How Projector Lamps Work

A projector lamp is a fundamental feature of any projection device, so it really pays to understand how it works, and what steps you can take to enhance its longevity. Taking adequate steps to keep your lamp happy will most certainly save $$$, and unforeseen headache, well into the future.

What constitutes a projector lamp?

The lamp comprises three components, being the bulb, reflector, and a cage.

How does a projector lamp work?

A projector lamp operates by sending an electrical current across an ultra-high pressurised mercury vapor which causes the lamp to emit an extremely intense, bright light, shone through a DLP or LCD system in order to display images. The complex technological nature of projection lamps is very costly to produce – translating to a fairly hefty consumer price tag.

How long should my lamp bulb last?

All projector bulbs, like your average light bulb, should last for a certain length of time, known as “lamp life,” which is calculated in hours, and can vary between brands and lamp technology. Typically, you should expect around 2,000 to 3,000 from your average globe, while rear projection TV lamps generally last 5,000 plus hours.

How do I extend the life of my lamp?

Projector lamps dim as they age, but there are a number of straightforward steps you can take to maximise your lamp’s lifespan. The first is to operate the projector under ideal operating conditions, being less than five hours per day, in a dust free setting. Secondly, simply clean and/or replace the projector filters which can become blocked, cause overheating, and therefore fade the lamp out well before its ‘use by date.’ Also avoid overheating by ensuring adequate airflow around the projector, particularly at the air vent. If your projector features an economy mode (most do), activating this setting will enhance the lamp’s duration, and conserve power. Although this may dim the projected image slightly, the economy setting can potentially extend your lamp’s lifespan by as much as 50 per cent. It is recommended that you have your projector professionally serviced every couple of years – by a reputable technician. Avoid touching the globe whenever changing the lamp as this may inhibit the lamp’s performance/lifespan, and NEVER disconnect the power source before switching the projector off, as the cooling fan must kick in to prevent glass fracture and early lamp failure.

Written by Dante Armistice, technology enthusiast focused on projectors and projector technology


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