Editor choice

Best Outdoor Projector for Every Budget

best outdoor projectors

Do you find yourself reminiscing about the days of the drive-in movie theater? Do you ever wish you could recreate this experience in your own backyard? With an outdoor projector, you can! Screen sizes are determined by the lens and the distance to the screen.

Whether you’re setting up an advanced video screen or just hanging a sheet, and outdoor movie night can be the best way to spend a summer evening!

But not all projectors are alike. Some are designed for business presentations, while others may be for indoor use. But all outdoor projectors have one thing in common – brightness. They’re designed to create a vibrant display that you can enjoy on a starry night.

If you’ve been doing any research, you might not know which one you should choose. But we’ve already done the research for you. Whether you’re on a tight budget or rolling in cash, we’ve found projectors suitable for any budget.

If you do not like comparison tables, you can skip the one I have published below by clicking here.

Comparison Table with Best Outdoor Projectors

Name Lumens Deals Resolution Contrast Technology Price
DBPOWER T20dbpower projector 1,500 Check Amazon 800×480 1,000:1 LCD $
Tiptiper Minitiptiper mini led projector 1,000 Check Amazon 800×480 1,000:1 LCD $
iRulu BL20irulu projector with rating 2,600 Check Amazon 800×480 2,000:1 LCD $$
Projector Ogimaogima projector with rating 2,600 Check Amazon 800×480 2,000:1 LCD $$
BenQ DLPbenq dlp video projector with rating 3,200 Check Amazon 800×600 13,000:1 DLP $$
Viewsonic PJD5132viewsonic pjd5132 with rating 3,000 Check Amazon 800×600 15,000:1 DLP $$
ViewSonic PJD5255viewsonic pjd5255 with rating 3,200 Check Amazon 1024×768 22,000:1 DLP $$$
Acer H5380BDacer h5380bd with rating 3,000 Check Amazon 1280×720 13000:1 DLP $$$
Optoma HD141Xoptoma hd141x with rating 3,000 Check Amazon HD 1920×1080p 23,000:1 DLP $$$$
ViewSonic PJD5533Wviewsonic pjd5533 with rating 3,000 Check Amazon 1200×800 15,000:1 DLP $$$$
Epson 1440epson home cinema with rating 4,400 Check Amazon Full HD 1920×1080p 10,000:1 LCD $$$$$
Optoma GT1080optoma 1080 with rating 2,800 Check Amazon HD 1920×1080p 25,000:1 DLP $$$$$

Lack of Time? Then Read This
If you do not want to go through our detailed shopping guide for any reason, here are our best picks in individual categories:

Top Outdoor Projectors Under $100

This is essentially the bare minimum you can spend to get a working projector. But if you’re just going to be doing the occasional movie night on your porch, or want something that you can bring camping with the kids, we’ve found a few options for you.

Consumebly´s Choice #1 - DBPOWER T20

dbpower projector

Positives
  • Portable
  • Good connectivity
  • Low price

Negatives
  • Just 1500 lumens
  • Short throw distance
  • Low resolution and contrast

This 1500 lumen projector is suitable for use at night, and can provide you with a reasonably sized screen. It uses and LED lighting system, so you’re not going to have to replace expensive bulbs. It can connect to a high-definition input, allowing you to play movies off your computer or Blu-Ray player.

While it supports screen sizes between 32” and 176,” the sweet spot is going to be around 130 inches. To get this size the projector needs to be located two meters from your screen, which is ideal for an outdoor environment. With a native resolution of 800×480, it’s got the proper aspect ratio for HD content. Your movies won’t be distorted, and they’ll be enjoyable for the whole family.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“This projector is perfect for the occasional user. Nobody wants to spend a fortune on something they’ll never use. With the T20, the image quality is good enough that you’ll be able to enjoy your movie night, as long as it’s very dark out.”

