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Thread: Home Theater Projectors: How's your bulb life experience been so far?

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    Lightbulb Home Theater Projectors: How's your bulb life experience been so far?

    Hello fellow home theater enthusiasts. If you own a HT projector, this thread is for you.

    I have an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8700UB, bought and installed in the fall of 2011. Ideal installation. Ceiling mounted in the middle of the room, cool basement environment, no cooling or ventilation issues, etc.

    My first bulb died in Jan 2013 with only ~1050 hr on it. Epson sent a free replacement.

    That replacement bulb just died this week, only a year later and this time only ~800 hr on it. This time Epson will not cover it. (Citing my outside of the 2 year warranty on the projector, so I'm SOL now).

    Epson's advertised bulb life expectency is 4000 hr.

    Obviously I'm not happy. I'm not quite out of pocket yet, because I still have a spare bulb from the original purchase mail-in rebate program at the time which provided a free extra bulb. So I will obviously use that one now. But still...

    Anyone else here going through similar experience? Or are you getting significantly better life on your bulbs? (What brand of projector?)

    Has anyone had good luck with cheaper non-brand name replacement bulbs? (Epson's bulbs are ~ $300 a pop).

    Thanks.

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    Might be a lot of dust in your unit, I've had to clean my projectors fairly often. My old Optoma unit had a sticker (build date sticker) some off and touch the bulb. It EXPLODED in the projector and scared the crap out of me!
    Bought not built!

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    That sucks, I'm at only 500 hrs on my Benq after 8 months, so at this rate I would expect the original bulb to last me 5+ years, but now after reading this, who knows.

    Only thing I can think of is to comb through all the settings. Do you keep it in Eco mode? How long is the cool down period after shut-off, and can you increase it? Mine has something called "high altitude mode" which makes the fan run faster. Can you see any dust build-up inside, take a can of compressed air to it? Good luck.

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    You need to be careful with projector bulbs, every time you turn them on, they undergo a lot of stress, similar to HID's in cars.

    - Always run your projector for a minimum of 30-60 minutes after you turn it on, do not treat it like a TV.

    - NEVER turn your projector on soon after turning it off, that is what cooks the bulb.

    - Replace the bulbs when they are low/dim, do not wait for them to fully burn out. The bulbs can pop/explode if you run them down to absolutely nothing.

    - Altitude affects bulb life negatively, and Calgary isn't great. The cooling system has to work harder.

    - Keep the air filter clean, and make sure there is good ventilation around the projector.

    - The lifespan of the bulb depends on a lot of things, including environment, your brightness settings, running it on "hi" or "low", etc. That 4000 hours is the extreme best case scenario.

    IMO you will never see the advertised bulb life without absolutely ideal conditions, and with low brightness.

    Epson has one of the best customer service departments, and they have replaced a bulb for me as well. The bulb they replaced was even my free mail-in bulb that I didn't even pay for, so good on them. Sometimes bulbs are simply defective. I had one die on me after 700 hours, but the one before that lasted closer to 2,000 (Epson 6500 UB).

    The biggest thing is don't turn your projector back on until it's fully cooled down, and don't turn it off unless it's been running for 30-60 minutes first. That will help a lot. If your projector is very close to your screen, or you have a high gain screen, you can probably get away with lower brightness if you can kill all the ambient light in the room. At the end of the day though, brighter images usually look better to most people, and Epson bulbs aren't that expensive to replace every 1-2 years given the low entry cost of having a massive screen with amazing IQ compared to a TV.

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    I have a ~2007 Sanyo unit with a bulb that has probably close to 4000 hours on it. Last time I checked, it was giving me the replace lamp signal and had about 3000 hours on it. Just going to run it down and upgrade to a 1080p unit.

    I think it also depends on how bright you set your unit. Mine is in a dark basement so it doesnt have to work very hard.

    I also had the power cut off twice while the unit was on, I am pretty lucky that the bulb didnt fry

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    ^^^ replace your bulb before it gets to absolutely zero. If it's already very dim and your projector says replace it, just replace it. You will likely end up with an exploded bulb and a nice little blast of mercury vapor if you use it until it stops. If the bulb housing doesn't contain the glass, it can ruin your projector or make quite the mess.

