How To Handle Outdoor Speakers With Corrosion – Noisylabs

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Outdoor speakers with corrosion aren’t pleasant to look at.

It’s similar to looking at food that’s good but finding a piece of hair on it.

Although it’s still edible, the probability of you being as excited as before you saw the hair isn’t high.

This is similar to when you see a valuable item with corrosion on it.

Corrosion is a reaction to the environment around it.

In chemical jargon, corrosion is “the degradation of metals that is often called rust.”

If that doesn’t make sense, think of it as a slow death for metal caused by a chemical reaction due to its environment.

Speaker Design

A speaker’s raw materials haven’t changed much.

The frame of a speaker is either made up of iron, or aluminum.

The coil inside the speaker has copper wire around a plastic bobbin.

These materials are prone to oxidation.

While some more than others react faster to oxidation, all the metals mentioned go through oxidation.

This is why we’re making this post.

We want to give you the knowledge so you can attack these problems when they arise.

But to attack without understanding isn’t smart.

Here are the reasons why corrosion is bad, and what you can do to deal with it.

Consequences Of Corrosion

Humidity, bacteria, rain are all causes of corrosion.

One way to avoid all of this is to keep your outdoor speakers inside if you’re able.

But we know some outdoor speakers are built-in and would take tremendous effort to transport.

If you aren’t willing to relocate the speaker, consider these consequences:

  • Higher Resistance
  • Damaged Speaker Wires

Going back to Ohm’s law from our last article we know the equation is:

i = v/r

The “r” stands for resistance.

If corrosion made resistance higher, then we can expect current (i) to get lower.

When current gets lower there is less power coming from the wires and amplifier.

Consequently, you’ll have audible distortion, which equates to bad music.

If the distortion is bad enough, you’ll hear static, and it’ll hurt your ears.

A perfect combination of a bad party.

Another problem is damaged speaker wires.

If corrosion starts dissolving your wires…oh boy.

It’s one problem to have corrosion get into your cable, but to actually corrode your wires means you’ll have problems coming in like hot cakes.

Damaged Speaker Wires

Speaker wires are the connection points to the device.

Amplifiers and speakers need speaker wires to operate.

If your speaker wires suck, your sound quality will suck.

Simple as that.

It’s another form of resistance when your wires are bad.

Naturally, speaker wires oxidize at the cable stage, it takes serious negligence to have it actually seep into your wires.

But once inside your wires, oxidization is most common at the end point of a speaker wire.

To prevent damage at the end of your wires, you can either use banana plugs or extend your wires by adding more wiring at the end of the affected part.

If you plan on going with the “add more wiring” approach, do it once a year for maintenance.

Any more than once a year and you run the risk of being an obsessive compulsive person when it comes to your music speakers.

Sometimes doing the least is doing the most.

If you’re an outdoor speaker owner who owns copper wires, you have a few tricks up your sleeves to prevent oxidation.

Benzotriazole

Copper is a good metal because of how durable it is.

Just like carbon fiber composite coating (which you’ll learn about later), it’s used for different applications.

Besides speaker wires, you can find copper in coins (pennies), tubes, and sheets.

Its resistance towards degradation from water and natural gas make it a common tool for building a house.

Whether it’s alcohol or potassium sulfate, copper is great against multiple elements.

But its one major weakness is against corrosion.

This is where benzotriazole comes in and saves the damsel in distress.

Benzotriazole is a corrosion inhibitor meaning it slows the growth of corrosion.

This was proven when scientists tested corrosion against benzotriazole and the process of corrosion was noticeably slower.

Although it doesn’t guarantee full protection against corrosion, it’s a worthy investment when protecting your outdoor speakers.

Even though benzotriazole is a great addition for protection, there are other alternatives to keep tabs on.

Chromate Conversion Coating

The theme for this post has to be versatility.

I don’t know how many times we’ve mentioned it, and how many more times we’re going to keep mentioning it, but best believe it’s a good problem to have.

