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The Best Outdoor Projectors of 2022

Host the ultimate watch party, whether you're watching sports or movies, day or night.

outdoor projector

We updated this guide in December 2021 to ensure all products vetted by the Home Improvement Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute are in stock, available and correctly priced.

Home movie night used to mean curling up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn. That still works, but more families are moving the activity outside, watching a film or favorite show projected onto a portable screen from the comfort of a picnic blanket and patio furniture, cozied beneath a patio heater.

While you can get an outdoor television, a home projector is the key to making the experience possible — though not any old model will do, according to the tech experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute. In evaluating more than 10 of the latest home projectors, we focused on the features that do the most to enhance outdoor viewing, including brightness, ease of streaming, image crispness and clarity, and portability, knowing that most people will carry the equipment back inside once the show is over. As with our reviews of home projectors for indoor use, the following roundup is based upon comprehensive categorical testing, road testing of newer models and reviewing updates to past favorites. Here are the top projectors for outdoor use that the Good Housekeeping Institute recommends:

    How to choose an outdoor projector for your home

    Keep these factors in mind as you shop for an outdoor projector:

    • Streaming capabilities: Think about where your content will come from. If your home’s WiFi signal is strong enough to reach outside, you can connect the projector to a laptop, Blu-ray player, or streaming stick. Adding a mesh network to your home's WiFi can help extend the signal outdoors. Alternatively, you may need to look for a model with built-in WiFi, sometimes referred to as all-in-one or one-box systems.
    • Power source: Some outdoor projectors have built-in batteries, eliminating the need for power cords, but most need to be plugged in. The safest practice is to have an outdoor outlet installed by a professional; its ground fault circuit interrupter (or "GFCI") will protect against electrical hazards. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it's a surge protector rated for outdoor use, and watch out for tripping hazards, especially after nightfall.
    • Screen: Sure, you can watch on an old sheet tacked to the side of the house or garage. But for the best viewing experience, invest in a proper projector screen, since brightness and picture quality will be vastly improved. You can find high-quality pop-up screens with their own stands for between $100 and $200. It might be worth spending more on a 4K-rated screen since the technology is becoming more common — even if your current projector doesn't feature it, your next one might.
    • Screen size: Screen size is critical since there’s likely to be a large crowd gathered around; much less than 100 inches will start to feel small and cramped. You also want to make sure it's the right shape, which is usually measured by aspect ratio (16:9 is the norm for outdoor projectors).
    • Throw distance: This is the distance between the projector and screen. Standard throw projectors need to be about 10 feet from the screen, while short throw projectors can be placed a couple of feet or closer to the screen, which can be helpful in tight outdoor spaces.
    • Brightness: Brightness is important too because even on a moonless night it’s not going to be pitch black out there. Brightness is measured in lumens: Between 2,000 and 2,500 lumens should provide adequate brightness in most outdoor settings. If there's a lot of competing light for street lamps or the neighbor's house, you might want to go as high as 3,000. One important note: Some manufacturers use ANSI lumens, which are proportionally brighter than standard lumens. For example, if you see a projector with 900 ANSI lumens, that's generally comparable to 2,200 standard lumens.
    • Resolution: This is overall picture quality, measured in pixels (p). For a satisfactory outdoor viewing experience, you want a minimum of 720p. A resolution of 1080p is even better. Or go big on 4K, the latest and greatest in resolution, delivering exceptional picture quality, but at an extremely high price.
    • Sound/audio source: Onboard speakers are helpful, though you’ll probably want to spend on separate speakers, given all the ambient outdoor sounds. Bluetooth-enabled speakers are a good option, including smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Nest Audio that can double as digital assistants.
    • Portability: Since you’ll be bringing the projector inside and out, look for one that’s lightweight and easy to transport. A built-in projector stand to adjust the angle of projection is a helpful feature.
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      Best Overall Outdoor Projector
      Solar Outdoor Projector

      • Rechargeable battery
      • Large display

      • Brightness is so-so

      As the same implies, this Nebula projector is meant to move around, thanks to its onboard rechargeable battery that delivers three hours of power on a single charge, plenty of juice for most feature films. Our testers also like built-in speakers and projector stand, helpful for getting set up outside without a lot of add-on equipment. The 120-inch image is plenty big and there are many ways to project content, including casting from your Android or iOS device or streaming through a laptop via the built-in HDMI connection.   

