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10 tips for installing outdoor speakers

Our expert shares his favorite tricks

Time spent in the yard is more enjoyable if you install outdoor speakers and bring your favorite tunes along.

Our A/V specialist Norm has more than 12 years of experience as a Crutchfield Advisor and certified installer. Here are ten techniques he’s learned that make do-it-yourself outdoor speaker installation run a little bit more smoothly.

Installer placing drop cloth on the floor

Tip #1: Use a drop cloth

Tape down a drop cloth before drilling or sawing access holes. It will catch all the dust and debris so you can keep the floor clean and reduce tidying time after the installation. You’ll be in a hurry to try out your new system when you’re done, and you’ll be glad you’re not using that time to clean up instead.

Installer drilling into wall

Tip #2: Angle your drill

If the wire needs to go straight down, angle your drill holes to guide it in the right direction. You may want the wire to pass horizontally through the wall space, so you’d drill at that angle. Every little bit helps.

Tip #3: Line up your drilling holes

In this video tip, Norm shows us how to take the guesswork out of drilling precise holes in interior and exterior walls.

Tip #4: Go fish

Here, Norm demonstrates a cost-effective tool that helps pull wire through spaces where our hands can't fit and our eyes can't see.

Installer with wall cover plate

Tip #5: Cover up access holes

Sometimes, you have to drill an access hole to pull wire through. Norm uses inexpensive metal or plastic blanks, available at most hardware stores, to cover any drilling holes that don’t directly terminate in a speaker. This makes them weathertight on the outside and more visually appealing on the inside of the house.

Installer applying caulk

Tip #6: Don’t skimp on caulk

Norm always uses plenty of silicone-based caulk to seal outdoor installations. He recommends filling the hole around the speaker wire, wiggling the wire around to expose any gaps, and then hitting it with a second layer. He also runs a bead along the top seam of the bracket, to further eliminate any route for moisture to get into the installation. “You can’t ‘goop’ too much,” Norm jokes.

Installer pulling cable through wall

Tip #7: Give yourself some slack

Don’t cut speaker wire until you absolutely have to. When you run wire from the speaker to the receiver location, leave plenty of slack on either end, so you can adjust as needed. You don’t want to come up short and have to start over. “Wire’s cheap,” Norm warns. “Labor is not.” Once you have everything where you want it, you can cut off excess wire and make terminal connections.

Tip #8: Norm’s handy wire stripping method

Here, Norm uses a common tool to strip insulation off of speaker wire without damaging the delicate copper strands inside.

Installer stapling cable to framing

Tip #9: Staple down the wire run

Don’t leave long wire runs tangled or hanging loose from basement rafters. Norm uses a heavy duty staple gun to “square off” each installation, making it nice and neat, and keeping strain off of the wire throughout the finished installation.

Installer working inside wall opening

Tip #10: Go with the flow

Whenever possible, Norm likes to work with the existing structure of the house. During one recent installation, he found a location where a hole had been cut in drywall to accommodate a previously installed cable modem. He ran his wire alongside it, rather than drill a new hole.

Norm makes it look easy, but we understand you might be reluctant to take on an outdoor speaker installation on your own. Call one of our Advisors at 1-888-955-6000 to get some expert advice before you take the plunge.

Last updated 5/14/2018
  • John from Augusta ME

    Posted on 6/15/2018

    Thanks for these tips, some of which I knew but some I didn't. Clever fellow, Mr Norm! These are timely, as I plan to install some outdoor speakers in the next few months.

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield on 6/18/2018
    Good luck with your project, John! Glad we could help.
  • Crockett from San Diego

    Posted on 6/12/2018

    Very good tips. On the Line up your drilling holes video, it would have been nice to see where the two rods came out in the basement. Wouldn't there be headers in the way?

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield on 6/13/2018
    Crockett - Thanks for the suggestion on the video tip, perhaps we can re-shoot it in the future and include that view. In our case, there was nothing in the way that stopped the rods from going through, but every house is different. If you're ever installing gear you bought from us, and run into a question like that, feel free to give us a call, and we'll offer our expertise!
  • Robert

    Posted on 6/8/2018

    Great tips! I'm working on my outdoor setup this summer. Just a quick question what are those bendy drill bits and where can I buy them?

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield on 6/11/2018
    Robert - Those flexible rods are called insulation supports. They're meant to hold fiberglass insulation up between beams. Leave it to Norm to figure out a brilliant new use for them. He tells me they're available at just about any hardware store, and definitely anywhere you can buy insulation. Good luck with your next project!
  • Sunnny from Bartlett

    Posted on 5/31/2018

    Thanks for th 10 tips, I learned a couple of tricks I had been struggling with. bending the wire to cut the insulation was really good. unfortunately I dod not have a basement. but I worked out a way to run my wires, currently my receiver and disc player in in my closet, which is on an outside wall. I m looking for ideas on how to put my equipment out on covered deck. I cannot find where anyone has actually doe this ? any ideas ? Thank you

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield on 6/8/2018
    Sunny, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, we haven't come across any method for placing standard audio components outside yet. It's definitely something we're on the lookout for, but right now, we can't recommend moving that gear outdoors. Maybe in the future someone will come up with a workable solution!

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