As you begin to ponder the setup of your new home theater, you might be looking for a way to play your favorite movies by setting up your projector at the perfect distance from your screen. But, what if that means you will be placing it behind a sheet of glass?
Will a projector work through glass?
While it is not ideal to use a projector through glass, you can make it work. However, avoid coated glass and keep in mind that internal reflections can decrease the overall image quality including the brightness, contrast, and image sharpness.
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Also read: Will a Projector Work on a Garage Door?
There are several other tips for using a projector through glass. As stated, this is not the ideal scenario for most setups, but it is very feasible to make this work without distorting the image to a quality that would ruin your media-streaming experience.
Let’s take a closer look at how to make the most of your experience using a projector through glass.
Tips for Making a Projector Work Through Glass
Whether you are setting up your indoor or outdoor home theater, there could be many reasons that you want to make your projector work through glass.
Perhaps you are tired of moving your home theater equipment inside and outside on repeat every time you are ready to embrace the summer night. You would rather place your equipment in your sunroom and shoot the projection through your large bay windows.
Or, maybe you are looking to place a piece of glass in front of your projector so that the little explorers in your home cannot damage this piece of equipment when they are unsupervised.
Maybe, it just works best for your indoor setup to provide an appropriate distance from the projector to the screen by placing your projector through glass.
Whatever your reason is, here are a few tips for making a projector work through glass:
Choose the right glass
While you might not have an option and could be using what you already have, choosing the right glass can make such a difference when you have the opportunity to select the right piece.
Choosing the right type of glass means looking at the thickness, any coating or beveling, and optimizing this selection to fit well in your space as well as work with your projector.
Since internal reflections can decrease the overall image quality from your projector, it is important to consider using particularly selected glass for this purpose.
Thicker glass, like float glass, can be optimal for glass that you will use your projector through. While thinner glass, like sheet glass, is often a bit less expensive, it is more prone to discoloration meaning your image would consequently be discolored as well.
However, you can do a simple check on how likely the glass is to distort and discolor your image by shining a light on the edge. If the glass shows green lines, this is likely the iron that holds the glass together.
The more opaque the coloration that can be seen by shining a light on the edge of the glass, the more likely your glass is to distort a projected image shining through it.
Avoid coated glass
As you look at the thickness of the glass in selecting a good type of glass that your projector will shine through, you want to avoid one of the thickest options: coated glass.
Glass that has an additional coating on the exterior likely has this as a protective layer such as heat insulation. However, while this can make for an incredible addition to your home, it is not ideal to use this type of glass to shine your projected image through.
The coating can add another layer of distortion to the image as it can transform the color negatively and is prone to slight waves on the surface.
Avoid beveled glass
Speaking of waves on the surface, beveled glass should be avoided at all cost when using a projector. Unless you want your image to come out looking like a spooky house of horror or mirror hall, then you will likely want to avoid using any type of glass that does not have a flat surface.
In case it is not obvious to you, beveled glass will distort the light that shines through it causing any image projected to be discolored and distorted.
Likely, attempting to shine a projector through beveled glass will just not work to be able to enjoy the media you are attempting to stream.
Invest in optical-grade glass
If you want to spend a little more on a higher investment (such as if you are confident that using glass is a non-negotiable part of your home theater setup), then it is recommended to use optical-grade glass.
Optical-grade glass is exactly what it sounds like in that it is made to provide a crystal clear image on the other side of it.
When you think about wearing a set of glasses, in how the glass is supposed to enhance the image that you see, this is what optical-grade glass does for you when you shine a projector through it.
Optical-grade glass is typically more expensive than float glass, but it can be worth it to have a crystal clear image- especially if you are using glass in front of your projector in a home theater.
Clean the glass before each use
Now that you have picked the right type of glass to use for your home theater setup, it is important to focus on the number one component that will make or break your ability to use glass with your projector. This is how clean the glass is before each use.
If your small child has wandered around your home and left some nice, smudged fingerprints all over the glass in front of your projector, then you can expect that the glass will have fingerprints and who knows what else smeared on its surface.
When this is the case, even the tiniest fingerprints or smudges can distort the image by a projector.
In case you are not someone who wears glasses regularly, then you might not realize how frustrating it can be to have even one small fingerprint on the glass.
But, if you know how painstaking it can be to have even one small smudge on your eyeglasses, then you can understand the importance of cleaning the glass in front of your projector before each use.
To clean the glass, you can use a common glass cleaner with a rag. Importantly, you will want to remove any smudges, grease, or dust filters that could otherwise block or distort the image passing through it. Then, you can enjoy the clean projected image streaming gloriously through.
Remove physical obstructions
Now that the glass has been selected and is nice and clean, it is time to make sure that there are not any physical obstructions that will block the projected image from hitting the screen.
If you are shining your projector through a windowpane, for example, then you want to make sure the projector is elevated high enough to avoid the window closing mechanisms, blinds, etc. Additionally, this means that you would want to remove the screen protector outside of your window, too.
Along with the area by the glass, you will want to make sure that nothing else will be getting in the way, either.
This includes any plants, animals, toys, or other objects that could be floating around between your projector and the screen. Focusing on removing people walking in between this area can be helpful, too.
Use a glass hush box for noise reduction
Another tip for making a projector work through glass is to add in a projector hush box for noise reduction. Anything that will help your projector to function better when shining it through glass is a bonus. However, using a glass hush box will truly transform the image from moderate to well above average.
In a sense, a glass hush box acts to help your optical lens to focus with blinders on, similar to the way a horse has blinders when it is racing.
As the lens projects the image toward the screen, no other obstacles can interfere with the image, resulting in a better overall movie-watching experience for all.
Try various distances with your projector behind the glass
Finally, as your projector and glass are ready to be used together, you can begin placing your projector down and streaming your movies or other types of media.
However, if you are still having a bit of trouble capturing the projected image on the screen, then you will want to adjust the focus.
You can do this by adjusting the focus on your projector (although the specific steps for doing this will vary per device).
But, you can also try to place your projector various distances behind the glass. If you are seeing a blurry image when the projector sits 1 inch from the glass, then try to move it back a few inches.
Trial and error can be a game-changer before you give up on this process. Using this and the other tips and tricks included in this list will get you well on your way to enjoying a projected image through glass.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.