Guides Outdoor Projectors

Best Outdoor Projector: Leading Products and 2020 Buyer’s Guide

outdoor movie

The best outdoor projector can be a great investment and an affordable way to get the family together for a night of movies and fun. These projectors can be used in the backyard, when you’re camping, or at your local park. They can also be perfect for the next game night or family movie night. While there are no projectors that are designed specifically for outdoor use, there are models that work well both indoors and out. But since these home projectors have risen in popularity over the past couple of years, finding a model that performs the way it’s supposed to and offers top of the line image and sound quality, can be a real challenge.

I’ve tested out many of these popular models, narrowing my choices down to the best six models on the market. Each projector earned top marks for image and sound quality, in addition to ease of use, extra features, and more. I’ve also put together an in-depth buyer’s guide that lists all of the important features to look for, and how to choose the perfect model based on your viewing needs, and more.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the models that made it onto my top six list, their most important features, and how they rated.

Outdoor Projector Comparison Chart

Product Lumens Resolution Lamp Life Rating
GooDee Projector

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68001080p50,000 Hours
YABER Projector

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68001080p50,000 Hours
OHDERII Projector

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3200720p30000 Hours
Fangor Projector

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55001080p40000 Hours
VANKYO Mini Projector

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28001080p40000 Hours
QKK Mini Projector

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22001080p50,000 Hours

GooDee BL98 Video Projector


Our Rating: (5/5)

This model features 1080p resolution and 6,800 lumens, which is nothing short of impressive. Together, this projector allows you to easily view your favorite movies on the big screen, any time of the day or night. This model projects a size that ranges from thirty-five inches all the way up to two hundred inches with a distance of just four to twenty-one feet. This model offers outstanding brightness and a lamp life rating of fifty thousand hours. It’s also equipped with built-in speakers, although there have been some complaints that the speakers themselves are not very loud, so hooking the projector up to a set of wireless or hardwired speakers may be necessary if you’re putting on a movie for a large group of family or friends. The projector offers multiple interface media applications, so you can stream movies and shows from your smartphone, PC, or laptop. Additionally, it also includes an HDMI port and a USB flash drive, so your movie viewing options really are limitless.

Pros

  • USB flash drive
  • HDMI port
  • 6,800 lumens
  • 1080P resolution

Cons

  • Speakers are not very loud

Conclusion

This model is covered by a five-year service warranty and comes with a two-month money back guarantee, so you can try the projector out for sixty days, with no risk. The powerful lamp, high lumens, and the excellent resolution all work together to provide a home movie viewing experience that you and the entire family will love. This model earned high marks in many areas including image quality, portability, and ease of use, although, you may need to purchase external speakers to boost the audio quality, however, this isn’t a deal-breaker for most buyers.

YABER Native Projector


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is another top-selling projector, and for all the right reasons. It also offers 6,800 lumens and features 1080p resolution. This model is also very user-friendly and easy to adjust. It comes equipped with fifty-degree 4D vertical and horizontal projection correction function that’s designed to ensure that the image projected is the standard rectangle shape. This model supports 4K videos and provides detailed, sharp images for top of the line image quality. The built-in speakers are 3W with surround sound. The included cooling system consists of three fans that run simultaneously, so there’s no threat of the system overheating, even when it’s used in hotter weather. This model offers a projection size that ranges from forty-five to two hundred inches, depending on how close or far the projector is placed from the screen or wall. The projector is equipped with a total of two HDMI ports, an AV port, VGA port, and two USB ports. It’s also covered by a six-month return, and a five-year warranty and lifetime support.

Pros

  • Two USB ports
  • Two HDMI ports
  • 6,800 lumens
  • 1080p res
  • Surround sound speakers

Cons

  • Price

Conclusion

This model offers excellent image and sound quality, a variety of ports and connectivity options, and a user-friendly design that will allow you to quickly and easily adjust the settings for the perfect viewing experience. While the price may be a little steep, the features, high lumen count, image quality, and lamp life totally make this model worth every penny.

