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Projector Lamp FAQ


What is a Projector Lamp?

Technically speaking, a projector bulb is an ultra-high pressure mercury vapor ARC lamp. Projector lamps are categorized as either ultra-high pressure mercury vapor lamps or metal-halide lamps. The name "UHP lamp" is Philips' trademarked name for their projector lamps.

How Does a Projector Bulb Work?

There is an ARC gap filled with ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor in a projector bulb. The lamp operates by sending an electrical current across this pressurized ARC gap. The current lights the mercury vapor, causing the lamp to produce an extremely bright light. The bright light is shone onto an LCD or DLP panel and in turn produces the astounding images projectors are known for.

Projector bulbs have an extremely complex technology, with specifications for each bulb that are developed at a great cost to the manufacturer. This is why the price of projector lamps can be pretty high.

For a detailed explanation about projector lamps, please click on the link.

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Where is My Projector Lamp Located?

A projector lamp can be found by locating a square or rectangular plastic plate on the outside of the projector somewhere. Usually, the plate is on the bottom of the projector, but can sometimes be found on the top or sides.

This cover is typically secured by two screws;undo these screws and lift the plate off to reveal the bottom of the plastic housing (the module) that holds the projector lamp in place in your projector.

Typically, the plastic housing has a handle attached to it. Gently pull on this handle to remove the projector lamp from your projector.

The lamp is the most essential part of your projector because it creates the light that shines through the DLP or LCD system and makes the vivid images your projector displays.

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Replacing a Projector Lamp

Whether you purchased a lamp with module (the black plastic housing) or a bare projector bulb,replacing your projector lamp is easy.

For installation information visit the instructions here.

When Will I Know My Projector Lamp is Dead?

A projector will often have a built in timer that tracks how long your bulb has been running inside the projector. Typically a few hours before the expected lamp life is finished, a message will display on your projector bulb screen. This warning message is a good indicator that it's time for you to search the MPLAMPS.CO.UK database for a new projector bulb.

If your lamp still functions but the warning message has appeared, it's possible to disable the warning message. Search for this topic in your projector's manual, or by navigating the on screen menu to learn how to disable the warning message.

Not all projectors work the same. Some will shut the lamp down when the timer reaches acertain point, even if your bulb has not been completely exhausted. In this case, reset your lamp hour counter as it may allow you to gain more hours from your projector bulb. Once again, refer to your projector's manual for the procedure on how to reset your lamp hour counter.

If you use your projector lamp for important presentations, weekly events, or regular home theater movie nights, it is always a good idea to have a backup projector lamp in stock so you never miss a minute without your projector.

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Projector Lamp Anatomy

There are several elements involved in the projector lamp manufacturing. These components include the ARC tube, ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor, electrical wiring, a quartz globe orreflector, a fastener, a spoke, nut, screw, and the black plastic housing itself (generally referred to as the module).

ARC Tube - The ARC tube is a piece of blown, high temperature resistant glass that measures about 3 inches in length, protruding up from the base of the quartz globe. When the lamp is being manufactured, the ARC tube is positioned by highly accurate instruments then set it inplace with extra strength plaster.

Mercury Vapor - The mercury vapor inside most projector lamp ARC tubes is ultra-high pressurized and extremely sensitive to electrical current. The ballasts inside a projector regulate the electrical current which stimulates the mercury vapor. When the projector is turned on, the ballasts produce a high voltage to ignite the mercury vapor. Once gas is lit by the current, the projector ballast reduces the voltage to a level required to maintain the projector lamp's brightness.

Electrical Wiring - The electrical wiring on a lamp is fused inside the quartz ARC tube, which runs out of the top of the tube through the side of the reflector. The electrical current runs as acircuit from the back of the lamp, up through the side and back into the projector via the electrical wiring. The amount of electricity supplied to the projector lamp is regulated by ballasts inside the projector (as referred to in the "Mercury Vapor" section above).

Quartz Globe - The quartz globe, or reflector, is the hard exterior of the projector lamp. The globe is typically coated on the inside with a highly reflective metal material. The coating reflects light generated by the ignition of the ARC tube's mercury vapor.

Fasteners, threaded spoke, nut and screw - A fastener, threaded spoke, nut, and screw holdyour lamp's electrical wiring in place (the same electrical wiring that is written about in "Electrical Wiring" above).

The fastener is a tiny metal piece on the side of the projector lamp, and is either attached through glue, solder, or a clamp. This fastener uses a screw to attach the wiring to the projector lamp.

To complete an electrical circuit, there is a metal threaded spoke plastered into the back of the quartz globe. The threaded spoke typically sticks out about an inch and a half, and is used, along with a nut, to hold the second wire in place.

