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The Difference Between a Bulb and a Lamp

A lamp consists of a bulb with a reflector and cage - also known as lamp housing. A bulb is just one part of a lamp. Think of it this way... A lamp is like an ink cartridge where is a bulb is just the ink. 


What makes Re-Lamping "Bad"

  • You could damage to your existing projector
  • You will void your manufacturer's warranty
  • Higher Potential for decreased lamp life
  • Time-Consuming and Involved


Relamping can help you spend less compared to buying a new lamp assembly. Sounds like a great idea, right? It can be, but people need to know that there is a risk involved. Relamping can have negative outcomes and could cause you to spend more money and time compared to purchasing a new lamp assembly.

To begin, let's explain what relamping means for those new to this topic...

Relamping is the process of fitting a new bulb into an existing projector lamp housing which can be done by either a 3rd party or the end user.

There are two products available on the market for customers who wish to save money by relamping; relamped lamps and bare bulbs.

A relamped lamp is an old lamp housing fitted with a new bulb. The process for installing a relamped lamp is the same as for a new projector lamp assembly, plug and play.

Installing a bare bulb (do-it-yourself relamping) involves carefully fitting the new bulb into the housing of the old bulb and then plugging the housing into the projector.

There are cases where, relamping is required such as Zenith. Christie offers relamping instructions and tools to save money on several of their high priced projector lamps. Still, relamping typically refers to getting an off-brand bare bulb instead of a name brand bare bulb.

Relamping sounds like the easy inexpensive way to do things, but you should be aware of a few things before considering do-it-yourself relamping.

Precautions to consider when Relamping

First, information about which bulb is compatible with each projector is not always accurate nor is it published by reliable industry sources. Imagine you are looking up information for a certain subject on the Internet; you never know if the information is accurate or if some uninformed person decided to blog about it and call it factual. A good example would be part references between Philips/OSRAM bulbs and name brand projector lamps. These references are known to as being unreliable by many experts in the industry.

2) Bulbs that are sold by themselves, without the lamp housing, can sometimes be inexpensive. However, these inexpensive bulbs are usually found and purchased from obscure vendors or on websites like eBay. The issue with this is that you do not know, nor will you find out, where these bulbs came from or if they're even reliable long lasting bulbs. Relamped lamps have a higher rate of DOA (dead on arrival) and blowup due to being moved around too much. To put this into perspective, think about handling a regular light bulb. You have the glass bulb in your hand. Now throw it up and down like a ball, shake it a little bit, and jiggle it left and right. OK, what are the chances that all the tiny parts inside the bulb are still in place or as sturdy as before? Slim of course and you'll most likely now have a light bulb that will either not work when you screw it in, or it won't last long once usage has begun.

3) When purchasing a new bulb to insert into your existing projector lamp housing you will be required to do this yourself. By relamping yourself, you run the risk of damaging the bulb and the lamp housing as well as voiding your projector warranty. If this does occur, you end up spending hundreds on a new bulb that you just broke as well as having to purchase a full replacement lamp as a result. It's also good to note re-lamped housings are old and have been used time and time again. This wear and tear can cause the connectors to twist together or overlap and could lead to short circuiting the lamp and projector, an obvious and massive electrical hazard. Connectors also become worn down after use and depreciate in quality over time. This can affect the stability of electrical supply resulting in image flickering or possibly permanent damage to the projector.

4) In order to remove the bare bulb, the lamp module has to be taken apart, something which manufacturers have not planned for and therefore not made an easy task. Usually, relamping requires special tools that most people do not have at their disposal. These tools are used by professionals in a controlled airtight environment. Most projector lamp housings are not designed to allow easy access to the bare bulb and often have to be broken open during replacement. If the housing has to be broken, it can be difficult to rebuild the plastic (often impossible to get it back to its original condition). This means the lamp module may not fit correctly into the projector and can cause improper focusing as well as a fire risk. Even if the housing remains in good condition, the bulb has to be jigged or lined up perfectly inside the housing and the projector to display properly.

5) Besides the issues involved in purchasing and installing a lamp there are potential health issues involved with relamping. Projector lamps contain mercury which is very poisonous. There is a risk of damaging the old bulb while removing it from the housing. If the bulb cracks or breaks, mercury may leak out. The risk of spilling mercury from the bulb can cause serious health problems to those who come in contact with it. Proper disposal of mercury is also very important for your health and for the safety of anyone who comes in contact with the discharged lamp.

6) Dust particles can build up around the bulb and module over a long period of time when reusing the same lamp housing over and over again. These dust particles are difficult to remove completely, even if you are an experienced engineer. The dust particles retain extra heat within the housing as well as disrupting airflow that cools the lamp. Both of these elements shorten lamp life and can cause the projector to overheat or malfunction. A fire hazard can result.

7) Also, what if you have the lamp connected incorrectly once relamped and you just can't figure out why it isn't working? You can't call a lamp repair man to come by and check it out; there is no such thing. You cannot ask your father because he most likely doesn't know anything about a projector lamp. Doing things such as relamping can be quite a gamble that you have to decide if it's worth it to try. We would recommend sparing yourself the trouble and chance of failure with relamping by purchasing a brand new lamp, trouble free, and guaranteed to be satisfactory.


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