OHDERII Mini Projector


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a highly portable, lightweight, compact projector that offers multi resolution capabilities. It can display an image up to two hundred inches and features 720p resolution. It features USB, HDMI, VGA, and AV ports, so you can connect the projector to your laptop, smartphone, or tablet and stream your favorite movies or shows. Mounting it is also a cinch and it can be installed upside down, right side up, or on its side. The projector is covered by a lifetime warranty, which will give buyers some much-needed peace of mind knowing that they’re purchasing a model that the manufacturer stands behind.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Includes several connectivity options
  • Several mounting options

Cons

  • Cannot be used in bright sunlight
  • Does not come with built-in speakers

Conclusion

This lightweight highly portable projector can go anywhere. Considering it doesn’t offer as many lumens as a traditional projector, you will not be able to use this model in bright sunlight. However, at night or in a dark room, the projector still provides an impressively clear image. It also doesn’t come with built-in speakers, so you’ll need to take the additional cost of speakers into consideration before you buy. Overall, this model works well, is a great choice if portability is a priority, and it’s available at a low price.

Fangor Projector


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This leading model by Fangor offers a 1080p resolution, for sharper, clearer images. It also features a wireless Wi-Fi connection and is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The built-in Bluetooth surround speakers offer excellent sound quality but will need the help of external speakers if you’re playing for a large group of family or friends. This model is covered by a three-year free repair warranty and lifetime technical support.

Pros

  • Wireless Wi-Fi connection
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • 1080p resolution
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • Speakers are very quiet

Conclusion

This versatile projector can be hooked up to any iOS or Android device for fast and simple streaming. The high resolution and contrast ratio provide crisp, clear images, even in moderately bright environments. While external speakers may be needed if you’re playing a movie for a large group of people, this affordable projector comes with plenty of bells and whistles that can allow you to get the most out of your next movie viewing experience.

VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model is powered by the Mstart advanced color engine, providing upgraded LED lighting for crisp, clear images. This projector has a watching size that ranges from thirty-two inches up to one hundred and seventy inches. It can also be connected to your PS4, smartphone, PC, or tablet to stream movies, play video games on the big screen, and more. The projector also features a fan noise suppression system and a top of the line cooling system, so you can run the projector in hot weather with no fear of it overheating.

Pros

  • Upgraded LED lighting
  • Bigger screen size
  • Compatible with gaming consoles, PCs, smartphones, and tablets
  • Low price

Cons

  • Struggles to project clear images in bright lighting conditions

Conclusion

This model is budget-friendly and comes with some nice upgrades that work to enhance your gaming or movie viewing experience. The 1080p resolution and long 40,000-hour lamp life definitely make this projector worth the purchase, although it does struggle to project a clear image in bright lighting conditions, however, that’s par for the course with projectors in this price range.

QKK Potable Mini Projector


Our Rating: (4/5)

The latest model by QKK features a 50,000-hour lamp life, and a 2000-1 contrast ratio. It’s highly portable, lightweight, and perfect for vacation or backyard use. It’s also beginner friendly, so setup and use is fast and simple. This model offers several connectivity options and comes with a SD card port, and HDMI, VGA, and AV ports.

It also comes with its own tripod, which further adds to its ease of use and portability.

Pros

  • 1080p
  • Variety of connectivity options
  • 50,000 lamp hours
  • Highly portable

Cons

  • Does not come with built-in speakers

Conclusion

This projector doesn’t come with built-in speakers or any other extras that’s you’ll find on higher priced models, but it still easily outperforms other models in this price range.

This model may not come with many bells and whistles, but its highly portable design, high resolution, and ease of use make this a great model to use for backyard movie viewing or one you can take with you on your next vacation.

Outdoor Projector Buyer’s Guide

When you’re shopping for a projector, there are several important factors you’ll want to look for. I’ll go over each of these essential features in my guide, but first, let’s take a look at the benefits of owning an outdoor projector and how it can totally change the way you and the family watch your favorite movies.

Outdoor Projector Benefits

camping and movie

In the past, the idea of owning a movie projector was unthinkable. These devices used to cost thousands of dollars, making it impossible for the family on a tight budget to own one. These days, projectors are more affordable than ever before. Now you can utilize online streaming services and stream them using your projector and enjoy your favorite shows and movies on the big screen.

