How to Set Up a Projector for a Home Theater


A projector provides a big picture that enhances your viewing experience at home. You're no longer just watching TV because the projector transforms your home theater into a movie theater. But many turn away from installing a projector--not because of price (which has dropped significantly) but because they feel it will be too hard to set up by themselves. But it's not difficult to do. Just take the time to plan how the projector and the room should work together, then follow the steps to set it up in a logical and orderly manner.

Things You'll Need

  • Front projector
  • Table or projector mount
  • Movie screen

Placement of projector

  • Decide where to place the projector in the room. The brightness and whether the projector can throw a big picture from a short distance (a short throw lens) will influence how far away it can be from the screen.

  • Make sure the space between where the projector will be placed and the screen it will display on is kept open. If people have to walk between the projector and the screen it will block the beam.

  • Check that there isn't any ambient light hitting the projector's lens since that will lessen the image being projected.

Mounting the projector

  • Decide how to mount the projector in the room. If it will go on a small table, then the table needs to be level to the projection screen and large enough to hold the projector. It also needs to be heavy enough so that it won't move if it gets accidentally bumped.

  • If the projector is to be mounted, a proper ceiling mount must be acquired and put into place using the proper tools and procedure.

  • If the projector will be on the ceiling, then electrical wiring must be brought out from the ceiling to power the projector before it can be attached to the mount.

Connecting the projector

  • The projector must be connected to an electrical outlet to have power. If the projector is on a table, the electrical cord must be covered so it is not stepped on or tripped over.

  • A cable that supplies the projector with a video signal must be attached. Whether this will be an HDMI or component cable will depend on the video source, with most satellite receivers, cable boxes, DVD and Blu-ray players and audio amplifiers having an HDMI output that can be used. If the projector is on a table, the cable going between the source device and the projector will be on the floor and must be covered and protected.

  • If the projector is to be mounted on the ceiling, the video cable must be pulled through the wall from where the video source is and exit from the hole where the ceiling mount is placed.

Setting up the projector

  • Turn on a video source and turn on the projector to make sure it is projecting an image.

  • Line up the projector with the screen so the image fills it but is not overlapping on the sides or top or bottom. This is done by adjusting the zoom lens. If there is no zoom lens, the projector will have to be physically moved forward or backward.

  • Focus the lens so the image is sharp. Use the projector's menus to insure that the image is not being distorted and also set any needed preferences.

Tips & Warnings

  • Getting a projector with a zoom lens will make it easier to set up. Having a motorized zoom and focus on the projector makes it easier to use when it is ceiling mounted.
  • Drilling holes in the ceiling for a mount might not be allowed in your dwelling or might require a professional installation. This is also true for pulling cables through a wall or ceiling. Electrical wiring is dangerous and difficult and best done by a professional electrician.

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  • Photo Credit (c) Infocus, inc.
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