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Enjoy Al Fresco Movie Nights With An Outdoor Home Projector

While the time for drive-in movies may have past, outdoor projectors are the perfect way to enjoy alfresco movie nights in your backyard, garden, or patio. With plenty of gorgeous evenings to look forward to during the summer, there’s no better time for you to turn your outdoor space into a cinema. Add some deckchairs, blankets, snacks, and an awesome outdoor projector, and you’re all ready to cuddle up for a movie.

With several outdoor home projectors available on the market, however, choosing the best one can be difficult. To help, we’ve curated a list of 6 of the best outdoor home projects there are out there. Before delving into the details, let’s start by talking about some features you need to look for when it comes to selecting your next outdoor projector.

Related: The Best 6 Home Theater Seating Options for A Better Experience Watching Movies

What to Expect From Outdoor Home Projectors

The first thing that you’ll want to consider is its portability. Since it’s meant to be an outdoor home projector, you’d want one that’s light enough to carry around but doesn’t come at the expense of picture quality. Many light portable projectors come with built-in batteries, but they don’t often have great picture quality so that’s something you’d need to take into account.

Audio is also important when it comes to having your very own outdoor home cinema. It’s great if the projector comes with built-in speakers but the audio quality may not be fantastic since the speaker units are usually quite small. It would probably be better to purchase a projector with an audio output as you’ll be able to connect it to a portable wireless speaker that’ll give the sound quality a major boost.

Brightness and contrast are also crucial – especially if you live somewhere that has plenty of light pollution. While it’s best to catch a movie on your outdoor home projector in the evenings, the brighter the outdoor projector and the higher the contrast level, the better the clarity of the image.

Lastly, you’ll also need to consider sources. If you’d like to plug a Chromecast Ultra or a Blu-ray Player, you’d need to have a projector that comes with an HDMI input. Other things you’d need to consider include whether or not your outdoor home projector needs Wi-Fi along with video streaming apps.

 Benefits of Using a Quality Outdoor Projector

In these dire times, having a yard where you can enjoy some fresh air and some activities, so let’s talk about the benefits of using a quality outdoor projector and see if any of the following facts are something that you feel you could take advantage of:

  • Outdoor projectors tend to have a compact size, which makes them super easy to maneuver and move them back and forth from inside to outside of the house. This is also important because if you don’t use the projector inside, you are likely to find a space where you can store it with ease. Aside from being compact, they are also lightweight. They can weigh anything between 2 and 20 pounds, so lightweight models are something that you can easily throw into a bag and take over to a friend’s house if you feel the need to.
  • The fact that you can customize the size of the screen is another major advantage of using an outdoor projector. Because they are compatible with a wide variety of surfaces, they are quite versatile and don’t always require the use of a special projector screen (although this is the way you can get the best image quality all the time).
  • Compared to a regular TV set, a projection is much easier to watch, and this is a huge advantage that projects have over regular TVs. That’s because the image is larger and subtitles are easier to read, but also because the reflected light effect feels easier on the eyes. Keep in mind that projects don’t have an image size limit, which makes them deliver a unique experience (some might even compare it to a theater effect).

Outdoor Projector Additional Costs

It’s true that a projector is a really good investment if you are passionate about watching movies while being immersed in the whole theater-like experience. However, you also need to know that having and using a projector is something that implies a few additional costs that we can’t let slide by.

  • Audio system – Most of the time, people choose to pair their projectors with a good audio system. If you’re going for the cinema-like experience, might as well have the sound to accompany the picture, right? Well, that means that you will have to invest in both a receiver and speakers, which does add up to the total costs of buying a new projector, be it for indoor or outdoor use. However, if you already have a system that you’ve been using with your TV, you might continue using that one even when you purchase a new project. Please keep in mind that your audio system needs to be suitable for outdoor use as well.
  • Projection screen – As we mentioned before, one of the benefits of having a projector is that you can use a wide variety of surfaces as support, but nothing really beats a true projection screen. Needless to say, projector screens also range from super cheap to really expensive, so you can expect to pay anything between a couple hundred dollars to thousands of bucks. You will have to be very clear in regards to your budget here and establish what type of screen is sufficient for the outdoor projector that you own. For instance, if you have a projector that can render images at 1080p resolution or higher, you also want to have an HD screen to use with it. You don’t want textured surfaces to distort the image and ruin the viewing experience.
  • Cables – This is probably the first thing that you think about when purchasing a new projector screen: do I have the cables I need to connect it to the receiver? The importance of the cable is often undermined and it’s a real shame because poor quality cables can ruin the experience through random image interruption or by sacrificing the quality of the video you’re watching. Alternatively, if you don’t have any cables around and have a little bit more money to spend, you can also consider purchasing a wireless projector.
  •  Projector lamp – Unlike a printer, a projector isn’t a product that requires spending money on consumables constantly. However, it does have one component that will surely require replacement at some point: the bulb. In general, the lifespan of such a bulb on a quality projector is thousands of hours before you notice that the brightness starts to fade away. Of course, the longevity of the bulb will be directly affected by how often you use the projector. Traditional projector bulbs usually have a shorter lifespan compared to those found on newer models that have special LED lamps. Note that a replacement bulb can cost a few hundred dollars.

