Projector Series: What are Lumens?

Purchasing a projector for your home theatre can be a very exciting but daunting experience. Just reading through the specifications with all the numbers and abbreviations can make your head spin. Over the coming weeks, we hope to be able to explain some of the terminology used, so you will know what to look for when taking the big step to becoming a projector owner or upgrading your old projector.

Let's look at ANSI Lumens.

The brightness of the projected image is expressed in ANSI Lumens. Established by the American National Standards Institute, lumens are basically the measurement of visible light emitted from the projector. In order to determine the amount of ANSI Lumens present, a number of brightness measurements are taken in various positions of the projected image. This is then averaged out and to show the ANSI Lumens present. A lumen is equivalent to the amount of light a birthday candle puts out in a square foot-sized area.

So, the larger the number of ANSI Lumens, the brighter the projected image will appear.

While it can be tempting to go for the projector with the largest amount of lumens, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best projector for your application.

It is important to recognise what the projector will be used for and how much ambient light will be present.

For home theatre use, a projector with between 2,000 and 3,000 lumens is ideal. This is mainly because these projectors can be used in various lighting conditions without the image being "washed out".

A projector in this lumen range is also suitable for projecting onto larger screens, without causing deterioration of the image. It is also important to realise that if your projector is capable of 3D, more lumens are desirable to compensate for the brightness lost through the 3D glasses.

Generally speaking, projectors with a specification of more than 3,000 ANSI Lumens are better suited for commercial and corporate environments.