What are projector lumens? – Explained

If you’re looking to get a good projector, then the likelihood is that you’ve come across a few different options. And with projectors, it can be really difficult to know which is best, because there’s not much to be able to tell the difference between them.

One identifying factor that we can use for a projector is the amount of lumens that it has. You might also see this as LUX, or ANSI lumens. The higher your lumens, the less chance that your projector is going to be affected by ambient light shining onto your screen.

So if you’re planning to use your projector during the daylight hours, then it is important that you get the right projector for the job. But what exactly are lumens, and how else can they affect the performance of your projector? Well, let’s have a quick look.

What are projector lumens?

The Lumens just refers to the brightness of the projector. If a projector has only 100 lumens, then it’s going to be more suited to dark conditions and likely used as a cinema projector. However if you opt for a much higher 5000 lumen projector, then this will be much brighter, and can be used for office presentations too.

Of course, all of this depends on the size you’re wanting to project onto the wall. If you want to project onto a 120 inch screen, then you’re likely going to need a bigger projector. However if you’re happy with a smaller 60-80 inch projection, then a portable projector might be the better choice.

When you’re setting up your own home theater, it is important that your projector be your main light source. If you let the Sun or other lighting shine onto your projection area, then this is going to have an effect on the overall image quality of your viewing.

The term lumens can be used to describe the brightness of a variety of different light sources. This includes lightbulbs and other lighting products that you might use around your house. But the term is often commonly associated with home theatre projectors too.

When it comes to projectors, we tend to use the term ANSI lumens.ANSI simply stands for the American National Standards Institute, and it’s just a standard that these companies agree to with their products. It’s still a simple unit for measurement that defines the brightness of a projector.

How many lumens do I need?

The amount of lumens that you need really depends on what you’re going to be doing with your projector. I tend to think of it like this; if you’re going to be watching movies and playing video games with your projector, then you might only need 100 lumens.

However if you’re wanting to use your projector in brighter conditions, say in a small classroom or an office setting, then you’re going to want more than 1000 lumens for this. This is because we want to portray a bright enough image that it can be seen by everyone – this isn’t going to be possible with a 100 lumen projector.

And in some cases, you might need even more than this. If you’re in a large meeting room, or a lecture hall, then you’ll commonly see projectors with more than 10,000 lumens used in this scenario.

This is just a necessity, as we need this amount of brightness to be able to create a crisp and vibrant image that can be seen from 30 metres away.

Projector Display Types

Another thing that you should take into account is the display type of the projector that you’re opting for. Many people opt for the cheapest form of projector, which is typically an LCD projector. This can offer more brightness at a lower cost, as well as being quiet.

There are also DLP projectors, which work in a different way to LCD projectors. These tend to give a better quality image, but they’re dimmer than LCD projectors. If you want a DLP projector that is as bright as other display types, then you’re going to need to pay more, as the technology is more expensive.

These are the two most common different types of projector. You can also look at this article about DLP projectors to learn about the difference in more depth.

ANSI Lumens & Amazon

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the lumens a projector states it has isn’t always correct. Unfortunately, it has become almost commonplace amongst lesser known brands to overstated the brightness of their projector.

The lumens a projector has is often measure by ANSI, or the American National Standards Institute. So if you see that a projector has 200 ANSI lumens, then you can be sure that it’s judged by this standard.

However, you’ll often see projectors that don’t mention anything about “ANSI lumens”, and there’s no regulation that says they have to. So, this can mean that the brightness of it actually isn’t measured in the lumens that we mainly use, and could be nowhere near as bright as you might think.

So, it’s just worth bearing in mind that even if a projector says it has 3000 lumens, lumens are measured differently by different sellers. Of course, saying the projector has 3000 lumens is a great selling point, but many of the cheaper projectors aren’t actually this bright.


In conclusion, I’d take any of the stated lumens that you see on a projector with a pinch of salt. This is especially true if you’re looking to get a projector off of Amazon or another cheap marketplace, because all sellers will just stick a big figure on their projector which actually isn’t representative of the amount of lumens that the projector has.

So, keep your eyes peeled for ANSI lumens, as typically this is more reliable, and sellers can get in more trouble for stating ANSI that just lumens themselves, so they’re less likely to use it.

Either way, we now know that the lumens simply refers to the brightness of the projector. Generally, you’ll want to look for a projector with 2000 to 3000 lumens plus if you want a bright image.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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