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    Originally posted by Mitsu3000gt
    1) - Always run your projector for a minimum of 30-60 minutes after you turn it on, do not treat it like a TV.

    2) - NEVER turn your projector on soon after turning it off, that is what cooks the bulb.

    3) - Replace the bulbs when they are low/dim, do not wait for them to fully burn out. The bulbs can pop/explode if you run them down to absolutely nothing.

    4) - Altitude affects bulb life negatively, and Calgary isn't great. The cooling system has to work harder.

    5) - Keep the air filter clean, and make sure there is good ventilation around the projector.

    6)- The lifespan of the bulb depends on a lot of things, including environment, your brightness settings, running it on "hi" or "low", etc. That 4000 hours is the extreme best case scenario.

    7) The biggest thing is don't turn your projector back on until it's fully cooled down, and don't turn it off unless it's been running for 30-60 minutes first. That will help a lot.
    1) Check! always
    2) Check! (this rarely has happened if at all, maybe once or twice in its life, by accident)
    3) I understand this one, but a pre-emptive replacement at around the 800 hr mark would've been unreasonable, I think.
    4) I am in Edmonton, 2200 ft. According to Epson, they consider the cut-off for "high elevation" to be 1500m (4921 ft), basically Denver type elvevation.
    5) Dust hasn't been a big issue in my theater room. The air filter has never had much build-up whenever I've removed it for cleaning and inspection. And I haven't noticed any significant amount dust inside the bulb chamber when I've removed the bulb cartridge.
    6) THIS I'm going to look into. My projector has generally been run in THX mode. But I haven't fiddled with too many other settings. I've seen a lot of reference to an "eco" mode.
    7) As mentioned in # 1 & 2, this hasn't been an issue. I've never treated my projector like a TV.

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    Originally posted by Inzane


    1) Check! always
    2) Check! (this rarely has happened if at all, maybe once or twice in its life, by accident)
    3) I understand this one, but a pre-emptive replacement at around the 800 hr mark would've been unreasonable, I think.
    4) I am in Edmonton, 2200 ft. According to Epson, they consider the cut-off for "high elevation" to be 1500m (4921 ft), basically Denver type elvevation.
    5) Dust hasn't been a big issue in my theater room. The air filter has never had much build-up whenever I've removed it for cleaning and inspection. And I haven't noticed any significant amount dust inside the bulb chamber when I've removed the bulb cartridge.
    6) THIS I'm going to look into. My projector has generally been run in THX mode. But I haven't fiddled with too many other settings. I've seen a lot of reference to an "eco" mode.
    7) As mentioned in # 1 & 2, this hasn't been an issue. I've never treated my projector like a TV.
    It's also possible you just got a bad bulb, it happens. Realistically though I would plan on replacing the bulb every 1000-2000 hours tops. You will never, ever, get 4000 hours. Epson probably got that once in a lab without ever turning it off and on haha.

    1000 hours is nearly 3hr of TV watching every day for an entire year, which I would think most people don't do, so a new bulb every 2-3 years, regardless of hours, I think is reasonable. Even if you aren't watching TV for more than 1000 hours, but you turn it on and off every day, that is going to be what kills it, not the hours.

    I believe the warranty follows the bulb, not the projector. When Epson replaced my bulb after 700 hours, it had been over 4 years since I bought the projector, and was my "free" bulb from the initial mail-in program.

    You also don't want to be running it super dim with all the "eco" options on and having a sub-par picture just so you can get a few hundred more hours out of the bulb. I run mine at full blast all the time, but it is calibrated.

    The way I see it, that 4000 is the ideal scenario at sea level. Every time you "strike" the bulb, it chips away at that, along with the actual run-time, for an accelerated burn-out time.

    When LED and Laser projectors start coming down in price and can match the brightness of a mercury bulb, this won't be a problem .
    Last edited by Mitsu3000gt; 02-05-2014 at 01:00 PM.

