Frequently Asked Questions

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The technical description of a projector lamp is that it is an ultra-high pressure mercury vapor ARC lamp. Projector lamps are scientifically categorized as metal halide lamps and Philips has trademarked the name "UHP lamp" for their projector lamps.

A projector lamp operates by sending an electrical current accross an ARC gap that is full of ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor. The electricity lights the mercury vapor which then causes the lamp to emit a light with an extreme intensity or brightness. The bright light created by this process shines onto an LCD (Liquid Crystal Diplay) or DLP panel which then in turn produces the fantastic images projectors are known for.
Projector lamps are a extremely complex technology that are very costly to manufacturer, therefore the price of projector lamps tends to be pretty high.

Projector lamps function by igniting ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor that is compressed inside a quartz ARC tube. Electricity jumps or arcs accross the gap filled with mercury vapor, ignites it and produces an extremely bright light.
As you can imagine, this technology is not inexpensive to produce. The machines required to produce a single projector lamp can oftentimes cost manufacturers tens of millions of dollars.
Projector lamp manufacturers also have to hire expert scientists and engineers to ensure that the projector lamps are constructed to the standard required. The mercury vapor has to be pressurized at an exact pressure and the ARC tube and quartz reflector also have to be structurally sound. If these components are not calibrated with exact precision then the projector lamp quality will suffer severely or the projector lamp will fail to work at all.
Further, most projector lamps have different ignition and running voltages and wattages. These different settings produce different brightness levels or ANSI lumens rates. The machines that construct projector lamps therefore have to be recalibrated for each specific lamp setting.

There are only a handful projector lamp manufacturers in the world that make high-quality projector lamps considered worthy enough to be requisitioned for projectors. Manufacturing a projector lamp takes an incredible amount of engineering know how and capital.

The following are the major movers and shakers in the projector lamp industry -
1. Philips - The global consumer electronics company engineered the 100% mercury vapor metal halide lamp in 1995. Using 100% mercury vapor allowed traditional metal halide lamps to emit a brightness never achieved previously and for all practical purposes made digital projectors possible. Philips was the trailblazer in the projector lamp world and remains as a dominant force in the projector lamp industry. Some estimates have Philips controlling over 70% of the projector lamp manufacturing and sales market worldwide.

2. Ushio - Ushio is a Japanese company that started operations in 1964 as an industrial light manufacturer. The company is now a self-described "creator of light" and manufacturers hundreds of different industrial light formats. The company manufacturers projector lamps for Sony, Sanyo, Epson, and BenQ amoung others and is estimated to have a 20-25% share of the projector lamp market.

3. Osram/Sylvania - Osram is a German company that claims to be the second largest lighting manufacturer in the world. The company specializes in producing the ARC tube found in metal halide lamps, but they also manufacturer complete OEM projector lamps for several projectors. Osram controls a 7-11% share of the projector lamp manufacturing market.

4. The Rest - A handful of projector lamp manufacturers are located in Taiwan, Japan and China. Most of them do not manufacture high enough quality projector lamps to be considered for mass distribution inside brand new projectors. However, there are some projector lamp manufacturers that have been successful and received work orders to fill lesser-known brand name projectors with their proejctor lamps.

Projector lamps usually expire early because they are burning at too hot a temperature over the course of their lives. Below are some simple tips for extending your projector lamp life.

1.Ventilation - The single most important thing you can do to make sure your projector lamp lasts a long time is to mount your projector in a space with ample ventilation. Projectors that are mounted in corners, extremely close to the ceiling or in rooms with little to no air flow often cause the projector lamps inside them to expire early.

2. Vacuum and Blow Compressed Air - Dust that gathers inside your projector can cause the projector lamp to burn at too hot a temperature over time which will cut its life short. The easiest solution to this problem is to vacuum your projector and blow it out with compressed air every now and then. Use your judgment, if you are using the projector often, complete this process more frequently.

3. Change or Clean Your Filter Regularly - Almost every projector these days has a filter that prevents dust from getting inside the sensitive circuitry. The drawback to this is that if the filter gets clogged with dust it can cause the projector lamp to burn at a hotter temperature and diminish its lamp life. The filter on your projector is usually found behind a small rectangular panel that measures 0.5" by 6" long.

4. Do Not Turn Your Projector On and Off Quickly - Turning your projector on and off quickly can have devastating effects for your projector lamp. Projector lamps typically take about a minute before they are running in a stable current. Projectors have special ballasts inside them that ignite projector lamps at a high voltage and then run them at a low voltage. If you turn your projector on and off quickly it can cause the ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor to become destabilized, which will in turn cause your projector lamp to fail permanently.

5. Run Your Projector in Economy Mode - Most projectors these days have normal mode and economy mode. Economy mode usually makes the projector lamp emit a slightly lower brightness level and therefore can extend your projector lamp's life. If you are unsure if your proejctor has economy mode, please reference your projector's manual or contact the manufacturer.