ISO lumens vs ANSI lumens vs lumens: projector brightness explained.

by Dangbei Official on December 29, 2023

ISO lumens and ANSI lumens explained“Hold on a sec... This projector here lists a brightness of 1,800 ISO lumens and costs more, but that smaller one over there says it has 2,000 ANSI lumens and is actually cheaper. I must be missing something - how can that smaller, less expensive model claim to be brighter?”

When searching for a new projector, you’ll likely come across various lumen measurements, like ANSI lumens and ISO lumens, which indicate brightness. But what do they actually mean, and what’s the difference? This guide will explain the terminology in depth, so you can compare projectors accurately. As we navigate this enlightening journey, we'll shed light on why ISO lumens are considered to provide more valuable insights for making informed decisions when choosing a projector.

What are lumens?

Before we dive into the nuances of ANSI and ISO lumens, let's first understand what lumens are. Lumens refer simply to the total amount of visible light emitted by a light source. In the case of projectors, it's a measure of how bright the projected image will be. Think of lumens like the brightness setting on your TV or smartphone. More lumens mean a brighter image.

ANSI lumens - the North American standard

ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute, which established a standard specification for measuring projector brightness that is widely used in the North American market. ANSI lumens provide a measure of the total brightness emitted by a projector. This method involves taking measurements at multiple points across the projected image and then averaging these values to provide a representative brightness rating.

ISO lumens - an international standard

ISO refers to the International Organization for Standardization, which specified an international standard test method for determining projector lumens more accurately. This ISO method is now used widely around the world. ISO takes into account not only the brightness of the image but also factors like color performance and temperature, providing a more comprehensive measurement of a projector's luminous output.

ANSI vs ISO lumens

The key difference between ANSI and ISO lumens lies in the measurement methods. Although both methods consider real-world conditions, ISO lumens are measured in a more controlled and standardized environment, minimizing external influences. As the lamp ages past a hundred hours or so, brightness values will drop closer to ISO ratings. Additional factors, such as dust buildup, projection surface, and ambient lighting conditions, also play a role.

The existence of two different projector lumen measurements can create consumer confusion. ISO lumens will always be lower than ANSI lumens, as they measure brightness under more stringent conditions. It’s not advisable to directly compare ANSI versus ISO lumen measurements between different projectors. The best practice is to check for relative brightness differences in the same rating class, either ANSI or ISO.

Comparing projectors purely based on total lumens doesn’t tell the full story since individual optical engines differ. Contrast ratio, resolution, and additional features contribute to the overall viewing experience. A high-lumen projector may not necessarily be the best fit for every scenario.

How many lumens do I need?

Choosing the right brightness is important - too few lumens and your image will look dim and dull, but going overboard increases costs without much added benefit. When choosing a projector, it's essential to consider the environment in which it will be used and the size of the screen. Different scenarios require different lumens for an optimal viewing experience.

Factors to consider

Room size and ambient light:
Larger rooms or spaces with more ambient light may require a higher lumen output to maintain a vivid and clear image. Consider the conditions in which you'll be using the projector regularly.

Screen size:
The size of your projected image directly influences the required lumens. Larger screens demand more lumens to ensure the image maintains its clarity and brightness.

Content type:
The type of content you'll be projecting matters. Movies, presentations, and gaming have varying brightness requirements. For cinematic experiences, higher lumens are recommended, while presentations may require a balance between brightness and color accuracy.

Choose brightness by room spaces

Room type

Room area

ISO lumens


Small rooms

<100 square feet

300 - 500   

Emotn N1

Medium rooms

100 - 300 square feet

500 - 1000

Dangbei Neo

Large rooms

300 - 500 square feet

1000 - 1600

Dangbei Atom




Dangbei Mars


Choose brightness by use purposes


Ambient lighting

ISO lumens


Dedicated home theater


1200 - 2000

Dangbei Mars

Some light

1600 - 2400

Dangbei Mars Pro

Casual viewing

Some light

300 - 800

Dangbei Neo


800 - 1200

Dangbei Atom

Business / Meetings

Some light

1200 - 2000

Dangbei Mars Pro


1800 - 2400

Dangbei Mars Pro

Considering your particular use case across parameters like room traits, ambient light, screen size, and content types allows tailoring luminance to balance visual quality and cost-effectiveness. With factors assessed thoroughly beforehand, you can zero in on a projector with just the right brightness for impactful, immersive projected visuals in your intended environment.