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    Originally posted by Mitsu3000gt
    It's also possible you just got a bad bulb, it happens. Realistically though I would plan on replacing the bulb every 1000-2000 hours tops. You will never, ever, get 4000 hours.
    Two bad ones in a row? I agree with what you're saying on the 4000 number, but I would've thought 2000-3000 hrs would've been typical. 1000 is only a 1/4 of their claim and seems bloody low.

    1000 hours is nearly 3hr of TV watching every day for an entire year, which I would think most people don't do, so a new bulb every 2-3 years, regardless of hours, I think is reasonable.
    First bulb was 15 months and 1050 hr. That's 2.3hr/day. 2nd bulb was 12 months and 800 hrs. That's 2.2hr/day. That sounds about right. Of course some nights are zero and some might be 4 hrs, but an average of close to 2hr/night is typical. Kids put to bed - check. "Honey do" chores all done - check. Mancave time!

    I believe the warranty follows the bulb, not the projector. When Epson replaced my bulb after 700 hours, it had been over 4 years since I bought the projector, and was my "free" bulb from the initial mail-in program.
    Things may have changed. Epson's current projector warranty is 2 years and bulb warranty is 90 days. Maybe they're clamping down on warranty replacements.

    You also don't want to be running it super dim with all the "eco" options on and having a sub-par picture just so you can get a few hundred more hours out of the bulb. I run mine at full blast all the time, but it is calibrated.
    Yeah, exactly. That was my concern too. What's the compromise by trying everything possible to preserve bulb life.
    BTW, did you self-calibrate or hire an ISF calibrator? (still on my to-do list).

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    Originally posted by Inzane


    Two bad ones in a row? I agree with what you're saying on the 4000 number, but I would've thought 2000-3000 hrs would've been typical. 1000 is only a 1/4 of their claim and seems bloody low.



    First bulb was 15 months and 1050 hr. That's 2.3hr/day. 2nd bulb was 12 months and 800 hrs. That's 2.2hr/day. That sounds about right. Of course some nights are zero and some might be 4 hrs, but an average of close to 2hr/night is typical. Kids put to bed - check. "Honey do" chores all done - check. Mancave time!



    Things may have changed. Epson's current projector warranty is 2 years and bulb warranty is 90 days. Maybe they're clamping down on warranty replacements.



    Yeah, exactly. That was my concern too. What's the compromise by trying everything possible to preserve bulb life.
    BTW, did you self-calibrate or hire an ISF calibrator? (still on my to-do list).
    2 bad ones in a row is unlikely, I agree with you. I do think the on/off's is what kills them the most. For example if you watch 2hr of TV a day, instead of say, 6 hours of movies in a row every weekend (unrealistic, I know), your bulb is going to die WAY faster in the first scenario due to all the strikes on the bulb. That's how most people use projectors though, unless it's just a weekend movie machine.

    If you go on other forums, I think you will find 1000-2000 hours compared to the maximum 4000 is pretty common, you likely aren't doing anything wrong other than using it a lot (which is what you bought it for). All manufactures exaggerate their blub life compared to what the end user is likely to experience in more typical scenarios.

    1,000 hours of roughly daily use IMO isn't that bad. That is a ton of strikes on the bulb. It just seems disappointing compared to the claimed life, but I think you will find those hours are far more typical than anything near 4000. Anyone getting 2000+ is likely just using it on the weekends or occasionally for extended periods of time.

    I calibrated my own projector with a colorimeter (same as used for monitors), a tripod, and a laptop. Epson projectors almost always have too much green in them, even though their calibrated picture is often one of the best on the market. Some projectors ship with much better color and the average Joe would never need to worry about calibration. Almost every Epson I've seen is too green, and benefits a lot from even a quick and dirty calibration. If you go to projectorcentral.com they post their settings, and chances are it will be good enough for you that you don't need to go through the hassle of a full calibration.

    I'm guessing they aren't as lenient with bulb warranties because it's so easy for the customer to dramatically influence the life of the bulb, just like brakes or tires on a car. Doesn't hurt to fire them an email when your next one does before 4,000 though. They replaced my bulb only a couple months ago, so if there have been any changes it would have had to be quite recent. I have read that repeat claims have far less luck though.
    Last edited by Mitsu3000gt; 02-05-2014 at 01:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Home Theater Projectors: How's your bulb life experience been so far?

