Home Theater Projectors - Keep That Lamp Burning

By: Christine Peppler

Increasingly, consumers who want to experience cinema-like viewing in their home opt for a home theater projector. These devices allow users to view their entertainment in a darkened room without the size restrictions of a television screen. However, as most owners will attest to, there is a somewhat significant maintenance expense associated with this type of set up; the expense of the lamp.

Lamp life in a projector is said to be between 2,500 and 4,000 hours but in some instances consumers have reported a lamp life as short as just a few hundred hours. With lamp replacements priced at a few hundred dollars, the shortened life span of a lamp can be an unwelcome surprise. Buyers should take heart however as there are numerous things they can do to help assure their new lamp burns brightly for as long as possible.

&bullKeep the projector stationary when possible. The filament within the lamp is fragile and is especially vulnerable to damage when it is hot; thus avoiding any jostling, especially when the unit is still hot, is important.

&bullKeep hands off of the lamp. Bare hands can leave oils on the surface. The oils can get burned onto the surface of the lamp which can cause cracking. Use of a tissue or soft cloth when removing/changing the lamp is wise.

&bull Turn the lamp off appropriately.
oTurn the lamp off about 5 minutes prior to turning off the projector. This allows the fan to cool the unit.
oBecause turning the power on and off can stress the filament due to sudden voltage increase it is wise to avoid turning it on and off unnecessarily when taking a short break in viewing. Use of the "soft start" function can be beneficial if the projector has it.
oOn the other hand, an auto standby feature can be useful to assure that the lamp is not inadvertently left burning when viewing is done.

&bullKeep it clean and cool. Projectors should be housed to assure they are not near a heat source and have adequate venting. There should be nothing obstructing their air intake or exhaust vent. The filter should be cleaned every 3-6 months and changed per manufacturer guidelines to assure good airflow and to keep dust off of the lamp.

As with any light source, the lamp within a projector will eventually fail and need to be replaced. However, proper use and maintenance can help to assure that the projector lamp will realize its full life expectancy rather than placing any unnecessary burden on the owner's budget.

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