Projector specifications always specify a bulb life. What does this figure mean?
To begin with, you need to understand that projector bulbs are fundamentally different from those used in lighting fixtures. A standard bulb burns at the same brightness all the time, and if it fails, it burns out instantly. On the other hand, projection bulbs begin to lose brightness gradually so slowly that you will not even realize at the first time that the projector is 20-30% dimmer than the new one.
And this leads to a question: how to specify the bulb life? When the first projectors appeared, the loss of 50% of brightness was considered a period. But this fact was not fixed as a mandatory standard. Today, the declared lifetime of the bulb may be very different from the actual. For example, one manufacturer specifies a time of 1000 hours. It means that after that time, the bulb will lose the same 50%. But for another manufacturer, the same 1000 hours would mean that the bulb would go out completely, having used up its resource.
Thus, two products of different quality will have the same characteristics, and neither will violate the law. Manufacturers often use it to keep up with more advanced competitors, not changing anything in the device projector. You should note that the shutdown mode significantly affects the service life. Using a heated cathode system to cool all bulb parts more evenly will extend its life considerably. It will not pick up dirt and increase the voltage when the unit is working.
How do I determine bulb life when choosing a projector?
You need to be able to turn the projector on and off. It is not a heated cathode method if the screen turns black immediately after confirming the shutdown command. Such a bulb will fail faster. If the inscription “off” is still lit for some time – it means that heating is carried out, and the service life will be longer. Therefore it makes sense to check the equipment before buying, not just order, focusing on the characteristics listed on the site/manufacturer.
Many are also interested in whether the service life depends on the manufacturer. In general, it is possible to stretch to say that it does. But we don’t have in mind any particular manufacturer who only makes suitable projectors with the right operating system. In the first place, it affects the choice of production method and technology, which are involved in each projector. You should not be guided by the brand but by the manufacturer’s characteristics for its models.
Who makes the bulbs, and does bulb life depend on the brand?
Until now, most bulbs produce just three companies – Philips, Osram, and Ushio. All the bulbs are of the same type. They have differences concerning the shape of the reflector, the position of the electrodes, etc., which is done only for one purpose – so that there is no interchangeability of bulbs, as it is very advantageous at their, so far, very high price.
There are two bulb lives listed in the description. Which one is correct?
Both are correct. The fact is that there are two modes of operation of the projector: optimal and maximum (boosted). The choice of mode will also affect how long the technique lasts. The optimal mode uses 20% less brightness, the bulb uses less voltage, and its lifetime is almost two times higher than the maximum mode. By the way, the manufacturers often call the modes as standard and economy. But this is only a marketing ploy to increase sales.
As for the actual service life of projection bulbs, you need to look at the heating of the cathode described above. If you suddenly turn off the bulb, brightness will drop to 50% after 1000 hours of operation in standard mode and after 2000 hours in economy mode. Heating the cathode can prolong the bulb’s life by actually two times: from 2000 to 4000 hours.
To choose the right office projector, check our article on Best Office Projectors.
The proud owner and lead writer of OFFICE-EQUIP.COM
Office equipment seller since 2011. Started writing in 2018 and sharing his experience and knowledge with love and respect.
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