Consumebly´s Choice #2 - Tiptiper Mini LED Projector

tiptiper mini led projector

Positives
  • Portable
  • Low power consumption
  • Low price

Negatives
  • Just 1000 lumens
  • Short throw distance
  • Low resolution and contrast

Where this projector excels is portability. It’s much more compact than other models, measuring only 188mm by 146mm. It’s LED lamp produces 1000 lumens of output, which is suitable for use in the dark at shorter throw distances. It’s capable of producing images between 30 and 130 inches, but the ideal size for this model is 80 inches. If you’re projecting against the side of a building or other fixed object, the 1.3-meter throw distance will make your system a little easier to manage.

At only 50 watts, this projector has a very low power consumption. We’d recommend this projector for people who are on the go. If you’re travelling in an RV or a trailer, the low power draw will help you save your batteries.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“The throw distance is short enough that you can set it up beside you while you project onto the side of your trailer. The 800×400 isn’t the most detailed resolution, but it’s still good enough to enjoy.”

Top Outdoor Projectors Under $200

If you’re going to use your outdoor projector more than a couple times a year, you’ll be glad that you spent a little extra. In this category, you’ll notice that they are significantly brighter. The video isn’t just easy to see, but it’s actually enjoyable. There aren’t many high-quality projectors in this price range, but we managed to find a couple good deals.

Consumebly´s Choice #1 - iRulu BL20

irulu projector with rating

Positives
  • Average brightness (2600 lumens)
  • Manual focus
  • Good connectivity

Negatives
  • Built-in speaker is weak
  • Not full HD
  • Fan is little noisy
  • Low resolution and contrast

With its 2600 Lumen LED bulb, this projector is capable of producing an image that is bright enough to enjoy. It still has to be used at night, but you won’t need perfect darkness to get a viewable image. It’s got a built-in speaker, so you won’t need to cart around an external one.

The 800×480 resolution makes it ideal for movies or classic games, and your screen size can be anywhere from 23 to 200 inches. The manual focus lens gives you more control over the image size, without any blurring or distortion.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“It’s got two USB inputs and two HDMI inputs, so you can either connect your favorite video source or use it to scroll through your vacation photos. For the budget, minded consumer, this is the cheapest projector you can buy without making serious sacrifices.”

Consumebly´s Choice #2 - Projector Ogima

ogima projector with rating

Positives
  • Average brightness (2600 lumens)
  • Portable and compact design
  • Manual focus
  • Various inputs

Negatives
  • Weak built-in speaker
  • Low resolution and contrast
  • Poor remote control

The biggest struggle with affordable projectors is lighting. Under 2000 lumens, your image will be almost impossible to see unless it’s very dark. Since we don’t have complete control of our environment, the Ogima comes equipped with a 2600 lumen LED lighting system.

It can handle screen sizes between 32 and 200 inches, and the included focus ring will help you get the picture just right. Despite the big picture, the projector is very compact. It’s easy to carry around, and the included stand helps you set the image height just right.

It’s got a few more inputs than the models we’ve reviewed so far. You get the standard HDMI and USB ports, but it also ads connections for AV, Coaxial, and an SD card.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“Throw your videos on a memory card or flash drive and leave the computer at home. This projector is perfect for consumers who want an all-in-one solution with additional brightness for challenging conditions.”

Top Outdoor Projectors Under $300

At the $300 price point, you can expect some significant improvements to image quality. We’re still not quite at High Definition resolutions yet, but you’ll find that the lighting systems are brighter and more even. Video will be more colorful, and will be free from distortion and fading.

Consumebly´s Choice #1 - BenQ DLP Video Projector

benq dlp video projector with rating

Positives
  • Good level of brightness (3200 lumens)
  • Uses DLP technology
  • Average contrast
  • Good for presentations

Negatives
  • Native 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Not good for gaming

DLP technology takes multiple greyscale LCD images, puts them through a filter and combines them into one sharp, clear image. Colors will be vibrant, just like you’d see on your TV. 3200 Lumens is the sweet spot for outdoor use.

It still has to be dark out, but your image will look good. The 800×600 resolution has twice the horizontal detail as the previous models, making text and details a little crisper. This projector has a 4:3 aspect ratio.

