Before buying any projector, it’s always advisable to check its lumens rating. Lumens translate to the projector’s total brightness and are one of the defining factors of the image quality your new projector will produce.
That said, projectors come in a wide range of lumen ratings running from as low as 200 to as high as 10000plus lumens! There’s a pre-set number of lumens that’s good for a projector.
The best lumens quantity for you will depend on various factors, including the intended use, ambient lighting, and resolution.
Our guide below digs deeper into the projector brightness to help you decide the ideal number of lumens to consider for your application.
You’ll discover more about the factors that come into play to help you get the right amount of lumens.
Projector Lumens Guide
Lumens are an important aspect of selecting a suitable project for your needs. If it’s your first time buying a projector, you may wonder what lumens are all about.
Lumens, usually abbreviated as lux, are simply a unit of measurement used to express the amount of brightness of the picture a given projector produces.
Some projectors may feature ANSI lumens instead of just lumens. This is a more accurate expression of a unit’s brightness output (more details about ANSI lumens later).
Lumens are an important factor in a projector because they affect the image quality displayed by the device on a screen.
Unfortunately, there’s no set value for the number of lumens for a projector. Manufacturers produce low-lumen entry-level projectors to professional high-lumen units with over 10,000 lumens ratings. You can even get an Epson projector with as high as 30,000 Lumens!
Below, we have discussed some crucial factors to help you easily decide the right number of lumens to pick for your unit.
This is undoubtedly the biggest factor to consider when looking for a new projector. Ambient light is simply the amount of natural light filtering into the room where you intend to use your new projector.
This light will directly affect the brightness. So, you should be careful what lumens you settle for in a projector to help fight the ambient light and give you clear projected images.
Around 300 to 800 lumens will do great in low light conditions or in low ambient lighting. And 800-2000 lumens will do in medium ambient lighting.
But if you’re dealing with a room with a lot of bright light, you should go for a projector around 20000-3000 lumens for clearer projection.
Good outdoor projectors should also feature high lumens value to output clear images on a daylight projector screen. Ideally, you should get a projector as high as 3000 lumens to help wash out the high amount of ambient lighting falling on the screen.
Content being projected
The type of content you plan to project will also impact the level of brightness you need. For a projector for casting movies and TV shows, the total brightness should be as important as the contrast ratio.
The home theater projector lumens minimum should be 2000 lumens. The same brightness should work for gaming projectors.
What if you only need to use your projector for presentations for classroom or office use? In that case, a minimum of 1500 lumens will work for you.
It’s worth noting that projectors intended for home theater use are usually measured in video mode and give you more accurate brightness specifications. They also deliver better video scaling and contrast compared to the business projectors.
The larger the screen, the more brightness you need to output quality pictures onto it. If you prefer using giant screens up to 200 inches, you should be ready to spend more on the higher lumen projectors.
For an even more informed choice, the size of the screen should be considered side by side with the ambient light available.
For instance, a good-sized screen of around 100 inches for a home theater room with no ambient light can work with a low 1300 lumens projecting device.
If the room has medium amounts of ambient light, you should use a higher lumens projector, between 1500 and 3500, to project on the 100-inch screen.
What if you’re dealing with a brightly lit home theater? In this case, go for the highest lumen projector models, up to 4000 lumens! (this should be regardless of your screen size).
Resolution (pixel vs. lux)
The projector resolution is also worth considering to help you decide on the right amount of lumens for your new projector.
Since you already know what content you’ll be projecting, you should easily decide the ideal resolution to display the pictures accurately.
Home theater and gaming projectors are mainly built to work best with 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). You may want to get a DLP projector for this type of content as it outputs more pixels, translating to sharper images.
However, tech keeps evolving, and 4K resolution is slowly becoming the trend for home theater use. However, most gaming systems aren’t yet synched for this newest technology.
Projector lumens chart
Deciding on the right number of lumens can be quite a hassle, especially for absolute beginners without much knowledge about projectors.
In this section, we have prepared a lumens chart to guide you in choosing the right lumens value. Whether you’re looking for a model for an indoor or outdoor projector screen (during the day or at night), this chart will come in handy.
This table will also indicate the approximate lumen value based on screen size.
|Screen size||Lumens (day)||Lumens (at night)|
NOTE: The above chart is based on our own research and is not a standardized chart for projector brightness. You can adjust the above values to meet your needs depending on the quality of the projector you buy.
Projector lumens calculator
Calculating the lumens you need in a projector is easy when you know the size of the screen, the amount of ambient light in the room, and the throw distance.
The simple formula for calculating lumens is pretty straightforward, as shown below.
Lumen= ft-L X SquareFeet / Gain
ft-L stands for the foot lamberts
NOTE: The SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) recommends 16 foot-lamberts in a dark room as the standard for the best cinematic viewing experience). However, they allow you to vary this standard through 12 ft-L to 22 ft-L range.
SquareFeet stands for screen area expressed in square feet
Gain stands for the screen gain
Alternatively, if you’re not a maths person, you can use this online calculator to quickly get the ideal number of lumens you need. You just input the variables, and the software does the rest for you.
Lumens to ANSI lumens calculator
Some projector manufacturers rate their products in ANSI lumens, while others just indicate the lumens. As we mentioned earlier, the former is more accurate for describing a projector’s brightness.