Plastic Housing (Module) - The plastic housing, or module, is a black, high temperature resistant plastic. It holds the lamp in place inside the projector. A retaining clip usually locks the lamp into this module. The lamp may also be held in place by screws and the module itself always has screws that fasten it to the projector.

For more information about projector lamps, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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Who Makes Projector Lamps?

High quality projector lamps that meet industry standards are only made by a few projector lamp manufacturers in the world. Manufacturing projector lamps is an incredibly expensive and challenging technological process that only a few companies are able to meet.

The major manufacturers in the projector lamp industry are -

Philips - The pioneer of the projector lamp world. In 1995 they began researching and developing the first metal halide lamps. They eventually developed a mercury vapor projector lamp, which they called a UHP lamp or ultra-high pressure mercury vapor. The new development made it possible for projection systems to emit a brightness never before seen, and made digital projectors possible. Philips remains a dominant force in the projector lamp industry, and some estimates indicate Philips has more than 70% control over the projector lamp manufacturing and sales market today worldwide.

Ushio - Founded in Japan, but now with offices in the UK and around the world, Ushio manufactures hundreds of different industrial lights, lamps and bulbs. The company started in1964 as an industrial light manufacturer. Ushio manufactures projector lamps for Sony, Sanyo, BenQ, and many other companies. Estimates indicate they have a 10% share in the projector lamp market.

Osram - Osram started in Germany. The company specializes in producing the ARC tube in mercury vapor lamps and metal halide lamps. Osram claims to be the second largest lighting manufacturer in the world, with about a 7% market share.

The Others - There's a handful of projector lamp manufacturers in Taiwan, Japan, and China. The most notable is Matsushita, which is a subsidiary of Epson and manufacturers all of Epson's lamps. Most smaller manufacturers of projector lamps don't produce high quality lamps and aren't commonly found in new projectors.

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Why Are Projector Lamps So Expensive?

There is a good reason for the high cost of a new projector lamp. Compressed inside the ARC tube of the projector lamp is an ultra-high pressurize mercury vapor which is ignited when electricity jumps or arcs, across the gap filled with this gas. The ignition of the gas is what produces a projector lamp's extreme bright light.

Thus, the technology and engineering that goes into making a projector lamp is not cheap. Infact, the machines required to produce a single projector lamp can cost the manufacturer millions of dollars.

In addition to the cost of the machinery, manufacturers also have to hire expert scientists and engineers that can ensure that the projector lamp meets the standards required by your projector. The mercury vapor must be precisely pressurized and the ARC tube and quartz reflector must be exactly positioned at the correct angle. If any of these elements are not calibrated exactly as they need to be, the projector lamp may not produce the brightness expected, may burn the LCD panel within the projector, or could fail to ignite.

Every projector lamp has different ignition and running voltages and wattages. These configurations produce different brightness levels (ANSI lumens rates). Therefore, machines that manufacture projector lamps are complex and expensive to maintain. They have to be recalibrated for each specific new lamp setting. There's no short way around this process if the manufacturer wants to produce a high quality projector lamp.

Projector lamps are cost intensive to make and that iswhy there are only four/ five major manufacturers of high-quality, ORIGINAL projector lamps in the entire world. These manufacturers have spent a lot of money both researching and developing projector lamps. They also have to maintain the assembly plants where the lamps are made. The costs to develop and make projector lamps limits competition in the market, but both of these factors increase the cost of projector lamps.

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Projector Lamp Compatibility

Wouldn't Any Lamp Work in My Projector?

Projector lamps are manufactured to meet your projector's specific technical requirements. These requirements include the exact pressurization of the mercury vapor, positioning of the ARC tube within the quartz globe at a precise angle, and manufacturing the ARC tube to withstand the mercury vapor's ultra-high pressure.

A projector lamp is manufactured specifically for each batch of new projectors on the market. There isn't a single projector lamp that fits all solution in the industry. It's not possible to install a 150W projector lamp into a projector that needs a 250W projector bulb;it's also not possible to install a 250W lamp into a projector that may require a 250W bulb, but requires a different ignition and running voltage.

It's also not possible or recommended to install a lamp with the same ignition and running voltages, AND the same wattage settings without also ensuring that the ANSI lumens rate is identical. If the ANSI lumens rate (the brightness) of the bulb is different, the projector will not be able to perform as it is supposed to. The projector will run too hot and burn your LCD panel or DLP wheel or too cold and won't be bright enough.

Are Any Projector Lamps Compatible with Multiple Projectors?

