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In the past projectors have used halogen lamps which lasted just a few hours but were cheap to buy.
Today most conventional digital projectors use metal halide lamps that can last between 1000 to 6000 hours.

A new type of projectors now use LED or a combination of LED and laser (known as hybrid light source) as a light source. This allows for much lower cost of ownership and far longer life span without the need for replacement lamps.

Are LED projectors different from DLP or LCD projectors?

The short answer is no.

LED refers to the light source while DLP or LCD refers to the technology used to form the image.
Many LED projectors use DLP technology.

How does it work?

Instead of the usual metal halide lamp, the projector has LED with or without laser light sources shining through the condenser lenses onto the chip that forms the image.

LED light source

Example of a Hybrid light source (LED and Laser) from Casio


LED light source

Example of LED light source from


What are the benefits and downsides of LED projectors?

The main benefit is that LED light sources can last up to 20.000 hours so there is no need for costly replacement lamps over that time.
Even if used for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, it will last nearly 10 years.

LED only light sources are used primarily in ultra portable projectors.
Because the LEDs are so small, run much cooler and use a lot less power than conventional projector lamps, they allow projector manufacturers to create much smaller projector that can run on battery.
These projectors can be carried in your pocket or laptop bag. They are often compatible with mobile phones or other portable devices so they are ideal for quick presentations, to watch a movie in your hotel room or to show your friends some holiday photos on a big screen.
Be aware however that they aren't as bright as standard projectors so the image size is limited and they need to be used in a dark room.

LED and Laser Hybrid projectors on the other hand offer the same brightness levels as other standard projectors (up to 4000 lumens) but they can cost more to buy initially.
The extra initial cost can be balanced by the fact that you won't have to buy a new lamp every 2000 hours.


Example of possible saving when using a Hybrid light source projector

Projector type Projector initial cost Number of replacement lamps needed over 3 years Total cost of ownership
Metal halide light source


Projector: £350
Replacement lamps: 3x £150
Total: £800
LED & Laser hybrid light source


Projector: £699
Saving: £101


When choosing between a standard projector and a Hybrid light source projector, do check what the total cost of ownership would be for your usage before deciding which would work out cheaper for you.

NOTE: You cannot change the light source on LED projectors so be aware that when the light source is at the end of its life you will need to buy a whole new projector.