How Do Projectors Work Outside

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Updated December 10, 2022

Asking, “How do projectors work outside?” will unlock new potential for your family movie nights. This is perfect, especially if you’ve just built a projector screen frame and set it up with a new screen. But, having that setup, you’ll also need a wireless Wi-Fi projector. You’ll want to ensure it has the right lumens to work as an outdoor projector and the appropriate lux levels

Watching a movie indoors is excellent, but outdoor movie events are far more fun. Beyond family movie nights, you can also use a projector outside to give presentations, provide decorations at family functions, and more. Once you find out how powerful outdoor projectors are, it’s easy to see why they’re some of the best projectors around.


  • Your outdoor projection screen matters as much as the projector does, so invest in a high-quality screen for the outdoors. And, make sure the projector screen is the right color so your image will display flawlessly.
  • An outdoor projector is a high-lumen projector that offers a far brighter projected image, making it suitable for daytime viewing.
  • Watching a movie indoors is fine, but outdoor movie events are more fun and can invite more guests.

Explaining How Outdoor Projectors Work

For a successful movie night, you need to understand a few things about modern projectors. Of course, knowing how do projectors work in the first place is a good start. Moreover, having a good grasp of concepts like aspect ratio is terrific, but there’s a lot more to consider than that when it comes to outdoor projection. For instance, do you know if your projector bulb is working fine? If not, you may want to learn how to test a projector lamp before moving on to potential screen problems.

Insider Tip

Adding an Amazon Fire TV stick will upgrade your outdoor movie nights by giving you access to your favorite movies and TV shows.

The type of projector you use will matter quite a bit, too. If you’d like a true cinema experience, then look into how 3D projectors work. These are an excellent option for anyone wanting exceptional picture quality.

Why Lumens of Brightness Matter

Lumens are a measure of brightness, specifically the amount of light your projector can produce. The lumen count of outdoor projectors must be high enough to compete with the ambient light, especially if you’re planning to use it outside in broad daylight. You can easily turn off light bulbs and shutter windows in your house, but you’ll have to deal with some form of lighting if you’re using it outside.

The above might have you wondering, “Okay, but what are lumens on a projector?” If so, click the link to read a great article that will help you understand.

Understanding Outdoor Projection Conditions

Achieving a bright image on your dedicated projector screen can be tricky when using your projector outdoors. Poor weather conditions can mess up your entire evening, especially if you choose a low-cost projector.

That isn’t the only issue you may encounter, however. With a cheaper model, your video projector’s built-in speaker probably won’t cut it. Instead, you’ll need to invest in great external speakers that provide better sound quality.

Optimizing for Backyard Movie Nights

If you want to get the best picture quality possible from your outdoor cinema, you need to have the correct setup. Below are a few things you’ll need to set up your outdoor theater successfully:

  • Wireless Speakers
  • Power Strips
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Streaming Service

Limiting Ambient Light

Outdoor viewing can be tricky because it’s impossible to entirely control the light level outdoors. Ambient light can spell disaster for image quality. If possible, shield your outdoor screens from light pollution and schedule your outdoor movie night during dull weather conditions.

Using a Shorter Throw Ratio

In addition to ambient light, shadows in front of the screen can ruin your outdoor viewing experience. For this reason, try a bright projector with a shorter throw ratio, which is the opposite of a long-throw projector ratio. These models usually are more expensive, but they work far better when low ambient light conditions aren’t an option.


Be courteous to others! To avoid conflicts, check with your neighbors before hosting any outdoor movie nights, and look into any city ordinances that might require the observance of quiet hours.


Why does the level of brightness matter to portable projectors?

Simply put, low brightness makes it challenging to achieve an optimal viewing experience. A bright projector means being able to see crisper images, even in intense ambient lighting.

How many lumens do outdoor portable projectors need?

The lumen rating of a compact projector should be relatively high, around 2,000 to 3,000 lumens. However, these modest models won’t offer the same lumen rating as other digital projectors.

What should I look for in an outdoor home theater projector?

Creating an outdoor movie theater takes some effort and a moderate budget. You want your projector to have high brightness (no less than 2,000 lumens), great built-in speakers, and excellent color accuracy.

How can I create an outdoor home cinema?

For an optimal viewing experience, invest in a huge backyard cinema screen. Inflatable screens are an excellent choice for this. You’ll need to look into outdoor speakers, as well.

STAT: By 2013, drive-ins comprised only 1.5% of total movie screens in the United States, with 389 theaters in operation nationwide, mostly located in the South and the West Coast. (source)

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