal heat-sinking technology that allows the internal heat generated by the speaker drivers to be efficiently conducted to the outside environment. Based on our thermal analysis, it works and has the potential to double the lifespan of outdoor speakers.

A Fast-Growing Segment in Our Industry

Weather patterns will continue to shift; so too will high-quality entertainment from the inside of a home to the outside. These two significant trends are fueling the demand for more durable, high-performance outdoor lighting and speakers. Lighting and speakers that are built to last and perform reliably in severe outdoor conditions pave the way to greater partner sales and profitability.

Coastal Source Tiki Light by a pier

Years ago, it was a consistent challenge for dealers and integrators to find products that could handle the harsh coastal weather without continual maintenance and repair. As we all know, revisiting projects eats into precious time and resources. We knew we needed better, higher-quality outdoor light fixtures and speakers and pleaded with our vendors, to no avail.

Related: Skater Park Sound and Light

What was once a niche market has skyrocketed into one of the fastest-growing segments of the integration industry. Monetizing this market opportunity for our partners is now the next great opportunity for the AV industry.

As founder and CEO of Coastal Source, Franco D’Ascanio continues to support the team through research and development at their Marathon, Fla., facility. Nearly every product begins as D’Ascanio’s brainchild.