This isn’t ideal for movies, but it’s perfect for presentations. The 13000:1 contrast ratio means that text will be easy to read, something that’s simply not possible with projectors in previous categories.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“This projector accepts both HDMI and VGA inputs, making it the perfect choice for business users. If you’re putting on a presentation or need to show text, this would be an excellent choice.”

Consumebly´s Choice #2 - Viewsonic PJD5132

viewsonic pjd5132 with rating

Positives
  • Good brightness level (3000 lumens)
  • Good contrast
  • Optical zoom and keystone correction
  • Great for business use

Negatives
  • Mediocre built-in speaker
  • No lens cover

This Viewsonic projector has everything we like to see at this price point: a nice bright lamp, high contrast ratio, plenty of inputs, and a built-in speaker. At 800×600, this projector was pretty much made for text. You’ll get a nice large, easy to read screen that is well illuminated. It’s 3000-lumen bulb is quite a bit brighter than others, allowing it to perform well even when there are a few light sources around.

You can’t always put the projector exactly where you want it. Since the distance dictates the screen size, you’re often put in a touch position. Fortunately, this projector has an optical zoom and keystone correction. This allows you to change the size and shape of your screen without moving it.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“We’d recommend this projector for business use, as it’s much more versatile than competing models. It can connect to almost any video source you can think of, so you can trust it to get the job done.”

Top Outdoor Projectors Under $500

If you’re going to be using your projector regularly, we’d highly recommend that this is your minimum budget. With higher resolution displays, you’ll find that the image quality is much better than the budget models, and you’ll have enough features that you don’t have to make compromises.

Consumebly´s Choice #1 - ViewSonic PJD5255

viewsonic pjd5255 with rating

Positives
  • Good level of brightness (3200 lumens)
  • Good contrast
  • DLP projection system
  • Various input options

Negatives
  • Average resolution
  • Expensive replacement lamps
  • No stereo output (adapter required)

When it comes to presentations, this ViewSonic has everything you need. The 15,000:1 contrast ratio means that you’ll get deep blacks and bright lights, making text clear and visible as if you were reading a printed page. The XGA resolution (1024×768) is the benchmark for 4:3 content, providing a much higher level of detail.

It’s got advanced focus and keystone correction options, so you can get your image looking just the way you want. There are five built-in image settings, allowing you to automatically optimize your picture to suit your purposes.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“The built-in speaker is loud enough to entertain a larger number of people, and the bright 3200-lumen lamp will last 10,000 hours of use. For business or promotional use, this projector gives you the best value for your money.”

Consumebly´s Choice #2 - Acer H5380BD

acer h5380bd with rating

Positives
  • Good level of brightness (3000 lumens)
  • DLP technology with good resolution
  • Average contrast
  • Wireless HDMI

Negatives
  • Limited zoom options
  • It runs loud on some modes
  • No lens shift and cap
  • People report “rainbow effect”

If you want an affordable way to watch high definition movies, then this is the first projector you’ll want to look at. It’s got a 720p widescreen resolution, so your HD content will look as good as you expect. The 3000-lumen bulb is bright enough for outdoor use, so you won’t be frustrated with a dim or washed out image. Instead, you’ll get bright vibrant colors that are only possible with the DLP projection technology.

Don’t feel like carrying around a bunch of cords? This projector supports Wireless HDMI. You can simply stream content directly from your phone or laptop, saving you the headache of setting up. If you’re going to be spending money on a high-quality projector, you don’t want it to fall apart after a few years.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“The built-in cooling system and dust shield help to extend your lamps life, making this a system you’ll have for many years. If you want to enjoy HD content, then this is the cheapest outdoor projector you should buy.”

Top Outdoor Projectors Under $1,000

In the upper three figures, you can afford to be picky. We’re getting to a price point where digital projectors now have the same image quality is LED televisions. You can expect a proper cinematic experience and enjoy your films the way they were meant to. If you’re using it for data, these projectors will provide the same resolutions you get on your laptop, so everything looks exactly the way that you want. As long as you can afford it, we’d highly recommend that consumers try to shop in this price bracket.

