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Projectors
A projector can add a lot to your services and celebrations but getting the wrong one can also lead to a lot of frustration.

Beyond Home Theater: Choosing the Right Projector for House of Worship

Not every home theater projector will suit the needs of a large space, like a place of worship, for example, and not every large venue is best-served by the same style of projector.

The recent advancements in projector technology have significant potential, beyond home theater. It’s now possible to get bright, clear images on a massive scale, without spending a fortune on complicated lighting systems or other audio/video equipment.

If you’re thinking about buying a projector to use during your services and events, figure out what you need from it, before you start to shop...

The only problem with this influx of new projectors on the market, is that it can make choosing the right one a bit overwhelming. Not every home theater projector will suit the needs of a large space, like a place of worship, for example, and not every large venue is best-served by the same style of projector. It all depends on the size of your space, the level of ambient light, and the kind of images or videos you want to project.

If you’re thinking about buying a projector to use during your services and events, figure out what you need from it, before you start to shop is the best way to ensure you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.

Let’s consider some of the questions you should ask yourself to help narrow down your search.

What are you projecting onto?

Most home theater projectors are designed to project onto a screen, and this is the best option, if you’re using the projector for videos, images, and text. The screen provides the ideal surface for light projection, making the most of your projector’s clarity and brightness. There are three main features you’ll want to focus on when you’re shopping:

  • Screen size. Is your image large enough to be seen by your entire congregation? While most home theater screens and projectors top out at a diagonal of around 300 inches (or 25 feet), which is plenty for small- and medium-sized spaces, when needing projection for auditoriums and similar spaces, you’ll have better luck shopping for professional large venue projectors and screens.
  • Resolution. The sharpness of the image will be especially important for text and musical notation. This doesn’t mean that you need to get the newest 4K Ultra HD (or whatever comes out next). In most situations, a resolution of 1080p will give you plenty of definition for viewing by your congregation. If you’re planning on largely projecting text with the projector(s), you may even want an XGA resolution (1024x768).
  • Contrast ratio. The resolution isn’t the only thing that influences the sharpness of a projected image. A high contrast ratio means there’s more difference between the bright and dark areas, improving the overall clarity.

A screen is the way to go if you’re projecting media, but many congregations also use environmental projection throughout their worship spaces. This means projecting the image straight onto the wall, and this can be a great way to make your worship space more immersive. The main factors of interest for this kind of setup are:

  • Brightness. Projector screens are designed to reflect light the right way to give you a clear, colorful image. Even a flat white wall can’t give you the same visual quality as a designated screen, and it will be further diminished by any color or texture on the surface. You will need a brighter lamp than you would for a standard screen in the same space.
  • Color accuracy and adjustment. The base color of the surface will also impact the appearance of the projected image. A projector with more extensive image adjustment features will help you get the look you’re going for.

What kind of ambient light are you dealing with?

Ambient light is the enemy of a projected image, whether you’re using a screen or not. It’s also easier to control in some spaces than others. Think about what level you’ll have the lights at when you’re using the projector, especially those light sources that are difficult to control. You can always turn down the house lights, for example, but may not be able to cover any of the space’s windows adequately, to prevent light pollution coming through those windows.

For most large spaces, a brightness of 4,000 to 5,000 ANSI lumens is recommended. If your space has a lot of natural light from windows (or if you can’t control the house lights), you’ll want to find a projector that can put out 6,000 lumens or more. A standard projector ideally suited for home theater often will have a brightness around 3,000 lumens, but that will likely be too dim for all but the smallest congregations, unless you’re planning on using it in a mostly darkened room.

How is your space set up?

When you’re positioning a television screen, the main thing you need to consider is whether everyone in the congregation can see it. This is something to think about with a projector screen as well, but you’ll also need to make sure the light beam has an unobstructed path to the screen. It’s not just solid objects like people and columns that will disrupt the image. Particles in the air from smoke or a fog machine, can also degrade or block the image.

Don’t forget to plan for how far from the screen you’ll place the projector. The distance between the screen and projector will impact the size of the image. If you don’t have a lot of flexibility for placing your equipment, pay close attention to the projector’s throw ratio, which will tell you how distance will impact your desired screen size.

The final word

A projector can add a lot to your services and celebrations but getting the wrong one can also lead to a lot of frustration.

Deciding what kind of projector will work best for your needs in your space before you start to shop will save you time, hassle, and money.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand how to find the perfect projector for your house of worship. For more info how to set up a projector, click here.

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