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Projector LED Lamp or Laser, which is the best choice for you?

Projecteur Lampe LED ou Laser, quel est le meilleur choix pour vous ?

With all the hype around new solid-state projection light sources, namely lasers and LEDs, it might seem that the use case for lamp projection is quickly fading into the annals of history.

However, while LED and laser video projectors offer considerable maintenance and long-term cost benefits, their higher upfront costs may come as a shock to some customers, although in the sub-6000 lumens projector market, prices have now dropped to the point where most will consider a laser projector a more economical choice.

Now let's look at what makes each technology unique, and when you might choose one over the other.

Projection lamp

The time-tested projection lamp has been around for decades and has constantly seen new innovations, such as brighter light and longer lifespan. However, for most of its history, its lifespan was measured in hundreds of hours; It's only in the last ten years or so that we've started to see projection lamps with over 1000 hours.

Alongside the evolution of lamps, the need for increasingly higher light output has led to the introduction of dual lamp systems. This achieved the desired effect, but also increased maintenance costs to keep the unit running.

The most recent projectors now boast lifespans of 5,000 hours and even 10,000 hours if the projector is used in "Eco" mode, which reduces lamp power in favor of longevity. With numbers like that, it's hard to say that lamp projection is on its way out.

So why choose a lamp solution over a solid-state solution? The simplest answer is that lamp projectors are best for those who only use projection intermittently, such as movie night once a month or twice a week in a classroom. It could easily be argued that churches, especially small churches that don't have many activities during the week, could still find a valid use case in lamp projectors, which are now less expensive.

However, the long-term impact of needing to replace lamps must be considered. Even with a long lifespan of 5,000 hours, when a small church has a burned out projector lamp, how available will a replacement lamp be? Will we need to find a replacement lamp in five years? Maybe ten years or more?

Even so, I would say that in many cases, lamp projection remains a viable and more affordable solution.

LED projection

Until fairly recently, most LED projectors didn't offer impressive numbers: low brightness, poor quality imaging chips producing less desirable imagery, and lots of foreign and off-brand manufacturers flooding the market. market with substandard products have left many consumers wary, and for good reason.

However, in 2017, Hitachi was the first to announce a 3,500 lumen LED projector, which paved the way for other manufacturers like Optoma, Panasonic, Epson, and Casio to release full LED or hybrid LED projectors. /laser.

As with laser motors, LED models, which are generally more affordable, can boast 20,000 hours or more of operation and require virtually no maintenance (most still have filters that need to be cleaned at recommended intervals). . These projectors can be of great help to those who have picoprojectors installed in hard to reach places or who use their projector every day and would therefore burn out a lamp at a faster rate. In this case, frequent use means better long-term value. Another benefit that may not be immediately obvious is that using a solid-state light source can result in a reduction in heat generated, which can have a significant impact in small spaces or orientations unique, for example when you mount a projector at a non-standard angle. Museums, art installations, and environmental projection immediately come to mind as potential use cases for this feature.

LED light sources have been around for a long time in the lighting industry, but they are relatively new to the professional projection market and, as such, still have a way to go before catching up with projection lamps and laser projection in terms of light output. But, given the incredible amounts of money being invested in LED research, I wouldn't be surprised to see brighter, even more durable LED solutions hitting the market as early as late 2019 or early 2020. We've already seen new models showcased for the home theater and professional projector segments at CES 2019 and this year's ISE, which feature 4K resolution, ultra short throw capability, and 3,500 lumens output.

Laser projection

Arguably one of the fastest growing segments of the professional AV industry, laser projectors have similar features to LED projectors, such as a 20,000 hour lifespan, virtually maintenance free, lower heat generation, possibility of non-standard angle mounting, etc.

The main difference between laser and LED is that laser projectors can be purchased with higher light output (up to and potentially beyond 30,000 lumens), meaning large venues can now take advantage of the reduced long-term cost of ownership that solid-state lighting engines bring. Large churches, theaters, schools, exhibitions with outdoor projection, and other spaces and applications that require large format projection can use laser to reduce costs without sacrificing brightness, color saturation, or quality of the image.

Additionally, you can find a laser option in virtually every industry vertical, be it travel, business, education, facilities, touring, etc., while Specialized professional LED projector options for certain segments are non-existent or under development.

For the most part, laser projection technology is currently ahead of LED technology in these sectors, but I expect this distance to narrow over the next couple of years.


In terms of costs, we are seeing a downward trend across the industry, with lamp-based projection at the lower end of the scale. Why this change? At this point in the industry's history, we see manufacturers moving away from a model dependent on customers replacing filters and lamps to simply replacing projectors as a whole.

What is the right choice for you? I would say it all depends on how many hours you plan to use your projector each week, as well as the budget you have. For my own projector, I opted for a 5,000 hour lamp life model because it fit my budget and my use of a few hours per week.

However, if you need your projector for several hours per week, and/or if it must be installed in a hard-to-reach location, laser or LED may be a better solution for you. Remember, however, that you will probably need to clean the filter from time to time, regardless of which technology you choose.

Ultimately, it's important to do your research, as purchasing a projector for the home or for a business/institution can be a significant financial outlay. Other factors should also be considered in your decision - the number of lumens you need, the ambient lighting in your space, the resolution you require, the content you display (mostly text, mostly images /films or a mix of the two?), the size of the screen you need, the screen hardware you use or have, and how your projection needs are expected to change over the next five years . These are all questions you should ask, and answer, before making your purchase to avoid buyer's remorse and ensure that you are happy with your projection system now and in the future.

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