ANSI Lumens – finding the right home theater projector

ANSI Lumens – finding the right home theater projector

Some home theater projectors have 700 ANSI lumens, some projectors have 3000 ANSI lumens…so what’s the difference and how many will you need for your home theater? Anyone buying a projector will ask the same question. More lumens is not always better, and there are several reasons for this. Be careful, if you spend more money than you should, you may be unhappy with the picture and end up spending a lot more money in the future for the same projector you were unhappy with in the first place.

* Here’s everything you need to know about ANSI Lumens:

What does ANSI Lumens mean?

ANSI is an acronym for “AAmerican nnational Sstandard Iinstitute”. A Lumen is a measurement of the intensity of a light wave. Every projector that uses ANSI as a standard has been measured with the same tools and is an accurate display of how many lumens a home theater projector really has. For example, projector “A” is measured in ANSI lumens with ANSI tools, and projector “B” is measured with the manufacturer’s tools. Both projectors claim 1000 lumens, but it’s safe to assume that projector “A” actually has 1000 lumens, while projector “B” may actually only have 700 lumens because it’s not measured by the national standard.

Always buy a projector measured in ANSI lumens. This way, you’ll know for sure that you’ve bought the right projector based on how many actual lumens it has, which directly affect the picture quality of your home theater system.

3 reasons why too many ANSI lumens can be bad:

Light reflection: If you’ve ever taken a laser pointer and pointed it at a white wall in the dark, you’ll notice the bright red dot on the wall. You will also notice that the red dot is so bright that it creates a fuzzy light around the dot. The same thing happens when the home theater projector is too bright. The picture looks blurry because the bright image is washed out by light.

If the image is too bright, it will in turn reflect the light around the room and light up the theater. Now not only is the room too bright for a home theater, but the walls of the room will reflect light back onto the projector screen and wash out the image even more.

Bulb Life: The more lumens, the brighter the projector bulb. The brighter the bulb, the hotter it gets. The hotter the bulb gets, the faster it burns out. I don’t know about you, but spending $200 on a home theater projector bulb more times than necessary isn’t going to make me very happy.

Price: Simply put, if you buy an expensive projector with more lumens, then spend money every year on a bulb because the lamp gets too hot, you’ll be throwing hundreds of dollars out the window for no reason.

How many ANSI lumens do you need?

  • Low to no ambient light – 800 to 1200 ANSI lumens: If you have a completely dark home theater, or if you have enough ambient light to see but not enough to read a newspaper in your home theater room, all you need is a projector with more than 800 lumens, but no more of 1200 lumens.
  • Low to moderate ambient light – 1200 – 1800 ANSI lumens: If you want to view your home theater projector with ambient light that’s barely enough to read a newspaper to enough to read a book, you’ll need at least 1,200 but no more than 1,800 ANSI lumens.
  • Moderate to strong ambient light – 2000 to 2800 ANSI lumens: If your home theater is lit with enough ambient light to see clearly, you’ll need at least 2,000 lumens to see the picture. The picture will appear washed out if your projector screen is white, so it is recommended to purchase a darker screen, such as a silver screen or a black diamond screen.
  • Strong ambient lighting for outdoor theater – 2800 to 4000 ANSI lumens: If you plan to use your projector outdoors or in a movie theater with windows, outside light, or bright lighting, you’ll need a projector with at least 2,800 ANSI lumens, and to be on the safe side, some places around 3,200 lumens should work. You will notice that the colors will be washed out unless you are using a screen color other than white.

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