Choose The Appropriate Projector Brightness For Your Needs

Last Updated January 11,2019

Projectors have become an integral part of our homes and offices. They can be paired with home theatres to watch movies in a cinematic environment. Projectors are also used in offices and by professionals for their work. There is a wide variety of projectors available in the market. The right projector for a particular scenario will depend on its specifications. The brightness of a projector is one of the primary specifications you must pay attention to while choosing a projector.

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What is the Brightness Rating of a Projector?

All projectors make use of one or more light sources like a lamp or LED for projecting images. The brightness rating of a projector is expressed in lumens and primarily depends on the amount of light emitted by the source. The higher is the lumens rating of the light source, the brighter will be the projected imagery.

However, high lumens rating of a projector doesn’t guarantee excellent image quality. A projector with a slightly lower lumens rating can projector better and brighter imagery than a projector having a higher lumens rating depending on the light source used. Lamp projectors are generally brighter as compared to LED projectors. Also, projectors that have their brightness rating expressed in lumens may be inferior to projectors that have their brightness rating specified in ANSI lumens.

Lumens vs ANSI Lumens – What is the difference and why it matters? 

Every projector manufacturer specifies lumens rating for their projectors. Some projectors carry a generic lumens rating while others are marked with the ANSI lumens rating. Lumens is a generic unit of measurement that specifies the luminous flux of a light source, i.e. how bright is the light emitted by a source. Simply put, lumens rating measures the total amount of light produced by a light source.

ANSI lumen is a specialized unit of measurement created for measuring the brightness of imagery projected by projectors. It was devised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1992. The institute has established a standard procedure for measuring the ANSI lumens rating of projectors. In this method, the brightness of the projected imagery at nine specific locations is averaged and then multiplied with the total surface area of the projected imagery.

The method for measuring ANSI lumens has a higher accuracy as compared to other methods used for measuring lumens rating of projectors. ANSI lumens is the most popular standard in the projector industry for measuring brightness and makes it easy to distinguish between different projectors based on their brightness rating.

A 700 ANSI lumens projector may be way better than a projector that has a brightness rating of 1,200 lumens. People who are looking to buy a new projector must consider the ANSI lumens rating of a projector over the generic lumens rating.

Factors To Consider For Choosing The Appropriate Projector Brightness

While the ANSI lumens rating of a projector provides decent information about its brightness, there are a few other factors that can assist you in choosing the appropriate projector brightness for your needs.

Ambient Light 

One of the primary factors that will determine the right projector brightness for your needs is the amount of ambient light in the room. Ambient light impacts the brightness of the projected imagery. An image projected by a projector in a dark room will appear much brighter than when it is projected in a room with high ambient light by the same projector.

As the ambient light increases, the brightness of the imagery decreases. Therefore, you must choose the appropriate projector brightness for your needs depending on the ambient light.

** Low Ambient Light Environments: If you are going to use your projector in a dark room or one with low ambient light, then projectors with almost any ANSI lumens rating will suffice for your needs. If you can control the ambient light in your room using window shades or by turning off the artificial light sources, then you can consider projectors with low ANSI lumens ratings. Projectors with an ANSI lumens rating of as low as 300 to 500 ANSI lumens will function adequately in low ambient light environments.

** Medium Ambient Light Environments: People who will install their projectors in medium ambient light environments will need models with a higher brightness rating as compared to the ones used in the low light environments. The imagery projected by them will be more visible as compared to the imagery of the projectors with low brightness rating.

The brightness rating of these projectors can range anywhere between 500 to 2,500 ANSI lumens depending on other factors including the size of the projected imagery and the distance between the projector screen and the projector.


** High Ambient Light Environments: Areas such as auditoriums, public venues or offices with glass windows without shades will need projectors with a high brightness rating to project visible imagery. These environments receive high ambient light and will require a projector that has a powerful light source capable of counteracting the effect of the ambient light. A projector with an ANSI lumens rating of at least 2,500 lumens may be required for high ambient light environments. 

