HomeSundaysAudiovisualProjector Guide: Options for Every Church From Small to Mega

Projector Guide: Options for Every Church From Small to Mega

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Video projectors serve a vital role in today’s worship services and message delivery. It’s true that flat panel displays and LED video walls are found in a growing number of churches. But it is the tried and true video projector that gets the job done for churches of all sizes around the world.

Projectors are popular for a number of reasons. They are easy to install and simple to use. And, they are often the lowest cost option for large format, high-resolution video.

There have traditionally been two types of projectors used in churches: LCD and DLP projectors. And there are newer projector technologies that are popular for churches looking for a bright, low maintenance solution: laser and LED projectors.  Yeah, that’s a lot of acronyms. Here is a basic breakdown of these common projector types.

#1 – LCD Projectors

LCD projectors use liquid crystal display (LCD) panels to project an image in full color. This is the same technology found in most flat-panel video displays. The only moving part in this type of projector is the cooling fan for the lamp.

LCD projectors are known for their brightness and inexpensive design. But these projectors can exhibit some motion blur with fast video graphics or transitions.

#2 – DLP Projectors

DLP (digital light processing) projectors use video chips containing tiny movable mirrors that project light through a spinning color wheel. Three-chip DLP projectors do not require a color wheel, and they have much better color accuracy.

DLP projectors have consistent light output, good color accuracy, and minimal motion blur. However, cheaper DLP projectors can have a rainbow effect with extra bright video content leaving a slight color trail.

#3 – LED Projectors

Light-emitting diode or LED technology is used in projectors as a light source rather than a video projection method. LED chips can be used in LCD and DLP projectors.

LED projectors run much cooler than standard lamp-equipped projectors. And LED chips can last five to ten times longer than standard lamps. This makes them much more efficient to operate and maintain.

#4 – Laser Projectors

Like the LED projector, laser projectors are defined by their light source and not the video projection technology.

Laser projectors can get extremely bright and they are very durable, making them great for large churches or outdoor venues. They are also extremely accurate with color, black levels, and contrast ratio.

The Right Projector for Your Church

Finding the right projector is all about determining the size of the screen and the light output required for the projected image.

A church with a large screen and lots of natural lighting in the sanctuary will require a much brighter projector than a church with a smaller screen and controlled lighting.

The distance from the projector to the screen will also determine the lens requirements of the projector. Long-throw and short-throw lenses can be used (at an added cost) for more flexible projector mounting locations.

Another important factor is to plan for maintenance. If a projector is located in a hard to reach location, then a laser or LED projector should be used to minimize lamp maintenance and access costs. While traditional LCD projectors are often the cheapest option, there are many great projectors available that will work for just about any budget.

There is a bit of science to selecting the perfect projector for your church, so don’t be afraid to reach out to an experienced contractor or consultant to help with the process.

Small Church – Under $1,000

BenQ, Epson, and Viewsonic make several projectors designed for portable use that can be found for around $500-900. Pricing will depend on brightness, video resolution, and projection type (LCD or DLP). Many projectors in this price range are designed for portable use, but some can be permanently mounted with the right hardware.

Small to Medium Church – $1,000-3,000

Epson, NEC, and Optoma offer projectors that feature high brightness and 1080p resolution at an affordable price. You can also find good laser projectors in this price range.

Medium to Large Church – $3,000-6,000

Projectors at this price point are often designed for use in demanding environments where image quality is critical. Multiple lens options may be available at additional cost. Canon, Hitachi, and NEC offer a variety of professional options.

Large to Mega Church – $6,000+

Consider these projectors if you need 4k video resolution or brightness exceeding 10,000 lumens. Barco, Epson, JVC, Panasonic, and others offer high-end projectors suitable for installed or portable use. Lenses may be sold separately for projectors in this price range.

Whether you are replacing an old projector, building a new facility, or just need to find a better video solution, video projectors can be a big help in your ministry. The right projector will serve you and your congregation for years to come.

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James Wasem
James Wasemhttp://greatchurchsound.com
James Wasem is the author of "Great Church Sound - a Guide for the Volunteer." James has been designing, installing, and operating sound systems for 20+ years and he has a passion for helping church sound team volunteers deliver great sound. Connect with James at his informative site, Great Church Sound.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I think it would be helpful to actually recommend a projector in each category and tell why. Give a single screen and a dual screen recommendation. I know there are a lot of factors depending on the auditorium, but most churches would fair well with a general recommendation. For instance we have a 700 seat auditorium and we want to move to a dual screen approach. The projectors would both be 25 feet from the screen. Thanks for listening

    • Thanks for the comment Mike. It is indeed difficult to provide a single best recommendation simply due to the variables you so well mention in your notes. That being said, we do offer links to the specific projectors that we recommend in each category above.

      In your particular case, there are a few main issues to address in order to get the right projector.

      1) How large are your screens? For the average auditorium, you need at least 80 lumens per square foot of screen size. For example, let’s say you have a 10’x6′ screen. That’s 60 sqft. 60*80 lumens is 4,800. If you’ve got a lot of ambient light in your room, you’ll need to overcome that as well. I’d probably recommend a 6-8,000 lumen projector for that screen size.

      2) The distance between the projector and the screen is another big factor. The bigger the screen, the farther away the projector needs to be OR you’ll need a special “short throw” lens to keep that distance shorter, but still project the larger image size. Many of the low cost projectors have a good variable zoom lens that offers some flexibility, but you need to do the math based on screen sizes and lens “throw ratio”. There are many lens throw calculators you can use online offered by a variety of projector and screen manufacturers.

      3) Some churches are using a combination of horizontal (landscape) and vertical (portrait) screen orientations. Landscape is common for pretty much every projector. However, some projectors cannot be mounted on their side due to cooling issues. For that reason (and a few others), it’s important to consider the mounting requirements when selecting a projector.

      4) Projector location and maintenance can also help determine the type of projector you choose. If I was planning to install a projector in a hard to reach location and it was going to get used more than 2-4 hours a week, I’d spend the extra money on a laser projector, simply for the ease of maintenance and limited requirement the change lamps when they burn out. Servicing lamps may not be a big deal for more conveniently located projectors with limited weekly use.

      I hope some of those tips helps clarify the concepts for selecting your next projector.J

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