Q. I’ve been thinking of building my own Home Theater with a projector rather than a traditional TV. But I hear that projector lamps don’t last very long. Is that true? — Carl, Boston, Massachusetts.
Carl, it depends on your definition of “very long.” But generally speaking, a LCD projector lamp should last between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of viewing.
Of course, that number can vary. Like any kind of bulb, it might go dead in fewer hours than that, or it could last even longer. But if you buy a brand-name bulb that’s compatible with your projector, you should get at least 2,000 hours of viewing.
Now, how long is that in real-time?
To use myself as an example, I’ve had a Sony VW60 Home Theater Projector, which has a Sony VW60 bulb, for nine years, and I watch it quite a bit. I used my projector for more than 2,200 hours before I needed a new bulb.
Two more tips: Most Home Theater projectors will allow you to set them at Full Power or on Economy. If you set the projector on Economy, the bulb will last longer, but you might not like the picture as well.
Plus, if you set your projector’s picture mode at Vivid or Dynamic, it will burn the bulb faster than if you set it at Cinema or Standard. Vivid or Dynamic will deliver a brighter picture (which not everyone prefers) but it might mean changing the bulb a few hundred hours earlier.
Finally, a replacement bulb for a Home Theater projector will likely set you back around $200-300.
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— Phillip Swann