How To Buy An Outdoor Projector (Backyard Projector)?

Last Updated September 29,2018

A projector is not meant just for living rooms and home theatres. It allows you to have outdoor movies nights with family and friends for a fun-filled evening. You can watch your favorite movies and shows under the starry sky. Not every projector is designed for an open-air area like a backyard. Some projectors are strictly suited for indoor use while others will work both indoors and outdoors. Buyers must look for a few specific features while buying an outdoor or backyard projector. If you are going to use a projector outdoors, then here are a few important considerations that you must keep in mind while shopping for one.

Brightness – Lumens Rating

The primary consideration for choosing an outdoor projector is its lumens rating. The lumens rating of a projector determines how bright the images will appear on the screen. Some manufacturers specify the brightness rating in lumens while others specify the same in ANSI lumens. You must always consider the ANSI lumens rating of a projector.

It is best to opt for a projector that has an ANSI lumen rating of 2,000 or more like the JMGO SA smart projector which employs Laser-based illumination source and delivers 2,200 ANSI Lumens of brightness.  If your backyard or outdoor area has a moderate amount of ambient lighting, then consider a projector with 3,000 or 3,500 ANSI lumens rating. 

Buyers who are going to use the projectors in dark or low ambient light areas can get away with 1,000 to 1,500 lumens projectors. However, it is always better to buy a projector with the maximum lumens rating from a given set of choices. A projector with a higher lumens rating will perform great in low light, but a projector with a lower lumens rating may not be adequate for moderate or medium ambient lighting conditions. As you are going to spend the money only once, it is wise to buy a projector that has adequate brightness rating and is within your budget. 


If you are using a projector outdoors for watching movies, then the chances are that you have invited a bunch of friends and neighbors over. The projector will be projecting the image over a large area and needs an adequate resolution for an immersing viewing experience. 

You must consider a projector that has a resolution of at least 1920x1080 pixels (Full HD) for ensuring that you and your friends have a quality time. Almost all DVD movies and channels provide content in Full HD (1080p) resolution. You can let your eyes feast on the Full HD content by projecting it with a 1080p projector. JMGO J6S is a 1100ANSI lumen 1080p FHD Android projector and sells for only $769, and will be a good option if you want to get a 1080p smart projector. You can even go for a 4K projector if your budget allows. 

A lower resolution projector will project images with inferior quality and impact the overall viewing experience. Customers who are on a tight budget should consider a projector with 720p resolution (1280x720) at the very least.

Inbuilt Speaker Quality 

The audio quality plays a vital role in your movie viewing experience. While projectors can be easily ported, it is unfeasible to move your entire surround sound system outdoors. Therefore, you need to pay special attention to the quality of the projector’s inbuilt speakers if you are going to use it outdoors for watching movies or videos. Projectors come with speakers, but most of them are not loud enough for open-air usage. 

The speakers may sound adequate inside, but their volume may decrease drastically outdoors. You must ensure that the speakers of the outdoor projector you are buying will suffice for your usage. If you are watching a movie with family or friends and find the volume of the speakers insufficient, you can pair your projector with a portable speaker. Just ensure that the projector can connect to external speakers via a 3.5mm audio-out port or Bluetooth.

Dust Blob Resistance 

Using a projector outdoors or in the backyard often exposes it to dust. Projectors, especially LCD ones, can suffer from dust blobs. They affect the quality of the image output by the projector. LCD projectors are more prone to dust blobs as their light paths are not sealed, and the dust can settle on their LCD panels. These projectors come with air filters to prevent dust from entering, but it can’t provide 100% protection. 

DLP and LCoS projectors don’t suffer from dust blobs as much as their light paths are sealed. However, they are not completely airtight, and dust specks can still affect their image quality. If you are going to use a projector in dust-prone areas, it is best to consider a DLP or an LCoS projector over an LCD one. 

Smart Projector vs Standard Projector

Projectors available in the market can be broadly classified into two segments – regular projectors and smart projectors. Regular projectors require a device such as a set-top box or a DVD player for providing the input signal. Smart projectors come with an inbuilt Operating System that enables you to play a movie or video via a USB drive or stream it through the Internet. Some projectors might also allow you to stream videos from your smartphone or tablet via screen-mirroring or casting. Smart projectors are more feasible for outdoor use as they can operate independently. Buyers can choose one of these projectors depending on their preferences.

Image Correction Features – Keystone Correction and Lens Shift

Using a projector outdoors can be challenging due to uneven ground or limited installation options. The projected images can distort due to imperfect alignment of the projector and screen. Features such as keystone correction and lens shift can be quite handy in such scenarios. They enable you to correct the projected imagery as required. 

The difference between keystone correction and lens shift is that keystone correction is digital and may affect the quality of the image a bit. Lens shift allows you to shift the actual lens assembly to rectify distortion. Projectors with lens shift are more expensive than projectors with only keystone correction. When shopping for an outdoor projector, make sure that it supports keystone correction at the very least.

A few Other Considerations 

An important point to consider before buying an outdoor projector is that it can be used only after dusk. No projector, irrespective of its brightness, will be suitable for outdoor use as long as there is sunlight. The images will be washed out, and the viewing experience and immersion level of the viewer will suffer.

Elite Screens for Outdoor Projectors

If you want to use the projector while the sun is still setting down, then it is best to place the projector screen in such a way that the sun is setting behind it. If the screen faces the setting sun, the projected images will be washed out by sunlight. It may even reflect sunlight back onto the viewers. Better yet, it is best to set up the projector on the eastern side of the house as the house will obstruct the sunlight during the evening. 

The surface that you are going to use for projection must be considered beforehand. If a wall is going to be used for projecting the images, then it must be smooth and have a white paint coating. If you are going to use a projector screen, it is best to buy one that has anti-glare properties to minimize the effect of ambient lighting. If you don’t want to buy a projector screen, then consider using a heavy white cloth or bed sheet as a screen. 

These few considerations can help you choose the right projector for your needs. Now all you need are a few cozy chairs and cushions along with some popcorn and beverages of your choice for a memorable movie night.


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