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Lamp Projector Vs. Laser Projector

Which Projector will you choose?  Lamp Projectors Vs. Laser Projectors

Lamp based projectors have been around for many years, Laser projectors are fairly new in the past few years.  With so much Hype around Laser projectors, we thought it time to dive into the technology and talk about what going on here, it might seem lamp-based projection is becoming obsolete.  We don’t think so!

Let's take a deep look into what makes each technology unique, and why you might choose Laser over Lamp projection or vice versa.

Let’s start with Lamp based projection and move onto Laser.

Lamp Projectors

Lamp based projectors have been popular for more than 20 years. They have proven technology that still continues to dominate the projector market. Over the past 25 years we have seen many improvements to projectors, notably increased resolution, brightness and lamp life.   When Lamp Based projectors started to become popular it was typical to see a brightness specification of 500 Ansi Lumens with a limited lamp life.  Let’s use the Epson ELP-3000, it hit the market in 1995. With a Limited VGA resolution (640x480), 250 Ansi Lumens and lamp life of 600 hours.  This thing was a beast at almost 20lbs. Let’s skip forward 10 years later, projectors are getting better.  Projectors are now brighter and have much higher resolution and lamp life.  Let’s use the NEC LT380 which started shipping in late 2005.  It boasted an XGA resolution (1024x678), 3,000 Ansi Lumens and a lamp that lasted 2,000 hours.  That seems like a huge improvement and it was.  Also notable is the price, it cost about $3,500.00 Less than half of the Epson ELP-3000 10 years earlier.    

Projector Lamp                                       

Let’s move forward another 10 years, we are using a Optoma WU515 Projector as our reference projector that started shipping in 2015, that currently sells right around $2,400.00.  It features a huge improvement in resolution boasting a WUXGA native resolution (1920x1200) , 6,000 Ansi Lumens and a lamp life of 3000 hours in it’s bright mode and up 5,000 hours in eco mode. The replacement lamp for this projector is BL-FU365A and sells for approximately $250.00

Optoma WU515

Today we are seeing huge lamp performance with newer projectors that offer  4,000/10,000/15,000 (Bright/ECO/Dynamic) lamp modes like the Optoma EH412.  Amazing to say the least and with a lamp cost around $300.00 it’s a great value in terms of cost per hour.

Our Summary – Lamp based projectors are affordable and offer brightness levels that are very affordable.  One of our customers said it best: “New bulbs are like receiving a new projector, the difference is striking

Link New


Laser Projectors

Who doesn’t love new Tech!  We sure do.  Well Laser sure is the buzz word when talking about the latest offering of projectors from ever projector manufacture.  Laser is a new market for projectors and they are getting lots of attention and for good reason. With 20,000 hour life, virtually maintenance free operation, what’s not to love? Today’s Laser is considered a premium product and sells at premium price.  We will get into that shortly!

Currently laser projectors offer up to 10,000 Ansi Lumens, a good example of this large venue projector is the Optoma ZK1050. If features some incredible specifications:  4K UHD image resolution (3840 x 2160) 300,000:1 Dynamic, 2,000,000:1 Extreme Black enabled Contrast Ratio. With 6 interchangeable lens options, you are sure to find one to suite your needs. This projector is pricey with a MSRP of $65,659.00.  Laser projectors manufactures are telling us that they will be offering 30,000 lumens in the future.

Optoma ZK1050

Laser Projectors offer high quality images just like Lamp based projectors.  A Laser projector might be perfect for any hard to reach location. Laser projectors ARE definitely more of an initial upfront expense.  In some cases, much more.  However, it is important to consider the cost of the investment of the lifetime of the projector. Most laser projectors offer a 5 year warranty or 12,000 light source warranty, whichever comes first.  Laser projectors rate the light source for a specific number of hours, in most case this is 20,000 hours.  When you do always get told about is the Half Life.   Let us explain, the half life is the rating which represents how bright the laser light source will be after the specified lamp hours.  The typical half life of laser projectors is 50%.


This is a typical disclaimer from Laser projector manufactures.  This is from Epson and published on their website, and yes we made the font smaller just like they do!

*No required maintenance for the light source and filter up to 20,000 hours. Approximate time until brightness decreases 50% from first usage.

 Regresive Decay


Which to Choose – Our Conclusion

If costs are a factor and they usually are, here is an important bit of information to take in. Two comparable projectors the Optoma ZU606T which is a 6,000 Ansi lumens projector has MAP of $4,699.00.   A comparable Lamp based projector is the Optoma WU515 also rated at 6,000 Ansi lumens with a MAP of $2,409.00, both are WUXGA.  These projectors are nearly identical in terms of specification.  Major difference here is the COST!   The Laser projector is nearly twice the cost.   The replacement lamp for the WU515 is $249.00 and is rated for 3,000 hours.

Here comes the Math!  Here is where the advantage slips away.   You just invested in your new 6,000 Ansi Laser.  At 10,000 hour usage it’s producing only 4,500 lumens, at 20,000 hours it’s down to 3,000 lumen, and it downhill from there.  Remember there is no lamp to change right.  Unfortunately it is cost prohibitive to replace the laser solid state device.  You are not let with the only option but to replace the projector.   Imagine your projector is running 24/7 that’s about 8,700 hours per year.  At the end of your first year your projector is down to 4,500 lumen and just after the 2nd year you are down to 3,000 hours.  Half Brightness with no option but to replace it. 

Let factor the Lamp based model for comparison, at 3000 hours your lamp needs replacing. $250.00 later and your projector is back up to 100% brightness (6,000 Ansi Lumens) you continue using your projector for another 3,000 hours and it’s time for a new lamp again.  You see the picture!  You can make you Lamp based projector new again and restore full brightness with each lamp change, this is just not possible with Laser projectors.

Posted Feburary 13th 2020 by Kevin Benton

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