How Many Lumens for Outdoor Projector Do You Need?

How many lumens does an outdoor projector need? More to the point, how many lumens is required to project in daylight, or at least when the sun is still out? The minimum requirement for all outdoor projectors to project properly in the daytime is 2,500 lux or lumens.

You need that many lumens on your projector lamp brightness specs to successfully make the image appear in daylight without looking too faint or washed out. For rooms that are full of ambient light, you might need to go 3,000 lumens and above just to be sure, although 2,500 is a good place to start. 

See more: How Many Lumens Do You Need to Project in Daylight?

Things of Note 

Forget about projecting under direct sunlight. You need to have some sort of shade, angle, or tarp present to keep the sun from disturbing your projection. Otherwise, your projector better has a 120,000 lux of brightness in order to remain visible under direct sunlight. No projector in existence is capable of such a high amount of lux or lumen.

You may also like: The Secrets to Projector Brightness Finally Revealed

  • Outdoor Projectors Require High Lumens: The 2,500-lumen spec is a starting point. For outdoor projection at a parking lot theater or a backyard movie night, it’s best to get a bright projector even when projecting at night because ambient light is everywhere, from sunlight to porch lights. As a rule of thumb, if your projector only has hundreds instead of thousands of lumens, it’s best to project it in a dark room or theater instead of outdoors. Brightness doesn’t equal contrast though, so watch out for contrast ratio as well. Brightness is just one aspect of outdoor projection.
  • The Most Lumens Win: The projector with the most lumens wins. Those are the rules. Brightness is just one of many considerations when purchasing this device, sure. However, in terms of how outdoorsy an outdoor projector is, there should be a minimum 2,500-lumen specification first before it can even be considered worthy of the title of “outdoor projector”. Everything else that could help increase your viewing pleasure should fall into place once you pass that lumen hurdle. As a rule of thumb, you should at a minimum get projectors with its brightness numbering in the thousands of lumens. 
  • With Daylight Projection, The Higher The Better: Pay attention to your projector lumens. You should start at around 3,000 to 4,000 lumens and then go from there in order to Projection your DVD or Blu-Ray discs of movies or TV shows as well as live streaming Internet programs. It also works with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, just to name a few online streaming services. The higher the lumens the better the resulting image, especially for 4K. Backyard parties in the afternoon or evening require about a 5,500-lumen projector at least. At high noon, it’s still the same deal, but find a shade to minimize sun glare and whatnot.
How Many Lumens for Outdoor Projector Do You Need
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  • The Great Outdoors: While brighter rooms require about 2,500 to 3,000 lumens of brightness to work without turning the lights out, you need a little more than that to do a backyard barbecue and a movie marathon of “The Fast and The Furious” franchise in order to keep the vivacity and sharpness of your projector image active. Ambient light upstages or robs the light of weaker lights. Weaker lights stand out the most in darker shadows. You also need more than 3,000 lumens to project at a large area with quite a large audience.
  • Daylight Projection in a Vast Area: We’ve established that a sharper image requires more brightness when push comes to shove. The extra brightness also helps when projecting a theater-sized screen, since the more an image blows up the fainter it gets. You need at least a 4,000-lumen projector to deal with a huge backyard with dozens or upwards of hundreds of guests. It’s the same deal when projecting in a warehouse or convention that’s bright and spacious all around to ensure that the resulting image remains as visible as an image on a TV screen. 
  • Dark Cinema Rooms vs. Bright Backyards: What’s the difference between an indoor projector and an outdoor projector? It’s mainly all about the brightness, as mentioned. An indoor projector should at least have 1,000 lumens of brightness to work in a dark room or a home entertainment hub with the blinds or curtains drawn. In pitch blackness, projectors with hundreds of lumens can still work with an extra-reflective screen, but the brighter the better when it comes to daylight viewing or watching with the lights on, like in the case of television sets. Most modern projectors have higher requirements for brightness that coincide with their bigger resolutions.
  • High-Resolution Projector Requirements: Did you know that the higher the resolution of your projector, the higher its brightness should be to avoid losing detail and highlight the quality of the image. Even in the darkness of a home theater with the curtains drawn and whatnot, you need at least 1,000 lumens of brightness in order to see every last pixel of an HD projector. This is what you need in order to fulfill the crystal-clear clarity promise of such devices, particularly the Ultra HD 4K projectors.
  • Bright Rooms with Ambient Lighting: If your projector can’t work in bright rooms with ambient lighting then it doubly can’t work as an outdoor projector, even at night because of all the artificial ambient lights turned on during that time. This is because ambient light makes the image muddy, faded, or outright faint. The movement isn’t also as sharp and clear, with the blurring making things worse. It’s like looking at an onion paper with something printed on it. The details are all blurry and high-pixel, high-definition images look darker because of their high-resolution imagery.

Final Thoughts 

You might struggle at first in order to search for the right projector. However, once you realize the specific lumen requirements of your sunny backyard (at least 2,500 but err on the side of caution and go with 5,500 lumens and above if you can afford it), it should be smooth sailing from here on end. The difficulty in getting more outdoorsy projectors partially originates from most projectionists and projector inventors back in the day not imagining that there’s a market for home projectors that are affordable and can be used outdoors like in a drive-in or parking lot cinema. At any rate, outdoor projection is now commonplace and projector manufacturers are now catering to that market as well.


  1. How Many Lumens Do You Need to Project in Daylight?“,, Retrieved August 22, 2020
  2. Lumens Guide“,, Retrieved August 22, 2020
  3. How many lumens do you need to project in daylight?“,, February 8, 2020

James Core

I love my projector system and I am here to help you find the right projector for your needs.

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