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  • Guide to Projector Lamps: Costs, Lifespans and Types
Technology Articles > Computers > Data Projectors > Guide to Projector Lamps: Costs, Lifespans and Types

While making the initial investment towards a high quality data projector may feel like a blow to your wallet, a significant part of the costs that you'll pay for your data projector come in the form of maintenance. Namely, lamp replacement. Data projectors use powerful, specialized bulbs to project your images onto a screen. And just like the light bulbs in your lamps and light fixtures, projector lamps have a rated longevity.

This article will introduce you to some of the key terms and guidelines you should know before investing in a data projector. These tips will help you budget for a data projector that you can comfortably afford.

Data Projector Lamp Life

The estimated life of a data projector lamp is given in hours. Usually, this ranges from 1,000 hours to 3,000 hours. This, of course, is an estimate and not a guarantee. If you do not care for your projector lamps properly, they may last much shorter than 1,000 hours. Or, if you are lucky, your projector lamps may last longer than 3,000 hours.

The lifetime rating is given for your convenience, so you can plan ahead for replacements. It's far better to replace a bulb before it goes out, rather than have a lamp burn out in the middle of your presentation. Data projectors will usually have built-in timers that let you know how many hours it has been since the last replacement. They should also remind you when it's time to change the lamp.

Storing and Maintaining Data Projector Lamps

Data projector lamps have three arch nemeses: heat, moisture and dust. Keep this in mind when operating your data projector, if you want your lamps to last a long time. After you are done using your projector, flip off the lamp and allow the fan to run until it is cool. One particularly bad habit is to unplug the data projector immediately after use. This happens more for cart-mounted data projectors that need to be shuttled from room to room. It's worth your while to let the bulb cool completely with the assistance of the fan after every use. Also, be sure that the fan vents are not blocked and the projector gets proper airflow at all times.

You should also try to keep your lamp relatively dust free. Dust can cause the entire unit to run hotter, which means a shorter life span for your data projector. Canned air helps here.

Types of Projector Lamps

The main types of projector lamps you'll find in low- to mid-range data projectors are metal halide lamps and halogen bulbs. Halogen bulbs are cheaper, but they start to lose their brightness sooner than metal halide. Halogen lamps also have a more yellow color than metal halide.

When you get into the very, very expensive data projectors, you'll be looking at xenon lamps. This is a whole other ball game, however, and you should consult with a knowledgeable sales person about your specific needs before investing.

'Budgeting for Your Data Projector

When shopping for data projectors, you'll come across a number of models that are very comparable in price. But before you make a decision, find out how much the replacement lamps cost and find out what their rated lifespan is. Factor this into your overall calculation. For example, a $1,000 projector that needs a new $300 lamps every 1,000 hours is more expensive in terms of total cost of ownership than a $1,200 projector that needs a new $100 lamp every 3,000 hours.