Best Projector for Outdoor Movies for At-Home Cinema Experience

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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You can still enjoy a big screen experience at home with outdoor projectors even if you don't have a spare room to convert into an at-home cinema. You can also invest in the best projector for outdoor movies during hot summer evenings. Furthermore, an outdoor projector provides a great way to spend an evening entertaining family and friends. Here is a list of the best models for an outdoor big-screen experience.

1. TMY Portable Projector 7500 Lumens with 100 Inch Projector Screen

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For the best projector for movies with a projection screen, count on the TMY Portable Projector. The projection screen allows you to set up your home theater system anyplace to watch movies, TV shows, slide displays, and play video games. Besides, I love how the projector screen is compact, foldable, anti-wrinkle, easy to clean, and larger than others, ensuring wider viewing angles and improved picture detail.

Image Source: fromvinyltoplastic.com

The projector offers a minimum display size of 32" and a maximum image area of 220" with projection distances ranging from 1.5-6m. On the other hand, the contrast ratio is 5000:1, the aspect ratio is 4:3/16:9, and the lamp life is 60,000 hours. The lamp life is enough for me to watch movies and TV shows and play video games all night.

This portable projector is ideal for a wide range of input sources, including but not limited to PCs, smartphones, tablets, laptops, DVD players, TF cards, USB flash drives, TV Stick/Box, and game consoles, thanks to its built-in AV, USB, HDMI, VGA, AV & HDMI, 3.5mm headphone port, and TF card slot.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • It comes with a projection screen
  • Enough lamp life for all-night watching
  • Ideal for a wide range of input sources

Cons:

  • Not fully weather resistant

2. NICPOW Mini Outdoor Projector with 100" Screen, 1080P & 240" 7500 L

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Nicpow Mini Projector is another model to count on if you're looking for one with a projection screen. The projector is portable, making it convenient to carry and use anywhere, especially at night outdoors; you can enjoy the home theater and party concept with your family and friends. Besides, the unit offers image sizes up to 240 inches to enjoy the great experience of the huge screen.

Image Source: alibaba.com

The outdoor projector features 2x3W HiFi stereo speakers and an SRS sound system which I find quite handy when watching movies or listening to music. Besides, the unit is equipped with HDMI, 2xUSB, AV, and audio interfaces, making it easier to connect to my smartphone, game console, laptop, or PC. However, to connect to my devices, I required an adapter which is not included.

Nicpow Mini Projector has a lamp life of 65,000 hours, bringing more HD and bright images and videos. It's also easy to operate.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • It comes with a projection screen
  • Portable, making it convenient to carry and use anywhere
  • It has a lamp life of 65,000 hours

Cons:

  • Requires adapters to connect to your devices which are not included

3. DBPOWER 9000L HD Native 1080P Projector, Outdoor Movie Projector

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Look at the DBPOWER 9000L Outdoor Movie Projector for the best outdoor projectors at a reasonable price. Even with the affordability, the unit boasts many connectivity options, including the ability to screen mirror Android and iOS phones and play video, audio, and photo slideshows from a USB disk of up to 64 GB. It also offers Bluetooth audio streaming to headphones and speakers.

Image Source: gadgetreview.com

The projector has 9,000 lumens, which appears to be an approximate translation of 3,750 ANSI lumens. Regardless, it is bright enough for daylight viewing, but you may need to adjust the brightness manually since the preset picture settings only go up to 60% of the maximum brightness.

What makes me fall in love with this projector even more is that it features 2 USB, 2 HDMI, AV, and VGA ports, making it easy for me to use it with my laptop and PCs. You can also connect it to Chrome Books, tablets, Blu-ray DVD players, TV boxes, TV sticks, USB flash drives, media players, and smartphones. Besides, the projector comes with a bag, making it easy to store.

Pros:

  • Setting up the projector is easy
  • It comes with a storage bag
  • It comes with a reasonable price tag
  • It offers Bluetooth audio streaming to headphones and speaker

Cons:

  • Not fully weather resistant

4. Epson EpiqVision Mini Smart Streaming Laser Projector, EF12

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The EpiqVision Mini EF12 has a great design and is a compact model. Conversely, the unit features facilitate portability, including a built-in Chromecast and good Yamaha speakers that produce well-rounded, non-harsh sound.

