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ANSI Lumens vs Lumens: What Is The Difference?

When it comes to measuring the brightness of a projector, two terms are often used interchangeably: lumens and ANSI lumens. Understanding the difference between lumens and ANSI lumens can help you make a more informed decision and is essential for choosing the right projector for your needs.

ANSI Lumens and Lumens differ in the quality of their measurements. ANSI Lumens specifications are a more reliable measure of projector brightness, making this measure more suitable for professional settings. Lumens is a more basic measurement of light output, which is great for home theaters.

Below we’ll explain the main differences between ANSI lumens and lumens, such as measurement methods and brightness levels reported. Additionally, you will find a section dedicated to helping you decide on what projector is the best based on your needs based on this info.

Understanding Lumens and ANSI Lumens

Let’s start by “shedding some light” on the significance of these measurements in the world of illumination.


Lumens are a unit of measurement for the total amount of visible light emitted by a light source, such as a bulb or projector. This measurement is essential for determining the brightness of a light source and how it will appear to the human eye. It’s important to understand that:

  • Lumen measurement is universal, meaning it applies to all light-emitting objects, not just projectors.
  • Higher lumen values indicate brighter light sources. (Source)

For more detailed information, be sure to take a look at our related post on projector lumens.

ANSI Lumens

ANSI Lumens differ from lumens in that they are a standardized way of measuring light output specifically for projectors. The abbreviation “ANSI” stands for the American National Standards Institute, which is the organization that sets the standards for this measurement. Here’s what you need to know:

  • ANSI Lumens take into account various factors like contrast ratios and screen size, making them a more reliable measurement of projector brightness.
  • ANSI Lumens are determined through a specific testing methodology to ensure consistency.

Difference Between Lumens and ANSI Lumens

Lumens vs ANSI lumens

While the video above explains this pretty well, we have some more details you can dive into below.

Measurement Methods

Lumens and ANSI lumens are both used to measure the brightness of a light source, but they differ in their measurement methods. Lumens is a more general measure, quantifying the visible light output from any light source, such as LED bulbs or natural sunlight. On the other hand, ANSI lumens is a specification specifically designed for measuring the brightness of projectors, adhering to the standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

In an ANSI lumen measurement, a projector is set to project a checkerboard pattern with alternating white and black squares. The brightness of the white squares is then measured at nine specific points, and their average value is multiplied by the total projected screen area to calculate the total light output in ANSI lumens.

Brightness Levels

When comparing the brightness levels of a light source based on lumens and ANSI lumens, you should be aware of the following differences:

  • Lumens (lm): A higher value indicates a brighter light source. This value applies to any visible light-emitting object, such as an LED bulb or the sun.
  • ANSI Lumens: Like lumens, a higher value denotes greater brightness. However, this value specifically refers to the brightness of a projector, following the ANSI standardized measurements.

Since ANSI lumens represent a more standardized measurement for projectors, they can provide a more accurate comparison between different projectors’ brightness levels.

Practical Applications in Projectors

Choosing a Projector

When selecting a new projector, it’s crucial to consider its brightness level, which can be measured using either lumens or ANSI lumens. Lumens represent the total brightness produced by a light source, whereas ANSI lumens follow a standardized measurement provided by the American National Standards Institute. In the context of projectors, a typical range for brightness is:

  • 1,000-1,200 ANSI lumens: Suitable for dimly lit rooms or limited screen sizes
  • 1,500 lumens: Optimal for controlled lighting areas
  • 2,500 lumens: Ideal for projecting in daylight

Impact of Ambient Light

Ambient light can strongly affect the visibility and contrast of your projected image. It’s important to understand how ambient light interacts with a projector’s brightness level. Here are some insights on this topic:

  • Higher ambient light: Requires projectors with higher brightness levels to maintain image visibility
  • Screen size: Larger screens demand brighter projectors to offset ambient light’s impact
  • Controlled lighting environments: Lower brightness projectors are sufficient, as ambient light is minimal

Understanding Specifications

When reviewing a projector’s specifications, keep in mind the following points:

  1. Brightness: Check the ANSI lumens or lumens values to ensure that the projector aligns with your needs in terms of room lighting and screen size.
  2. Throw distance: The distance of the projector from the screen can impact its brightness, so confirm whether the model accommodates your setup.
  3. Light source: Different light sources, like bulbs, lamps, or LEDs, can affect the overall brightness and efficiency of a projector.

In summary, when selecting a projector, consider the brightness in lumens or ANSI lumens, the influence of ambient light, and the necessary specifications to achieve the best image quality for your needs.

Which Projector Should You Choose?

When deciding between ANSI Lumens and Lumens for measuring a projector’s brightness, it’s essential to understand their key differences and the specific situations they’re best suited for.

ANSI lumens

  • Ideal for: Professional settings, business presentations, conferences, and home theaters.
  • Benefits: Offers a consistent measurement across different brands and models, giving you the brightness level you expect with your projector.


  • Ideal for: Casual settings and personal use.
  • Benefits: Often more affordable and straightforward to compare across various projectors.

To help you choose between ANSI Lumens and Lumens, consider the following scenarios:

  • Home theater: If you are setting up a home theater, you may want a projector with accurate brightness measurements. Choose a projector with an ANSI Lumens (like the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB on Amazon) rating to achieve the desired level of brightness.
  • Business presentations: For professional presentations, where the quality of your visuals impacts the effectiveness of your communication, opt for ANSI Lumens (like the ViewSonic PA503S on Amazon) to ensure consistent brightness across different environments.
  • Outdoor projection: For outdoor projection during the daytime, you will need a projector with at least 1,000 ANSI Lumens. During nighttime, 200-500 ANSI Lumens should suffice in total darkness, but 600 or higher is recommended in settings with ambient light (like the GooDee Projector on Amazon).
  • Casual use: If you only need a projector for occasional use or personal purposes, a projector with a Lumens (like the Epson EX3280 on Amazon) rating might be sufficient and more budget-friendly.

Remember that precise and consistent brightness measurements are essential in professional settings, while casual settings like your home theater can accept a more flexible approach to brightness values.