This summer is a little different from any other. We might not be able to fly to exotic destinations to enjoy the outdoors. That is why we are all trying to make the most out of our balcony, terraces, and patios – and what is better than setting up the ultimate home theater?
To use a projector outside during the day, you will have to make sure that the projector can emit at least 3,000+ lumens. This type of brightness is essential to see the movie. Moreover, creating shade, fixing the screen, and locating the projector in a shaded area of the garden can help.
Check out what you need for the perfect open-air cinema in your garden below. Everything left to do is to make popcorn!
Weather Conditions Should Not Be Adverse
Especially if you don’t live far from the city center, the summer heat can be unbearable. Therefore, it is entirely normal for homeowners and families to make the most out of their own outside areas. Whether you have a small patio, garden lawn, or veranda, you can set up your projector and screen and enjoy a film with the whole family.
Generally speaking, you could enjoy this activity every day and even opt to install a fixed projector. However, certain weather conditions can result in particularly adverse scenarios and make viewing of your film impossible.
Firstly, extremely rainy or windy days are to be avoided. While you might be able to watch the film on the screen due to the low external light, wind can cause severe damage to the projector screen. Oppositely, rain and water can cause your projector to break down.
Therefore, a cloudy day during which the wind is calm and the sun not too strong could represent the ideal condition to watch a film in your garden with your projector. However, there will be days when you will want to watch your movie independently on weather conditions. Read on to find out more tips for this!
Pick the Right Time of the Day
Besides the weather conditions, it is wise to pick an adequate time for you to watch your film. Naturally, you will not want to limit your viewing time to sunrise, sunset, and evenings. However, these times are the ones that give you better chances of watching the movie without obstacles.
If you wish to watch your movie during the sunniest or hottest times of the day – especially between 10 am and 4 pm – you might need to implement other solutions such as tents to increase the shaded area.
While this might not be much of a problem over the winter months, you are more likely to use the projector during the sunniest months of the year. So, especially if you have a weaker projector that emits nothing more than 2,000 lumens, you – or whoever is in charge of the purchase – will need to make sure that the light that reaches the projector is limited.
Clean the Screen
Of course, finding a shaded area from which to watch the movie is essential. However, cleaning the screen before mounting it or installing it in your patio’s wall is essential. After years of daily wear and tear, the screen you use along with your projector can become dirty and develop a patina.
If this happens and the screen is dirty, it can be extremely difficult to watch your movie. Indeed, if the projector screen doesn’t benefit from the same level of quality, it can be difficult to distinguish colors and shapes.
If this happens, use lukewarm water to clean the projector. To make sure the screen is clean, you could also use a mild, bleach-free, alcohol-free, and pH-neutral cleaner to get it back in shape.
Make Sure the Projector Emits at Least 5000 Lumens
The lumens of your projector are potentially the most important feature you should check before investing money in a specific device.
“Lumens” is a modern unit used to measure the brightness of certain lights. While in the past, we used to use “watts,” this unit of measure has fallen out of use after the introduction of energy-efficient light bulbs.
Indeed, Watts would measure the amount of energy used by a specific light bulb. During those times, the energy consumed would indicate a specific level of brightness. However, today, energy-efficient light bulbs can produce a much brighter light than standard bulbs while using even less energy.
Therefore, the unit of measure of light has become the lumens. One lumen is the brightness of the light emitted by one light source. Therefore, the higher the number of lumens emitted by light, the brighter it will be.
When it comes down to measuring your projector’s brightness, it can be challenging to understand how bright the device will be once you have positioned it in your garden. However, you can look at the number of lumens and understand the brightness of the projector.
It is important to notice that, depending on the projector’s use, you will need different lumens levels. If you are planning to use your new projector outdoors during the day, you will need a projector that can emit at least 3,000 lumens. However, if a projector has at least 5,000 lumens, that would be the ideal choice.
However, generally speaking, the higher number of lumens of a projector is, the higher the price will be.
Check if Your Projector Is a Strong Reflective Display
Once you have made sure that your projector will bring your favorite films to life and it is bright enough to see the colors during the day, it is time to have a look at the screen. Indeed, you will need two main device parts to watch a film in your own garden: the projector and the screen.
While the projector should emit a 5,000 lumens light to be suitable, the screen should be a reflective display. These types of screens are a state-of-the-art addition to the collection of screens on the market.
Such reflective screens have the power to fend off the sunlight and create more precise, definite, and vibrant pictures to be visible to the audience. While these additions can result in pricey features, they can truly help you watch your film outdoors during the day.
Check What Type of Projector Screen You Have
Once you have the best projector screen and projector, it is time to have a look at how to create the home theater of your dreams in your garden.
Firstly, you should have a look at the kind of screen you have. There are several types of movie projector on the market, and picking the right one can truly help you fight the influence of certain weather conditions like rain and wind.
Check out my top picks for outdoor screens.
Below is a brief rundown of projector screen types and how to install them for the best viewing results. However, you should also consider what the best match for the projector you have bought is. Indeed, in some cases, you might need to pick a precise type of screen to be suitable for the image broadcasted by the projector.
Inflatable Projector Screens
Inflatable projector screens are the latest addition to the field of screens. These types of movie screens are the best ones if you are looking for a solution that will withstand most weather and climate conditions.
Whether it is going to rain or you are getting ready to secure your devices against the wind, this type of screen can help you watch your film in most situations.
When shopping for these kinds of screens, it is important to check whether they are indeed portable – although you should do this only if you are thinking about moving them in the future. Some models are also self-inflating and can be up and running in less than 5 minutes.
