Just to be clear from the outset, this article is not about the physics of stacking projectors (there is an excellent article on the DaLite site that does that quite well). Instead, here are some details about where stacking works well, how to propose it to the customer and the advantages for the reseller.
There are myriad opportunities to use stacked projectors, particularly in the following venues:
- Large conference rooms
- Trade shows
- Lecture halls
- Shopping malls
- Stage shows
- Consumer shows
- Public displays
- Sports events
- House of worship
Stacking provides its best advantage when applied in public spaces, such as lobbies, retail, corporate areas and places other than purpose-designed viewing venues. It is ideal for commercial environments where managing ambient light is problematic and the viewing area of the screen is large. To compensate for ambient light challenges, we’ve typically relied on large increases in lumens.
The cost curve on single-unit projectors is steep as you progress from 10,000 to 20,000 lumens. Stacking can flatten that curve. If there is not an overarching reason to use the single-unit high lumen projector, the numbers above show that there is a savings that can be shown to the customer.
Let’s take a different look from a hardware and labor perspective. We all know the pricing pressures placed on the marketplace when it comes to hardware. Discounts are expected. Labor on the other hand, is not a discount item. If we can move some of the cost of the product to the labor install side of the ledger, I believe that we can make all involved happier. End users get a lower cost per lumen and the integrator gets to shift some cost from the expected discount on the hardware over to the labor.
So, where is the “sweet spot”? It’s somewhere between the 10,000- and 15,000-lumen install. In both cases, you could propose a stacked 15,000-lumen solution, save capital outlay and with the additional labor cost required in the stacked install, benefit your bottom line.
So what should you look for when choosing a stackable projector? Simply stated, commercial applications require commercial-grade equipment. Make sure that the projector can handle the duty cycle required. Look to manufacturers that provide projectors that can stack both vertically and horizontally. This versatility could come in handy. The ability for the projector to incorporate on-board computing power and an OPS slot will also go a long way in future-proofing the solution.
In addition, research the mounting options. If stacking racks are available as an option — or even better, are included with the projector, that’s valuable. A conversation with your mount supplier in advance will save you time and dollars in the long run.
Thoroughly review the stacking software offered by the manufacturer. It is wise to test drive the software ahead of time. Make absolutely sure it does what it’s supposed to do and that it lives up to the claims from the manufacturer, be it ease-of-use, sophistication and power or both. You’re going to invest valuable labor time in converging images from the stack so the faster it goes, the more profitable the install.
When configuring a stacked projector installation, it’s a smart move to consult your screen manufacturer. Opinions vary, but adding some gain to the screen would be worth discussing. How much gain? I would look at something greater than 1 ½ – 3. The space and audience, in these cases, can handle a little sparkle and it will do wonders for the foot Lambert number while helping to deal with the inevitable ambient light of public space installations.
Stacking projectors is more convenient, successful and possible than it used to be and it can prove to be a valuable tool in the solutions tool kit. Do the research, run the numbers and take some time to investigate the options. Doing so will help you differentiate your company from the competition.