What are the Best Lumens for Outdoor Projector?

An outdoor movie projector is a fantastic way to enjoy your outdoor space. You can create a drive-in or outdoor camping movie experience and share your favorite films with family and friends.

You can also use an outdoor projectors to share games, sports, and other exciting events.However, because these projectors can be expensive, it’s essential to choose the right one. So what are the best lumens for outdoor projector?

Best Outdoor Projector Screen Screens Projector

What Is A Lumen?

In simple terms, a lumen is a measure of visible light from a single source over a unit of time.Unlike other measures of radiant power, including all the light waves in the spectrum, lumens only measure the light that is visible to the human eye.

It’s the most convenient way to measure how much light we can perceive from a device.Most projectors are labeled with ANSI lumens, a defined measure standardized by the American National Standards Institute.

Projectors labeled with ANSI lumens are easier to compare because they all comply with the same standard.

How Many Lumens For Outdoor Projection?

If you have ever shopped around for a digital right outdoor projector, you have most likely come across the term lumen more than once. In short, a lumen is a measurement of the intensity of light radiation projected by a light source.

Back in the old days, they called it candlepower, and measurements were taken in what was called candelas. One candela was the intensity of light radiating from a single candle made out of precisely 0.167 troy pounds of whale blubber of a consistency thick enough to burn at a specific rate for exactly eight hours.

Easy enough, so long as you can manage to find whale blubber candles. Of course, it is no longer necessary to know the luminous intensity of whale blubber to pull off a successful outdoor movie event.

In these days of precise scientific calibrations, one candela can now be defined as the luminous intensity of monochromatic radiation emitted by a predefined source at a frequency of 540THz with a radiant intensity of 0.001464128 W/sr. Got it? Neither do we, and fortunately we don’t need to know.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) takes care of all that for us and breaks it down into a measurement called lumens, which in simple terms is the measurement of the intensity of light emitted from a projector.

Although it is not exactly correct to equate lumens with brightness we can generally say that an image quality projected through an outdoor projector with a high lumen count will be brighter than a projector with fewer lumens.

The ideal is an outdoor projector bright enough to throw visuals that are sharp and easy to see in normal ambient lighting conditions – in other words, your audience can see your visuals without having to have the lights turned down to improve contrast.

If you turn off too many lights, your audience may stumble around in the dark if they have to get up.

It’s a good idea to keep some lights on and have a brighter outdoor projector to counter it. In order to make your outdoor cinema event deliver as much punch as possible, you will need to determine exactly what type of projector is needed for your venue.

If you have specific questions you can call us to discuss what you will need for your given screen size and venue conditions. We will be happy to assist you!

What’s The Best Outdoor Projection Solution?

Turn off as many lights as possible. Angle your screen so that the projection surface is shielded from ambient lighting. After you have done your best to control the outdoor conditions, use a bright outdoor projector! The more lumens the better. We recommend:

Lumens minimumLumens are ideal
9×5 ft screen25003000
12×7 ft screen30003500
16×9 ft screen35004000
20×11 ft screen40005500
25×14.5 ft screen500010000
40×22.5 ft screen550012000

Weight Of An Outdoor Projector

Projectors have come a long way. Only 10 years ago a 5000-lumen projector weighed nearly 90lbs, not including the case! The whole package required two to three people to move the outdoor projector around from venue to venue. Nowadays, projectors of the same brightness can weigh less than ten pounds.

This is a huge benefit to all of us who do outdoor movie events. Now, one person can easily carry a projector bright enough to satisfy thousands of people. This is useful for outdoor cinema rental companies or events in many different locations. A lighter projector translates to more mobility and less headache.

What If An Outdoor Movie Projector Doesn’t List Lumens?

Unfortunately, not every outdoor movie projector simply lists their lumens, making it difficult to compare them. Here are some of the other brightness measurements that projectors can use and how to compare them.


Lux is a measurement of lumens over volume. In other words, how much visible light can be seen per square meter of space? You can use an online calculator to input the desired lumens and screen surface area and get the desired lux measurement.


Watts is a measure of how much energy a light bulb uses. It isn’t a measure of brightness but can be converted into lumens. For example, a 13W LED bulb, a 19W CFL bulb, a 53W halogen bulb, and a 75W incandescent bulb all produce about 1100 lumens.

Filters On Your Outdoor Projector

Your outdoor projector is an investment. To keep it running efficiently all manufacturers recommend regular air filter maintenance. The time between air filter cleanings/replacements can vary depending on your projector model and environment.

If you use your projector often in dusty outdoor conditions – such as on a baseball diamond or near a backyard barbecue – the air filter can make the difference in your projector lasting a few months versus a few years.

Clean filters insure good airflow. Your outdoor projector must constantly cool its housing and hot bulb. Nothing will diminish the life of your outdoor projector faster than operating on a clogged filter or blocked air intake.

Changing or cleaning your filter is an easy process. With most models you can simply use your thumbnail to slide the filter out. Depending on how dirty it is, you can blow it off or wash it off.

Make sure your filter is dry before replacing it. Never remove a filter from a projector that is on. It may be that your outdoor projection conditions will include large audiences that stir up dust.

With two thick filters in place, the dust never made it into the housing. The projector was safe, as it didn’t clog with dust, and the event was a huge success! Keeping an eye on your filter helps insure that your projector stays healthy. Make sure to check it every time before you begin your outdoor movie event.

On the example of the Chitsky filter of the Epson 98H projector.

Why Buy a Higher Lumen Rating Projector?

From my perspective, the more lumens you can afford to purchase the better.

It will future proof you should you decide to go larger with your outdoor movie screen, but also means you have a far stronger light source coming from your projector.

This means you can actually start to watch backyard movie night or outdoor movies when it’s still not completely dark.

As a general rule of thumb, an outdoor movie projector with a lumen rating of 3,000 plus should be able to project an picture quality you can see before sunset and in a daytime viewing.

Ideally, you want to buy a bright projector to display crisp and sharp images in standard ambient light.

So that’s just one benefit to a projector with high lumens for outdoor use.

There’s also the issue of wanting to still have some lighting on outside, whilst you are showing a movie.

To put this more into context, you will probably remember being at school or college where a projector was used indoors. To see the images clearly, the teacher would turn down the room lights, or switch them off completely. By doing so, the contrast was greatly improved.

When it comes to outdoor movies, I always want to have some degree of lighting on so that my guests can walk around safely. I can set up lanterns in the backyard, and also have lights on in my house, but still, see the movie – based on the high number of lumens I am using with my outdoor projector.

Final Words About Lumens for Outdoor Projector

You might struggle at first in order to search for the right projector. However, once you realize the specific lumen requirements of your sunny backyard (at least 2,500 but err on the side of caution and go with 5,500 lumens and above if you can afford it), it should be smooth sailing from here on end.

The difficulty in getting more outdoorsy projectors partially originates from most projectionists and projector inventors back in the day not imagining that there’s a market for home projectors that are affordable and can be used outdoors like in a drive-in or parking lot cinema. At any rate, outdoor projection is now commonplace and projector manufacturers are now catering to that market as well.

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