For chromate conversion coating, it’s versatile because it can cover multiple metals.

From zinc, aluminum, steel, silver, and copper, it covers all types of metals.

Similar to benzotriazole, chrome conversion coating is a corrosion inhibitor.

Although it’s used for aluminum most of the time, they’re beneficial to copper wires in a unique way.

If you were to have an outdoor speaker wire exposed to the environment, placing them near a pool, or somewhere where it can get water on it, a chromate conversion coating is ideal.

This is because they provide a “non-porous” bond.

Now, we don’t want to dive deep into this topic because it’ll have your eyes glaze over, but we’re going to explain what non-porous means so you’re certain this can withstand water:

Non-porous means water can’t get through.

The bonds which make up the material; whether its metal, glass, or wood all share the same characteristics.

They don’t break down when interacting with water.

In a nutshell, if you have copper wires, or anything related to outdoor speakers with corossion exposed to liquid, consider chromate conversion coating to protect your equipment.

Your future guests and entertainment experience will thank you!

To further expand on protective coating, let’s discuss Lacquer.

Lacquer

If you have a speaker box covered within a wooden frame, look nowhere else besides Lacquer.

Lacquer is a type of coating made for wood.

If you have a shiny wooden table in your living room or kitchen, there’s a good chance it was finished off with Lacquer.

But this doesn’t mean it’s not applicable to other surfaces, otherwise why would’ve we mentioned it.

What makes this different from the other coatings is its glossy and shiny finish.

An advantage of using Lacquer is its dry time.

15 minutes after use and you should have a dry surface.

Another advantage is its durability.

2 solid coats and you’ll be set for years.

Not only does this mean less labor, but it means you save money.

Disadvantages to this product are the chemical defects.

If you don’t properly circumvent the room you’re in for air, prepare for some weird white color on your surface.

It’s possible you can have discoloration on your outdoor speakers if not applied correctly.

lacquer discoloration copper

This is the basic advantage and disadvantage for Lacquer.

We’re not coating experts, it’s up to you to do the research and consult with professionals to decide whether or not you’d like to continue with this type of coating.

After you’ve applied your coating, you’d probably think you’re done.

The one caveat with copper is it tarnishes.

It’s a natural process for fine metals to tarnish.

But don’t take it personally if it does. Even though you’ve applied coating, tarnishing will happen.

The best you can do after it tarnishes is to clean and remove the tarnish.

Maintaining Copper

There are 2 ways to maintain your copper:

  1. DIY Method
  2. Buy A Product

The do it yourself method has 3 levels depending on how bad you want to make your copper look new again.

We don’t want to go over it because, well, we just don’t want to.

But we will go over the product if you chose number 2.

If you chose number 2, there is a great copper cleaner on Amazon.

This is the cream of the crop (pun intended) when it comes to copper cleaners.

Long lasting finishes for a long time make it seem like nothing ever happened to your speakers.

Outdoor speakers with corossion stand no chance with this because it’s fast-acting and odor-free.

One factor to look out for when purchasing a copper cleaner is to be wary of the chemicals.

There is a reason it’s fast-acting…the chemicals inside the product are STRONG!

Before we end the topic of coatings, we want to discuss another type of coating.

Carbon Fiber Composite Coating

Any lightweight items that can be protected should use carbon fiber composite coating.

What makes them special is the mix of ingredients it uses.

From polyurethane, epoxy, and resin; not only does it provide corrosion protection, but it also protects against water and fires.

Its versatility lends itself to be used in industries like aerospace manufacturing, oil, and electrical insulation.

Another solution is to make sure no air gets in your wires.

A technique to make sure air doesn’t get in is to “air seal.”

Conformal Coating

All the other coatings are great for either copper or lightweight items.

What makes this one special is it conforms to the circuit board topology.

Any electrical circuit out there exposed to harsh conditions should implement conformal coating.

