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Music, light, TV: Outdoor features – what you need to know

Are you considering offering your guests an attractive outdoor area in the near future? Perhaps with music, light, and a big screen TV to show your guests the latest news or top sporting events like football. If so, the following important points are well worth thinking about as a restaurant owner and provider of live screenings on TV in your outdoor area.

Safety first: electrical equipment in outdoor areas

It’s not as complicated as you might think! Anyone can set up a TV in their private garden and run power cables with adapters across their patio without special permission. Stop! In the case of commercially utilised locations, there are certain regulations that every restaurant, bar or café owner has to observe. These may not only vary from country to country but also from region to region and city to city. Take our advice and consult your local authorities about the laws and regulations that apply to your business. An important factor for ensuring absolute safety is correctly installed, tested, and approved equipment. All equipment, cables, and power sockets must be constructed and installed in such a way that they are not affected by high or low temperatures, sun, rain, wind, frost, ice, or snow.

Checklist: safety

  • What safety regulations and legal requirements must I fulfil?
  • What statutory regulations apply (in my country): who may install electrical systems on commercially used premises, e.g. anyone, or only approved electricians?
  • If your establishment/location is an old building, are circuit breakers installed?
  • Are potential risks and/or damage covered by my current insurance? 
  • Is appropriate signage indicating escape and rescue routes installed in your outdoor area? New and existing event installations may not block or hinder these routes!

Checklist: equipment and cables

  • An interesting fact: special monitors with non-reflective screens or protective housings for TVs are available for outdoor use. This is particularly important when humidity is high. 
  • Buy waterproof cables approved for outdoor use. These resist moisture and a wide range of mechanical stresses (including gnawing by rodents).
  • The following factors are important for all installations: are the power cables professionally installed, and are cables and equipment capable of withstanding daily customer traffic and various weather conditions? 
  • Check the condition of all cables at regular intervals: any bare wires or damage to cable insulation may not be tolerated.

Event equipment: the ideal location

Careful planning is also required for the location of the TV or sound system. Ideal is a roofed outdoor location that makes you relatively free of problems with the weather. Also practical: (several) outdoor power sockets that avoid the need to lay extension cables from indoors to your equipment outdoors. Due to noise abatement regulations, restaurant owners and operators of outdoor catering concepts are required to integrate noise control measures in their planning from the start. This could include, for example, noise level limiters for transmission devices and audio systems or the installation of sound proofing measures between your site and your neighbours. The combination of a sightscreen and an acoustic barrier is a practical solution, e.g. a fence with a thick hedge or plant cover (e.g. ivy). Even if this method of noise reduction is not perfect, it at least provides a degree of protection for your neighbours’ private spheres and your guests and often simultaneously reduces the feeling of being disturbed by noise. Finally, all members of your staff must become familiarised with the new features and, if required, suitably trained in the functions and use of the electrical/electronic equipment. In any case, it is advisable to clearly assign responsibilities. In other words, you must define rules about who is authorised to operate the equipment under which circumstances and who is not.

Checklist: ideal locations

  • Optimal, basic, on-site provisions: a roofed outdoor area and several outdoor power sockets.
  • Take care to ensure that your electronic equipment is not subjected to direct sunlight. This can damage the equipment and your guests will be able to see almost nothing. 
  • Make sure that your guests are not dazzled by the sun, lighting, or spotlights.
  • Depending on how you set up your screen and furniture, is there anything else that could block their view? 
  • Would your staff constantly walk through the field of view? How can this be avoided?
  • If I install a TV on my patio, what noise reduction criteria must I fulfil (in my country)?
  • What statutory requirements apply with regard to noise levels in the evening and at night (in my country)? Do they apply from 10 p.m., midnight, or later?
  • What noise reduction measures can I install in advance?
  • Would it be advisable to establish good relations with my neighbours as soon as I launch this new feature in my outdoor area?
  • Important for all staff and the service team: who is authorised to operate the equipment, when, and in what ways?

Organisation and cost estimation: is TV in your outdoor area a profitable proposition?

In addition to the relevant safety issues, the organisation of an outdoor area with TV also requires careful planning. 

The most important criteria:

  • How should I organise my catering concept to meet the needs of TV-viewing guests? 
  • What range of drinks should I offer? 
  • What snacks or dishes should I offer? 
  • Can my kitchen and service staff cope with producing and serving an additional range of food and drinks alongside their usual tasks? 
  • Is the whole idea a profitable proposition? 
Our checklists can help you identify and carefully consider the effort involved and the potential benefits. 

Checklist: organisation and cost estimation

  • Is the space available large enough that a sizable number of people can watch what’s on the screen? 
  • What drinks, snacks, and dishes can I offer without significant extra effort? 
  • Can my kitchen and service staff cope with the catering for the TV viewing area in addition to their usual everyday work?
  • Would it be a good idea to start a pilot project to gather initial experiences?
  • Could I possibly benefit from similar features offered by my colleagues/competitors?

Checklist: important safety regulations for the use of electrical systems and equipment!

  • Always check that powers supplies, cables, plugs, sockets, and electrical/electronic equipment are in perfect working order and condition.
  • Never use damaged cables or connectors/adapters.
  • When removing plugs from sockets, always pull on the plug, never on the cable!
  • In case of malfunctions, always switch off the equipment involved and disconnect it from the power supply.
  • Persons without the necessary technical skills must never try to repair electrical equipment or connections.

High-tech service for your guests: charging stations for mobile phones

For the majority of guests, smartphones are a dependable daily companion except when the batteries are almost empty. What then? As a perfect host and service provider, you can earn the lasting appreciation of your guests by providing mobile phone charging stations. A few iPhone- and Micro-USB charging cables can be bought for only a few euros and made available to your guests in a prominently visible and easily accessible location with an appropriate power supply. A special service that costs hardly anything, but subtly – as if in passing – underlines your image as a trendsetter.

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