Consumebly´s Choice #1 - Optoma HD141X

optoma hd141x with rating

Positives
  • Good level of brightness (3000 lumens)
  • Good resolution with DLP projection
  • Excellent contrast
  • Fully compatible with 3D content

Negatives
  • Fan is loud on maximum settings
  • Audio out is stereo only
  • Colors may look washed out in brighter locations
  • People report “rainbow effect”

Finally, a projector that can produce images in glorious 1080p! With a screen size exceeding 100 inches, you’re going to want to see every little detail of your movie. At 1080p, images are razor sharp. No scaling is taking place, so images are displayed exactly the way they were recorded.

The 3000-lumen bulb produces vibrant, evenly lit images with billions of possible colors. With a 23,000:1 contrast ratio, the image will have more depth than you ever thought possible. Want to enjoy 3D movies? This projector is fully compatible with 3D content, whether it’s from a Blu-Ray or laptop computer.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“Both the focus and keystone correction can be done easily from the top of the projector, giving you the perfect image every time. If you’re using your projector for movies, you’ll absolutely want to go with this projector.”

Consumebly´s Choice #2 - ViewSonic PJD5533W

viewsonic pjd5533 with rating

Positives
  • Good level of brightness (3000 lumens)
  • Good resolution with DLP projection
  • Wide keystone correction
  • Great for presentations and data projection

Negatives
  • Replacement bulbs are expensive
  • Limited zoom

This DLP projector is one of the best business models you can buy. It has a WXGA resolution, totaling 1200×800. Almost every laptop and computer screen has a wide aspect ratio, so you don’t want your presentations to be stretched and skewed into a 4:3 screen.

This one will let you display content the way it looks on your computer, so there won’t be any unexpected surprises. ViewSonic gives you more control over your image than any projector on the market. Keystone corrections can change the screen shape +/- 40 percent, so you can set up the projector virtually anywhere.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“The 10,000-hour lamp life is much better than the average model, so you can use it for a long time before replacing the bulb. Anyone who’s using the projector for documents, presentations, or data should make this their number one choice.”

Top Outdoor Projectors Under $2,000

If you want the best of the best, this is where you’ll find them. These projectors are able to truly re-create the cinematic experience you’re looking for. While most outdoor projectors have to be used at night, these ones are so bright that the afternoon sun won’t disrupt their performance. But once it does get dark, you’ll experience immersive visuals unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Consumebly´s Choice #1 - Epson Home Cinema 1440

epson home cinema with rating

Positives
  • Excellent level of brightness (4400 lumens)
  • Great resolution with LCD projection
  • Average contrast
  • Lot of supported inputs

Negatives
  • Average bulb lifetime
  • No 3D support

This 1080p projector is among the best on the market, making it the perfect choice for your outdoor theater. It’s capable of producing an image that measures 300 inches diagonally. At this size, you’re moving away from the theater experience and moving into the Imax experience!

The 4400-lumen bulb makes these massive screen sizes possible, but that’s not the only benefit. You’ll be able to use this projector in the daylight or in a well-lit room – something that is just not possible with other models.

You can connect an external source through HDMI, VGA, DVI, or MHL, so you’ll never be stuck with an unusable video source. The optical zoom lens lets you adjust the size without moving the projector, so you can get your image set up exactly the way you want it.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“This is the ultimate entertainment projector. Whether you’re watching movies, playing games, streaming video, or even just browsing the internet, this is the model that you’ve been waiting for.”

Consumebly´s Choice #2 - Optoma GT1080

optoma 1080 with rating

Positives
  • Average level of brightness (2800 lumens)
  • Great Resolution with DLP projection
  • Incredible contrast

Negatives
  • Expensive
  • Loud fan of projector
  • Blurry edges on short throw distances

If you’re a fan of 3D movies, Optoma has just the thing for you. Their GT1080, as suggested by the name, supports full 1080p video with active 3D support. Thanks to the massive lens on the front, it’s capable of very short throw distances. While some projectors require you to move it 30 feet away to get a large screen, this one can produce a 166-inch image from only 6 feet away.