  • A projector offers more benefits than a big screen TV does, such as portability, compact size, eye comfort, larger images, and a customizable screen size.
  • Unlike a TV, a projector can operate on any surface. While you can purchase a screen for a projector, paint a wall white, or use a white sheet, it’s not necessary.
  • One of the biggest advantages of using a projector is that the size of the screen can be configured to any size.
  • Even better, the size of the screen is not permanent. You can make it bigger or smaller, whenever you want. Basically the size of the screen is customizable, so if your screen size needs to change later on, it’s very easy to adjust the size.
  • A projector is not restricted by an outer limit. A projector’s standard image size is naturally larger than a TV’s. This is because the size of the image is dependent on how far away the projector is placed from the screen or wall the image is projected on. The further away from the projector, the larger the image will appear.

 

  • When it comes to eye comfort, you’ll enjoy a much better viewing experience than trying to squint at your TV. Compared to a TV, projectors offer the advantage of a larger image, hence a more comfortable viewing experience. The size of a screen is a major contributing factor that influences eye comfort. This is due to the effect that reflected light can have on the eyes. TVs use emitted light. Another factor, such as the distance between the screen and the viewer, also has an impact on eye comfort. For example, eyestrain is often caused when a person tries to focus on an image that’s too small for the eyes to comfortably look at. Because projectors are able to project a much larger image, eyestrain is not very common.
  • These days, the size of the projector itself makes it very portable, allowing you to take your projector with you on vacations, trips to grandma’s house, and even camping, if you’re at a campsite that has an outlet. These lightweight projectors weigh around five pounds and are incredibly easy to transport.

As you can see, there are many advantages to owning a projector and they can be the perfect choice for the family on a budget in need of a fun new way to enjoy movie night at home. Now that you’ve learned more about the benefits these devices have to offer, let’s take a look at how they work and the important features you’ll want to pay close attention to.

Must-Have Features

Setting up a projector in your backyard for family movie night, game night, or at a barbeque, is fast and simple. You don’t have to struggle with a large speaker system, several cables, and a heavy device. These days, projectors are smaller, lighter, and simpler to use than ever. They’re also more affordable, durable, and offer the type of image quality that’s comparable to more expensive big screen TVs. Buying a projector will allow you to view your favorite movies and TV programs on the big screen, something that wasn’t possible or affordable just five years ago. But since these devices are so popular, the market is essentially flooded with dozens of new models, each of which the manufacturer claims are the best. But if you’re looking for the best model you can afford, then you’ll need to do a little homework and make sure that not only do you end up with a projector that’s designed to last, but that you also buy one that offers the type of image quality these devices are known for.

When you’re trying to choose the right projector, there are several factors you’ll want to consider, such as image quality and speaker quality, but many projector enthusiasts argue that resolution and brightness will be among the most important features to pay close attention to.

Brightness

A model that offers high brightness will allow you to see the images on the screen, clearly, regardless of the lighting conditions. This means you’ll want to go with a model that offers the highest lumens that you can afford. Typically, when you adjust the brightness level on a projector, you’ll notice that the movie is significantly easier to see. Additionally, with an increase in brightness, the colors will also appear more vibrant. A high-quality model will offer around three thousand lumens. At this level, you’ll find moderately priced models that offer a great performance. Higher priced models will typically offer around four thousand lumens.

Keep in mind, a projector is going to provide a better image in low light conditions. You can even get by using a model with lower than three thousand lumens, if you’re outdoors and watching a movie in total darkness.

Resolution

Aside from brightness, a model’s output resolution will be another important factor that can have a major impact on image clarity. Output resolution refers to how many pixels the projector is able to display. The more pixels, the sharper the image. Fewer pixels will produce a fuzzier, softer image. For an outdoor projector, you’ll want a model that offers at least a 720p resolution.

Resolution will essentially measure how close a viewer can sit to a screen and not be able to identify individual pixels. If you’re using a 720p model, then you’ll need to sit back a minimum of fifteen feet in order to see a clear smooth image. If you’re using a 1080p model, then you can sit about eight to ten feet away from the screen and enjoy the same type of clarity.

When it comes to high quality images, 1080p allows for enhanced clarity, providing a greater viewing experience with less blurring.

