What are Lumens on a Projector?

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Updated December 5, 2022

Asking, “What are lumens on a projector?” is a big step toward understanding how brightness, picture size, and different types of projectors relate. This crucial framework will help you determine the best projectors for your needs. Whether you’re looking at laser projectors or a pico projector, understanding lumens helps you find the perfect projector.


  • Lumens are a measurement of light level and a strong indication of whether a single projector can overcome ambient light or not.
  • When you have higher lumens, you have a brighter projector capable of doubling as an outdoor projector if you require it. This is why you need to know how many lumens do outdoor projectors have
  • Understanding a desirable lumen level can help determine if a single projector is the weakest or brightest.

Why Projector Lumen Output is Important

The reasons why lumen thresholds matter are endless. Having high lumens of projection brightness can make or break your viewing experience. Image size, color light output, and more decide success for using projectors in less than ideal environments, such as direct sunlight.

The question, “How do projectors work outside?” will help you uncover more about how to deal with direct sunlight.

Insider Tip

Understanding the color wheel builds a better understanding of how to prep your environment for the production of vibrant colors.

The Meaning of Projector Brightness

Concerning picture quality, few aspects matter more than reducing artificial light and providing preferable ambient lighting situations. You’ll also need to understand the color wheel and how projection size and projector screens are related.

Producing color images from a digital projector means understanding more than the color wheel, however. The screen itself matters, too. If you’re now wondering, “What color should a projection screen be?” then we have an enlightening article.

Measuring Brightness in Lumens

Lumens measure brightness for all light conditions. Anything that emits additional light will have a lumen rating. Lumens measure the brightness of projector light output, and an outdoor projector will require high levels to produce a bright image.

Your outdoor projector will invariably need higher lumens to produce a higher image quality. This is also true for a portable projector, even if it’s not currently used as an outdoor projector.

Acceptable Range of Brightness in Projectors

There is an extensive range for acceptable levels of projector light output. You’ll see anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand advertised. A high lumen projector is necessary for outdoor projection conditions. Natural light and ambient light can be handled easily by an outdoor projector. However, strong sunlight will be a huge issue.

Direct sunlight will overcome even brighter projectors. Suppose the outdoor projection conditions in your area include direct sunlight. In that case, you’ll need to provide shade or reschedule the event to a cloudier day.


When purchasing a portable projector, be careful to ensure that the image size suits what you need, or you might end up with something far too small.


What are the lumen requirements of a business projector?

There is no absolute standard for lumens in your projector. You can look at anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand lumens, so the most significant consideration is where you’ll be using the projector. In strong ambient light, err on the side of more lumens.

Why do screen size and throw ratio matter?

If you’re searching for an ideal screen size, you’ll need to understand how throw distance and throw ratio work. Most cinema projectors have a standard throw. However, ultra-short-throw projectors do have some great applications in small spaces.

Why should I care about the contrast ratio?

Finding your effective contrast ratio doesn’t help much. It’s an overall meaningless metric that shouldn’t be relied upon to make your final purchase decision. Effective contrast ratio should only play as a deciding factor if both models are otherwise an even match.

How do I choose the best home theater systems?

Finding your ideal home theater system requires research. Look into different theater systems, and choose one that feels right. A theater projector is an excellent addition to theater systems since they’re similar to what movie theaters use.

STAT: If a light source emits one candela of luminous intensity uniformly across a solid angle of one steradian, the total luminous flux emitted into that angle is one lumen (1 cd·1 sr = 1 lm). (source)

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