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Home theater / TV instructions - Example?

I’m a relatively new host. I have a complex TV set-up with surround sound (8 speakers), a receiver, cable box, and the TV, of course. When I’m not renting it I live there, so I don’t want to simplify the set-up and rewire every time I leave.

I can write a few instructions on how to use it, but just wondering if people have tips for such an instruction manual or example to share. Do you show pictures of the remote controls or something?

Thanks for any tips.

I’d probably make a laminated card with steps and photos of the buttons to push on the specific remote(s).

I had a complicated setup and my wife couldn’t even use it, so I shudder to think of what some guests might do. I tried a do-everything programmable remote (Harmony), but that didn’t work well, either. Eventually, when I needed to buy a new TV and receiver, I got units that worked well together using HDMI CEC.

I don’t have complex setups in our rentals - I think it’s best to ‘guest-proof’ rentals as much as possible. But I demonstrate the (pretty simple) smart TVs to guests during the house tour. Is yours too complicated for that?

I’m guessing the main problem is that there is a remote for the TV, the AV receiver, and the cable box, (and possibly a disc player, streaming box, and/or game system). You have to select the right inputs on the AV receiver remote in order to get both sound and video for whatever device you want to use. Then the possible secondary problem of having to change the channel with the cable box remote but adjusting the volume only works with the receiver remote.

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Correct. I have about 5 remotes. I don’t blame anyone for being confused… I just didn’t have time to simplify anything before renting.

Only a couple of them are required. The cable remote is supposed to be programmed to operate the TV (not just the cable box) – though it sounded like that wasn’t working based on feedback from the current guest.

I guess I need to just try and simplify and make some laminate pictures and instructions. I won’t normally be there to walk anyone through it.

I hope you aren’t planning to just be out of town without a local co-host to handle things and deal with any issues that arise. That would be very foolish.

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No. I have a co-host / property manager – whatever you want to call it. Long story, but we didn’t have time to do everything before the first renter. It was 99% ready otherwise, but a couple things had to be put aside for later. One of the things was the TV – and sure enough the renter had issues. I spoke with him and we got it going. He seems satisfied, but of course I hope to avoid similar situations going forward. I was going to show the co-host, but we didn’t have time to review the TV.

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A significant portion of my first year’s fees went straight back into making the suite better for guests.

You may be able to make a good manual, but I think you may have to consider how to streamline your system


Thanks. I feel like I’ve done most things already, including adding a smart lock, hotel-style safe, Rachio (sprinklers controlled by app), updated appliances, new sheets and towels, new carpeting, repainted, smart doorbell, fixed my gate, fixed some locks, locked-off some cabinets, got more fire extinguishers, cleaning supplies, first-aid kit, smoke/co2 detectors, new ironing board, new hairdryers for each bathroom, new cutting board, dustpan, broom, mop, hangers, mattress protectors, label-maker, etc.

I’m sure there are a few things I forgot, but the manual is one of the few things pending – and something the co-host is putting together. I just wanted to help with the TV instructions. I will help, but we just didn’t have time for that (she moved someone in at the last minute that was supposed to rent somewhere else, so we kicked off the listing sooner than expected).

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I’m sure lots of guests who are technologically inclined will be thrilled with the fancy surround sound TV system.

Me, I’d take one look at the 5 remotes and a complex manual on how to use the thing, and choose to read my book instead :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Yeah, I need to hide a few remotes and figure out how to simplify the system.

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A few times a year, we briefly lose power and I need to reset a few things on the Receiver (enable speakers, set input, choose surround mode, set rear speaker size and set low frequencies to use the sub-woofer.
So just a thought - if you lose power is there a process a guest might need to do? Or would a co-host do that?


I used to stay with a host a few times of year that had a system like you are describing. He did indeed have laminated instructions with photos that it made it really easy. And it was so worth it, something that I looked forward to. You don’t usually get that kind of system away from home (or even at home) so it is a valuable amenity and I think you should try to preserve it.

My recommendation is to use photos with arrows and match the colors of the buttons on the remotes to the descriptions. Number each remote so that it’s clear which one you are referring to in your descriptions. Explain each remote as needed and then have a page that is more like equations, i.e. green power button on remote #1 + grey a/v button on remote #2 + yellow Tivo button on remote # 3 = cable TV with surround sound and use remote #3 to pause/rewind/record. Really, guests will only have to refer to the info sheets briefly if they are easy to understand and easy to find. The host I referred to had them by themselves in a drawer on the TV stand.

Most importantly, explain it to me like I am five.

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I have guests that have trouble switching from over-the-air tv to Roku. I have detailed instructions but I’ve even managed to have guests break the programming of my Roku twice trying to do this. (No idea how).

Honestly, you need to have a different, easy system for your guests. (sorry but I have been doing this for 5 years and this year when I re-opened I even had to write up instructions on how to use a traditional shower and bathtub.

You are asking for major trouble. Put your system on a cart and wheel it away when you not there.


Too bad, this seems like the best solution. Guests do not read. Guests who plop in front of the TV the minute they arrive are guests I do not want, no cable here just Wifi.

IDK, write it out like it is for a 4 year old I guess.


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Good question. It hasn’t seemed to be an issue for me even when I’m living there. If I lose power the settings seem to still carry over from memory somehow. But I’ll test it next time I get a chance. Thanks.

Hopefully not an issue for you. Your gear is probably newer and better than ours.

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We’re not TV watchers, but thinking about it, if we were and on arrival to simply watch the news meant navigating (to us) the equivalent of the bridge of the USS Enterprise, would likely be irritating.

Maybe it’s a US thing, but in the grand scheme, having an ultra high end TV set up is fairly low on the priority list when choosing a rental apartment as far as we’re concerned.

We offer all the local/national Spanish stations, with a few English thrown in, on a fairly standard 32" LCD TV. Folks seem happy enough with it.


I have a similar set up. Run everything through the pre-pro. I created a sign on an 8-1/2” by 11” sheet of paper and put it in a clear acrylic stand on the coffee table. The directions are a set of steps for each input (cable, FireStick, etc),

Each remote is labeled (label maker) and every step includes what remote to use and what button to push.

Then I have a troubleshooting manual with lots of pictures and instructions. I labeled wires and connectors with colored electrical tape so it would be easy to reconnect if needed. And I used HDMI locks to keep the connections together.

It’s a lot of work. The batteries are a headache, too. It’s almost unbelievable how many people assume something is wrong with the system when it’s just dead batteries in the remote.

Also be prepared for damage. I just replaced the tweeter in one of my front speakers because it was blown. Unless you check it very carefully after every guest, you’ll have to pay for the repair yourself.


Ditto and I’m not even a shared space (can’t recall if you are). I offer one TV in the living room. No cable. Smart TV with lots of apps and mirroring capability. Free Amazon Prime movies & other free movie apps. Local channels via HD antenna, only because I must.

I do get confused by anyone going on an adventure sitting inside all day watching TV. Or sitting in separate rooms in isolation glued to the tube. Sure, “Netflix and Chill” one night is understandable but otherwise…meh. Clearly I don’t cater to staycationers, locals or long terms. I don’t even have dressers for clothes storage except in the master but that’s just to fill a space. I’ll be changing that to a desk or chair soon.

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