How To Show Movie Outside? Best Outdoor Projectors

As the weather warms up, it’s fun to take movie nights outside and enjoy films under the stars. But to put on an outdoor cinema, you’ll need a projector designed to handle the lighting challenges of outdoor environments.

This guide will cover everything about outdoor movie projectors – how they work, key features to look for, and recommendations on the best outdoor projector models in various categories and price ranges.

How Outdoor Projectors Are Designed Differently

Projectors made for outdoor use have key differences from regular indoor models:


  • Outdoor projectors are 3-5x brighter to overcome ambient light
  • Often 5,000+ lumens vs standard 2,000-3,000 lumens

Contrast Ratio

  • Higher contrast ratio improves visibility with glare
  • Look for 15,000:1 or 20,000:1+ contrast ratios

Light Rejecting Screens

  • Pair with screens that reduce washout from ambient light
  • Lens coatings reduce glare and optimize visibility

Rugged, Waterproof Housing

  • Protects unit from weather and condensation
  • Withstands dust, humidity, rain, mist, and extreme temps

These specialized features allow outdoor projectors to produce clear, vivid images even in bright or unpredictable weather conditions.

Key Factors To Consider When Picking an Outdoor Projector

Here are the most important criteria to evaluate:

  • Brightness – Measured in lumens, look for 4,000-6,000+ for outdoor use
  • Native Resolution – 1080p ideal, 1280×800+ workable
  • Contrast Ratio – 15,000:1 – 20,000:1+ for best clarity with glare
  • Throw Distance – Distance from projector to screen; varies by model
  • Inputs – HDMI, VGA, etc. to connect media sources
  • Built-in Speakers – Convenient but external sound system ideal
  • Warranty – 1-3 years; covers dust/weather resistance

Also consider wireless connectivity options, carrying case or stand, and noise levels which can be loud with high airflow.

Top Outdoor Projector Recommendations

Best Overall:

Optoma GT5600

Brightness: 5,000 lumens
Resolution: 1080p
Contrast Ratio: 20,000:1
Inputs: HDMI, VGA, USB
Built-in speaker: 10W

The Optoma GT5600 leads in key categories making it a top choice for exceptional outdoor viewing experiences..

Best Portable:

Anker Nebula Capsule II

Brightness: 200 ANSI lumens
Resolution: 720p
Contrast Ratio: 400:1
Inputs: HDMI
Built-in speaker: 8W drivers

The Nebula Capsule II’s tiny canister design packs premium projection into a portable palm-sized unit.

Best Short Throw:

Optoma GT1080e

Brightness: 4,000 lumens
Resolution: 1080p
Contrast Ratio: 20,000:1
Inputs: HDMI, VGA, USB
Built-in speaker: 10W

The Optoma GT1080e can produce up to a 150” image from just over 5 feet away – ideal for tight outdoor setups.

Best Wireless:

LG CineBeam PH550

Brightness: 550 lumens
Resolution: 1280×720
Contrast Ratio: 100,000:1
Inputs: Wireless, USB, HDMI
Built-in speaker: 5W

Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth allow wireless video and audio connectivity.

Projector Brightness Resolution Contrast Ratio Key Features
Optoma GT5600 5,000 lumens 1080p 20,000:1 Best overall image quality
Vankyo Leisure 510 5,500 lumens 1080p 15,000:1 Best budget option
Anker Nebula Capsule II 200 lumens 720p 400:1 Most portable pick
Optoma GT1080e 4,000 lumens 1080p 20,000:1 Best for short throw
LG CineBeam PH550 550 lumens 720p 100,000:1 Best wireless connectivity

Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Projectors

How far away can you set up the projector?

Depends on the model, but plan for 8-25 feet away. Short-throw projectors can be within 6 feet.

Can you leave projectors outside overnight?

No, moisture can damage internal parts. Install weatherproof housing if needed.

What content sources can you use?

Anything with HDMI like media streamers, laptops, and DVD players. Some models support wireless streaming.

How big of a screen size can you project?

From 100 to 300 inches depending on brightness and distance. Brighter lumens enable bigger image sizes.

Do projectors work in daylight?

Yes, but the image won’t be as clear. Look for 5,000+ lumen brightness and high contrast ratios.

How do you control projectors remotely?

Many support apps to control power, media playback, settings, etc. from your smartphone.

Can you connect external speakers?

Yes, via 3.5mm audio out or other ports. External speakers provide better sound.

With the right high-lumen outdoor projector, you can turn any backyard or vacant wall into a DIY drive-in theater. Just be sure to prep appropriate seating, sound system, and weather backup plan!


Enjoying movies outside is a great way to make the most of nice weather. But picking a projector designed specifically for outdoor use is key to watchable image quality. Models with high brightness, contrast ratios, and rugged waterproofing allow you to create an impromptu outdoor theater anywhere.

Evaluate your space and seating layout to choose the right lighting needs and throw distances. And don’t skimp on the sound system or screen to complete your al fresco cinema! With the tips in this guide, your next evening under the stars can also be spent immersed in your favorite films.