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What are lumens, ansi lumens and marketing lumens?

Understanding the lumens and brightness levels offered by projectors can be a minefield, with fake lumen ratings rife on Amazon, Ebay and across the web.

To illuminate the issue we've put together a helpful consumer guide to understanding ANSI lumens, the only certified measure of brightness you can trust!

Always remember, if you buy it cheap you usually have to buy it twice! LED projectors of any decent quality usually start around a minimum of 50 True ANSI lumens start and a price point of £150 / €180 / $195.

If you are seeing lower price points it might be due to any of the following reasons :

  • second hand
  • fake lumens
  • fake resolution
  • not true resolution eg they quote HD, full HD or 1080p when they are in fact not even HD
  • not LED
  • not DLP (this component from Texas Instruments is very expensive)
  • usually LCOS  (lower quality generally than DLP at this end of the market)
  • lack good connectivity eg HDMI, good wireless, Bluetooth or wireless audio

What are ANSI Lumens?

An ANSI Lumen is a unit of measurement devised by the American National Standards Institute to measure true brightness.

If a projector doesn't list its ANSI lumens it is likely it will be lying about its true lumen rating, even if it just offers a generic 'lumen' rating you should still look for the ANSI lumen rating.

How are ANSI Lumens Measured?

At the National Standards institute they test the brightness of a projector under several different conditions and rigorous tests, they then combine all their results to create the True ANSI lumen rating for that product.

Amazon Fake Lumens

We once asked a Chinese Supplier "why do you rate your lumens 6 times higher than the true ANSI lumen rating?" He looked confused and replied "our competitors would sell more than us if we mentioned true ANSI lumens, how would we sell any products?"

The practice of ignoring true ANSI lumens has left the market spiralling out of control. These fake lumen standards are often called 'marketing', 'peak',  'useful', ISO or chinese lumens so keep an eye out for those terms.

Anything other than the ANSI lumen rating is likely to be a lie.

Below there is a comparison between a Pico Genie P55 True 50 ANSI lumen projector (bottom image) and an  Elephas Full Colour 130" which is stated as "1000 lumens". The Elephas is well priced at £54 on Amazon which is impossibly cheap for a projector of "1000" lumens.

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If anything, the Pico Genie P55 is brighter and also has a better resolution. This is fairly shocking when you consider the Elphas is being listed as 20x brighter than the genuine Pico Genie? Yes, 20 TIMES! Amazon’s top 15 projectors state they have 800-1500 lumens which is simply false.

How to compare like-with-like

The ANSI Lumen rating should be your core comparison figure, we include both ANSI and 'marketing lumens' on our site to help consumers understand how the true brightness levels are manipulated on other sites like Amazon.

What are marketing lumens

"Marketing lumens" is the generic term used for non ansi lumens. Ansi lumens is the true/real measure of the brightness of a projector. When lumens are used for marekting purposes they tend to be overstated and are also referred to by a number of other different terms including:

  • lumens listed on Amazon, Ebay and other sites that do not state Ansi lumens
  • peak lumens
  • ISO lumens
  • chinese lumens
  • lumens (with no reference in the description to ansi)

For the purposes of helping our customers understand the market better we are displaying 'marketing lumens' as 6 times the ANSI lumens but on some sites the lumen levels can be overstated by as much as 20 times the true ANSI lumens!

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