Projection Size

Most high-quality models will produce an image that’s suitably large enough to see clearly, even if you’re sitting twenty to thirty feet away from the screen. The best thing about a projector is that if they’re moved farther away or closer to the screen the size of the image will change. This is known as the throw ratio. Projector throw ratios can vary from model to model.

A projector’s screen size is measured at a forty-five-degree angle, the same way a TV screen is measured. A projector has a set distance that it is able to focus instantly. This distance ranges from eight inches up to thirty inches. The throw ratio is these two numbers divided by each other. Each model of projector will have a lens that’s slightly different, so there will also be a slight variation in its throw ratio.

Short throw projectors are a type that have extremely low throw ratios of around 0.5 or less. This means that the projector can be placed very close to a screen, yet it will still provide a very large image. Usually, short throw projectors are not the best choice for outdoor because of a lack of ceiling mounts. These projectors are usually mounted very close to a screen, typically right above it, and work by projecting the image straight down. These projectors can be difficult to take down and remove when not in use.

Lamp Life

A new lamp can be needed once the old one burns out. This is probably one of the biggest drawbacks to using a projector. A projector’s lamp is similar to a light bulb. After many hours of use, the filament in the lamp will burn out and must be replaced. In most cases., the replacement lamp is often between fifteen to thirty-five percent of the value of the projector, which means replacing the lamp can be pretty pricey, especially if you’ve purchased a high-quality projector.

When you’re shopping for a projector, you’ll want to pay attention to its lamp life rating. You can find models that offer ten thousand up to eighty thousand-lamp hours.

Unfortunately, many high lumen models will come with a short lamp life. Heat damage is one of the critical factors that will determine lamp life. The more power a projector has and the more lumens it puts out, the higher the risk of heat damage to the lamp. A model that has over four thousand lumens may have a lamp that only offers around three thousand lamp hours, which means it will need to be replaced after three thousand hours of use.

HDMI Ports/Inputs/Outputs

These days, new models of projectors will come with a wide range of maintenance ports, outputs, and inputs. The HDMI is by far the most important of all the ports. These ports can transfer videos and can also send high-quality audio using the same cable for an easier setup and enhanced usability. Look for a model that features a port that’s 1.4 or higher. This type of HDMI port will offer the best performance since it will offer the latest features and better audio and video transfers. It will also mean a smoother video, with no lag.

Analog audio ports are also important if you have an audio system that’s compatible. Many people will prefer analog over digital audio however, others argue that digital offers a much smoother sound and its more beginner friendly.

VGA inputs are also common and allow you to run your projector using old laptops and computers and accessories.

If you’re not very tech savvy, then look for a model that features a standard HDMI port, which will save you a lot of time and hassle because they are very simple and easy to use.

Audio

Built-in speakers are not the first thing consumers think about when they’re shopping for a projector. Image quality is always the priority. Usually, most models will offer 10W speakers, which are decent, but can’t quite compete with a dedicated audio system. Some low-priced models will not come with built-in speakers, or they may come equipped with 3W speakers, which will not do your movies justice.

In most cases, people who purchase these home projectors and want a move theater like experience will usually run out and buy hardwired speakers. But you should give a projector’s built-in speakers a shot before you invest in a set of outdoor speakers. Fortunately, if you do decide to upgrade and purchase speakers for your audio setup, there are many compatible options available, such as wireless Bluetooth speakers, which are highly portable.

When you’re looking online for a new projector, just keep in mind that you’re purchasing one for its image quality, not for its audio quality. Poor quality speakers are a common complaint that many buyers have, so it’s a good idea to anticipate additional costs for your outdoor theater in the form of hardwired or wireless speakers.

3D Capability

Many of the leading projectors now offer 3D capabilities. With the rise in 3D movies some people are eager to try this type of viewing experience in the comfort of their backyard. Keep in mind that if you do purchase a model that offers this feature, you may also need to purchase extra 3D glasses, since most projectors will only come with two or three pairs. If you have a large viewing party in mind, then this can potentially be very expensive.

Wireless Streaming

Wireless streaming capability is another important feature and one that will allow you to connect a streaming device directly to your projector. Most projector owners find that they use this feature more than any other and it’s one that you can use to play the game on the big screen, or newly released movies. For this option, you can plug in a device via the HDMI port or plug in a streaming stick or use a built-in wireless dongle.

