Lately we started with our buying guides in our Projector Replacement Parts section, and after we published some of the articles there we started getting questions regarding projector lamps, bulbs, modules and the difference between them. Since knowing what you actually need to buy is half of the work, we decided to create this short tutorial on how to check what you actually need, and after that to see if you should go with genuine or non-genuine parts. Now, to start off, let’s first cover the exact device which you need.
What is the difference between a projector bulb, lamp and module?
In most cases, once you decide to exchange your projector lamp, you’re going for the whole setup, which is commonly sold “as is” from manufacturers like Epson and Hitachi and are named “[your product name] projector lamp” – you can check some of the examples in our buying guides under this category: Epson Projector Lamps. But, to get to a finished product like the projector lamp, you first need a projector bulb which goes in to a projector module or also called projector housing. To explain it a bit better, here’s a photo of the setup:
Each projector needs a specific lamp, which is always sold by the initial manufacturer (if you own an Epson projector, you’re buying Epson replacement lamps). Usually we have one type of lamp for the whole series of projectors, which means that one lamp can be fitted on to several projectors, but they have to fall under the same series (as an example, a lamp for a 2017. projector will not fit in to a 2012. projector).
To conclude this part: The bulb is the one which usually needs replacement, the module is the “housing” of the bulb and, once you assemble them, that assembly is called the projector lamp.
Who are the leading manufacturers of projector lamps?
Although it seems like the projector manufacturer is also producing the bulbs, it’s actually far from the truth. Most of the lamps, if not all, are made by six corporations. Philips is creating the Ultra High Performance lamps, also called UHP, Osram is representing the P-VIP, Ushio the NSH, Panasonic the HS lamps, Phoenix the SHP lamps and Iwasaki the HSCR lamps.
So, when buying projector lamps, you will see who manufactured them once you find the right product. An example would be this Epson Projector Lamp, which clearly states that it’s an Osram lamp: ELP-LP57 Epson Projector Lamp Replacement. Projector Lamp Assembly with High Quality Genuine Original Osram P-VIP Bulb inside.
To conclude this part: Although Epson, Hitachi, Sony and other projectr manufacturers sell lamps under their brand, companies like Osram, Philips, Iwasaki and similar are actually the manufacturers of most projector lamps in the world, others are just re-selling it.
Should I buy OEM, genuine or non-genuine bulbs or whole lamps?
Ok, here we have the interesting part now. Let me first explain you the names which are currently active on the market together with the meaning behind them. Let’s start of with one of the most common questions, which is:
Do I have to buy the whole housing or can I just buy the bulb?
It depends on your projector. Some devices have the option to easily replace the bulb with just a few clicks and screws, but others are making it more complicated and the best possible option is to just get the lamp and replace the whole assembly with it. With that said, always consult the user manual from the device and figure out if it’s easier to replace the bulb or the lamp. In case you do have a device which can have the bulb replaced easily, here’s the advice:
I would like to buy a bare bulb, what do I need to watch out for?
If, as stated above, you’re familiar with your device and know that the bare bulb can be easily replaced, then the best possible option is to go with one of the manufacturers above. Either go with Osram, Philips or Iwasaki, and search for the exact model number of the bare bulb which you need. Always go for new lamps, you don’t want to go with refurbished or relamped bulbs, since they just don’t hold the same value as a new bulb and, in most cases, doesn’t have the life time expectancy which is stated from the seller.
To conclude: if you decide to go with the bare lamp, go with original bare lamps from Osram, Philips or Iwasaki.
I would like to buy a projector lamp, what do I need to watch out?
You’re having several options, first are the Original lamps or also called OEM, then the genuine lamps and, last, copy lamps or also called non-genuine lamps.
Original lamps are produced under the supervision and company standards of the projector manufacturer, it’s the same projector lamp as the one which came with your device once you bought it, same screws, same quality, it’s also always covered with a warranty. These lamps are made by the above mentioned companies (Osram, Philips, Ushio etc.). If possible, you want to go with these lamps, they are available for most models through Amazon.
Genuine lamps are OEM bulbs fitted in to a third party manufactured projector module or housing. So you have the same high quality as the OEM lamps, for a lower price. In most cases you could say that this is the second best option if you don’t have access to OEM lamps, since the quality of your picture will be the same as with OEM.
Copy lamps or non-genuine lamps, also known as compatible lamps or imitation lamps, are manufactured by an unregulated third party, they are not built to the companies standard and you’re risking the longevity of your device and of yourself during the installation. They are not recommended.
How do I know if the projector lamp is a fake?
First of all, you’re not buying it from the official store of the manufacturer, be it from Amazon or from their own web shop, which ofc reflects the price and you’re getting it for a “deal” or a “special 50% discount”. That’s the first and the most obvious way of getting scammed.
Second, the box doesn’t look genuine, or the lamp came in a plastic zip bag. Third, there are no markings on it. OEM bulbs and lamps have markings and brandings, not only on the box, but also on the actual device, which are connected to the series from which they are coming or the manufacturer who made them. As an example, Osram lamps have their own P-VIP numbers, Philips has it’s UHP numbers and so on.
What’s the easiest way on finding the right projector lamp?
Regardless if you’re buying a bare bulb or the whole assembly, the easiest way on getting the right device is to visit our sub-category on projector lamps, type in your model number in to the search bar and the result will be the exact lamp which you need.
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