How many lumens does my projector need?

Projector lumensNo two modern projectors are the same. It’s important that you find one that’s ideal for your the event that you have in mind. The most common question people ask about selecting a particular projector is how many lumens it should be rated for. This is why we have put together this quick guide to ensure you know how to make the correct choice.

What is a Lumen?
The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, defined the lumen as a unit measure of projected brightness. ANSI lumens take many factors into account when measuring brightness levels of a projector, including using a white field for output comparison and taking readings of brightness at nine different locations on the screen before averaging them for the overall projector rating.

Projection Screen Size
Projectors usually emit light in a cone that strikes a round space in front of them. This cone is brightest in the middle, directly in front of the projector bulbs, and fades off at the edges. Ideally, your projector will be able to light up a circular area larger than the entire screen so that the screen illumination appears consistent. That means that it also needs a high enough lumen rating to fill a wide space with comparatively bright light.

Projectors come in different classes, however, so you can’t simply take a basic office projector or home theater model and use it in a conference room. Even if you move the projector back away from the screen so that the cone of light spreads more and falls on a wider area, the fact that the projector can only emit a certain amount of lumens (light) at a constant intensity means that the image will quickly become dim. Furthermore, the fact that projector optics are only made for a certain operating range means that the image will become harder and harder to focus as you move away.

How Does The Environment Play a Factor?
It’s important to note that brightness is relative. You’ve probably noticed that most projectors are run in darkened rooms. If there’s too much ambient light entering the room from windows, office lighting or other sources, the projector image won’t be as easy to distinguish. This usually means that you’ll need more lumens from your projector to ensure that the image is easily visible to all attendees.

Basic Projector Lumen Guidelines
Remember that it’s important to gauge each projector individually to match it to the conference space in question. As a general rule, however, you can say that the larger the screen size, the more lumens your projector will need and that the same goes for the amount of ambient light. Don’t forget that screen aspect ratios play a part in determining the total amount of space you’ll need to light up, although most conferences use 4:3 screens which need higher lumen projectors. Also keep in mind that projectors used for video may need more power because video signals are usually dimmer than static images.

With all of this information, we have put together the following recommendations for events in a typical hotel meeting or conference setting:

  • 6′ wide projector screen – 2800 lumens
  • 8′ wide wide projector screen- 4200 lumens
  • 12′ wide wide projector screen- 5000 lumens

If you have any additional questions about how many lumens your projector will need, please contact us for more information.