Updated: May 9, 2015
Projector Replacement Bulbs:Imagine being able to go out while staying at home. When you have a home theater projector, any night is movie night. And any movie, game, or multimedia presentation takes on new life. Part of the fun of going to the movies is seeing them displayed larger than life on the big screen. The other part of the fun is having popcorn. You can save money and have a great time by having both of these at home. A home theater projector is a good investment and will provide hours of enjoyment and unparalleled entertainment. While the initial cost may be a bit pricey, it is well worth it. The projectors that you use today depend on light from their internal lamps to bring the show to you in exquisite detail, and they can last an amazing 4000 hours to a whopping 6000 hours. That's a lot of movies or a lot of rounds of Guitar Hero, but eventually you will need to replace your lamp. This is your guide to getting what you need so the show can go on. We will look at home theater projector replacement lamps (also called replacement bulbs) for today's top projectors: Optoma, Hitachi, Epson, and Sony.
Home Theater Projector Replacement Lamps - How do you know if you need a replacement projector lamp? Your first indication will be blurring of the light. You may also notice that your lamp flashes occasionally, the lamp's surface has scratches, or you have used up the lamp's capacity (you can check using your built-in menu system). If your lamp is rated for 4000 hours of use, it will gradually lose light after that. According to tech source, Crutchfield, average owners who use their projectors for movies or special events log about 8 hours a week. At this rate, you won't need a lamp for 8 to 10 years. Not bad. If you use your projector as a TV for about 4 hours a day, you will need a lamp replacement in about three years. To get as much lamp life as possible, it is important to choose wisely. First, it is important to be aware of the cost. Most home theater replacement lamps cost between $150 to $800, and possibly more. Remember, though, that you will be using this for years. When you first start noticing sings of blurring, it is time to order your projector replacement lamp. To get a lamp that is both compatible with your projector and your wallet, you need to do a bit of looking. Start here to find the best deals, and often free shipping, on replacement lamps. The model of home theater projector you have will determine your choice of replacement lamp. If you have an Epson projector, you get an Epson lamp. Simple! But you need to make sure you get the correct lamp for your particular model. An easy way to do this with Epson is to go to their website's projector lamp section and find your model. If you have a PowerLite 10+, for example, you select that and are directed to a page with all the information you need. You can then go to retailers like Amazon to find the best deals. You can find Epson PowerLite 10+ replacement lamps for $240. This is a two-pack. You save quite a bit as the Epson site offers the same lamps for $200 each. You can browse the best selling projector bulbs here.
Can You Use Alternative Replacement Lamps for your Home Theater Projector?:When buying replacement projector lamps, many people (understandably) want to save money. We can buy generic brands of virtually anything - from shampoo to food. So can we buy an alternative replacement bulb? For instance, if you have a Hitachi Home 1 Projector, can you use a replacement lamp from another brand that is less expensive? This really does not work, and it may end up costing you more. Your projector uses a specific lamp. Almost every model uses a different mold to hold their lamps, so the lamps will be different sizes and have unique characteristics. This is essential for ensuring that your lamp works properly and does not damage your projector. Another thing to consider is that using an off-brand or wrong model replacement lamp may very well void your warranty. So, for that Hitachi Projector model Home 1 you have, you will need the Hitachi Home 1 replacement lamp. Luckily, this specific lamp is relatively inexpensive. But what if you have a projector that has been discontinued, like the Sony VPL-VW100? In that case, you may still be able to find a replacement lamp. The replacement lamp for this particular model costs about $800. If you have a model, however, for which you cannot find a replacement, you can call the supplier and get their suggestion. In this case, an alternative bulb may be your only option. Do call first, however, so you do not void any existing warranty or damage your projector.
Getting the Right Projector Lamps:Some manufacturers discontinue projectors after only about three years. This means that you may have a difficult time finding your lamp replacements - though you may not. Retailers often continue to provide these lamps. To be on the safe side, purchase at least one replacement lamp when you purchase your home theater projector. Or if that is a bit unpalatable for your budget, order it within a year or two if it is a new model. For instance, if you have one of the popular Optoma HD65 home theater projectors, buy a few Optoma BL-FS180C Projector Lamps for backup. These cost just under $170 each. This replacement lamp has a half-life of about 2000-3000 hours (after which point, light starts to blur); if you use your projector the average 8 hours, one lamp will last from 4.8 years to 7.2 years. If you have the lamp the projector came with and two extra, you shouldn't have to worry about replacing lamps. And in a decade or two, you may want to upgrade anyway. This is also saving you money because as lamps are harder to find, they are typically more expensive. Get 'em while you can!
Tips for Prolonging Lamp Life - You can also save money by taking care of your projector lamp. A great way to do this is to only use as much brightness as you need for a given situation. For example, dedicated home theaters will need less light to produce a great quality image. You will need to adjust up for rooms with ambient light. Use only what you need. Projector People, "the people who know projectors," recommend that you do the following:
*After you use your projector, let it cool for at least 5 minutes before you turn off the unit. Don't move your projector until it's cool.
*Make sure the air intake and exhaust vents are unobstructed, and keep the exhaust at least 2 feet from other objects.
*Clean the air intake filter every 3 to 6 months. If you live in an environment that is dusty or humid, clean more often.
*Lamps typically fail within the first 10 hours of use. Most warranties last 90 to 180 days. When you first get your projector or lamp, run it for about two weeks and/or 20 hours. If a problem is going to occur, it is likely to occur then and you can get a replacement or refund.
If you have not yet purchased a home theater projector or are thinking of getting a new one, it is always a good idea to take a look at the quality of the lamp, as well as the cost of replacements. Look through the extensive selection of projectors here to find one that works for you - and will continue working for you in the future.