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Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to extend the life of your projector lamp

Getting the longest life from your projector lamp

Unlike traditional ANSI coded projector lamps such as FXL and ENX type bulbs, the modern multimedia projector uses a metal halide lamp. These projector lamps do not have a filament that burns, but have 2 electrodes that create an arc and ignite the gas mixture inside the tube. Whereas the life of and ENX lamp is only 75 hours, the newer metal halide projector lamps is usually 2000 hours or more.

When you buy your projector lamp you quickly realize why you will do almost anything to extend its life. The cost of these bulbs range from about $250.00 and to over $1000.00 per module.

Follow these tips to make your projector lamp last longer

1)     Keep your projector in a clean environment. Dust and smoke will clog the air filters and coat the lamp. The arc tube in the projector lamps reach temperatures well over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and any foreign substances will burn off. If you smell something burning after you turn on your projector, it could be an accumulation of dust and you may want to vacuum the projector as best as you can.

2)     Never touch the inside part of a metal halide projector lamp. The oil on your fingers will cause devitrification of the quartz glass composite tube when it reaches its maximum temperature and change the molecular structure of the arc tube and cause early failure. Any contamination of the projector lamp tube is undesirable, especially oily or sticky substances. Using cotton lint free gloves is a good way to prevent accidental contamination and usually an alcohol wipe can be used to clean the quartz/glass tube if necessary.

3)     Clean the filters frequently. If your projector uses sponge filters, these can usually be rinsed in clean water, dried and reinserted in their slots. You can also use a small vacuum to clean any dust built up in the filters or elsewhere in the projector. Cleaning these filters every 30 to 60 days will increase the life of your projector lamp as it will allow more clean air to flow over the lamp and regulate its temperature.

4)     Give your projector room to breathe.  Your projector lamp module requires good air flow to pass over the bulb. Blocking input or output vents will restrict this critical movement of air. Not allowing this super heated air to escape will only increase the temperature of the lamp module and decrease the life of the bulb.

5)     Don’t unplug the projector or turn off the power until the lamp has properly cooled. When you turn off the projector, you will usually hear the fan continue to run. This is necessary to completely cool the lamp. Unplugging the projector during operation or cutting the electricity will not allow your projector to cool the lamp evenly and it will decrease the life of your lamp. If it is possible, buy a small backup battery (or UPS) and attach to your projector. This will allow additional protection against power outages and accidental plug pulls. The cost of these batteries is usually under $50.00 and you could save yourself hundreds of dollars from an early failure.

6)     Use lower lamp settings. Some projectors allow you to adjust the light intensity with an “Econo” mode setting. This can increase the life of your projector bulb by up to 50% or more. Make sure that you are using the correct bulb. Some projector manufacturers like Panasonic have a regular version lamp and a long life version. They both operate the same, but you will only get the long life benefit from the long life version lamp.

7)     Avoid dramatic temperature changes. If your projector has been sitting in the trunk overnight in cold weather and you turn on the lamp before it reaches room temperature, the projector lamp will not tolerate the shock of the dramatic shift in temperature. Most likely the reflector will crack, or the arc tube might explode.

8)     Buy from a reputable distributor. A good distributor is easy to reach by phone, has a good return policy, does not mislead you by selling a bare bulb instead of a complete lamp module, or sells you a generic lamp when you were expecting the original brand. A good distributor cannot stay in business long if they are consistently replacing bulbs for customers. It creates a lot of overhead cost, man hours and poor public relations.

Manufacturing these bulbs is an intricate and multi step process.  Some bulbs must have professional glass blowers create the arc tube as there is no automated way to manufacture them inexpensively. Because of this extensive and complicated process, no two projector lamps are exactly alike. To test for life expectancy a large group of bulbs will be burned in a controlled environment and when ½ of the lamps expire, a life expectancy is determined. Half of these lamps exceeded the life expectancy and half fell short. What is the likelihood that you will get a lamp that won’t make it to its rated life? I would say about 50/50. 

What about the bulb manufacturer? No longer are we forced to buy the original manufacturers light bulb. Now you have options and as bare bulbs and generic manufacturers have made inroads to the projector lamp market prices have come down. Nothing like a little competition! But which bulb is best?

Although generic manufacturers have made significant improvement in the performance and quality of their lamps, we have not seen many that will exceed the standards of the original manufacturer’s lamp. That does not me you are stuck with the original manufacturer projector lamp and its corresponding high cost. You can get the exact same bulb in a generic housing which does nothing to increase or decrease the life of the lamp. These hybrid bulbs are exactly the same bulb as that which is in your projector when it was new. You may also consider getting a bare bulb replacement. Even though the manufacturer did not design the modules to be easily disassembled, it can be done and sometimes at a significant savings.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, please contact me at 866-470-9877 . Or visit our website at

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is My Projector Broken Or Do I Just Need A New Lamp?

