Best outdoor projector 2022: recreate the theater experience outside

The best outdoor projectors for your garden to catch your favourite films (or Netflix series!) while enjoying the summer weather

Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector
(Image credit: Nebula)

Even if many of us can't rely on the weather enough to create a permanent entertainment space in our gardens, the best outdoor projectors are a fantastic way to achieve the ultimate movie night without even leaving your home. Watch the big game with friends, cuddle up with your significant other in front of your favourite movie, or just seriously enhance your gaming sessions.

The outdoor projectors that we have included on this list are all standout portable options that don't require being hooked up to the power to run (after they have been charged, obviously). Battery life varies, but the fact that you don't have to deal with extension leads and trailing wires sets the best outdoor projectors apart from standard models.

Projecting images of more than 100", these devices completely surpass what you expect from at-home viewing, and you can easily take them on trips away without sacrificing too much space in your bag.

To help you to choose the best outdoor projector for you we have assembled some of the most popular models on offer, ranking them based on things such as resolution, brightness, contrast, battery life, and more. Of course, if you're more interested in a device for general use, you can take a look at our guide to the best projectors. For now, keep reading for more advice on making your decision.

The best outdoor projectors in 2022

Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

1. Nebula Solar

Best outdoor projector for 4K

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 1080p
Brightness: 400 lumens
Contrast ratio: N/A
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Max screen size: 120"
Min distance: 3.4ft
Noise: 30dB
Dimensions: H2.3 x W7.6 x L7.6in
Weight: 2.2lbs

Reasons to buy

+
1080p Full HD resolution with 4K support
+
3 hours of battery life
+
Android TV for streaming

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Low brightness

Though Nebula Solar's native resolution sits at 1080p, the projector is also capable of displaying 4K content via the HDMI 2.0 input. That means it offers the highest possible picture quality on this list, though the impressiveness of this is stunted slightly by the brightness of 400 lumens - keeping it from our top spot.

The Solar does, however, offer slightly better battery life when compared to the BenQ GS50, with up to three hours of playback before you need to find a power source. The Nebula model also offers two 3W speakers, a built-in stand for easier positioning, and Android TV for streaming.

LG CineBeam PH510P HD Ready Mini Projector

(Image credit: LG)

2. LG CineBeam PH510P

Best outdoor projector for daytime

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 720p
Brightness: 550 lumens
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Max screen size: 100"
Min distance: 4.1ft
Noise: 30dB
Dimensions: 4.3 x 17.5 x 10.9cm
Weight: 0.64kg

Reasons to buy

+
720p HD resolution
+
Excellent contrast ratio
+
2.5 hours of battery life
+
Very lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller maximum screen size
-
More expensive

Our pick for the best outdoor projector for use in daylight, the LG PH510P CineBeam Projector is a mid-range option with 3D support and incredible contrast ratio - perfect for enjoying your favourite movies in 720p HD resolution. The brightness is slightly better than others on this list, too, sitting at 550 lumens.

Portability is good, too, with the projector weighing in at just 1.4lbs. It's small enough to carry in a bag when you're travelling, or just from the living room to the garden, and you can use it for about two and a half hours on a single charge. It can project up to 100", or as small as 40" depending on where you are positioned.

NEBULA Mars II Pro Smart HD Ready Portable Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

3. NEBULA Mars II Pro

Best outdoor projector for small spaces

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 720p
Brightness: 500 lumens
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Max screen size: 150"
Min distance: 3.2ft
Noise: 32dB
Dimensions: 17.7 x 13.2 x 12.1cm
Weight: 1.4kg

Reasons to buy

+
720p HD resolution
+
Android TV for streaming
+
3 hours battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Low brightness
-
Contrast ratio could be better
-
More expensive

A super cute projector that you can use wherever you want, the Nebula Mars II Pro is the company's most naturally portable offering, with its convenient carry handle included in the design. Offering a brightness of 500 lumens and a 720p native resolution, it's not the most high-end projector on our list, but its ease of use earns it a place.

Those with sensitive ears might want to connect a separate Bluetooth speaker for maximum sound quality, but the dual 10W speakers built into the Mars II Pro do an adequate job. It can also project up to 150", with HDMI and USB ports to connect everything from your laptop to your PlayStation. The projector runs on Android 7.1, so you also have all of the apps on offer there. 

BenQ GV30 Portable Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)
Best outdoor projector for sound

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 720p
Brightness: 300 lumens
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Max screen size: 120"
Min distance: 6.9ft
Noise: N/A
Dimensions: H7.7 x W4.7 x D7.3in
Weight: 3.5lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Android TV for streaming
+
720p HD resolution
+
2.5 hours battery life
+
Built-in 2.1 channel speaker

Reasons to avoid

-
Low brightness
-
Not ideal for small spaces

If you're someone who wants the convenience of having your projector and speakers in one package, then the BenQ GV30 could be the perfect fit. Great as a 720p HD projector with Android TV and 2.5 hours of battery life, it also comes with a 2.1 channel speaker with dual 4W midrange tweeters and an 8W woofer built-in.