Outdoor Projectors & Lumens

When you’re on the market looking to invest in an outdoor projector, one of the terms that you will come across very often is “lumens”. This is an indicator of the light’s radiation intensity projected by a specific source of light. Without getting into too many specifics about lumens, it’s important that we mention the fact that lumens aren’t the equivalent of brightness. Even so, outdoor projectors that have a higher number of lumens will be brighter compared to those with a lower lumen count.

In an ideal scenario, your outdoor projector can render clear and sharp images without you having to fiddle with outdoor lighting. However, that’s not always the case, and you will most likely have to turn down the lights to improve the contrast of the image. If you do so in the dark, it might be difficult for people to see anything in case they want to get up and go to the bathroom, for example. If possible, try to keep a few lights on and have a bright outdoor projector that can keep up with this lighting ambiance.

And here is another bit of interesting information: there are correlations between the size of the projector screen and the lumens output that your projector should have:

  • 9 x 5-foot screen – 2500 lumens minimum
  • 12 x 7-foot screen – 3000 lumens minimum
  • 16 x 9-foot screen – 3500 lumens minimum
  • 20 x 11-foot screen – 4000 lumens minimum
  • 25 x 14.5-foot screen – 5000 lumens minimum
  • 40 x 22.5-foot screen – 5500 lumens minimum

Top 6 Best Outdoor Home Projectors

1. BenQ HT2050A 1080P Home Theater Projector

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For a superb audio-visual experience, you’d want to purchase this outdoor home projector. It comes with great picture quality as the 1080p projector has a total of 2,200 lumens of brightness along with a high native contrast ratio. It’s also got high responsiveness so if you’re planning on using this projector for gaming instead of movies, you won’t deal with any lag and instead will have an ultra-smooth gaming experience.

What’s great about this outdoor home projector is that you can also project a 100-inch screen from just 8-feet away. While plenty of outdoor home projectors don’t come with additional connectivity, you won’t run into that issue with this particular projector. It supports a range of media players, gaming consoles, mobile devices, and more. It’s also got both USB and HDMI input options. Unlike other projectors, this one also utilizes DLP technology that’s used in digital IMAX theatres and most cinemas. You’re sure to have a sharper and crisper image and enjoy your experience with this outdoor home projector.

Pros:

  • Great picture quality
  • High responsiveness
  • Supports a range of connectivity
  • Has DLP technology

Cons:

  •   Some mentioned that the speakers rattle

2. Epson Pro EX9220 1080p+ WUXGA 3,600 lumens color brightness

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Take your outdoor movies to the next level with this outdoor home projector. It portrays vivid color – even during the daytime and produces 3,600 lumens of color as well as white brightness for stunning picture quality. This high-quality projector also projects images that are bold and colorful and has almost four times more resolution than the regular SVGA.

Since this projector has wireless capabilities, you’ll be able to project from any of your devices without having to physically plug them into the projector. It also supports MHL-enabled devices so you can share HD videos directly from your wireless device. It’s quick and easy to set up and also supports HDMI and is compatible with the latest laptops and media players.

Pros:

  • Accurate, vivid color
  • 3,600 lumens of color and white brightness
  • Comes with wireless capabilities
  • Quick and easy to set up

Cons:

  •   Some mentioned that the running noise of the fan is incredibly loud

3. Optoma HD39DARBEE 1080p High-Performance Home Theater Projector

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This is a great outdoor home projector to add to your outdoor space. It produces brilliant vibrant colors with its 1080 full HD resolution along with 3,500 lumens of brightness. This unique projector also has a couple of different features such as the BrilliantColor feature that helps improve color purity and enable deeper blacks, and the DarbeeVision image-enhancement technology that allows greater detail in both textures and reflective surfaces.

Installing this outdoor home projector is a breeze, and it comes with both reference display mode that delivers bright and accurate colors along with sharp and detailed images from HD content without any compression. It’s also a versatile projector so feel free to use it in your backyard or even bring it with you on a camping trip. The lamp life lasts for up to 15,000 hours so you can use it for an extended period, and flexible connectivity allows this projector to connect to a range of gaming consoles, media players, and more. 3D content can also be viewed on this projector – it’s truly one of the best outdoor home projects on the market!

Pros:

  • Comes with a BrilliantColor feature
  • DarbeeVision image-enhancement allows for greater detail in various surfaces
  • Installation is easy
  • 3D content can also be viewed on this projector

Cons:

  •   Some mentioned that it doesn’t have great motion blur

4. LG HU80KA 4K UHD Laser Smart TV Home Theater CineBeam Projector

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This stylish and modern outdoor home projector comes with a plethora of features to provide you with the ultimate at-home cinema experience. It’s a 4K Ultra HD projector that has an incredible 8.3 million pixels and produces clear and crisp images with impeccable precision and detail. Nobody likes motion blur and this projector takes care of that problem with its TruMotion technology that helps to reduce motion blur and display a smoother image with improved detail.