On paper, the 2800 lumen rating might seem a little low. But think of it like a flashlight. The further away it is, the dimmer the light seems. Once you add in the 25,000:1 contrast ratio (best on the market) you’ll realize that you’ve got one impressive little projector on your hands.

CONSUMEBLY RECOMMENDS

“We’ve had our eye on this model for a while, but what we found when writing this guide caught us completely off guard. It’s currently on sale for nearly half price. If you’re looking for a 3D projector, you’re certainly going to want to check out this deal while it’s still available.”

Shoppers Guide: Choosing the Best Outdoor Projector

We’ve looked at the best projectors for each budget, but everyone’s needs are different. Before you can choose the model that’s right for you, it’s important to understand what all of these measurements mean. Let’s take a look at the most important factors, and help you decide which ones are important to you.

Factor #1: Brightness

Brightness is one of the most important factors in projector selection. It’s measured in lumens and affects your maximum screen size and visibility. Most projectors are rated at a minimum of 1000 lumens. These models are only suitable for use in very dark conditions, with smaller than average screen sizes.

At 2000 lumens, the image will be much more vibrant. You won’t need total darkness, but the lighting must be low. 3000 lumens can be used in brighter conditions, such as afternoon daylight. Although 4000+ lumen projectors are rare, these are capable producing clear images even in direct sunlight.

Remember, the further you move the projector from your screen, the darker your image. If you want 100” images and above, you’ll want to choose a brighter model. We recommend avoiding anything below 2200 lumens unless you’ll very rarely be using it.

Factor #2: Projection System

There are two types of projection systems: LCD and DLP. LCD projectors have a single image source, and produce very crisp, sharp images. They’re ideal for data purposes, or anything where you need to see fine detail.

DLP projectors use multiple image sources and combine them. These projectors produce rich, vibrant colors, and create a smoother image that is suited for gaming and movies.

Factor #3: Connectivity

You’re going to have to plug your projector into an image source. HDMI is the most common input, and most of us have HDMI video sources. For business use, you might want VGA or DVI as well so you can connect to a computer. Some projectors support wireless HDMI, allowing you to stream video from your phone.

Others accept USB memory sticks or SD cards, but you’ll have to check and see what media files they are compatible with. Occasionally you’ll find models with composite or S-Video input, but these are rarely used anymore.

Factor #4: Keystone

Ideally, your projector should be level with your screen and located in the center. Since this is not always possible, you may be projecting your image at a slight angle. This can make the image bend and become uneven. Keystone correction allows you to adjust this, so your screen looks square.

If you’re going to be moving the projector around and setting it up in different areas, this is very important to have. But if you’re always going to place it dead center, you may not use it very much.

Factor #5: Resolution

The number of pixels is referred to as the resolution. It’s usually given in a measurement. 1920×1080 means 1920 rows of pixels along the bottom, and 1080 up the side. The higher the resolution, the more detailed your image is.

For HD video, a 1080p projector will work best. With large screen sizes, low resolution is obvious. You’ll want to get the highest resolution you can afford.

This isn’t as important for data use, although the level of detail is still a factor. An 800×600 projector might look good with a simple PowerPoint, but you may find that diagrams are illegible. At a minimum, we’d recommend 1024×768 for data use and 720p for video.

Factor #6: Contrast

The difference in brightness between the darkest black and brightest white is called the contrast. It’s measured as a ratio. For example, 5000:1 means that white is 5000x brighter than black. Low contrast images will feel washed out, lack detail, and have weak color.

The higher the contrast, the more colors it will be able to produce and the better your image will look. We recommend a minimum of 10,000:1 contrast ratio, otherwise, you’ll be left with disappointing color reproduction.

