How to Tell if a Projector Lamp Is Bad

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Determine if a projector lamp is nearing the end of its life.

All projectors utilize a lamp of some type to illuminate and project the image. Over time, like all bulbs, these go bad. Modern projector bulbs normally do not fail catastrophically anymore, so instead of a damaged projector, there simply is no image. Additionally, today's units give visual feedback as to the lamp's status, offering an at-a-glance idea of the remaining bulb life. Generally, the more you observe the projector's operation over time, the easier it is to identify an ailing lamp.


Step 1

Turn on the projector. If the projector powers on, but there is no image, the bulb is probably completely expired.

Step 2

Look for a flashing red or yellow indicator light somewhere on the chassis of the projector. This is often a low lamp-life indicator. Examine closely to see if the flashing light corresponds to a lamp or bulb-style icon.

Step 3

Observe the projected picture if the projector still illuminates. Look closely for a flickering or wavering image, indicating a dying bulb.


Step 4

Look at the projected image to see if the projector is displaying a "Low Lamp" or similarly-phrased message. This indicates the factory bulb is past its recommended usage term.


Do not ignore lamp-changing indicators or recommendations displayed on the projector. Although it is highly unlikely, a lamp can "pop" if it dramatically exceeds its intended lifespan.


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David Lipscomb

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.