Lumens simply measure the light strength as seen by the viewer. They’re more generative and even subjective.
ANSI Lumens, on the other hand, will give you a more accurate value of a device’s brightness. In 1992, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) came up with standards on how lumens ought to be measured correctly.
However, the projectors didn’t start using these standards until recently.
ANSI lumens are arrived at using more scrupulous methods involving several variables. They even consider the white contrast fields at specific spots on your projection screen.
After all the measurements are taken, they’re averaged and then multiplied to account for the entire projection area.
This is just a tip of the iceberg. The measurements involved in getting a projector ANSI lumens are way more complex than this. Nevertheless, this method involves several components—helping provide more accurate totals.
Now, supposing you have a projector rated in terms of lumens and want to know its ANSI lumen value, you don’t need to go through all these calculations. Instead, you can use a lumen to ANSI lumens converter or calculator to help you quickly get the projector’s true brightness.
To easily calculate the ANSI value, you take the total LED lumens value and you divide it by 2.4
LED Lumens value / 2.4=ANSI lumens.
For instance, if you have a projector rated 1000 Lumens, its ANSI Lumens is obtained as follows
1000 ÷ 2.4 = 416.67
Round off the figure to the nearest whole number
Thus, the projector outputs approx. 417 ANSI lumens.
(Note that the above equation applies to LED lumens.)
For a projector lumens rated based on the brightness directly observed from the light source, you use this formula:
1000 light source lumens multiply by 0.04 to 0.06 (the exact conversation rate will depend on the projector’s LCD panel efficiency, which varies between manufacturers) = 60 ANSI lumens
NOTE that NIT (also used to express projector brightness) represents more than one ANSI lumen. In other words, 1 NIT is approx. 3.426 ANSI Lumens. Using this reference point, you can easily convert ANSI lumens to NITs and vice versa.
1. Is 800 lumens good for a projector?
800 lumens projector is good for use indoors with low ambient light, e.g., in the living room or bedroom. They’ll also make good options for users looking for a portable projector for home or office at reasonable pricing.
However, don’t waste your money on this type of projector if you plan to use it in a bright room. The 800 lumens are considered on the lower side of the projector brightness spectrum. They won’t cut it when it comes to fighting high ambiance lighting.
2. Is 3000 lumens good for a projector?
3000 lumens projector is good for outdoor use in daylight when dealing with medium ambient light. This brightness is sure to wash away the medium ambient light to enable you to get clear pictures with vibrant colors.
However, this projector isn’t good for use outdoor under direct sunlight. As you already know, the sun produces extremely high lumens, making no sense to use a mere 3000 lumens against it.
3. Is 7000 lumens good for a projector?
7000 lumens is good brightness for a projector intended for use in daylight. It is ideal for outdoor movies, gaming, and projection mapping, where the projector applications require a lot of brightness to fight the high amounts of ambient light from natural sunlight.
However, 7000 lumens isn’t good for a projector for common home applications like a home theater or gaming in a dark room. It can produce too much bright images, which isn’t recommended for low ambient lighting conditions.
4. Is 8000 lumens good for a projector?
An 8000 lumens projector is a good option if you’re looking for the brightest projector for outdoor use in daylight. It’s much brighter than 7000-lumen models and will also be a good choice if you have a giant screen set outdoors.
Like a 7000 lumen projector, you can’t use 8000 lumens models for home applications like gaming or movie viewing in a dark room due to the overwhelmingly bright images they’ll produce. Also, keep in mind that this model will cost you more than the 3000-7000 lumens projector.
5. How many lumens should an outdoor projector have?
An outdoor projector should have at least 2500 lumens for use in daylight. You’ll enjoy better quality projections if you can get more lumens, up to 4000 or even 5000 lumens.
You need such high lumen projectors for outdoor to cancel out the high ambient light from natural sunlight and clearly view your images on the screen.
6. How bright should your projector be?
How bright a projector should be will depend on a couple of factors, as discussed in our guide above. These factors include ambient lighting, intended use or content to be projected, and screen size.
The right should also come with the right resolution for the intended content to ensure you get the best possible picture quality.
7. How do I choose a good projector?
To choose a good projector, you need to consider several factors. But the lumens/brightness rating is the most important depending on the ambient light in the room you’ll be using the projector.
Additional important factors include the intended application, resolution, and screen size you’ll be projecting to. You may also consider extra features in a projector like HDMI port, audio output, internal speakers, etc.
Projector brightness is one of the most important considerations when looking for a new projector. The right amount of lumens will ensure you project clear pictures with vibrant colors on your screen.
To get the perfect amount of lumens, you should consider the amount of ambient light in the location where you’ll be using the projector. You should also consider additional crucial factors like the type of content you want to project and your screen size.
A projector for a bright room or outdoor use will need a higher brightness rating to enable it to combat ambient light and output clear images.
You can also rely on the formula we have shown you in this guide to calculate the number of lumens you need. This will make picking the right projector for your unique needs even easier.
Remember, the projectors are available in a wide range of lumens. They run from as low as 200 lumens to as high as 30,000 lumens. Finding the right amount of lumens for your applications shouldn’t be a problem.