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The majority of data and video projectors use lamps as a light source. The only exception being LED projectors; you can learn more about LED projectors here.

What is a projector lamp?

Sometimes people get confused between a bulb or a lamp.

A projector bulb is the glass part. Once fitted inside a module or cage it becomes a lamp.

Projector bulb


Lamp module Arrow Projector lamp





Projector lamp

Usually a projector lamp can only fit one or a couple of projector models. Each projector needs a specific lamp.


Lamp types and manufacturers

Older projectors used low-cost Halogen lamps. These lamps gave a yellowish image and had a 50-100 hours lamp life.

Then projector manufacturers started to use metal halide lamps which last about 1000 to 2000 hours and give a whiter light.
Now projectors use various different types of metal halide lamps that can last much longer (some up to 6000 hours) and are smaller, lighter and brighter.

Projector bulbs used in lamps for the majority of projectors are made by just a few manufacturers.
The major manufacturers include Philips, Osram, Ushio, Panasonic/Matsushita, Phoenix and Iwasaki.
They produce the following bulbs:

  • Philips: Ultra High Performance (UHP)
  • Osram: P-VIP
  • Ushio: NSH
  • Panasonic/Matsushita: HS
  • Phoenix: SHP
  • Iwasaki: HSCR

OEM, compatible lamps and bulb only?

If you have bought a spare projector lamp before you may be aware of the different options available:

  • OEM or original lamp
  • Genuine lamp
  • Bare bulb
  • Refurbished or relamped bulb
  • Compatible or copy lamp

These options come a different prices and before you choose which is best for you, you need to understand what the differences are.

  • Original lamp

An OEM or original lamp is a lamp produced by the projector manufacturer. It is the same lamp as the one originally supplied with the projector and is produced to a very high standard.

OEM lamps use bulbs made by one of the manufacturers named above (e.g. Philips, Osram etc.) with a module designed by the projector manufacturer for a specific projector model.

  • Genuine lamp

A genuine lamp uses the same bulbs as used in an OEM lamps. The bulbs are then fitted in a third party manufactured module.

The lamps are manufactured to ISO9001 standards in a quality controlled and regulated environment.
They are put through thorough testing and strict quality checks to ensure the highest quality levels and performance are maintained.
The checks include Beam Performance, Ignition, Voltage, Appearance, Connections, and Runtime.

While the third party modules mean genuine lamps are slightly cheaper than the OEM versions, they still offer the highest performance levels.
Genuine lamps are not copies.

Examples of genuine lamps: Pro-Gen lamp, GO lamp, Diamond lamp

  • Bare bulb

As mentioned previously, a bulb or bare bulb is the glass part of the lamp that is fitted inside a module to make a complete lamp.

With some projector lamps it is possible and easy to remove and replace the bulb from the lamp while keeping the existing module. In these instances, it is possible to buy the bare bulb only.

Bare bulbs aren't the same as refurbished bulbs. They are brand new bulbs produces by Philips, Osram etc. as the ones used in original lamps, the only difference being they are supplied without a module.

Bare bulbs can help keep the cost of a replacement down without compromising on quality; and contrary to what some dealers may claim, there is no risk involved with the use of bare bulbs providing you follow the instructions.

  • Refurbished bulb

Refurbished or relamped bulbs are old bulbs where the burner that sits inside the quartz globe of the lamp has been replaced and the ceramics remoulded.

It is strongly advised not to use refurbished bulbs.

  • Copy lamp

A copy lamp, also known as compatible or immitation lamp, is made of a bulb and module entirely manufactured by an unregulated third party.

These lamps are not manufactured to the same high standards as original and genuine lamps. They quite often offer much lower performance and shorter lamp life and some even pose a safety risk.

Copy lamps can be found on auction sites or from some dealers at significantly lower prices than OEM or genuine lamps, however they are a false saving.

DO NOT BUY COPY LAMPS - Buy from a reputable dealer


How do I know if a lamp is a copy?

Often it is not easy to spot a copy lamp. To limit the risks you should buy from a reputable dealer and avoid auction sites (in particular sellers based abroad).
If you are unsure about a lamp you have bought, here are a few things you can check:

  • The box

Copy lamps are often supplied in plain boxes without any marking or label on them. While this on its own may not be a definite sign of a copy, please be aware.

  • The description

If it says, "Compatible with" or has a generic description such as "120 watt", it could mean the lamp is not an original.

Also if the label has a list of various projector models from different manufacturers, the lamp is not original.

If there is a manufacturer named on the box and it is different to the projector manufacturer, it could be a branded lamp, not an original.
The exception being when a manufacturer has rebranded another manufacturer's product (e.g. Sanyo and Eiki)

  • The bulb

Original bulbs have markings and branding on them that are specific to their manufacturer. If you still have the original lamp from your projector you can compare the markings.

For example, Philips bulbs will carry UHP numbers while Osram bulbs will carry P-VIP numbers.

There should also be other marks including mercury, recycling and/or caution marks.

  • The price

If the price is significantly cheaper than that you have been given by reputable dealers and generally looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If you have any doubts, contact the dealer and ask for more information, in particular on what the warranty details are.