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OEM Inside Lamps Are Not all the Same

Original inside.  OEM Bulb Inside. “100% Authentic Lamps”. Diamond Lamps. Platinum Lamps. Manufacturer Original Lamps…


If you are taking the time to read this then you are probably in the market for a new lamp for your projector. 

Buying a new lamp can be confusing when you have to wade through the marketing lingo and creative and often misleading wording.  These are all terms used to describe the type of bulb used in the lamp for your projectors. We authored a Blog post Projector Lamps - Untangling the Confusion a few years ago.  We thought it time to revisit this to shed some light on the newest and most misleading information that keeps popping up.

The above wording could lead you believe these are the same lamps as the manufacturers lamps.

My goal is to help you understand what you are buying and to make sure you get the best value for your money.

Bulb Cage Lamp


There are currently 6 OEM Bulb manufactures in the world. Those manufacturers are Philips, Ushio, Phoenix, Osram, Iwasaki-Eye and Matsushita. No other company makes an original projector lamp (OEM Lamp). Any other brand of bulb is a compatible. Compatible lamps are the lowest quality lamps on the market, it shoudl be obvious by the price.  Let's say the OEM is 250.00 and you see what looks like a deal at 46.00... It's a Compatible for sure!

Most projector manufactures don't make their own Lamp housings.  They contract this to other companies who have the necessary molding equipment. That factory may make lamps for multiple companies.  In this case the lamp is molded by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and then labeled as a Optoma, Epson or Panasonic part. When the projector manufacture designs and engineers the projector, they decide on a bulb specification and manufacturer that fits the parameters of the performance they want to get out of the lamp and projector.

These same companies make a lot of the aftermarket versions of the same lamps.

This brings us to aftermarket lamps. Some vendors list OEM Bulb or 100% Original Bulb when that is not necessarily the case. Some companies will substitute a bulb that is made by one of the main 6 companies in the aftermarket and while its still technically an Original bulb, it's not a suitable replacement for any number of reasons.

Your projector needs a new lamp, you take to the internet.  You look around and you see people selling them with Original bulbs inside. Here is where it gets triecky.  Many Projector manufactures use Philips Lamps. It is true that Osram likley makes a bulb of similar specs and the same size but it is not the same. The focal point of the arc tube is in a different place.  While the bulb will light, and display an image the image may not be as bright as the Philips version. It also may cause stray light leakage.  This isn’t Osram’s fault.  They designed the bulb to run properly in another lamp where the Philips may have a focal point miss-match.  The simple reason for this is cost.  It makes it look like you are getting the same-as-the-original when in reality you are not.

Original Inside, does not mean you are getting a Genuine Replacement!

The scenario I explained above is far from exclusive to Philips. In fact every projector manufacturer except Panasonic have their lamps made for them.  They all use multiple bulb brands like Philips, Ushio, Phoenix, Osram and Iwasaki-Eye (never in the same model).

Osram Philips Ushio


Panasonic is the only company who manufactures their own bulbs and lamps.  They are owned by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.  They are a huge Japanese company who have the capabilities to make their own bulbs and lamps.  Panasonic is the one and only company you cannot buy aftermarket with their own bulbs inside.  Did you know Epson uses an OEM company called Iwasaki-eye and Philips to make their bulbs?  It's true! 

Consumers have been able to buy Genuine OEM replacements or Compatible replacements.  Nothing in between.

Fortunately a few years ago Ushio and Phoenix decided it was time to make a replacement that was custom designed to work as an (Original Inside) Matsushita bulbs. Rather than take an existing bulb and cram it into a reflector.   They took to the drawing board and engineered the gas mix, the arc tube and refectory to properly recreate the same specs that the Matsushita bulb had. They did it in such a way that did not violate any patents. This gave us a very reasonably priced option for an out-of-warranty projector to use for replacement lamps.

Lamp diagram

 While this was successful, sometimes the vendors who sell these take advantage of the situation and will try and cram a Phoenix into an Epson lamp because the Phoenix bulb is $20 less than the Osram that would work better. They take the stance that, “it fits so it ships” when in reality,  that is doing us a huge disservice.


At we have been selling Diamond Lamps for years.

Our line of Diamond Lamps makes swapping modules a quick, safe and reliable way to replace a projector lamp.  As an Authozied Diamond Lamp reseller we offer the best availiable inventory and the Best Warranty, Two Full Years.  

Diamond Lamps sources our projector lamps directly from the original manufacturers who supply the leading projector brands, so our lamps provide the same performance in terms of colour, lifetime and brightness.

But, with fewer steps to market, Diamond Lamps can be priced up to 50% lower than lamps bought as replacements under projector brands.

Diamond Lamps

 There are many other aspects to substituting a lamp. When Ushio made their Matsushita replacement, they made sure the heat generated would be dealt with the same as the original. Sellers who do not know what they are doing substitute bulbs they are not checking for things such as cooling or airflow.  They don’t check the focal points of the light or the startup voltage required. Sometimes they will even use a 200W bulb in place of a 150W bulb.  It’ll light, but it’s going to fail early.

Next issue is Counterfeits. I have personally seen counterfeit Ushio bulbs being sold as original by other less than upstanding companies.  Unfortunately the amount of counterfeits in the USA and Canada are on the rise with the East openeing several new Chinese Online Marketplaces that ship worldwide.

Where does this leave you the consumer?  Hopefully with a little more insight into where your lamps come from and how to know what is what.

To help further, here are a few tips to keep in mind while shopping for your lamp.

  • Know your bulb type and wattage.  Look at the back of your bulb inside the housing. It will list the specs. 
  • Make sure the company you are shopping with has that bulb listed under the lamp type. They may or may not have the bulb wattage listed. (We have BOTH )If not, do not hesitate to ask them for that info. Any decent company will share that with you.
  • If they are substituting one original brand for another, be skeptical. Not all substitutes are bad or incorrect mind you, but if you see an Ushio in place of an Osram, I would be very skeptical for the simple reason that Ushio bulbs  generally cost more than Osram bulbs. Again, ask them.  If you were to ask us, we could tell you why we use what we use and what testing we did to confirm its use.
  • Be wary of any advertisement that uses glowing (no pun intended) for the bulb name.  ie. “Platinum or Gold Lamps”  If you need to make a fancy names for your lamps, then maybe it’s not that great of a lamp(just my personal opinion). If it’s not one of the 6 names above, that makes the bulb a compatible and those are a waste of your time and money.
  • Warranty Status. Unfortunately in Canada and the USA, the warranty on your projector can be vioded if you use anything other than an OEM  lamp as a replacement. Once your warranty expires you are free to use whatever you want.  Until it expires your warranty can be denied if you were to need service and sent in your projector with a non-OEM lamp.

Hopefully this enlightened your knowledge on why not all Original inside lamps are the same.

Bottom Line, You do get what you pay for.


Posted Feburary 4th 2020 by Kevin Benton

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