As devices become more affordable, plenty of people find themselves considering investing in a home theater or home entertainment setup. For many, this includes the use of a projector. Especially since these devices have become more affordable than the high-end televisions that offer the same view-ability. Before investing in a projector, there are some major things that you need to do, as well as, some major things that you need to completely avoid.
So what are the do’s and don’ts you should know as a projector owner?
If you think you have done all the research you need before buying your next projector, think again. Below, I list the do’s and don’ts learned by yours truly and recommended by the experts.
Experts make plenty of recommendations when it comes to your projector. This includes a range of topics, from buying the best projector to set up and usage. Below are the top do’s you should be aware of if you are planning on buying, installing or using a projector that may be used in a home theater or any other room.
First, let us talk about room selection. If you are building or buying a new home, you may not have a designated room for your home theater or home entertainment system yet. That means you get to start fresh and really pay attention to which spaces provide the darkest areas that are most conducive to projector set-ups. That being said, you may already have a designated space where you do all of your movie, TV and console gaming. This room may have tons of ambient light, or it may have little to none.
Regardless of the room, you need to pay close attention to the level of ambient light that enters the room. This will affect the lumens you will need when purchasing a projector, either 2D or 3D (more on the differences in our walk-through).
If you need to know why the level of ambient light affects the lumen when getting a projector, check out my Ultimate Buyer’s Guide; it gives you an explanation of the most important specs you need to know when looking to buy a projector!
Some home theater projectors come with an included mount. That is, however, most projectors do not come with a mount. Regardless, a quality mount is vital to your projector’s safety. Why? Because this single piece of hardware is what keeps your projector properly secured to the ceiling.
Not all stock mounts are of the best quality. You need to make sure you review these, in addition to your projector, before opting to use them. Research mounts, whether one is included with your purchase or not, prior to the installation of your projector. Here are some projector mounts that we recommend.
Not all projectors have the same specifications or installation requirements. Before you start installing mounting brackets, you should carefully review your user’s manual.
I don’t doubt that you carefully researched the ultimate projector for you. After all, these devices can be expensive depending on the model and features you opted for. However, a careful review of the actual manual can yield more clarity than the top specs listed on the packaging. For example, your user manual will likely spell out the best distance your projector should be installed from your screen depending on the size of the intended image.
Carefully reviewing your user manual will also provide you with the manufacturer’s maintenance procedures and recommendations.
Proper maintenance of your projector is important to keep it running in optimal condition. This includes changing the filters when needed. It also includes changing the bulb, and resetting the lamp life, when the image becomes blurry or foggy.
Projector lamps are fragile, there's no doubt about that. In fact, we have a whole guide on how to tell when they're about to die. Because of their fragility, it is very important that you allow your fan to completely cool your projector. (It’s important you allow the lamp to cool completely before moving your projector too as it is more fragile when hot!)
In fact, once you turn the projector on, you should wait at least five minutes prior to turning it off. This allows your projector to work through the proper fan process for startup and shut down.
Experts also have a list of things you shouldn’t do when buying, installing or using a projector. Let’s take a look at the top four don’ts for projectors.
A projector can be a very expensive investment. However, certain replacement bulbs are almost as expensive as the projector itself. Because of this, it is important to practice prudent conservation behaviors. For a projector, this typically means turning off the projector when it is not in use.
Some projectors have a “sleep mode”. While this is meant to keep the projector ready without burning through the bulb’s life expectancy, I highly recommend you simply turn the entire projector off when not in use. This helps prevent overheating, burning the bulb and fans up, and additional wear and tear on your filters.
As stated above, I highly recommend you review your user manual before installing your projector. But even if you opt to ignore that suggestion, you should not just start installing your projector in any old place. You should aim for attaching your projector directly to a joist in the ceiling. This beam, which runs parallel to the structural supports of your ceiling, provides the most secure spot to anchor your projector to. (I certainly would not recommend relying on drywall anchors when installing a projector. Some of these devices can be heavy; regardless, I would not want to trust such an expensive piece of equipment to plastic anchors.)
Another thing you need to consider before hanging your projector is the ambient light and whether you want to use it outside ever, which we have a guide on by the way. I have already mentioned how ambient light can affect the lumens you need to look at when investing in a projector. However, ambient light can also affect where you place your project to get the best image. (It may also mean you need to invest in and install a good set of blackout curtains!)
You should also take into account the length of the cords running to and from your projector. This will include your power cord, as well as any cables connecting your source media. While you can always run extension cords, most people prefer the cleanest look possible and like to limit the number of wires running rampant. (Many people also like to tie their cables together to make it easier to manage and keep the wires under control. I recommend you do this at the source, instead of at the projector. Why? Because the projector is likely mounted to your ceiling - we have a tutorial on how to do that too in case you're wondering - so it's harder to reach if you need to switch sources or need to replace a cable).
You may not realize the impacts the surrounding environment may have on your projector. I am not just talking ambient light either. Installing your projector near a heating duct increases the burden on the fans. Not only this, but it makes it more likely that you may burn the projector up months before the actual life expectancy has been met.
In fact, when you install your projector – it is vital that you do not obstruct any of the intake or exhaust vents. These allow your projector to properly vent and cool itself, thus keeping it functional for longer. It is highly recommended by most manufacturers that you install your projector at least two feet from anything that may obstruct intake and exhaust vents.
There are usually 2 power buttons that supply or cut power your projector. The power button your remote or the actual projector are obvious choices.
However, some may be tempted to just use the A/C switch that is often found by where the power cord connects to the projector (more on projector connections in our guide). This switch bypasses the long cooldown process of a properly shut down projector.
When you properly shutdown a projector with the power button, it will take anywhere from 1-5 minutes to completely turn off. This allows the fans ample time to cool down the projector. If you flip the A/C switch, you skip the cooldown process and the internal components of the projector could be damaged from the excess heat.
Remember to always keep these do's and don'ts in mind when installing or using any projector. These tips will make your life a lot easier when it comes to mounting, using, and maintaining your projector. Remember, a projector is usually an investment! A really good one isn't cheap! If you still haven't locked down a projector you want to buy/use, then check out our recommended projectors page!