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Нow many lumens is good for outdoor projector?

When people shop for an outdoor projector, one of the first questions they find themselves dealing with is -- "What is the brightness of the projector?". 

A projector emits light

From our previous coverage of outdoor projectors and outdoor projection systems, you could already learn that projector brightness is not as important for indoor viewing as it is for outdoor cinemas. The indoor theater screen is smaller, the distance from the projector to the screen is smaller, and the viewing space is -- in essence -- completely dark. In such a case, the resolution of the projector plays a greater role than its brightness.

The situation is different with open air cinemas.

What are lumens?

Let's start with what lumens are. In the international system of units, the lumen is considered to be a unit of measurement of the luminous flux. The greater the number of lumens, the stronger the luminous flux. So, the brightness of the projector, or any light source, is measured in lumens (or lux -- but more on that later).

How many lumens do you need for outdoor movie projectors? - 5 factors involved!

1- Screen gain

Screen gain of 1,1.4, 1.8

This term refers to the ability of an outdoor movie screen to reflect the light falling on it, or else, absorb it. You can notice featured in the screen characteristics the reflectivity of 0.6, 1, 1.6, 1.8.

But what does this metric influence?

A screen with a reflectivity of 1 will reflect light like any white object. If the reflectivity level is 1.5 then the reflection will be 50% stronger. 

Accordingly, the reflection level 0.5 will reflect 50% less light than a white object does. Such screens have a more gray color. 

Okay. So if 1.5-gain screens reflect more light, why not just use them? The answer lies precisely in the concept of reflection. If you are looking directly at the picture, then a high gain setting will be preferable as the light is reflected directly towards you.

However, for viewers sitting on the side, the picture will look much worse. Colors will be uneven and brightness will be lower. This is because most of the light will be reflected towards the light source.

wide viewing vs narrow viewing angle

A gain level of 1 is ideal for outdoor viewing, as the reflected light will be evenly distributed between viewers sitting directly in front of the screen and those sitting to both sides.

2- Ambient light

In the case of ambient light, there is nothing more than the reflection of light relative to the light source at a strictly defined angle. Provided that it can be illuminated by light from another source, which often happens during outdoor screenings.

What is ambient light?

The light source is uneven. Light may appear in the middle of a conventional flat screen, since the light source itself in the form of a lamp emits light with different strengths in different parts of its glow. And it will be stronger in the center. Light from the side will fall on the darker areas. The brightness of the picture will result to be uneven.

High-quality projection screens are made of a material that redistributes the reflection of light in different directions and partially compensates for ambient light. So the picture on the screen is evened out in brightness, in all segments of the outdoor movie screen.

3- Screen size

Screen size is the main factor when choosing the brightness of a projector. The physics of the beam of light coming out of the projector is such that the larger the screen, the farther the projector must be installed so that the outgoing beam of light can fill the entire screen.

The farther we move the projector away from the screen, the more the beam of light weakens as it passes through the air. 

If your screen is large and the projector is a low-power one then if you move it away from the screen you will see a very dim picture. That is why the larger your screen, the more powerful your outdoor projector has to be.

A large white outdoor movie screen

4- Image quality

The greater the brightness of the projector, the more saturated the picture on the screen – the more saturated the colors. 

Basically, the concept of image quality is a cumulative concept. Here it is necessary to take into account the quality of the content, the resolution of the projector and its brightness. No doubt – the brighter the better. 

But this is not the main factor. 

Sometimes an overly bright picture can cause discomfort to the viewer -- specially during the bright movie scenes. So you always want to consult with experts when choosing a projector. 

Our Big Screen Pro expert team have extensive experience in working with various kinds of outdoor projection equipment and we are ready to help you 24/7. Email us now on!

5- Distance to screen

We have touched on this point a bit when we discussed screen size. Once again, the distance is directly correlated with the power of your projector. A simple example is an ordinary flashlight. Its light shines well at 30-60 feet, but then it abruptly fades. If you use a flashlight with a powerful light beam, it can shine at 1,000 and 3,000 feet and even more.

What if an outdoor projector doesn't list lumens?

Your projector will feature a model marking on its body. If you don't know what power the projector has in lumens, try search by model number and this way you should be able to find the projector's brightness -- typically, on the manufacturer's website.


The power consumption of a projector directly depends on its brightness. The higher the brightness, the higher the consumption will be. Bright projectors for cinemas and concert halls can draw thousands of watts of electrical power to provide the required high brightness.

A plugged-in projector



Many can be misled by another unit of measurement - lux. We won't give you much technical information here as it is mainly used by the science folks. Let's just say one thing here. In everyday use, 1 lumen = 1 lux. It's also worth mentioning that lux is used mainly in ambient light. For such light sources as a flashlight or a projector, lumens are used.

FAQS about how many lumens for an outdoor movie projector

How many lumens do you need for daytime outdoor projector?

A very common question we get. Regardless of what some SEO-tuned AV content aggregators occasionally claim, current projection technologies do not allow for screenings in the daytime. Consider this simple example: a powerful 5,000 lumen projector requires no more than 90 lux of ambient light. Direct sunlight has a luminous intensity of 32,000-130,000 lux.

How many lumens do you need for a nighttime outdoor projector?

It depends on the size of your screen. For screens that are offered on the market, projectors from 3,000 to 7,000 lumens are used.

Is higher lumens better for an outdoor projector?

Yes, the brighter the projector, the better. But brighter projectors come with a higher price tag. And a picture this bright is not always comfortable for the audience – as discussed above. 

Make sure you choose the right projector. The outdoor cinema systems that Big Screen Pro offers have brightness according to the table:

 Screen Model Projector Lumens
Home 9' 3000
Home 12' 3200
Home 16' and Pro 16' 3600
Home 20' and Pro 20' 4500
Elite 25’ 5000
Elite 30' 5500
Elite 40' 6000



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