Image Source: projectorreviews.com

The projector has two HDMIs with ARC capability and runs on the fast Android TV platform, making setup easy. Although it was labeled to produce 1,000 lumens when I bought it, personally, it appears to be much brighter than that. Besides, I love how incredibly power-efficient it is, drawing around one-third the energy of its competitors.

However, the projector is Full HD, which may turn off people who prefer 4K quality, but it performs admirably for a projector of this size. The laser-powered image is colorful and clear, with no blurring in fast-moving images. And though it's great for films and sports, gamers might be disappointed by the long lag, which makes games unplayable.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Energy efficient projector
  • Produces well-rounded, non-harsh sound
  • Offers impressive picture quality

Cons:

  • It is a Full HD projector, so the pictures are not of the highest quality.

5. Anker NEBULA Capsule Mini Projector, 100 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector for Inside & Outside

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If you're looking for the best outdoor projector for backyard movie nights, count on this Ankle Nebula Mini Projector. The project has low lumens making it ideal for dark environments such as a cozy date-night tent outside and similar spots.

Image Source: printables.com

One of the reasons I love this projector is that it can produce a 100-inch image and has a four-hour playback battery life. Besides, it runs an older Android TV version, offering the required smart platform advantages for easy content management.

Ankle Nebula Mini Projector features two HDMI and USB ports, so you can conveniently connect it to your laptop or the projecting device. Besides, the unit is quite portable; it usually fits well in my vacation bag, so I carry it with me to enjoy a cinematic viewing experience even when out of the house.

Pros:

  • Ideal for dark environments such as a cozy date-night tent
  • Easy to set up
  • Quite a portable outdoor projector
  • Features a four-hour playback time battery life

Cons:

  • Not ideal for daytime projecting outdoors

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Projector for Outdoor Movies

1. Projection Type

Before buying the best outdoor projectors for movies, consider the projection type. There are usually three main types: LED, LCD, and DLP.

Image Source: cnet.com

i). LED projectors

These projectors are usually lightweight, noise-free, and energy efficient. In addition, they have the best portability and longest-lasting bulbs and often exceed DLP projectors in terms of resolution and brightness.

ii). LCD projectors

These are brighter, less expensive, and more noise-free than other outdoor movie projectors. But unfortunately, they usually provide lower contrast ratios, making projected images look washed out. Besides, they are a great option for many outdoor theater installations if you have the proper outdoor projector screen or a DIY equivalent.

iii). DLP projectors

Instead of light bulbs, DLP projectors use lasers. Most movie theaters use DLP projectors, larger than LED and LCD projectors. DLP projectors are often used as indoor home theaters, duplicating a cinema-authentic watching experience by providing smooth visuals and high contrast.

2. Portability

Since you will be taking the projector outside and inside, we recommend looking for lightweight and portable projectors. However, remember that ease of use often comes at the expense of image and audio quality. Larger, bulkier projectors usually have the technology required to deliver ideal pictures.

3. Power Source

Some outdoor projectors usually feature built-in batteries that eliminate the need for power connections; however, most don't. It's wise to have a professional install an outdoor outlet since its ground fault circuit interrupter (or "GFCI") will protect against electrical risks. And if you must use an extension cable, ensure it has a surge protector rated for outdoor uses and watch out for tripping risks, especially after dark.

4. Connectivity

When buying the best outdoor projector for movies, pay attention to the device's capability to communicate with other devices and systems.

i). Ports

These are several cables you can use to connect to streaming devices. USB ports, HDMI, VGA, and audio-out options are particularly common in projectors.

ii). Wi-Fi

There has been an increase in affordable outdoor projector models which integrate Wi-Fi connection. In addition, some projectors work like smart TVs, with streaming applications for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other services.

iii). Adapters

Depending on the model, an adapter may be required to connect the projector to personal devices with incompatible ports. The adapter connects the device and the projector by acting as a conductor. Before purchasing an outdoor movie projector, consider whether an adapter is necessary to play movies on a certain device.

5. Brightness

The brightness of a projector is often measured in lumens. Here are some things to remember when it comes to brightness.

Image Source: benq.com

i). Decorative lighting

If your outdoor space has decorative lights or you prefer watching movies on the projector during the day. In that case, we recommend looking for an outdoor cinema projector with a brightness of at least 3,000 lumens to ensure that the picture is not "washed out."

ii). Nighttime viewing

For high-quality nighttime outdoor viewing, we recommend going for outdoor movie projectors with 2,000 to 2,500 lumens.

iii). Ambient light

Outdoor projectors with high brightness are the best option for surrounding ambient light.

iv). Noise sensitivity

High-brightness projectors, like traditional Christmas light projectors, are louder. This can be a distraction for people sensitive to other sounds.

