Welcome back to the ongoing blog series, Understanding Projector Technology, brought to you by the team at Experience Audio Video! This week we’re looking at another very important aspect of projector technology: light sources.

At the heart of every projector is one of three types of light source. The type of light source you choose has some ramifications for how your projector will perform, so let’s look at the details for these three light sources.

Standard Lamp

The traditional projector light source, the standard lamp is perhaps the most common as well. If you’ve worked with projectors for a few years, you’ve probably seen this type. It’s the most affordable option, and it performs reasonably well.

On the other hand, as far as longevity goes, standard lamps are the worst of the bunch. Under normal operating conditions, standard bulbs in a modern projector usually last between 3,000 and 4,000 hours. This is far better than they could do even a decade ago, but it’s also a far shorter lifespan than the other two types.

LED

The newer kid on the block, LED projector bulbs can last an impressively long time, as much as 20,000 hours. They don’t take up much space or generate nearly as much heat. If you need a quiet-running projector, LED can be a great choice.

Older LED bulbs were limited in color gamut and brightness, but the technology has improved on both fronts.

A word on price: the cheap ones are cheap for a reason and may not last. Quality LED bulbs tend to be more expensive than standard lamps.

Laser

Think of laser projection assemblies as LED on steroids. They’re much more expensive and much more powerful. 30,000 lumens isn’t unheard of with laser. With laser projectors, the light source usually never needs replacing.

Laser makes the most sense in very large venues and outdoor spaces. Installing a laser projector in the conference room, then, is probably overkill.