Best outdoor projector: liven up your backyard parties with these top buys

The best outdoor projectors to take your sports nights and movie marathons with friends and family to the backyard

Included in this guide:

best outdoor projector: Nebula Apollo Smart Portable Projector
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(Image credit: Nebula)

We might not all enjoy the good weather required to have outdoor gatherings all year round, but something we've learned recently is that getting together with friends in the backyard can be as great as any house party or gathering at the bar.

And why not make your parties this upcoming summer even better with one of the best outdoor projectors?

All you’ll need to achieve the ultimate outdoor or rooftop movie marathon is a blank wall (or projector screen), and you’re set. Still, there are a few things to consider before you buy.

The most important thing to pay attention to with outdoor projectors is the lumen number, which we have outlined for each of the entries below. Generally speaking, the higher the lumens, the more versatile the projector, as a low number will only be visible when it’s dark. 

We’ve chosen five of the best outdoor projectors available right now, so scroll down to see what we thought. And to boost your viewing even further, take a look at our guide to the best Bluetooth speakers

The best outdoor projectors in 2021

EPSON EF-12 Full HD Mini Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

1. Epson EF-12 Full HD Smart Mini Laser Projector

Best outdoor projector overall

Specifications
Type: LCD
Native resolution: 1080p
Brightness: 1,000 lumens
Contrast ratio: 250,000:1
Noise: 27dB
Distance: 0.64-3.3m
Screen: 30-150"
Lamp life: 20,000 hours
Dimensions: 6.9 x 6.9 x 5in
Weight: 4.7lbs
Reasons to buy
+Google Assistant built-in+Full HD 1080p resolution+Excellent contrast ratio+Very quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Not impressively bright

Designed to be portable and suitable for smaller spaces, the Epson EF-12 Mini Projector is ideal for use during your next backyard party. Projecting up to 150" in full 1080p HD, it also sports various smart features for more streaming options.

The EF-12 runs on Android TV, giving you full access to the vast library of content on Google Play. But you're not restricted, either, with Chromecast and Miracast functionality built-in so that you can stream pretty much anything from your PC or phone. If you don't want to cast, then there's an HDMI port to connect your devices.

It's common for people to get external speakers for their portable outdoor projectors due to their general lack of quality in this area but, if you don't want to do this, then the EF-12 comes equipped with a 2W speaker system from Yamaha. You can even use this as a speaker by itself if you connect over Bluetooth. 

There are also multiple modes to choose from when fine-tuning your image - vivid, natural, and cinema allow you to switch up the brightness and color settings based on the weather, what you're watching, and anything else that could make an impact.

LG CineBeam PH510P HD Ready Mini Projector

(Image credit: LG)

2. LG CineBeam PH510P HD Ready Mini Projector

Best wireless outdoor projector

Specifications
Type: DLP
Native resolution: 720p
Brightness: 550 lumens
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Noise: 24dB
Distance: 1.2-3.1m
Screen: 25-100"
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Dimensions: 4.3 x 17.5 x 10.9cm
Weight: 0.64kg
Reasons to buy
+Excellent contrast ratio+Lightweight+Very quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Low brightness-Smaller maximum screen size

A truly portable outdoor projector with 2.5 hours of battery life per charge, you can take the LG CineBeam PH510P HD Ready Mini Projector outside for movie night without worrying about trailing wires and extension cables. The device is small and lightweight enough to pop in a handbag or the pouch provided, too.

The projector provides images up to 100", and there are several ways you can watch. It has a TV tuner for watching live TV on the big screen, and you can wirelessly mirror content from your mobile device. Alternatively, you can use the USB connection to view pretty much whatever you want.

The brightness isn't the best, so you should ensure you're viewing in a darker environment but, on the other hand, the contrast ratio is excellent.

NEBULA Apollo Smart Portable Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

3. NEBULA Apollo Smart Portable Projector

Best lightweight outdoor projector

Specifications
Type: DLP
Native resolution: 480p
Brightness: 200 lumens
Contrast ratio: 400:1
Noise: 30dB
Distance: 0.58-3m
Screen: 40-100"
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Dimensions: 25.9 x 25.9 x 51.9in
Weight: 3.5lbs
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Android 7.1 built in+Nebula Connect app
Reasons to avoid
-480p resolution-Low brightness-Smaller maximum screen size

Buy the Anker Nebula Apollo Projector if you're after something compact and easy to use. This outdoor projector is suitable for screens up to 100-inches in size while it plays at just 200 lumens, so you'll have to wait until it's completely dark outside to use it. It's also wireless, and one charge gives it four hours of playtime. 

You can download and stream YouTube, Netflix, and more straight to this projector and browse more entertainment with its touch sensor control.

The projector has a transparent touch panel that's easy to use and, with a built-in six-watt speaker, the audio certainly packs a punch. It also has an HDMI port and is super compact in size, making this mini projector perfect for staycations, at a friend's house, or pop in a handbag.