Conformal coating acts as a barrier from the chemicals in the air.

It’s like wearing a dust mask or wearing Nike’s Dri-FIT.

With conformal coating, you’re adding a breathable layer to your circuit which protects against the environment, but also allows moisture to escape.

Allowing moisture to escape is a critical feature.

It’s similar to how your smartphone updates itself, your electrical circuit takes action into its own hands to protect itself.

Other advantages of conformal coating are its simple application.

Because of its simple application, it also has high flexibility, and ease of removal.

conformal coating

Air Sealing

The first type of equipment you can use to air seal is called “caulk.”

Planning on connecting your speaker wires to your outdoor speakers from the house?

There are a couple of options which make sense.

The first is “construction silicone.”

construction silicone for corrosion outdoor speakers

Construction silicone is used to glue materials that don’t usually fit together.

An example of this is connecting rubber wires to a wooden wall.

Although the costs are high for this tool, they provide great value as adhesion is good.

Another sealant which can be used for sealing is “Butyl Rubber.”

Butyl rubber is similar to construction silicone because it seals dissimilar materials.

Keep in mind butyl rubber doesn’t work well with painted surfaces. It also tends to shrink so you have to re-apply it after the first coat is done.

For outdoor speaker owners who’re trying to connect their speakers from inside, keep in mind, you need to avoid the paint and try going around it.

You can do that by either going around the door or drilling a hole in the wall and using an air sealant to prevent the wires from touching the butyl rubber.

By placing part of your wires inside, you mitigate the risk of your wires getting oxidized.

This prevents any chemical reaction.

Aside from this, there are other air sealants, but the ones discussed here work well with dissimilar materials.

As for other ways to prevent oxidation, there is another way to minimize the risk.

Foam Speaker Baffles

Speaker baffles hold two purposes.

The first purpose is better sound quality.

By adding a baffle inside the cavity of your speakers, you dull the external vibrations.

If you have speakers with a lot of bass then your audio might be drowned out by vibrations.

That would be the time to insert foam speaker baffles.

The second purpose which is more relevant to our situation is it protects your speakers against grime, dirt, and liquid.

We know corrosion is caused by chemical reactions from the environment, and a lot of those chemicals come from rain (acidic), and wind.

Wind doesn’t look like a factor, but if you took geology, then you know wind transports nature’s materials.

This is why you get stuff in your eye if the wind blows hard enough.

Speaker Protection

A more common way to handle outdoor speakers with corrosion is to place them on mounts.

Using your roof as cover will help, but adding a cover is better to maximize protection.

We’ve talked about this before, but it’s important to mention again because it’s easy to get caught up in all these tools.

It’s easier to stick with the fundamentals and save yourself time and money.

Another easy way to prevent oxidation is to watch out for areas that expose your speakers to liquid and sunlight.

An ideal area is a safe distance from the entrance to your backyard.

Make sure it’s not too close to the door because those are high traffic areas.

Finding The Right Combination

Outdoor speakers with corrosion is an undervalued topic.

Any material with the right type of metal is prone to corrosion.

What’s more surprising is the damage corrosion can have.

Aside from your speakers looking ugly, outdoor speakers with corrosion will have bad speaker wires if exposed.

If your speaker wires are made up of copper, consider any of the coatings above.

They’ve been proven to work.

There is some difference when it comes to pricing and dry time, but nothing too drastic to warrant a warning.

Also, understand some coatings are better for other surfaces than others.

Once you find the coating you like, pair that up with speaker covers, and place it in an area with the lowest chance of interaction with the sun, and moisture.

For extra protection inside your speakers, use foam speaker baffles.

This isn’t necessary if you do the steps above, but it does make a difference.

Last but not least, don’t forget to monitor your speaker wires.

If you have speaker wires that use copper, make sure they’re not exposed to the environment, and extend its life by applying more copper when necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

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