Warranty

When it comes to projectors, a warranty will also be a major concern since these devices are fairly expensive. Since it’s an electronic device, it’s more prone to failure, so you’ll want to ensure the model you buy is covered and protected. Most models will come with some type of warranty. The standard is two to three years on the parts and body. The lamp often comes with a twelve-month warranty. As I mentioned earlier, the lamp is a critical component, one that’s delicate and it’s what makes the projector function. If you’re looking at a model that comes with a warranty that’s six months or less, then you should consider whether or not that model is your best bet since this period of time isn’t really long enough for a device that’s designed to last for several years.

Decibel Sound Rating

The decibel sound rating of a projector is also important. Many higher priced models will come equipped with large vents and ultra-quiet fans that keep the system nice and cool as it runs. A low-quality fan can emit a loud buzzing noise that’s vert disruptive. Smaller, compact projectors will also come with a smaller cooling system, which helps to improve portability, but it’s at the sacrifice of keeping a system adequately cool.

Price

The cost of these projectors can vary based on image and sound quality, any built-in extras, and the type of lamp it uses. When it comes to determining whether or not you’re getting a good deal, make sure you pay attention to resolution quality and the lumens. A model that features two thousand lumens and 1080p resolution should cost upwards of five hundred dollars. If you decide to choose a model with a lower resolution of 720p with the same lumens, you can expect to pay one to two hundred dollars less. Once you include features such as long-life lamps, 3D capabilities, and wireless streaming, then you can expect to pay an additional one to two hundred dollars.

Maintenance

Fortunately, projectors require very little maintenance. However, every two to three months you should take some compressed air and remove any built-up dirt and debris from the vents. Built-up debris can have an impact on internal airflow, which can potentially cause the projector to overheat. You’ll also want to pay attention to the lens, which is also a dirt and dust magnet. The lens can easily be wiped down using a microfiber cloth. Avoid using a terry cloth or cotton cloth, both of which can leave behind tiny fibers.

If your projector comes with an internal air filter you can remove it and dust it off using compressed air.

Replacing the bulb is another part of projector maintenance. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be done very often, since bulb replacement can be pretty pricey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Friends watching movie in outdoor cinema

How Many Lumens does an Outdoor Daytime Projector Need?

For a dark room, a minimum of one thousand lumens will work. For a brighter environment, you’ll need significantly more lumens, with a minimum of two to three thousand. If you’re projecting in a bright outdoor environment, then four thousand should be sufficient.

How do I Protect My Outdoor Projector?

A projector needs good airflow to prevent it from overheating. Never block the cooling vents. You should also avoid placing a projector in a box that doesn’t have venting for airflow. In higher temperatures, if the climate is too hot, it can potentially damage the projector.

Do Outdoor Projectors Work in Daylight?

If you’re shopping for a projector that you can use during the day, then make sure it has lumens ranging from three to four thousand. Try to make the viewing area as dark as possible.

How Do I Increase the Lumens in My Projector?

To start, make sure the lens in your projector is clean. Next, vacuum out the exhaust and intake ports. If your model has a removable air filter, clean it out or replace it as needed. You can also try turning up your projector’s lamp level, if it’s adjustable. Additionally, placing the projector on the brightest output mode or replacing the lamp bulb can also do wonders to improve brightness.

Can You Play Netflix Through a Projector?

Most smartphones and tables can be connected to a projector using an HDMI adapter. You can stream Netflix on your tablet, laptop or smartphone to your projector.

Final Thoughts

The best outdoor projector should have a resolution of 1080p, a minimum of three thousand lumens, and should come loaded with some great extras, such as wireless streaming capability and an HDMI port. If you’re on a tight budget, you can purchase a model that features a lower resolution, or a higher or lower lumen count and still enjoy excellent viewing quality. The models I’ve included here in my guide are available in a variety of price brackets. This guide, combined with my product recommendations, is designed to educate you on the different features available, so you know exactly what to look for when you’re shopping around. However, I’m confident that you’ll find the perfect product in my top six lineup, one that will meet your viewing needs and a model that will work with your budget.