Is My Projector Broken Or Do I Just Need A New Lamp?

We get calls every day at from people that have problems with projectors made by Hitachi, Sanyo, NEC, Epson, Infocus, you name it. They want to know if the problem they are having with their projector is caused by their projector lamp, or is it another problem with their projector.
The modern multimedia projector is a fairly complex piece of equipment with a variety of parts that could suddenly stop working, including the projector lamp. If your projector or DLP TV stops working and you have never replaced your lamp and the machine has flashed warnings about replacing the lamp for several week; chances are you need another lamp.

These projector lamps do not have a filament, but light is created by an arc between two electrodes that ignite the gases in the arc tube. Over time your projector lamp will become dimmer. At some point it will become so weak that the ballast will be unable to ignite the gases in the arc tube. The ballast will continue to try to ignite the lamp until the arc tube gets so hot that it shatters inside your projector.  Here is a good indicator that your projector lamp needs to be replaced: broken glass in your projector.

Lamp Disposal

These lamps do contain mercury and mercury is a recognized toxin. Care should be taken when cleaning up the broken pieces.  Every state has its own laws regarding the disposal of these lamps. You can visit to find out the proper way to dispose of these lamp types in your state. Many lamp distributors such as and will accept old lamps for proper disposal if a new lamp is purchased.
For this reason you should avoid pushing your lamp to the limit. When your projector starts flashing a “change lamp” warning, you should start looking for a bulb replacement. Your projector does not have an uncanny knowledge of the condition of the bulb, but it does know how many hours the projector lamp has been used.  Your projector is programmed to flash the lamp warning when the lamp gets close to the rated life of the lamp. Yes, some lamps will last for a good while past the average rated life, but why not get a new lamp and use the old one as a spare?

Failure to reset the timer on your projector or DLP TV:

In some projector models, such as some Infocus projectors, the projector will shut down until a new lamp is installed. Once a new lamp is installed and the projector timer is reset, the projector or DLP TV will resume working. The projector manufacturers such as Infocus, Sanyo, Sharp and Panasonic do this because they do not want the lamp to burst in the projector. If you heed the warning of the projector or DLP TV and replace the lamp as instructed, you will need to reset the timer. If not, the projector may shut down automatically as scheduled. Reset the timer every time you replace the lamp.

Projector door not closed properly:

Your projector lamp operates at extremely high temperatures and many fail-safe’s have been built into the projector to eliminate possible fire hazards. One way the projector manufacturer, and this includes every manufacturer from 3M and Ask to Viewsonic and Zenith, is to not allow the projector to start unless the lamp door is sealed properly. If you forget to close the door, replace the screws or tighten them properly on your projector or DLP TV. The machine will not work. If your projector or DLP TV does not work immediately after replacing your lamp, please check the door and make sure it is closed correctly.

When I turn on the projector I hear the fan but the lamp does not come on.

If all other parts of the projector seem to be working, but no light come from your projector. It may be time to replace the bulb in your machine. There may be other issues with your projector but more often than not, it is time to replace the bulb.

My projector works intermittingly.

If your projector lamp works for a while and then the machine shuts down, works for a while and then shuts down. You probably have a problem with another component of the projector. The projector lamp has no moving parts. It simply reacts to the input of the power supply and ballast. Some projectors are designed to turn off it gets too hot. This is to avoid a potential fire risk. If the lamp lights up at all, it’s usually a good lamp.

“Lamp didn’t strike” message.

If you just replaced your lamp, and you get the “Lamp didn’t strike”  (Infocus) or similar message. Make sure that the lamp is properly seated in the projector. Under normal conditions the lamp is automatically seated correctly when the projector lamp door is replaced, however some models allow a little wiggle room and the plug does not connect with the lamp securely. Pull your lamp out and try seating it again. If you continue to have the same problem, you probably have a bad projector lamp.

I am getting lines on the screen.

Vertical and horizontal lines or bars on the screen are not caused by a defective lamp. This is normally some other component of the projector that has nothing to do with the lighting system. You should contact the manufacturer of the projector who will be able to better diagnose the problem. It is sometimes associated with a bad motherboard.

The image on the screen appear out of focus or blurred.

If your projector shows a blurry image, check the condition of the lens. Sometimes when a new lamp is replaced, dust is dislodged from inside the projector and can coat the lens. If you try to focus the projector or DLP TV you may find that you can see the dust particles on the image. Clean the lens with the appropriate cloth and the problem should go away. This is not a sign of a defective lamp. specializes in replacing lamps for all models of projectors and DLP TVs. Our 30+ years of experience are available to you free of charge by calling us at 866-470-9877.