Some manufacturers use ANSI lumens, which are brighter than standard lumens. For instance, a projector with 900 ANSI lumens is equivalent to 2,200 standard lumens.

6. Sound/Audio Source

When buying the best projector for outdoor movies, pay attention to its sound system. Fortunately, most outdoor projectors are built as all-in-one machines capable of producing high-quality pictures and sound. However, in most circumstances, great sound on a projector should be considered a bonus rather than a must. Therefore, when shopping for an outdoor projector, you should look for compatible external speakers, whether you want a cinematic sound experience or better sound quality.

7. Image Quality

Image Source:thetimes.co.uk

Projector resolution, like TV resolution, is measured in pixels. The higher the pixel of a projector, the better the image quality. The most common resolutions for outdoor projectors are:

  • 4K refers to about 4,000 pixels and gives four times the visual quality of 1080p.
  • 1080P delivers a crisp, sharp picture comparable to that of HD television.
  • 720p, although not bad, is considerably lower in quality than 1080p.

The contrast ratio, the difference between a projector's maximum dimness and brightness, is an often ignored yet crucial feature of image quality. A contrast ratio that creates a sharp picture, regardless of resolution, is 5,000:1. If picture clarity is crucial, a contrast ratio greater than 2,000:1 is an excellent option.

8. Intended Use

When shopping for the best projectors, remember that they can be used in various ways, including transforming a backyard into a movie theater, making photo presentations, and watching sports. It's the purpose that determines the most suitable type of projection.

The backyard conditions are different. So to choose the ideal backyard projector for your needs, consider the location. For example, if the projector is positioned under a porch or covered outdoor living space, you don't have to look for weather-resistant models. However, in an open outdoor situation, a weather-resistant projector is recommended.

9. Aspect Ratio

A projector's aspect ratio is about the projected image's shape. The width-to-height ratio determines it. For instance, a 4:3 aspect ratio is produced by a projection 4 feet broad by 3 feet tall. There are two main aspect ratios on projectors.

  • 4:3 is the standard for old-school tube TVs and is now available on some outdoor projectors.
  • 16:9 is the standard aspect ratio for any laptop, flat-screen television, or outdoor projector.

A 16:9 aspect ratio backyard projector will fill the entire lit area with an image. On the other hand, a projector with a 4:3 aspect ratio, like a mobile phone in vertical mode, will have a lot of wasted negative space.

What Are the Tips for Using Projectors for Outdoor Movies?

Image Source: benq.com

1. Use the Right Screen

To get the most out of using a projector outdoors, consider the type of screen you use and the area in which you will be setting up the projector. Consider purchasing a screen designed for outdoor use. These screens are usually durable, weather-resistant materials that won't tear or fade in the sun.

2. Adjust the Settings

You must first adjust the projector's settings to use your projector outdoors. These settings may differ depending on the projector model. On the other hand, most projectors feature settings that you can change for different lighting conditions.

3. Consider the Weather

Not only should the screen be kept out of direct sunlight, but you should also keep the projector out of direct sunlight to avoid overheating. The last thing you want is a ruined backyard movie night movie. However, you can get a weather-resistant outdoor projector that you won't need to worry about weather changes.

4. Light and UV Exposure

Ambient light and UV exposure can interfere with the picture quality

5. Setting Up of the Projector

We recommend using the outdoor projector on a stand instead of furniture or a DIY arrangement for the optimum viewing experience. A stand ensures stability and keeps the projector from being knocked over or getting moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Projector for Outdoor Movies

1. How Many Lumens Does an Outdoor Movie Projector Require?

Outdoor movie projectors with 3,000 ANSI lumens work well. However, more lumens are more effective when placed at a distance of 16 ft or more in well-lit settings.

2. Do You Need a Special Projector for Outdoor Movies?

Though you can use any projector to watch movies outdoors, the projector's lumens should be your first concern. You will need a projector with at least 800 lumens, preferably 2,000 or more.

3. Is it Worth Investing in Outdoor Movie Projectors?

Yes, it would be best to consider purchasing a high-quality outdoor projector. These devices may appear similar to their indoor counterparts but are not. They not only offer enhanced lighting capabilities but are also quite compact.

Featured Image Source: projectortop.com

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.