The Not-So-Magic Lamp
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Week four of projector selection criteria
The IT Guy says:
One of the greatest concerns I've heard expressed about projectors is the cost of bulb replacement. Just three or four years ago, the cost of new bulbs could be as high as $500, so this concern was justified! However, just as the cost of the projectors has come down, so has the cost of bulbs. They still aren't cheap, though, often still costing between $200 and $250, more than a third of the cost of some projectors. As this cost can fall to the local school building to handle, this is still a potential problem, so check the cost of replacement bulbs for the models you are considering.
There are several other ways keep these costs down. First, check with your vendors, as some give as much as a two-year warranty on replacing the bulbs. Second, check the specifications of the projectors you are considering to see if they have a "bulb-saving mode," which runs the projector at a reduced brightness to stretch out the bulb's lifespan. If you can get by with the image being a little less bright, you can significantly extend the life of the bulb. Third, if possible, get a projector where the air filter is easy to access. Regularly cleaning the air filter will keep the bulb from overheating and make it last longer. Some projectors have the filters in more convenient places than others—I had one that needed to be taken down from the ceiling to replace the filter, and needless to say I was never in hurry to do so!
And one last tip. If your projector is not ceiling-mounted, make sure that you don't move the projector until it has cooled down. That means leaving it plugged in until the fan stops working, and then waiting a few minutes more. Jarring the projector while it is still warm can damage the filament in the bulb, and ultimately shorten its life.