Educate yourself against counterfeits
It’s time to change your projector or rear projector TV lamp. You decide to buy online and your stress level skyrockets when you see the number of suppliers online. How do you spot the counterfeit from the genuine products? Learning about lamp modules is your first step towards protecting yourself against getting ripped off.
Know your parts
Your projector/RPTV lamp has two parts: the bulb and the cage (or housing). It’s important to have both elements be genuine. Projector bulbs are high-performance and were developed to work closely with your projector. The cage contains the sensitive electrical elements but also keeps your lamp stable and makes it line up properly inside your projector.
Each manufacturer has its own cage design, which is why it’s crucial to have the correct model. Counterfeit lamps have not been manufactured with these specifics in mind and can damage your projector or RPTV.
Tried and true
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) are lamp modules created directly by the manufacturer for their specific projector. While they are the most expensive they are also the safest bet since they come fully guaranteed with genuine parts and have been inspected for quality. Sometimes it’s worth the price for less hassle.
Genuine lamps are hybrids lamps manufactured by companies holding the technology patent from the original company. These manufacturers are endorsed by the OEMs and sell genuine lamp companies built with cages from a different source. These alternate cages still meet the specifications set by the original manufacturer and are created in a quality-controlled environment using ISO9001 standards. Genuine lamps are typically 20% lower in price compared to the OEM lamps.
Beware the naked bulb
While some manufacturers do sell the bulb only without the cage, it’s not a recommended purchase for the average layperson. It can be a complicated process that should be done by a skilled repair person or at least by someone with a technical background. If you do try and change your light bulb, use rubber gloves. You don’t want any oil from your skin on the bulb. These bulbs burn at such a high temperature that the area with the oil will be hotter than other surface parts and may prematurely burn out. The most important reason to avoid this kind of replacement is that many counterfeit lamps are sold as bulb only.
Phillips has authorized MI Technologies to sell their replacement bulbs since this company also manufactures its own cages. It’s this is a rare exception to the rule, however.
A fake is a fake is a fake
Compatible or copy lamps are both euphemisms for counterfeit lamps. These “non-genuine” lamps don’t use OEM bulbs or cages and manufacture their product with less durable components. This can create havoc in your projector by damaging the sensitive operating components, causing an electrical short circuit, overheating the projector and sometimes exploding inside. You may also find your warranty has become void after installing these third-party parts. If the price of your replacement lamp is less than 20% of the original manufacturer’s price – walk away.
Be careful with recycling
Re-Lamped or refurbished lamps re-use the old cage and simply put in a new bulb. While its gaining in popularity as an enviromentaly-friendly solution, you should proceed with caution. Many lamp modules have been designed not to be taken apart and refurbished so you should check with your manufacturer. When replacing the lamp be sure not to bend or twist the cage or it may not fit back into the projector properly.
You’ll need very specific conditions to recycle your cage. Your existing cage needs to be fairly pristine so if its warped or cracked replace it. If there is a lot of dust, replace it. (Dust particles can heat up and clog the cooling process making the projector overheat.) A broken lamp also means you should buy a new cage. The bulbs do leave behind small traces of mercury and should be cleaned properly. Be sure to check inside connectors and if any are twisted, old and worn, they too will have to be changed. If your warranty is still valid, it may be smarter to buy new. It you’re not mechanically inclined, buy new as well.