Understanding Home Theater Projectors – How Many ANSI Lumens Do I Really Need?

Projectors have recently become the preferred choice for people who want to experience the thrill offered by the huge projector screens of cinema in their living rooms. Besides being used as home theater projector, projectors are also extremely useful in office presentations where you want to connect with a large group of audience.

However, with plenty of types and brands of projectors to choose from, you can easily get confused and might even end up spending precious money on a device that is not meant for the desired use. It is, therefore, highly recommended to research the various available options and understand their features like lumens, contrast ratio and resolution etc.

What is projector ANSI lumens and what does ANSI mean?

The brightness of a projector is measured in ANSI (American National Standards Institute) lumens or just lumens. The higher the projector lumens rating, the brighter the light wave intensity will be and the brighter the projection screen.

Although lumens is not directly related to the size of the projected image, a larger image will need to be brighter because the projector needs to be further away from the screen and will need more lumens. The projectors available nowadays generally range between 500 and 10,000 lumens.

If there is ambient light in a room, owning a projector with more lumens will make the image more defined. Light in a theater room will make an image with 1000 ANSI lumens seem washed out and harder to see. In the same room with the same amount of light, a projector with 1800 ANSI lumens will be much easier to see.

It is important to make sure that the projector lumens rating is measured in ANSI. Some manufacturers use different lumens rating standards just to make their numbers look higher when they are actually not.

How many lumens do I need?

The number of projector lumens depends on the machine’s intended use. The higher the lumens, the more the projector tends to cost. Therefore, it is essential to determine the number of projector lumens you require to avoid a situation where you end up wasting precious money because you bought an expensive projector with way too many lumens.

Here are some things to consider while determining how many ANSI lumens you need:

What is the intended use of the projector?: If the device is going to be used as a home theater projector in a blacked out cinema room with no light, find a projector with at least 800 ANSI lumens. Owning a projector with more than 1200 ANSI lumens would be a waste of money (assuming your paying more for the lumens). If the room is sufficiently darkened but has a little bit of ambient light, a projector with 1500 lumens is enough to cast a bright image.

If the projector is expected to be used for multiple purposes, then consider the lighting conditions. If you plan on using the projector outside, find a projector with at least 3500 lumens and use a darker projector screen like a black diamond screen or a silver screen.

The size of the group of audience and throw: If the projector will be used for large audiences which require a larger screen, the projector may need more throw (the distance between the projector and the screen) and will need more lumens. For throw distances over 22 feet in a dark theater, you will need a projector with at least 1500 lumens.

The amount of light entering the room: A completely blackened out room will require 800 lumens, a bright room with windows and lighting will need at least 3500 lumens and a recommended darker screen.

The type of screen: There are several types of screens that can produce a bright image. In a blacked out theater setting, a white screen with a grain is perfect and will always reflect a bright, clear image without losing contrast. In a room with ambient light, the blacks will seem grey unless your using a darker screen, for example a silver screen or a black diamond screen will make the blacks look darker and delivering a better contrast ratio. If you plan on owning a darker screen, the darker material may make the image seem dimmer unless using a projector with at least 1500 lumens.