This makes the projector ideal for enjoying everything from movies and games to sports and concerts outside, without needing to hook up an external speaker. Sadly the GV30's brightness could be better, so using it at night would be your best bet, but its 135-degree projector angle (due to its unique shape) is a plus.

ViewSonic M1+ WVGA Wireless Smart DLP Projector

(Image credit: ViewSonic)

5. ViewSonic M1+

Best outdoor projector for battery life

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 480p
Brightness: 300 lumens
Contrast ratio: 120,000:1
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Max screen size: 100"
Min distance: 3.3ft
Noise: N/A
Dimensions: H1.6 x W5.7 x D5in
Weight: 1.7lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent contrast ratio
+
6 hours battery life
+
Very lightweight
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
480p standard resolution
-
Low brightness
-
Smaller maximum screen size

Sporting the best battery life on this list, the ViewSonic M1+ is our top pick for those who want to get more time with their entertainment before needing to recharge. This also makes the M1+ the ideal choice for trips away such as camping, where power points are a little harder to find. The model also has integrated Harman Kardon speakers and a 360-degree stand.

This stand actually won the projector an iF Design Award, with it doubling as a lens protector when it is folded down. You also have different options for how to control your media, via app or the remote provided. Brightness sits at 300 lumens, which isn't the best, so we would recommend using the device in dark conditions for the best results.

Kodak Luma 150 Portable (1080p Compatible) Projector

(Image credit: Kodak)

6. Kodak Luma 150

Best budget outdoor projector

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 480p
Brightness: 60 lumens
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Lamp life: N/A
Max screen size: 150"
Min distance: N/A
Dimensions: 2.2 x 10 x 10cm
Weight: 0.21kg

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight
+
Good price
+
2.5 hours battery life
+
Good maximum screen size

Reasons to avoid

-
480p resolution
-
Very low brightness and contrast ratio

If you're looking for an ultra ultra-portable pico projector, then the Kodak Luma 150 is a great option. With a built-in speaker and rechargeable battery on board, you can literally pop it in a backpack or handbag and take a screen size of up to 150" with you absolutely anywhere.

Of course, while the Kodak projector can be used to watch movies or play games on the go, it's also perfect for a lot of other things. Reviewers reported using it to project images for drawing, for example, which may be more suitable for the unimpressive 60 lumens of brightness. Or you can use it for your next work presentation. 

How to choose the best outdoor projector

When choosing the best outdoor projector to suit your needs, there are a few factors worth careful consideration.

Brightness

When it comes to brightness, the higher the lumen count the better, but unfortunately with the convenience of wireless battery power comes a typically lower performance here. The projectors on our list range from between 300-550 lumens so, if you want something that will perform well in daylight, you should go for the highest possible.

Screen

Aside from those fairly important tech specs, consider whether you’ll need to purchase a screen or whether the side of the house or your garage door will do. 

Film source and sound

Consider the source of your film – will you need to bring a laptop or games console outside? Many outdoor projectors have limited volume, so some good outdoor speakers will also always help, especially if you are broadcasting to a crowd. Browse our list of the best outdoor speakers to connect with your projector.

Also, note: most outdoor projectors are not compatible with Dolby Digital, so if you find that you're having trouble with sound, turn off Dolby Digital on your device.

How to create a outdoor home cinema

Outdoor projector in use in garden with couple laying on floor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to recreate an outdoor cinema from summers past, all you really need are a few things that are probably already in the house. Technically, a sheet, or a white wall and an outdoor projector are all that's required, but we think it's the extras that make it all the more special, plus a little imagination... 

Step one: set up the outdoor projector
It's best to do this first because it might determine where you can set up your outdoor cinema. You will have to have it connected to a video source, so do that first to work out how far away from the source you can have it. Pop it on a side table and a stool, and then you can move on to sorting out your screen. 

Step two: rig up your sheet
Obviously, if you have a blank white wall in your garden, you can skip this step because you will be projecting straight onto that. However, if you are using a sheet,  we think the least damaging way to get it up is to peg it to a washing line – you could try using a solid masking tape to tape it to a wall too. 

Turn on your projector now and check it's straight and the picture is central. 

Step three: get decorating
So with the essentials sorted now comes the fun bit, making it look like the most Instagrammable thing you have ever created in your life. Basically, that means string up A TON of fairy lights - the more, the better. We love the look of festoon lights, and you could also add some lanterns to create even more of a lovely glow. And if you are feeling really extra, bring out your duvet and hang up a net canopy to create an almost outdoor bedroom. Dreamy!

Make sure you've got the best garden furniture (opens in new tab) with plenty of cushions, and roll out one of our choices for the best outdoor rug (opens in new tab) to create an even more outdoor living room feel. Pop some blankets in baskets and over the back of your furniture, and if you want to get really cosy, add a fire pit or a chimenea. You could even toast some marshmallows – kids and adults alike would love it!

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Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Caroline has been part of the Real Homes ecommerce team since the start of 2021, after working for the last decade as a journalist across publications in technology, entertainment and various other areas. She took over smart homes content for the site shortly after, and can now be mostly found swooning after the latest gadget or smart speaker release. In her spare time, she's usually obsessing about space-saving and DIY hacks for small spaces, and how to affordably make a rental feel like a home.

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