      Best Value Outdoor Projector
      HD Outdoor Movie Projector

      • Great value
      • Solid customer satisfaction

      • No built-in WiFi

      This bargain-priced projector has the same feature set of much pricier models, including full HD 1080p resolution and massive 200-inch image size. The user experience is exceptional — 4.5 stars based on nearly 6,000 reviews on Amazon, with many consumers singling out the bright picture quality and solid sound from the pair of built-in speakers. It’s also plenty versatile with connections, whether you want to hook up your smartphone, laptop, or streaming stick.  

      Best Outdoor Projector for Mirroring
      M2 Portable Smart Wi-Fi Projector

      • Lightweight design
      • Built-in WiFi

      • Image size is about average

      Weighing a svelte two pounds, this ultra-compact home projector is one of the most portable around. What our testers really like, though, is how easy it is to mirror content from your smartphone, tablet computer, or other mobile device, thanks to the WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The 100-inch image size isn’t as big as other top picks, but it should do the trick in most open-air viewing parties, especially with its 1080p resolution.    

      Best Outdoor Projector for Sports
      1080p Projector

      • Low lag time
      • Massive image size

      • Setup is a bit tricky

      While movie buffs will find plenty to like about this ViewSonic projector, backyard gamers and sports fans will especially appreciate its low lag time and zippy refresh rate, ideal for projecting action-packed images. The resolution is exceptionally crisp and the 3,200-lumen brightness holds up even with there’s still some light left in the night sky. Last but not least, the image size can go as high as 300 inches, so the crowd of onlookers won’t miss any of the gaming action.  

      Best Outdoor Projector for 4K
      X10-4KE Projector

      • 4K picture quality
      • Lightweight design
      • Built-in WiFi

      • Pricey

      Serious cinephiles insist on best-in-show picture quality, even when watching their favorite features in the open air. These days, 4K takes the prize, as you’ll experience with ViewSonic’s short-throw portable projector. While we didn’t test it in our labs, our engineers like the 2,400 lumens of brightness, on top of the 4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 resolution. The built-in Harman Kardon Bluetooth speakers should fill the yard or deck, though if you’re going for the full cinematic experience, you’ll probably want to invest in separate speakers. 

      Best All-In-One Outdoor Projector
      CineBeam Projector

      • One-box solution
      • Mirrors content from smartphone
      • Compact design

      • Very pricey

      So-called one-box systems make for great outdoor projectors because all the components are baked into the device. The LG CineBeam is a perfect case in point. For starters, there’s the built-in LG smart hub, which makes it easy to download apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. Thanks to its onboard WiFi, the CineBeam can also mirror content from your smartphone, tablet or laptop without the use of cables. Our testers also like the projector’s integrated handle and power cord, along with the compact design, which makes it easy to transport.

      Best Outdoor Projector for Beginners
      Mars II Pro Portable Projector

      • Easy operation
      • Portability

      • Image size is just average

      Even tech-challenged users should find the Mars II Pro easy to operate. For starters, the Nebula app allows you to turn your smartphone into a remote control for the projector. You can then easily mirror content from the phone onto the screen, with its maximum image size of 100 inches. If you prefer, you can also use the USB and HDMI connections to hook the projector up to any compatible laptop, tablet, or gaming device. The carry handle is a nice design touch that highlight’s the projector’s user-friendliness and portability.

      Best Outdoor Projector for Android TV
      EF-100 Mini Laser Streaming Projector

      • Laser technology
      • Big, bright image

      • Heavier than other picks

      Epson’s mini laser is powered by Android TV, so if that’s your preferred OS, you’ll be right at home with the process of streaming content from a range of familiar apps, including Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. It’s a highly sophisticated projector that uses laser technology instead of the standard lamp for an exceptionally crisp picture, even when there’s some daylight remaining. The 150-inch picture benefits from 2,000-lumen brightness, so viewers will be able to enjoy the show from various angles.    

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