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Best Projectors for Home Theater and How to Choose a Home Projector

Best Projectors for Home Theater and How to Choose a Home Projector

A house comprises of different rooms, and choosing a projector for your home seems hard at first. We are here to help you and you will soon find out it is super easy.

A projector works just like a television. If you can image replacing your current television set with a projector, all your current hookups, cables, and external devices (Blu-ray player, cable box, etc.) will hook up to a projector.

Even if you have a 5.1 surround sound speaker system, it is as easy as taking out your current television and replacing it with a projector. It is hassle free.

For home projectors, you have to think about what room to use the projector in, what image size you want, what projector specifications you need, whether to mount or not mount the projector, and the type of connection ports you need.

First things first:

First, you have to determine where you want to put your projector. If you are using it as a second television for sports or for movies, and using your regular television for everyday use, then we suggest the projector should be put in a basement setting where there is little or no ambient light.

If you are using the projector as your everyday entertainment unit, to replace your television, then you should put the projector in your living room or family room.

If you are using the projector as a secondary or as a third unit, then you can place it in your bedroom or study room.

Most people buy home projectors to be used to watch sports and movies, so most home users use projectors in a dark room environment, like in a basement.


Now, that you have decided what you are using the projector for and where to put it, you have to determine how large of an image you want to get.

On average, the average image width for home users, is usually 8 feet wide. That is 92 inches wide or 105 inches diagonal (16:9 aspect ratio).

Also, it is important to always get a widescreen image (16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio). This is what most televisions display, and that is no different in projectors.

Now that you have determined the image width, you can now decide on a projector.


The three most important specifications of a projector are lumens, resolution, and throw ratio.

The lumens determines how bright an image can be projected from a projector. The higher the lumens, the brighter an image can be projected. This is the most important specification by far.

The resolution determines how many pixels or how sharp the projector is. The higher the number, the sharper or crisper it is. Resolution specs are shown as 1,024 x 768 or 800 x 600 or 1920 x 1080, or something similar to this where 1 set of number is multiplied by another.

The throw ratio is also important. After all, the limiting factor in a room is the size of the room. You don't have unlimited distance to put the projector away from the wall or screen. The throw ratio determines how far you should put the projector to get the image width you want.


The higher the lumens, the brighter the picture. Of course, the higher the lumens, the higher the cost of the projector. A higher lumens projector is important because in most situations or rooms, there will always be some outdoor light streaming in or indoor light being turned on. The more natural or man-made light there is in the room, the higher lumens you need for a projector to overcome the other sources of light.

The best solution, if you want to save on money, is to shut off all the lights or minimize any outdoor light from coming in, streaming through the windows.

In this scenario, you can get a lower lumens projector and save hundreds of dollars.

To determine what lumens you need, you should know what image width you want to achieve (or to look at). 8 feet wide is usually the average size most people want due to room size constraints. Here are a list of scenarios of the lumens you need for an 8 feet wide picture:

Completely dark room (basement, few or no windows, or blacked out windows):

We recommend a projector that is 2000 to 3100 lumens.

Somewhat dark room (living room with blacked out windows or basement with some light):

We recommend a projector that is 3100 to 4000 lumens.

A bright room with windows open, later afternoon (living room or family room with open windows, later afternoon, early evening with sun streaming through the windows):

We recommend a projector that is 4000 to 5000 lumens.

Now, if you want a larger image size than 8 feet wide, and it is very bright, and you have a room big enough to fill a super large image width of 10 to 16 feet wide, then you need a projector that is over 5000 lumens.


The resolution determines the sharpness of your picture. On average, a 1024 x 768 native resolution projector will do very well for any home. This applies to an image width of 8 feet wide. The wider or bigger the image, the higher the resolution you need.

The best value for your money lies in a 1024 x 768 XGA native resolution projector. 1080p or 1920 x 1080 pixels projectors are usually $500 more than comparable 1024 x 768 projectors.

The lowest resolutions are usually 800 x 600 pixels and those projectors are meant for businesses or for static images (re: business). For moving images such as sports or movies, you will definitely need 1024 x 768 XGA resolution. There is no substitute.

So, as discussed previously, lumens is always more important than resolution. After you determine the lumens you need, then you should look at the native resolution.