How to make projector brighter

Optimal placement

Ensure that your projector is positioned correctly to maximize light efficiency. Consider the throw distance, zoom, and lens shift capabilities of your projector to achieve the desired image size and focus. Avoid placing the projector too close to the screen or too far away, as this can affect the brightness and clarity of the projected image.

Screen selection

The choice of a high-quality screen is crucial for optimizing projector brightness. Select a screen with appropriate reflective properties that complement your projector's specifications.

Ambient light control

Dim or eliminate ambient light in the projection environment to enhance image clarity. Use curtains, blinds, or other light-blocking solutions to control natural light, especially during daytime presentations.

Regular maintenance

Keep the projector lenses and filters clean through regular maintenance. Dust, dirt, and fingerprints can accumulate on the lens, reducing the amount of light that reaches the screen. Clean the lens with a soft, lint-free cloth and follow the manufacturer's guidelines for maintenance.

Calibration and settings

Take advantage of the projector's calibration settings to fine-tune image quality. Adjust brightness, contrast, color temperature, and other relevant settings to suit the content being displayed and the environmental conditions. Regularly calibrate the projector to ensure consistent and optimal performance over time.

Optimize power settings

Check and adjust the power settings on your projector. Some projectors offer different power modes that can affect brightness levels. For example, a "high power" mode might be suitable for well-controlled environments with minimal ambient light, while an "eco" mode may be more energy-efficient and appropriate for dimmer settings.


When selecting a projector, understanding lumen measurements is key to making an informed decision. ANSI and ISO lumens provide standardized methods to compare brightness across different models, though ISO represents a more real-world rating.

Consider your intended use environment and needs - room size, ambient light, screen dimensions, and content types to determine the necessary luminance. Aim for higher lumens in spaces with more ambient light and for larger projection surfaces to maintain image clarity. With the right setup tailored to your situation, your audience can enjoy impactful projected visuals, whether for an immersive home theater experience or effective business presentations.


Q: Why is understanding lumen measurements important when selecting a projector?
A: Understanding lumen measurements, whether ANSI or ISO, is crucial for making an informed decision. It allows you to compare brightness accurately and tailor your projector choice to your specific needs and environment.

Q: Should I only look at lumens when choosing a projector?
A: No, lumens alone don't indicate overall projector performance. Contrast ratio, resolution, input connectivity, and other features also play an important role. Consider multiple parameters based on your usage needs.

Q: How bright is 2000 lumens (ISO)?
A: The brightness of 2000 lumens can be compared to various everyday lighting situations. Here are some general comparisons:
A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb typically produces around 800 lumens.
A 100-watt incandescent bulb produces about 1600 lumens.
A 2000-lumen light source would be roughly equivalent to the brightness of a 100-watt incandescent bulb or two 60-watt bulbs.

Q: Do all content types need the same high lumen output?
A: Not necessarily. Movies and videos require higher lumens for vivid visuals, while graphical presentations may not. Balance brightness with color accuracy needs for business or learning environments.

Q: Can I increase brightness by simply moving the projector closer to the screen?
A: No, proximity to the screen affects image focus and size. Consult your manual for optimal positioning to achieve the desired luminosity without negatively impacting clarity or geometry.

Q: Does a projector lose brightness over time?
A: Yes, projectors do tend to lose some brightness over time. The rate of brightness loss can vary substantially based on the quality of the projector, usage patterns, maintenance, and the environment it's used in. Proper care like regular cleanings, using eco/low brightness modes when possible, and scheduled lamp replacements can all help maximize a projector's useful brightness lifespan. But some dimming is inevitable over years of use.

Q: How often should I clean the projector lens?
A: Clean the lens before each use with a soft cloth. Check the filter monthly and clean or replace as needed. Refer to the manufacturer's maintenance guide for specifics. More frequent cleaning may be required in dusty environments.