What is a Lumens Rating?
A Lumen is a unit of measurement of the amount of brightness that comes from a light source. For example, a 100 watt light bulb produces roughly 1200 Lumens. In this case, we are referencing the amount of light produced by a projector or the projector lamp inside the projector. When purchasing a projector, the Lumens Rating is very important. If a projector is going to be used only in a dark room with little or no light from light fixtures or windows/doors, then a 500 Lumens Rating would be more than capable of producing a bright quality image. In situations where there is a great deal of ambient light, 500 Lumens will work, but 1000 Lumens or more would be better. In a room with a great deal of natural sunlight, 2000 Lumens or more would be ideal for producing a quality projected image.
When determining the amount of lumens for your room there are two main factors to consider, the amount of ambient light and the size of the image being projected. Think of it in terms of using a flash light. The more area you cover with the light source the dimmer the light becomes, hence the bigger projector screen the more lumens required. Most Home Theater Projectors have Lumens Ratings that average between 1000-1300 Lumens. Home Theater Projectors are typically used in a darker, light-controlled setting, therefore less lumens is required. In the board room, a Projector might have a Lumens Rating between 2000-3000 Lumens. The higher Lumens Rating in this setting is due in part to the fluorescent lights or ambient sunlight in board or conference rooms. Having a 2000 plus Lumens Rating on a home theater projector does not equate to greater picture quality. Large churches and auditoriums require projectors with a high lumen rating (4,000+) due to the bright lighting situation and the large image being projected. A projector with a higher Lumens Rating also does not speak to the quality of the projector being purchased. More is not always better! Depending on the relative darkness in a room, more Lumens can "wash out" the images being projected. The surface on which images are being displayed can also affect the performance of a projector. Displaying projected images on painted walls, bedsheets or non-screen surfaces affect the reflection and diffusion of light and the image being projected. Having a good projector screen for quality display is always best. When choosing a projector, remember to consider these important factors in relation to the Lumens Rating of the projector.