After all, if you get the sharpest 1080p projector, but has only 2000 lumens, you won't be able to see the "sharpest 1080p" image in a large room setting. The lumens dictates whether you can actually see the picture.

Throw Ratio:

What is a throw ratio? This specification determines how large of an image size you will get from a specific distance.

This is important.

This also reminds every business person that you have to test out your projector before you start using it. Believe me, many business people have fallen into this trap where they do not test the projectors for the throw distance before carrying them off for important presentations.

Without further ado, the throw ratio is determined by a specification such as:

1.2:1 or a range such as 1.2:1 to 1.5:1.

To start, lets begin with a single throw ratio of 1.2:1 or, to make it simpler: 1.2 to 1 . That is what the ":" in between means (to).

A projector with 1.2:1 1.2 to 1 means that for every 12 inches you set the projector away from the screen, you will get a 10 inch picture size.

So, at 12 feet away, the projector will project a 10 feet wide image size.

You have to note that it is the width (left to right) that is 10 feet. It is not the diagonal measurement. With projection screens, they are usually measured in diagonal size (bottom left to top right), so you have to find out what the display width (left to right) is for the screen. Most of the time, screens' technical specifications will tell you.

Now, if the throw ratio of a projector is a range, such as 1.2:1 ranging to 1.5:1, that means the projector has an optical zoom lens. The zoom lens will allow you to change the image size, without moving the projector. The range of image sizes that can be projected, at a set distance is determined by the throw ratios (1.2:1 ranging to 1.5:1).

So, this means, from 12 feet away, the projector can throw an image that ranges from 8 feet (1.5:1 throw ratio to 10 feet wide (1.2:1 throw ratio).


Recommendations for Homes:

3,100 Lumens for Dark to Medium Light Rooms 3,700 Lumens for Medium to Bright Rooms 4,400 Lumens for Medium to Bright Rooms 6,100 Lumens for Very Bright Rooms or Outdoors
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To Mount or Not to Mount?

Please refer to the "Mounting" guide page .

Connections Behind (usually) the Projector

Most projectors come with a HDMI port to hook most devices nowadays. This is the bare minimum. Next, if you are thinking about hooking up your laptop or computer, you might need a VGA or PC port behind the projector. If you have older devices like VCRs or analog sound systems, you need RCA (yellow video and red and white audio inputs). Some projectors have multiple HDMI inputs, but if you already have a surround sound system with an audio receiver, you really only need 1 HDMI port. Projectors, due to their small size, don't have as many connection ports as regular sized televisions.

If you really need more than 2 HDMI ports or other connections, you can always buy HDMI splitters than can split a single HDMI port into 4 HDMI or even 8 HDMI ports. They can be purchased for as low as $25. You can even do this for VGA or PC ports if you want to connect more than one laptop to the projector at the same time. You can switch between the HDMI or VGA connections by using a remote controller that controls the HDMI or VGA splitter.

So, now you might be thinking this question: how do I hook speakers to get louder volume?

This is related to the connections. If you are simply replacing your television that already uses a surround sound system (5 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 1 audio receiver), then it is as easy as taking the television out and putting the projector as a replacement. Or, if you want, you can keep the television at the same spot, you can buy a 2 way HDMI splitter that situates itself between the audio receiver and the television. So, the audio receiver is connected to both the television and the projector. You can change whether you want to use the television or the projector with the touch of a button (the HDMI splitter's remote controller).

So, the projector is using the surround sound system for volume output. It is this simple.

Now, back on topic.

Many households don't us a surround sound system. Perhaps, you use the television's speakers for volume.

Many projectors have internal speakers that are surprisingly quite loud. Usually, the internal speakers of projectors are loud enough for up to 10 people.

If you want clearer volume or louder sound, there are two options. First, you can connect a 2-speaker system that connects directly to the speaker. However, you also need an amplifier that sits between the 2 speakers and the projector. So, you will get louder sound, but it wouldn't be surround sound.

To get surround sound, you definitely need the surround sound system that consists of 5 speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 1 audio receiver, as described previously (the television replacement).

There you have it. It is not so bad choosing the perfect projector for home use. You can always contact us by phone or email if you ever have more questions. We are here to help.