This is also one of the brightest projectors out there as it produces 2,500 lumens of brightness and can be used in a variety of environments with various ambient lighting. Since it’s compatible with HDR10, it’s able to showcase a range of movies and television shows and supports a wide color gamut and peak brightness that exceeds what other projectors can showcase. You’ve also got access to the Smart TV streaming content platform and it comes with a Magic Remote for easy navigation. Need to stream something from your phone? No worries, this projector has wireless capabilities so you can easily stream premium content from channels such as Netflix with a compatible smartphone or tablet.

Pros:

  • 4K Ultra HD projector
  • Has TruMotion technology to reduce motion blur
  • Produces 2,500 lumens of brightness
  • Access to the Smart TV streaming content platform

Cons:

  •   No mechanical zoom/focus adjustment

5. Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro 500 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector

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This portable outdoor home projector makes it easy for you to have a laidback movie night. It’s got everything you need from built-in speakers to Wi-Fi and great images. To allow you to see your favorite movies and shows in the best detail, this projector comes with a 500 ANSI lumen LED lamp. It’s also got horizontal and vertical keystoning so you can project your image at any angle.

Other features of this home projector include autofocus technology to help with delivering a high-definition image and extensive capability from a range of content that you can watch from your phone or by using the HDMI and USB cable. While plenty of projectors have audio-quality issues, you won’t have that problem with this projector that has powerful dual 10W speakers to produce an impressive cinematic sound.

Pros:

  • Comes with a 500 ANSI lumen LED lamp
  • Autofocus technology
  • Stream content from your phone
  • Great audio quality

Cons:

  •   The base is flimsy

6. ViewSonic M1+ Portable Smart Wi-Fi Projector with Dual Harman Kardon Bluetooth Speakers

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This portable projector is great for delivering quality entertainment in nearly any outdoor space. It comes with a safety auto-off feature that powers down the projector if any objects come too close to its space, and also comes with a simple 360-degree setup that allows the projector to be placed in various positions.

Other great features of this projector include an automatic vertical keystone correction for a better viewing experience along with a built-in battery that provides up to six hours of entertainment. Since it comes with 16GB of internal storage, you can also go ahead and store up to 4,000 songs and four hours worth of movies. The Smart TV interface means you can also binge on all your favorite movies and television shows while also streaming multimedia media content from your mobile devices. Audio-quality is also fantastic for this portable home projector as it comes with integrated Harman Kardon speaks for powerful performance

Pros:

  • Has a safety auto-off feature
  • Simple 360-degree setup
  • Automatic vertical keystone correction
  • Comes with a built-in battery

Cons:

  •   It’s quite pricey

The Bottom Line 

That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed checking out some of the best outdoor home projectors that we could find. With all these options, features, and budgets there’s sure to be something or everyone. Did you find this list helpful? Let us know!

Outdoor Projector FAQ

Q: Are outdoor projectors waterproof?

A: Surprisingly enough, even projectors that are designed for outdoor use don’t have a waterproof construction, which can be worrying at times. Even so, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll still want to be outside yourself once it starts raining, so as you head for shelter, make sure that you take your projector inside with you. As far as direct sunlight is concerned, it’s not a good idea to leave the projector under the sun’s rays either.

Q: How many lumens do you need for an outdoor projector?

A: This is actually a very important question because it can make or break your outdoor viewing party experience. When you’re looking to use a projector outdoors, consider eliminating as many light sources as possible. Then, your screen has to be angled in such a way as to prevent contact with ambient lighting as much as possible. The number of lumens depends a lot on the side of the screen, as follows: for a 9 x 5-foot screen, you need at least 2500 lumens, while a 40 x 22.5-foot screen requires at least 5500 lumens.

Q: Do I need to change air filters on my outdoor projector?

A: Believe it or not, outdoor projectors actually have filters that require regular maintenance. How long you have to wait in between two maintenance sessions or before you have to replace the filter really depends on the model of the projector and the environment it’s most exposed to. Those of you that use the projector outside in dusty conditions are most likely going to have to give it attention more often. When your projector has a clean filter, it allows for better airflow, which is essential for cooling the housing and the bulb. A blocked air intake can lead to component damage and the need to perhaps replace the projector altogether, in case it gets damaged beyond repair.

Q: How do I clean the filter on my outdoor projector?

A: You might be a little skeptical about messing around with something as expensive as an outdoor projector because we think of them as being rather fragile. However, cleaning/replacing the filter isn’t all that complicated and the filter location is wisely thought-of as to not put the integrity of the projector at risk in any way. There are plenty of outdoor projector models that allow you to remove the filter from the housing by using just your thumb. Make sure that the projector is turned off when you attempt filter removal.