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Which projector should I use in outdoor daylight?




Firstly, Knowing that the major manufacturers of DLP and LCD projectors claim their units are suitable for use in daylight, it could be a marketing gimmick to draw more sales. Many best projectors under $400 claim to be suitable for outdoor daylight. But are they actually suitable?

The reality is that any projector can be used outdoors as long as there is enough light from other sources such as a window or sky lighting or a high gain screen to reflect more ambient light onto the projector. Are best projectors for Bright room suitable for outdoor daylight?

The more powerful projectors that are meant for outdoors typically have a much longer projection distance. It allows them to be placed further away from the screen so that the ambient light will be reflected easily onto the projector without it having to bounce off of a large white surface.

However, if you have a small portable “short throw” projector meant for indoor use, then it will not work outdoors unless you can place it on top of a vast white sheet to reflect the image in your eyes.

“Short throw” means it has a short, small projection distance. A typical “short throw” projector may have a 3 foot to 5-foot projection distance. To give you an idea of how large this is, a standard computer monitor has about 2 feet or less from the eyes to the screen!

“Front or Rear Projection”? – Which is Better?

The answer is they both have their advantages and disadvantages. There are trade-offs with both types of projectors.

I prefer “rear projection” because it allows a more miniature, lighter-weight projector. It can be used in any lighting condition indoors or outdoors and is usually more affordable than front projection. In addition, you can place the screen almost anywhere on the wall or ceiling and still enjoy an excellent, large, distortion-free image.

I have used both rear and front projection with great results! Deciding to use one over the other depends on your preference and application of its use.

How many lumens do you need to project in daylight?

It depends on how far you are projecting, the ambient light level, and whether you have a screen.

A large screen will require more lumens than a tiny one. Remember: “If you cannot see it in your house during the day with all of the lights on, then you won’t be able to see it in the daylight either with or without a screen.”

If you are using a small screen, then let’s say 4′ x 6′, you can use the following chart as a starting point for lumens required. You can always bump it up to see if more is better. If you find lots of light hitting your screen, you may need to back it off. You want the ambient light coming into your projector to be reflected onto an angle similar to a screen size of at least 4′ x 6′.

Example: – Use a camera and place it in front of a wall, with its flash unit on, and take a picture of how bright the wall is in the daytime.

Now, using your camera, take a picture of the wall after you put up your screen size and then retake it with the projector on at about 150″ to 200″ – It will tell you how much ambient light is hitting your screen.

If you don’t have a digital camera, get a “brightness” level meter and put it on the wall and your screen.

If you have a viewport, turn off everything in the room and place the brightness meter near the seating position in front of your projector. If you don’t have this option, put it where people’s eyes would be during everyday use.

Another way is to turn on the projector and look at the brightness in your eye of the screen. Then look into the light source that is creating that ambient light (the window) and see how bright it appears – You can usually tell if there is a lot of difference between them or not. If you use a front projected system, measure the ambient light level where the projector will be placed, not where you are sitting.

The above example gives a rough idea of how many lumens you may need to project in daylight. If you have a large screen (8′ wide or more) and plan to place your projector far away from it – In this case, you may need to bump up the lumens even more.

Now, if you are in a room with lots of ambient light and plan to have a giant screen (10′ wide plus) or want to place your projector right against the screen, you will need fewer lumens than what we just discussed above. Remember: “The closer that you place the projector to your screen or use a larger screen, then you will need fewer lumens than further away.”

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