Yes! Some projector manufacturers license or source the same product from a projector lamp manufacturer.

On every product page, MPLAMPS.CO.UK provides a list of projectors that take the same projector lamp.

If a projector lamp ID# you are searching for doesn't display your projector as a compatible projector in the bottom left side, more than likely it is the incorrect lamp ID# for that projector.

If you are having problems finding the correct projector lamp for your projector, perform a keyword search or call us directly at +31 (0) 20 262 9718.

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Extending Projector Lamp Life

Typically, early expiration of a lamp is caused by it burning at too hot of a temperature over the course of its lifespan. We have provided some useful tips on how you can extend your projector lamp's life listed below.

Ventilation -

The most important factor determining lamp life is ventilation. To ensure your lamp lasts as long as possible, mount the projector in a place that has ample space for ventilation. Ideally, the projector will be mounted two feet away, on all sides, from the ceiling, wall, or floor. If the projector is mounted where there is little to no air flow, the lamp will most likely burn out early. Make sure the room the projector is in has some air flow.

Vacuum and Blow Compressed Air -

Built up dust and dirt will cause the air flow in and out of the projector to decrease over time. If there is less air flow, the projector lamp will run at a hotter temperature, causing it to burn out sooner. Make sure to vacuum blow out the projector with compressed air once every two weeks.Depending on usage, you may need to do this more often.

Regularly Change or Clean Your Filter -

To prevent dust getting inside the sensitive circuitry, projectors have detachable filters built into them. However, filters can get too clogged with dust, decrease air flow in and out of the projector and cause the projector lamp to burn at a hotter temperature. Lamps that run at hotter temperatures usually burn out sooner. The filter on your projector can typically be found behind a small rectangular panel measuring 0.5" by 6" long (1.27cm by 15.24cm) and can be changed or cleaned with ease.

Do Not Turn Your Projector Rapidly On and Off -

Quickly turning the projector on and off can have disastrous effects on projector lamp life. Projector lamps take about a minute before they produce a stable current. Special ballasts insidethe lamp ignite it at a high voltage and run them a low voltage. If a projector is rapidly turned on and off, the ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor inside the ARC tube could become destabilized, which will cause the lamp to fail permanently.

Extend Your Lamp's Life By Using Economy Mode -

Most modern projectors have a normal and economy mode setting. Economy mode will usually make the projector lamp emit a lower brightness level which can therefore extend the lamp life. If you are unsure if your projector has an economy mode, refer to the projector manual or contact the projector manufacturer.

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Testing a Projector Lamp

Prior to testing a projector bulb, it is important to realize that projector lamps are complex and function differently than any other household or traditional electronics.

1. Every lamp contains a ballast system that ignites the lamp with a higher voltage in the ignition phase. The ballast shifts the electrical current to a running voltage once the lamp is lit and the circuit has been established.

2. Projector lamps CANNOT be tested with an OHM or AMP meter. Since projector bulbs function by igniting ultra-high pressurize mercury vapor contained inside an ARC tube, there is no conductive electrical material contained in the ARC tube besides the gas.

It's impossible to test your projector bulb with household electrical equipment. To test a projector lamp, you must use specific testing equipment, if you would like more information about projector lamp testing devices, please contact Philips.

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Can a Projector Lamp be Touched?

Projector lamps are similar to halogen lamps, but halogen lamps cannot be touched because the oil from your hands will create hotspots on the halogen lamp and cause it to fail. Projector lamp globes can be touched, but we recommend handling them as little as possible or not at all.

It is essential that you don't touch the ARC tube with your fingers; this will leave fingerprints and cause the ARC tube to burn hotter in the places where it was touched, which can destabilize the ARC tube and can cause it to explode.

We also recommend that the inside of the projector lamp globe or the reflector surrounding the ARC tube isn't touched because it will cause hot spots to form on the reflector, causing your projector lamp performance to destabilize.

Touching the outside of the globe or reflector will only cause little damage to the life or performance of the projector lamp. MPLAMPS.CO.UK recommends against touching the outside of the quartz globe, but if the quartz globe must be touched, then clean your hands. If you have sweaty hands or you do not wish to handle the lamp at all, wear a pair of white cotton gloves while handling the projector lamp.

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Will My Projector Lamp Still Work If I Buy and Install in Different Countries?

Although voltage standards differ between different countries and regions of the world, if the lamp identification number is correct for your projector, it will work anywhere in the UK. Ballasts inside projectors convert the electricity entering the unit into the appropriate voltage required to ignite and run the projector lamp.

The voltage entering the projector through the outlet doesn't affect the ignition and running voltages inside your projector.

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