XGIMI Halo Portable Movie Projector

(Image credit: XGIMI)

4. XGIMI Halo Portable Movie Projector

Best 4K outdoor projector (runner up)

Specifications
Type: DLP
Native resolution: 1080p
Brightness: 800 lumens
Contrast ratio: 10,000:1
Distance: 0.79-5.2m
Screen: 30-200"
Dimensions: 11.3 x 14.5 x 17.2cm
Weight: 2.9kg
Reasons to buy
+Full HD 1080p resolution+Up to 200" screen+Built-in Harman Kardon speaker
Reasons to avoid
-Low brightness-Expensive

With 1080p 4K native resolution and dual 5W Harman Kardon speakers in-built, the XGIMI Halo Portable Movie Projector easily earns its place on this list. The projector offers wireless viewing, with built-in Android TV for access to more than 5000 apps including YouTube and Disney+.

Other features are a mixed bag, with less than impressive lumens being offset somewhat by the 200" max projection size and decent 10,000:1 contrast ratio. That said, the device is on the pricier end of the scale, so you will need to decide what is most important to you.

Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

5. NEBULA Capsule II Smart HD Ready Portable Projector

Best smart outdoor projector

Specifications
Type: DLP
Native resolution: 720p
Brightness: 200 lumens
Contrast ratio: 600:1
Screen: 23-121"
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Dimensions: 3.1 x 3.2 x 5.9in
Weight: 1.6lbs
Reasons to buy
+Works with Google Assistant+3600+ apps on Android TV+Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Brightness could be better-Expensive for what it is

The main reasons the Anker Nebula Capsule II scores so high are its ultra-portable design and smart features, which truly allow you to carry your entertainment system around in your handbag. Of course, it's expensive for a mini projector, but the convenience of having Android TV and Google Assistant cancels this out somewhat.

You'll be able to project images up to 100-inches, with in-built speakers doing an adequate job. You can charge it using a USB-C port, and this will give you around 2.5 hours of movie watching. Handily, you can also use the Capsule II as a standalone speaker, which will run for 30 hours on a single charge.

The versatility doesn't stop there, with the HDMI port allowing you to plug in smart streaming sticks like the Fire TV or Roku, and you already have Chromecast built-in for casting from your device. All this in a projector the size of a beer can.

Elephas W13 Mini Projector

(Image credit: Elephas)

6. Elephas W13 Mini Projector

Best value outdoor projector

Specifications
Type: LCD
Native resolution: 1080p
Brightness: 6500 lumens
Contrast ratio: 3,500:1
Distance: 0.79-4.4m
Screen: 30-200"
Lamp life: 50,000 hours
Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.5 x 2.7in
Weight: 3.3lbs
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 50,000 hours lamp life+Full HD 1080p resolution+Good brightness+Affordable price
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best sound quality

The ELEPHAS Video Projector is a great budget-friendly option. This outdoor projector claims to be 80% brighter than other projectors of similar sizes, and, as well as supporting 1080p - it boasts a whopping 4,500 lumens. 

This Elephas projector also works with TV sticks, laptops, tablets, DVD players, game consoles, smartphones, and more, so you won't be short of things to watch.

It also has an HDMI port. Watch content from 30-inches to 200-inches big and from 3.9 feet to 8.2 feet away for best results. Sporting built-in speakers for ease of use – though you may want to plug in your own – it's lightweight at just 2.25 pounds. Also, its updated cooling system cuts the fan noise in half for a better experience.

Black Friday outdoor projector deals

Despite falling in the colder months of the year when we're spending more time indoors, Black Friday is actually the best time to invest in things for the backyard. That's because it almost always includes some of the best savings of the year on everything from patio furniture and outdoor lighting to security cameras and outdoor projectors.

We will be working between now and 26 November to bring our readers the very best offers that pop up across the internet, assembling them right here. So, if you're interested in offers on, for example, the best outdoor projectors, then make sure you bookmark this page for later reference.

How to choose the best outdoor projector for your home

EPSON EF-12 Full HD Mini Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

Do outdoor projectors work in daylight?

The best conditions for watching anything outdoors will be the dark of night, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on daytime movie marathons and get-togethers for the big match altogether.

The trick is to choose an outdoor projector with good brightness, which is measured in lumens. We have included the lumen number for all of the projectors listed above, and, generally speaking, the high the number, the better. Those with a lower brightness will still be fine for viewing at night (and they tend to be cheaper) but, if you intend to fire it up during the day, consider it more carefully.

Do I need to buy external speakers?

Most of the best outdoor projectors come with in-built speakers for an easier set-up, which makes sense for a product that's supposed to be portable. However, this isn't always the case and, even if your chosen projector does include speakers, they may not be up to your standards.

The size of outdoor projectors means that the power of in-built speakers can be a little lacking, and this is, after all, a secondary concern for manufacturers. Our advice will be to choose your projector based on other specs such as brightness or weight and use an external Bluetooth speaker if you're not happy with the audio.

How large will the projection be?

Projectors are by far the easiest and most affordable way to get big-screen thrills at home, and outdoor projectors allow you to create the outdoor cinema of your dreams for a fraction of the cost of a 75 or 85-inch TV.

The maximum size of your movie or TV show (or whatever else) will depend on which projector you choose but, to give you an idea, the examples of this list range from between 100"-350". What's best for you should be measured against the size of your outdoor

Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Writing for Gardeningetc since the start of 2021, Caroline is passionate about how an outdoor space can complement interior style. In her own time she is creating her own little oasis on her small balcony, or adding yet another houseplant to her extensive (and ever-growing!) collection.