If you need a versatile, easy, cheap, and fast solution to watch your movie in your outdoor area, inflatable screens are for you. It will probably be ready and completely inflamed by the time you come back with popcorns!
My top pick: Jumbo 20 Feet Inflatable Outdoor and Indoor Theater Projector Screen (see it on Amazon)
Tripods Projector Screens
The second type of screen you can opt for is tripod-based screens. These can be much more inexpensive and easy to install. However, it is worth noticing that they can not be set up on uneven surfaces or in windy conditions.
Indeed, the tripod might not be stable enough to withstand the screen’s weight in conditions that are any less than ideal. However, one of the unique features of tripod-based screens is that they can be moved to any side of your garden as you prefer.
Therefore, you can easily move the screen to a shaded or protected area and continue enjoying the film regardless of weather conditions. In some specific cases, you might even decide to place the projector and screen indoors. If it has started to rain or the sun is too bright, this solution can allow you to see the end of your film without issues.
My top pick: Vamvo Outdoor Indoor Projector Screen (see it on Amazon)
Hung Projector Screens
Hung movie screens are the last kinds to consider. These types of screens can either be fixed or temporary. In any case, they are highly versatile and can be installed on most walls and surfaces. You won’t need to use much more than cable ties and included ties.
However, you should keep in mind that if you want to place your projector in the middle of the garden rather than next to a wall, these types of projector screens might not be that helpful.
My top pick: Elite Screens Manual B 100-INCH Manual Pull Down Projector Screen (see it on Amazon)
Pick a Screen That Offers a 160° Viewing Angle
If you are planning to enjoy a film with your whole family, kids, or friends, you will need them to see the movie as well as you. However, some movie screens are only perfect if a spectator is sitting exactly in front of the screen.
These types of movie screens are perfect for more intimate nights when you are just sharing the experience with your partner. However, if you are watching your next show, football match, TV series, or movie in the company of others, you will have to make sure that the screen offers a 160° Viewing Angle.
This type of technology allows the people sitting at the back and on the screen’s sides to watch the film as if they were sitting in the center of the screen.
If the projector supports it, you should ensure that the movie screen you have picked boasts this feature before investing in it.
Choose the Best Location Outdoors to Set Up Your Home Theater
Now, you should have a complete console that includes a cutting-edge projector that guarantees you high-quality pictures. This device should do so regardless of the time of the day and light conditions. At the same time, your projector screen should be tight, clean, and provide you and your party a 160° Viewing Angle.
Now you have to decide where to set up your console! While you have some of the most powerful devices on the market, you can always give it a little more help to ensure the high-quality of the movie you are about to watch.
Whether you have a large lawn, patio, or just a small balcony, studying the sun’s position can help you identify the right garden location in which to position the console. Ultimately, it is recommendable to keep the sun on one of the sides.
You can find inspiration about how to get yourself ready in the video below:
Indeed, the pictures might look perfect in color if the sun is located behind the projector. However, if the light is too strong, you might start to feel blinded after having started in that direction for the whole film.
Instead, keeping the sun at the back of the audience can significantly reduce the pictures’ quality level. Such a light could be so bright to blind the audience and reduce the projector’s capacity.
Keeping the sun on your side is your safest bet. However, if the sun is too strong, and your projector is not powerful enough, you might still encounter issues.
Create Shade in Your Garden
If you have not been able to find a location that will work no matter the current lighting and sun conditions, you might need to create the perfect corner artificially. Aside from hanging the screen and setting up the projector, you will need to provide shade.
There are so many solutions you could opt for to provide shade over your cinema. The most versatile one is an umbrella with a mobile arm. This allows you to open, close, and maneuver your umbrella, as you prefer. However, if you have also set up a dinner table by the home theater, you can move the umbrella on it when you decide to eat.
Alternatively, installing a veranda or gazebo can help you create a covered area. This long-lasting implementation is an ideal solution if you are broadcasting videos and movies because of business-related reasons.
For example, a wedding venue or event room needs to be able to get the projector to work no matter the weather conditions. In this case, waterproof gazebos are the optimal choice for privates and businesses.
Add an Adequate Sound System
Lastly, once everything else is sorted, you should proceed to install a sound system. In conditions in which the wind can prevent you from catching all the dialogues, such a system is essential.
Additionally, if the pictures are not as clear and defined as you wanted, a sound system can help you and the others in the audience understand what is happening in the movie or match you are watching.
Since a sound system is likely to run on electricity, it is recommendable to invest in a mobile, Bluetooth-compatible device that you can take around with you and bring inside during rainy days.
Important Features to Consider for Home Theater
- A projector that is over 3,000 lumens – ideally over 5,000
- A movie screen that offers 160° Viewing Angle
- A reflective movie screen
- An inflatable or hung movie screen to use it in most weather conditions
- Try to position the screen in a shaded area of the garden
- Use a sheet or gazebo to create a shaded area
- Make sure the sun is not behind or in front of the screen
If you wish to watch all of your favorite movies and football matches outdoors, this summer is possible. Of course, you should make the most out of sunny, warm days. However, watching a film in your balcony can result in challenging scenarios if you don’t know where to start.
While it is not difficult to set up a complete home theater, it is essential to invest in a strong enough projector to guarantee high-quality pictures. Providing shade, making sure that the screen is fixed, and buying a console that provides 160° Viewing Angle is at its core.
Check out my top recommended projector screens for home theater.
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.