The heart of the projector is its lamp, which is its primary component.
This lamp is accessible in most of the models behind the projector door,
for easy replacement. At times projectors come equipped with two lamps,
both of which function together, or one may take over when the other one
fails. You may have come across the term UHP when purchasing a projector.
This stands for Ultra High Pressure lamps which are commonly used in
projectors, the other lamps are metal halide, and, for larger and upper
range projectors, Xenon lamps. Xenon lamps give better color images than
metal halide, but need more energy to operate and have a lower life span.
What is being called the lamp is actually an entire lamp module comprising
of the bulb, the reflector both encased in housing with leads for power
There is an integrator which receives the light of the bulb which is thrown
on it by the reflector, through a system of lenses. It is a very efficient
system that processes the image to appear sharp and all the pixels are
uniformly illuminated without wastage of light. The reflector is designed
to process all the light optimally. This is a very sophisticated system
which a layman does not need to understand, but, I am given to understand
that many papers are written about the system by technical people dealing
with the science of optics and photography.
What a end user of the projector needs to know and understand is that the
reflector concentrates the light from the projector bulb through a series
of lenses or a single lens so that as much light as possible can be
delivered on the screen, so that we get extremely sharp and life like
Bulb size and the problem with stray light rays
The manufacturers noticed problems arising from stray light rays. These,
since they were not directed directly on the screen, reduced the efficiency
of the projector by striking various other walls of the projector and also
leaking through the vents. If they escaped the projector they could strike
the screen in various places affecting the image and the color. So
innovative minds worked at this problem and found a solution, which is to
reduce the source of the light. The theory is that smaller the light
source, smaller the leakage, hence the size of the projector bulbs started getting reduced.
Innovative ways to make the small bulb create a great illumination have
been adopted. For instance metal halide lamps have a gas filled gap through
which light is created. However this has led to unwanted tungsten deposits
that darken the lamp and reduce its brightness. UHP lamps were introduced
by Philips which employs a pure mercury vapor arc under extremely high
pressure to create illumination. The arc gap is smaller than the halide gas
filled gap, and sidesteps the tungsten deposit problem. It also creates
much better light.
If we go in for high quality replacment projector bulbs the reflectors have much better quality material, the life span of the
bulb is much higher and if works to optimum efficiency for a longer period.
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