Projector Light Source

Projector light source - iCODIS blog

There have been many changes for the projector light source technology in the past few years. From traditional projector lamps to laser light source, new projector light sources are more long-lasting, efficient and environmentally-friendly than previous ones.  

Projector itself, as a modern projection device, has gained more popularity over decades. Manufacturers have launched diversified product strategies for different industries, and launched projection products aiming for different usages such as entertainment, office, home and education.

The increasing market demand reflects the fact that projection products are gradually accepted by the public. With the increase of sales volume, the demand for spare parts and consumables related to projection equipment increases, among which, the projector light source occupies the largest proportion.

Projector Light Source

The light source is the core component of the projector equipment. At present, the projector products on the market are mainly divided into three categories according to the type of light source: bulb light, LED and laser light source. Let’s take a closer look at features, brightness, lifetime, cost, etc. to see how these three types of light sources are different.

Bulb light source

The commonly used are metal halide lamps, UHE lamps(Ultra High Efficiency lamp), and UHP lamps(Ultra High Performance lamp, UHP is a trademark of Philips Electronics). Metal halide lamps have lower cost and have a relatively short life span of 1000 to 2000 hours. They will decay after long-term use. The brightness is acceptable, but the stability, power consumption, maintenance cost and other factors determine that the halogen lamps are unable to meet today’s projector market. It is also expected to see it saying goodbye to the mainstream of light sources; UHE lamps and UHP lamps belong to ultra-high-pressure mercury lamps, which have high brightness, low attenuation and stable performance. The difference between the two lies in the cost and life. The cost and life of UHE lamps is moderate, mostly used in low-end projectors, while UHP lamp has higher cost, higher brightness and longer life, commonly used in high-end projection products such as many home and commercial projectors

high pressure mercury lamp

Ultra High Efficiency lamp(UHP)

Xenon lamp

Xenon arc lamp

LED light source

As energy-saving and environmentally-friendly light source, it has been used more and more commonly in projector products in recent years. The appearance of various micro-projectors and portable projectors is the best evidence. The advantages of LED light source are mainly reflected in stability, life, color saturation and so on. Taking the working life as an example, the life of the LED light source is generally more than 20,000 hours. If it is used for 8 hours per day, it can be used for 10 years without changing the light bulb, far exceeding the traditional projector light source. The projector using the LED light source has a rich color of the projected pictures, and its saturation and contrast are also higher than the one using the bulb light source.

LED light source for projector

LED light source

Laser light source

Laser light source is a newly developed technoology used  on projector products. Its principle is to cause the excited particles to emit light under the action of the stimulated radiation by take the advantage of the photoelectric effect. The brightness of the laser source is very high, and the brightness can be increased by increasing the number of laser emitters. A standard laser projector can reach thousands or even tens of thousands of lumens, and has a long service life and high stability basically without changing light resource. In terms of imaging effect, the color of the laser light source is clear, the monochromaticity is 10 times higher than that of the ordinary light source, and the contrast, saturation, and expressiveness are far beyond the bulb light source. The biggest disadvantage of laser light source is that the cost is too high. The home laser projector is a high-end product, and the price is generally more than tens of thousands of yuan, which is difficult for ordinary consumers to accept.

There’s also a new hybrid LED and laser diode system developed by Casio. This hybrid light source uses a combination of Light Emitting Diodes and 445 nm laser diodes as the light source, while image is processed with DLP (DMD) chip.

In summary, the three light sources of light bulb, LED, and laser have their own advantages and disadvantages. The bulb light source features high brightness, but it can’t keep up with the current market demand. The development has reached the ceiling; the LED light source is small in size, economical and environmentally friendly. It has occupied the majority of the micro projection and home theater projector market, and the market prospect is promising; the laser light source has excellent brightness and performance, but its development is constrained by the cost and the market outlook is unclear. It seems laser projectors might be a dominant player in the future without the hindering of the high pricing. One thing for sure, there would be continuous development in the industry and more sophisticated, satisfying projectors are coming to consumers.  

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