    Originally posted by Inzane
    .... Ceiling mounted in the middle of the room, cool basement ...
    I don't have a projector (I'd like to get one in the future )... what room is above the it?

    Might be a vibration issue... You mentioned you have kids, so running around and jumping above might hurt the life of the bulb???
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    Originally posted by Inzane

    First bulb was 15 months and 1050 hr. That's 2.3hr/day. 2nd bulb was 12 months and 800 hrs. That's 2.2hr/day.
    UPDATE:

    Bulb # 3 is now showing signs of noticeable dimness, and current running time is in the 850-900 HR range.

    For this bulb I made absolutely sure to strictly adhere to running time always at least an hour, and not turning it on again after it's been shut down, etc. per Mitsu's advice. I also had the projector running in "ECO" mode much of the last two years.

    Real time wise I went 29 months this time, however my usage of the room has gone down obviously. (The running time vs duration works out closer to ~ 1 HR/day this time)

    On the one hand I guess it's good I've gone almost 5 years and haven't actually had to spend a dime on a new bulb. On the other hand it's disappointing that I've had three bulbs in a row fail to last even close to the advertised time.

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    I have an Acer and first bulb I got 5000 hours out of, onto a 2nd bulb now (300 hours) and it seems to be fine except when I plug in the chrome cast always changes the color profile to something other than RGB and the project freaks out and starts getting really fucking hot.

    I got my 2nd bulb for $105 from projector central. I think acer wanted $250 so it might not be an official acer bulb.

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    I've sold Epson projectors for years and they've consistently failed to get good lamp life.

    Not all of them, but enough of them that we now tell people about it before the purchase is made.

    They are still a great projector for the money though.

    A projector that'll meet its spec for lamp life is JVC

    On a different planet in terms of performance and price mind you.

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    Originally posted by Bytem3
    I've sold Epson projectors for years and they've consistently failed to get good lamp life.

    Not all of them, but enough of them
    That's good to know, thanks.

    I found a source for blubs on Amazon. $110 shipped, and per part # appears to be the oem bulb. Much cheaper than through Epson, or other sources.

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    I have a epson projector first bulb lasted 2500. 2nd bulb lasted 350 but was only $70. they did send a replacment and its in and working fine at maybe 15 hours on it.

    I moved my 50" plasma to the basement to fill in for the down time and i hate it. I love projectors, i will always have one from now on.

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    Originally posted by Inzane


    UPDATE:

    Bulb # 3 is now showing signs of noticeable dimness, and current running time is in the 850-900 HR range.

    For this bulb I made absolutely sure to strictly adhere to running time always at least an hour, and not turning it on again after it's been shut down, etc. per Mitsu's advice. I also had the projector running in "ECO" mode much of the last two years.
    And done. Bulb # 3 shit the bed two nights ago at 982 hours.

    Replacement installed and so far so good. This is the first time having to be actually out of pocket for a new bulb so I guess I can't complain that much.

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    I'd assume those rating hours are for a bulb turned on once and not turned off until it burns out. Much like the regular house type bulbs.

    My Panny projector was good for half the life printed on the package, but I had the unit on full power and not power save.

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    Originally posted by Minimalist
    I'd assume those rating hours are for a bulb turned on once and not turned off until it burns out. Much like the regular house type bulbs.

    If that was actually what they were doing that would be incredibly misleading to the consumer. And what a completely useless benchmark. Who in their right mind would leave a projector running in their house 24/7 for 4 months straight and be happy to change a bulb at that frequency?

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    Originally posted by Inzane


    If that was actually what they were doing that would be incredibly misleading to the consumer. And what a completely useless benchmark. Who in their right mind would leave a projector running in their house 24/7 for 4 months straight and be happy to change a bulb at that frequency?
    Of course it's misleading, it's advertising. As mentioned, it's the same as all other lightbulb lifetime ratings... not exactly based on real-life scenarios, but achievable under optimal conditions.

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