How Bright Should My Projector Be?

Brightness is undeniably one of the main considerations people have in mind when choosing to buy a projector, and for good reason. Projectors are light projection devices and this means that brightness is essential to every single step in their functioning.

How Bright Should My Projector Be?

That said as with many other factors to consider when making a purchase there isn't one "perfect brightness level". Different projectors have different lumen ratings, and each one has a unique niche where they perform the best.

Ultimately the search for lumens shouldn't be about getting the highest brightness rating possible, but instead about finding a projector that best fits your specific needs. So with that in mind today we'll be taking a closer look at the world of lumens so you can make an informed choice and better understand what brightness brings to the table when it comes to projectors.

What are lumens?

Lumens are at their core measurement unit, which indicates the light output of a given light source. That means that when you see a lumens rating on a projector's description you are seeing how bright the projector is by default. Lumens are used to measure any light source, and a good reference to keep in mind is that a standard lightbulb is 800 Lumens bright, which should give you a reference to how bright your projector is.

When it comes to projectors in particular it becomes important to understand the distinction between Lumens and ANSI Lumens. In short, they are both measuring units but ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Lumens are considerably brighter, 2.4 times brighter in fact. So while a simple calculation it's one you might need to compare brightness levels across different models and manufacturers.

So to sum it up, the higher the lumens the brighter the projected image will be, and this will play a key role in the overall quality of your picture. Though not necessarily in the way you are thinking.

 How many lumens do I need for my projector?

In short? It depends. While we understand that it might not be the most exciting answer, the fact is that brightness has its own set of pros and cons, and what value is the best for each person and room varies considerably based on a wide variety of factors.

The first concept we need to explain is ambient lighting, that is to say, the existing brightness in your surroundings. Let's use cars as an example to make this crystal clear. When you turn on your car's headlights in the middle of the night they are striking and bold, easily identifiable from afar, and downright blinding when seen from the front. But the same lights won't be as striking in the middle of the day, so what's going on there?

All of the above comes down to ambient lighting, the existing light in the environment makes the headlights harder to distinguish, and this also happens with projectors. So the same projector will look very different when displaying a picture in a dark classroom or a bright conference room.

What this ultimately means is that the ideal lumens rating for your projector will vary based on the ambient lighting, and once we consider that we can begin to offer more accurate values. So let's take a look at some lighting conditions and what kind of values you will want on them.

Lights Off: If you are in a location where you can control ambient lighting by turning off your light sources and closing the windows you won't need high lumens levels. Anything in the range of 1500-2000 Lumens will be more than enough and you'll be able to enjoy a clear image without having to invest a lot in additional Lumens.

Dimmed Lights: When light sources are minimal but still present this is the category you are looking for. If there are distant lightbulbs or other similar sources of weak light you'll need more lumens to make up for them, so you should consider a projector in the 3000-3500 range. 

Moderate Lighting: Open areas with multiple light sources that aren't downright dazzling will fall in this category. Light is abundant, but not necessarily directly focused, and that means that 4000-4500 lumens projectors will begin to shine here.

Well-lit: In these settings, there's not only abundant light but it's directly focused, large halls, churches, and other well-lit social areas fall under this category. So if you want to get a high-quality projection you'll need between 5000 to 7000 lumens.

Brightly lit: At this range, we are talking about stadiums or other venues with incredibly bright lights. You might need up to 20000 lumens for these areas, but to be fair these levels are needed for industrial purposes and not really for the average projection enjoyer.

So to sum it up when you take a look at a projector's lumen values you are getting a good glimpse of what its intended use is. Take for example our portable projector, the WEMAX Go: As its lumens rating doesn't break the 2000 range you'll prefer to use it in settings where you get to control the light sources, but you are guaranteed to get a good quality image in those cases.

Do higher lumens mean higher quality?

While it would be easy to assume so this isn't the case. If you use a projector that is too bright in a different setting than its intended use you might see a decrease in the color performance.

As we mentioned before, projectors are light projection devices, and this means that brightness plays a role in every aspect of their functioning. So while it could be tempting to just pick the brightest projector possible and use it on any setting you need to keep in mind that the internal calculations and processes your projector does might not be as accurate if the ambient lighting conditions are drastically different from their intended use.

Wrapping it up

Lumens are the unit we use to define how bright a projector is, and they help us provide a clear comparison point between differing models. However, a brighter model isn't always the better model. As light projecting devices projectors performance is heavily influenced by the ambient lighting and that means the ideal lumens value for a projector ultimately depends on where you plan to use your projector. So keep the above values in mind when browsing our projector catalog and we assure you you'll be able to find a great model that perfectly suits your needs.