Good Bulb, Bad Bulb, Best Bulb, What Bulb?

Buying a replacement projector lamp should be a very straight forward process.  You find the model number or lamp number and plug it into your search engine of choice and then buy the one that appears.  Anyone who has bought one knows that is not what actually happens.

You end up with a page full of links with prices that can have over a $100 spread of difference in cost.  This can even happen on the same website.  Many sites list a Good, Better and Best option with prices that match.

What is the difference and what bulb should you buy?  These are the two questions I look to answer.  First lets go over what Good, Better, Best and OEM really mean.

The Good lamp is the cheapest.  It is almost always a non-original bulb.  Usually these are made by companies overseas that have older equipment and copy a design with cost in mind over quality.  They are limited by the patents so they use other methods to obtain brightness.  These methods include using Krypton 85 gas where it normally would not be used.  They also tend to have a much lower quality rating over the lifespan.  They tend to fail early and not be as bright.  They are cheap though.  If you only need a few hundred hours then maybe the Good lamp is fine if $25 is your budget.

I mentioned that in this post if you are interested.  These are almost always in a cheaply made housing.  They are sometimes even recycled housings.  A dead lamp will have its bulb removed and new knock-off bulb installed and then re-sold as new.  From the authors point of view, there is no place for these lamps in anyway as there are always reasonably priced options that use more reliable parts but that isn’t the point here.

Keep in mind if you expect the normal 2-3000 hour life-span, the chances are low. Even buying multiple ‘Good lamps’ will end up costing you more in the long term. See my older post here where I explain why.

The “Good’r”, I mean Better lamp can be tricky.  These can be made with Original brand bulbs such as Philips and Osram, but installed in a lower quality housing. The housing is as important as the bulb.  The housing is what makes sure your bulb is properly aligned with the optics.  If the bulb is not aligned, then image may be dim at the least or even melt the internals at the worst.  I personally have seen an NEC that had its iris assembly melted because of a “Better lamp” that had a housing that wasn’t built right.  They also will not have the proper coating on the lens.  I go on about this coating a lot because it is critical for proper color wheel operation. Many of the Better lamps cut corners in places that seem reasonable to the manufacturer, but do not serve the end user very well.

They tend to run in the sub-$100 range, or about 1/3 the cost of an OEM(Original Equipment Manufacturer) lamp.  These can sometimes work just fine.  I have seen “Better” Epson lamps that worked perfectly fine.  The issue I see is that its hit or miss.  There is no consistency in he product lines. You will see these all over Amazon and eBay.  There are some brands that advertise a lot that you will see use terms like DLP in there name. These companies are the ones who tend to use word-soup to ‘inform’ you that you are getting the same lamp as the OEM when in reality you are getting 2 levels down.

In fact these lamps are the ones that I see cause the most problems in the projectors I see. They will have an Osram bulb but the housing will be cheaper and not vented correctly. Then the housing will let the bulb slip and then the bulb melts the internals of the projector.  On average these are about 2/3rd the cost of the Best lamps which means for $40-50 more, the problems would have been avoided.   You spend you money as you see fit, but I strongly advise staying far away from the Better lamps.  At least the cheap lamps will fail before ruining your projector…

The Best lamps are the lamps worth buying if you want to save money over the OEM.  OEM is the top tier cost wise. If you have a high dollar projector and it is under warranty, you may need to buy an OEM lamp when it fails or you may violate your warranty.  I think that is a bad policy but I understand the reasoning.

The Best lamps are as close to OEM as you are going to get without paying OEM prices.  Many time the Best lamps are made the same companies who make the OEM lamps.  They have a deal where once the projector is out of production or our of warranty, they can sell the OEM lamps themselves through non-OEM channels.    These lamps use the same bulb as the OEM and the housing is either exactly the same or has all of the important challenges covered. They use the proper air vent setup and lens coating.  They may also have a heat shield to protect the internals that the Better or Good lamps will not have. Best lamps do not worry about cost as much as quality.  They are always cheaper than OEM. Sometimes they are as much as 60% cheaper, yet they are the same lamp.  As someone who knows what it costs to build a lamp, I also know that OEM’s can cost as much as 300% more than the Best lamps and still be the same thing!

Best lamps are the Best value in my opinion.  They do not cut any of the corners that the Better or Good lamps cut.  They are not overly inflated price-wise and are definitely not lower quality.  In our case, they even have a 6 month(180 day) warranty.  The OEM only has an 80-90 day warranty from the best vendors.

When you inevitably go to purchase a lamp, you will see websites with multiple options. When you do I ask you to go back and read this blog post.  Once you read it, I hope you decide the close those other links and buy one from us, but if you don’t I hope you at least buy what you decide is right for you and do it with the confidence that decided for the right reasons.

Pureland Supply only carries the Best lamps(well we have some OEM) and we only use those with the Original Bulb Inside.  Give us a call or click today and get your projector back to where it was and save some of that money.

 

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