Project Lamps

Projection Bulbs For Various Types Of Projectors

Projection bulbs serve as the light source in different types of projection equipment. These light bulbs all perform the same function, which is to shine light through a lens so an image—whether on film, translucent sheet, in digital form—is projected externally as a larger version. There are many different types of bulbs that do this. Performance, brightness, longevity, and other factors can vary considerably from one type to the next.

The first type of bulb to be used in projection applications was the incandescent bulb. Although projection methods had existed for many centuries before its invention, the incandescent bulb made projected visuals more consistent, defined, and much safer, particularly when used to replace flame-based light sources.

Incandescent light bulbs took the opaque projectors used in the 18th and 19th centuries to new levels in the 20th, broadening their use for entertainment and educational purposes. Although alternative light bulbs have widely replaced incandescent light sources in projection equipment, they are still used in a variety of units.

Incandescent projection bulbs are the more affordable and straight-forward options for commercial and household projectors. They’re not ideal for consistent or daily use, as incandescent bulbs will only offer as many as 1000 hours of lamp life on average. Incandescent projection bulbs include reflectors, tinting, and frosting to enhance their performance in projector applications.

Limited operational life was part of the reason halogen projection bulbs were adopted as an alternative. They offer double the lamp life with an average of 2000 hours and provide brighter, more focused illumination compared to incandescents. This amounts to a clearer, sharper projected image. Halogens remain a common option for a range of projection equipment. They’re also fairly economical, costing just a few dollars for a bare bulb. This cost will increase for halogen bulbs contained within projector-specific housing.

There are other types of projection bulbs that provide very bright and focused light for a sharp and defined picture. These include metal halide bulbs, high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, xenon bulbs, ultra-high pressure bulbs (UHP) and mercury vapor lamps, LCD bulbs, and DLP bulbs.

These options provide bright light and lamp life hours ranging from 1500 to 10,000 hours. They are frequently sold with manufacturer- or projector-specific housing, but they can also be purchased from some suppliers in bare bulb form. The ease of inserting them into the projector for replacement will vary. With some equipment, this is fairly straight forward and will not require special tools, while other units will require professional kits or service.

One of the newest types of projection light sources is LEDs. LEDs are among the most efficient options for projection lights. They are most commonly incorporated into miniature or portable projectors, as well as those used in modern media displays. LED projector lights are somewhat limited by the quality of light they produce. While they are low temperature and will easily last the lifespan of the projection equipment, they are not able to produce images as bright as other types of projector bulbs.

How Do You Replace Projection Bulbs?
Replacement projection bulbs can be sourced from authorized light bulb distributors. It’s very important to select the correct type of bulb to ensure it will perform correctly and safely within the unit.

Bare bulb replacements, in which a new bulb is inserted in the projector module, can be economical but this is not possible with all types of equipment. Some projector manufacturers will provide replacement bulb modules or bulb-and-housing lamp combinations. Once the bulb or lamp is obtained, the replacement instructions will usually be specified in the instruction manual or on the unit itself.

If special tools or professional services are required, it may be necessary to have the bulb replacement completed by an authorized technician.