Lumens. ANSI Lumens. What does it mean?
Lumens? Is it edible? I think it is. I hear the word so many times a day, I can be full if it was an actual snack. When purchasing projectors, one of the first few things to note is how bright the projector is. A dim projector in a dark room will give you a decent image (meh) but a bright projector in a bright room producing a decent image (wow). Inserts the chef’s kiss.
We’ll start off with the Whats and move on to the Hows.
What is lumen?
A lumen is the standard unit of brightness (the more technical term would be luminous flux) used to measure the visible light emitted by a source. The more lumens a light source has, the brighter it is. When setting up a home theatre, one would consider a projector with 2000 to 4000 lumens. For those of us who have zero concepts of numbers, The Projector Expert mentions that a candle has a lumen count of 14 lumens and a 100-watt light bulb has 1600 lumens. Overall, lumens are an important factor when it comes to buying a projector. But how about ANSI Lumens?
What is ANSI lumen?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established the standardised means of measuring light source brightness. What they do is set up a projector in a temperature-controlled room, project a focused beam onto a screen. They measure the light output at nine specific spots around the screen and average the number. The average is multiplied by the screen area to give the brightness of the projector in ANSI Lumens. This is my simplified explanation of how the testing is done. For more in-depth information, you can learn more here.
Despite ANSI lumen being the most accepted standard for measuring the brightness of a projector, many suppliers often use other forms of 'lumens' for marketing purposes.
Marketing lumens is a term for non-ANSI lumens. For marketing purposes, the lumens are exaggerated as brands love to exploit the “More means better” mindset of consumers. The lumens will be inflated by 6 times the actual ANSI lumens. The product specifications may also deliberately leave out certain elements to make it more appealing to buyers.
ANSI Lumens FTW
Now, just because a projector is reported to have a high ANSI Lumens does not immediately mean that the projector is the one for you. Sometimes projectors with a lower ANSI lumens can produce an image as bright as a projector with high ANSI lumens. This is because of the Helmholtz-Kohlrausch Effect. However, this does not mean that the ANSI lumen is unreliable. It just means that you need to look for a projector with the correct ANSI lumens. Projector Brightness Is Determined By