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How Many Lumens Do You Need For An Outdoor Projector?

How Many Lumens Do You Need For An Outdoor Projector?

Outdoor projectors are becoming increasingly popular and they can turn any backyard or garden area into an outdoor movie theater.

Getting the right outdoor projector for your needs can be tricky, however, and one of the most important considerations is how many lumens the projector has.

In this article, we will look at how many lumens you need for an outdoor projector.

What Are Lumens?

Before we discuss how many lumens you need for an outdoor projector, let’s confirm exactly what lumens are and what they measure.

Lumens are a unit of measurement that is used to measure the intensity of light from sources such as light bulbs and projectors.

They are a standardized unit of measurement and are governed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) so you may also see “lumens” written as “ANSI lumens.”

With ANSI lumens, you can be certain that a projector with a lumens rating of 2,000 will have the same level of brightness as any other projector with the same rating.

Lumens are important for appliances such as projectors as they are a quick and easy way to see how bright the picture projected will be.

The higher the lumens rating, the brighter the projector. You can easily compare projectors or find what you need by looking at the lumens rating.

How Many Lumens Do You Need For Outdoor Projection?

How Many Lumens Do You Need For Outdoor Projector?

When setting up a projector outdoors, you need to make sure that the images can be seen.

A backyard movie night will be quickly ruined if the movie is so dark and fuzzy that nobody can see the action!

The higher the lumens rating the easier it will be to see the image, but higher lumen ratings often come with higher prices too, so it isn’t always practical to buy the biggest and best on the market.

If you’re looking to get the most cost-effective projector with the lowest lumens rating that will still be suitable for outdoor projecting, then we would recommend looking for projectors of at least 2,500 lumens.

This should be suitable for most outdoor projections at night.

How Many Lumens Do You Need To Project In Daylight?

However, if you want to project outdoors during the daytime as well or are looking to start your movie before sundown, then you may need a projector that has a higher rating.

Daylight and other forms of light can negatively affect the output of a projector and make the images look duller, so you will need more lumens to combat this.

To project in daylight, we would recommend projectors of at least 3,000 lumens.

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What Factors Can Affect How Many Lumens You Need?

There are a few factors that can make your screen duller and need more lumens.

Light Pollution

The biggest factor that can affect the brightness of your projector and the lumens rating you need is other lights.

If there is light pollution around your screen, it will make the projected image duller.

Try to set up your projector and screen in a darker and more shaded area, away from any street lights or decorative lights.

You may be tempted to decorate the area with fairy lights, but this can also affect the brightness of your screen so unless you have a powerful projector, you should avoid it.

If lights are unavoidable or you want to decorate your backyard for aesthetic or safety purposes, then opt for a projector with a higher lumens rating.

Screen Size

If you want to use a larger screen for your projections, then it is wise to buy an outdoor projector with more lumens.

Larger screens (like those offered by Open Air Cinema) need more lumens to sustain the brightness of the image so always take this into consideration when setting up your outdoor screen and projector.

If you already have a screen size in mind, buy a projector with a lumens rating that will suit that screen.

Here are some examples of screen sizes and the ideal lumen ratings.

  • Small screen - measuring nine-foot by five-foot, a projector of at least 1,500 lumens and ideally 2,300 lumens should be fine.
  • Medium screen - measuring 16-foot by 9-foot, a projector of at least 3,000 lumens and ideally 4,500 lumens should be fine.
  • Large screen - measuring 40-foot by 22-foot, a projector of at least 5,500 lumens and ideally 12,000 lumens should be fine.

As you can see, the number of lumens needed for a bright and good-quality image rapidly increases as the screen size does.

Most backyards will only have the room for screens in the small to medium range, but if you’re considering projecting outside for a larger event, you will need to scale up your projector accordingly.

Why Do Some Mini Projectors Have Very High Lumens Ratings?

This is something to be wary of when looking at the best outdoor projector for your needs.

As we stated earlier, ANSI lumens are a standardized unit of measurement so you can be certain that the rating is correct.

However, many projectors do not use ANSI lumens and just use “lumens,” so there is no standardization or guarantee that their rating is correct.

Throughout this article, we’ve been talking about ANSI lumen ratings exclusively.

If a projector has a rating of 9,000 and states it is just a lumens rating and not an ANSI rating, be wary. It’s unlikely that the 9,000 lumens are generally that bright.

Final Thoughts

We learned that lumens are a measurement used to measure how bright a projected light is.

ANSI lumens are a standardized measurement that can be relied on as an accurate measure of brightness, whereas regular lumens are more difficult to judge.

For an outdoor projector, it’s best to choose ones that have an ANSI lumens rating of at least 2,500.

If you’re going to be projected in the daytime, look for projectors with at least 3,000 ANSI lumens. Larger screens will need more lumens to look as bright.

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