Factor #7: Aspect Ratio

The shape of your screen is determined by the aspect ratio. Ever notice how movies have black bars when watched on your laptop? That’s because laptops have a 16:10 display and movies are usually 16:9. Projectors are usually either 16:9 or 4:3.

For movies, you should always choose 16:9, as 4:3 is too square and you’ll lose detail. For business purposes, 4:3 may be acceptable for PowerPoint, but widescreen is preferable.

Factor #8: Brand & Manufacturer

There are many well-known brands that produce high-quality products. Many consumers only purchase brand name products. They know that replacement bulbs will always be available, that the projector will be high quality, and that all of the information is accurate. But if you want the brand, you’ll have to pay.

New or unknown brands also produce some high-quality projectors, but it’s more of a gamble. If you’re purchasing a projector from an unknown manufacturer, we’d recommend picking up an extra bulb just in case they stop manufacturing them.

Factor #9: Customer Reviews

If you’re still not sure about whether you should buy a certain model or not, make sure you read the Amazon customer reviews. You’ll have access to first-hand experiences, and accurately judge whether a certain model is high-quality or not.

Factor #10: Price

Projectors are available at all different price ranges, but you should be reasonable with your expectations. Projectors under $200 offer the bare minimum. The image quality is comparable to a standard definition TV, and they’ll only work in the dark. In our opinion, everything under $300 is bound to be disappointing.

If you can afford a $1000+ projector, you’ll be able to create an incredible outdoor movie experience. For most people, $400 to $850 seems to be the best balance between quality and cost.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ#1: What is an outdoor projector?

An outdoor projector is a digital system used for displaying video. You can connect a video source such as a computer or Blu-Ray player, and have the image projected onto a surface. Outdoor projectors are generally brighter than indoor models, although they are often interchangeable.

FAQ#2: What is the difference between Lumen and ANSI Lumen?

Some measurements are specific. An inch is an inch, no matter who you ask. But lumens are more difficult to measure. A bulb might be capable of emitting 10,000 lumens, but after it goes through the projector lenses it may have faded to 8,000 lumens. ANSI means that the light was measured in a specific way, so you know it’s accurate. If the manufacturer doesn’t specify ANSI lumens, you can assume the measurement the total bulb output and not the total projector output.

FAQ#3: Can I have a backyard movie theater without a screen?

Sure! You just have to find something to project it on. Any white surface will work. You can hang a sheet in the trees, or maybe broadcast onto the side of your house. The image may be distorted a bit if the surface is not white or smooth, but it should still be an enjoyable experience.

FAQ#4: What are the benefits of owning an outdoor projector?

For personal use, the main benefit is fun! There is nothing more enjoyable than an outdoor movie night, or to create your own drive-in theater. For business purposes, conferences and presentations may be more effective when hosted outdoors. Everyone enjoys the opportunity for fresh air, and you’ll have more space for attendants.

FAQ#5: What are the different types of Outdoor Projectors?

The three types of outdoor projectors are DLP, LCD, and LED.

  1. DLP is the best type of projector to watch movies on. It uses three separate displays and combines the images to produce superior, vibrant colors.
  2. LCD is the best type of projector for business purposes. The colors are not as bright, but the image is very sharp and clear – perfect for text.
  3. LED is actually a method of illumination. It’s similar to an LCD, but uses a reflective element and LED lighting. These projectors are cheap, but not nearly as bright.

FAQ#6: How about sound system? Should I choose an integrated or external system?

When possible, you should always use an external sound system. Remember, you’re not trying to fill a room with sound, there is a lot of open space! The internal speaker on a projector is usually mono, and similar in quality to your laptop speakers. If you’re going to enjoy a massive screen, why not have massive sound to go with it?

FAQ#7: What device should I choose to play my movies?

A laptop is going to be the most versatile. If your projector isn’t exactly 1080p, the laptop will do a better job of scaling the image. Almost every projector works with a laptop, so you know it’s a safe bet. Your next best choice would be a Blu-Ray player, since you know it will have impressive video quality.
Editor choice

Consumebly