Using a projector with higher lumens rating than required can be counterproductive as the images can appear overly bright resulting in washed out colors.

Distance Between The Projector And The Screen

The second factor that you must pay attention to for choosing the appropriate projector brightness for your needs is the distance you are going to install the projector from the screen. Projectors can be installed at different distances from the screen depending on their throw ratio.

These distances can vary from a few inches to almost a dozen feet or even more. Light rays from the projector have to cover the distance between the projector and the screen. These rays, especially the ones from lamps and LEDs are not coherent and will disperse. The dispersion causes the light rays to lose some of their power and reduces the brightness of the imagery. It increases as the distance between the projector and the screen increases.

If the same projector is installed at the distances of five feet and ten feet respectively from the screen and projects imagery of the same size, the brightness of the imagery projected at a distance of ten feet will be lower than the brightness of the imagery projected at a distance of five feet. It is because light rays disperse more when the projector is installed at a distance of ten feet.

A projector with a higher brightness rating will be required if it is going to be installed farther away from the screen. Therefore, you must consider the distance between the projector and the screen for choosing the appropriate projector brightness.

** Normal Throw Ratio Projectors: Normal throw ratio projectors are placed the farthest from the screen, and their light faces the most dispersion. 

** Short Throw Ratio Projectors: Short throw ratio projectors are meant to be installed at a moderate distance from the screen, and their light disperses though not as much as the light of normal throw ratio projectors. 

** Ultra-Short Throw Ratio Projectors: Ultra-short throw ratio projectors are placed the closest to the screen, and their light disperse the least as compared to projectors with normal and short throw ratios. 


JMGO SA Ultra-Short Throw Projector With Only 0.23:1 Throw Ratio

If you are going to install a projector close to the screen, then a model with 500 to 1,000 ANSI lumens may be adequate. Medium distance installation may require projectors with a brightness rating ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 ANSI lumens. Projectors installed far away from the screen should have a brightness rating of at least 2,000 ANSI lumens or higher. 

The Size of Projected Imagery

The amount of light emitted by a projector is fixed. However, you have the flexibility to adjust the size of the projected imagery. It depends from one projector to another and generally varies from 60” to 120”. Some projectors can project images as small as 30” while others can project images as big as 180”.

The size of the projected imagery will depend on your requirements and your projector’s capability. If you are projecting 120” imagery, the light from the projector is distributed over a large surface area. If the same projector projects 60” imagery, the light from the projector is distributed over a smaller area. As a result, the 60” imagery will appear brighter than the 120” imagery.

Therefore, you also have to consider the size of imagery you will be projecting for choosing the appropriate projector brightness for your needs. For e.g., a projector with a 1,000 ANSI lumens rating may be sufficient for you if you are projecting a 60” or 90” image. However, you may require a projector with an ANSI rating between 1,500 to 2,000 lumens if you need to project 120” image. The size of the projected imagery will also depend on the projector screen.

The Type Of Projector Screen

In addition to the above factors, the type of projector screen that you will be employing must also be considered for choosing the appropriate projector brightness for your needs. Projector screens are made from different materials. These materials primarily differ in their gain rating.

Gain defines how the brightness of the light rays striking the projector screen changes. A screen with a gain rating of ‘1.0’ preserves the brightness of the imagery. A screen having a gain rating less than ‘1.0’ (like 0.8) reduces the brightness of the imagery while a screen having a gain rating greater than ‘1.0’ (like 1.35) improves the brightness of the projected imagery.

 

Projector screens having a gain rating lower than ‘1.0’ may require a projector with a higher brightness as compared to projector screens having a gain rating higher than ‘1.0’.

Ultimately, the appropriate projector brightness for your needs will depend on the environment you are going to install the projector in. The above factors can assist in narrowing down the right projector for your needs. Each projector is unique and will have different real-world brightness. It is best to try out various models for deciding the ideal one for your requirements.  


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