Cost Of Projector Bulb/Lamp Replacement (OEM Vs Generic)

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Newbies are scared away from the projector when they hear about the maintenance it requires. Yes, TVs require little to no maintenance, but the projector has its own pros. But bulb replacement is not a difficult task. You just need a simple guide to follow. So, how much does a projector bulb/lamp replacement cost?

At A Glance: Projector bulbs are of two kinds and each costs differently. The generic bulb will cost you from $60 to $150 and the OEM will cost you from $250 to $500.

Keep reading because I will discuss these two types of bulbs, and we will be discussing the pricing per bulb’s brand too. The bulb brands are different from the projector manufacturers. To spot the best bulb, keep reading the guide till the end.

The Two Types Of The Projector Bulb

The projector bulb has two types. The two types are not due to manufacturing methods or technology differences, but due to their purpose of manufacturing.

We will first read about these two types of bulbs, then we will compare them both. In order to know which is right for us.

What is an OEM projector bulb?

The OEM bulb is manufactured by a manufacturer that will be used in a specific brand’s projector. 

For example, Epson has a contract with EWA. The EWA will manufacture lamps for Epson projectors, as Epson itself is not a manufacturer of projector bulbs.

These bulbs are called OEM. When you are replacing your Epson projector’s bulb with an OEM. It means you have chosen the best product for your projector.

Read this guide to know which projection technology is the best? I have compared all of the 4 types. Choose the best for your home theater.

What is a Generic projector bulb?

The generic bulb is not made by a contract with a projector’s brand. 

The bulb manufacturers manufacture bulbs for every kind of projector.

These bulbs are cheaper than OEM bulbs.

The brands want to push their bulbs into the market for specific types of projectors.

But few brands try to cheat people by writing OEM in the product description. We will discuss many more points like these in the upcoming sections.

Let’s compare them both

OEM Bulb vs Generic. Which is better?

FeaturesOEM Bulb RatingsGeneric Bulb Ratings
Image Quality10/106/10
Life span10/102/10
Keep reading to know the explanation for these ratings

Price (Obtained from research)

Let’s suppose we use both of them for a 100 inches image size. Let’s calculate the price per inch of the image creation.

PriceOEM BulbGeneric Bulb
Per inch$2.5 – $5$0.6 – $1.5

Now, you can see that the OEM is very expensive and the Generic is cheaper. The Generic costs cents per inch of 100 inches image size.

In the price category, the generic is a winner. If the budget is your biggest concern then this will be helpful for you. Otherwise, keep reading the comparison.

Image Quality

The colors in the image produced by the OEM are brighter than the generic. But it doesn’t mean that all generic bulbs are bad. You can find a few that can be brighter. But it is very risky to rely on the generic.

The OEM bulb is a stamp of the best quality.

Also, the OEM bulbs can work fine in the economy mode. While the generic will flicker a lot on economy mode.

The generic will work fine when not in economy mode but a lot of generic bulbs face difficulties in economy mode.

In image quality, the OEM is the winner.

Read this guide about the best screen size for home theater? I have discussed the most common ones here.

Life Span

The life span of a generic bulb is very uncertain. It can work according to its labeled life or blow up after a few years of usage.

While the OEM can work for its complete life span when keeping the accidents aside. Accidents like a power sudden surge or a projector falling from the ceiling mount.

Know the exact life span of your projector by reading my this guide. For how many years the projector can last?

Which one is worth it?

The OEM is better because it is manufactured by the manufacturer on a contract for certain brands’ projectors.

Due to this contract. They are top-notch and will deliver the best. The OEM is the stamp of quality.

You can buy the OEM bulbs to have less probability of failure.

Read this guide, on the best projectors under $500. I have reviewed the top 7.

How to spot the best bulb?

This little guide was developed to pick the best bulb. Whether you are buying OEM or Generic, you will need this guide because few brands try to mislead consumers with the OEM label.

Check The Terminals Of The Bulb

These terminals are attached to the bulb directly. The bulb is enclosed in a metal housing. You can open these housings with a screw. It is easy, don’t worry. You can easily assemble the housing back without damaging the bulb.

Now that you have opened the housing. Check the terminals of the bulb. If they are attached loosely, then they are prone to spark a lot and cause the bulb to blow up.

The bulb that has sturdy and tight terminals is the best.

Read this short-throw projector buyer guide about choosing the best short-throw projector for yourself. I have included the most effective points.

Check the Serial Number On The Bottom Of The Bulb

There is a serial number on the bottom of the bulb. This number should have “AM” at the beginning of it.

The “AM” means that it is made for replacement purposes. The Bulb without “AM” means it is manufactured to be installed in the projector during the projector’s manufacturing session.

If it is not having the “AM” then it is fishy. It means they have refurbished the lamp with new parts. This means you are getting poor quality for a high price. 

How to spot a refurbished bulb? Read the next heading to know.

Check the Serial number on the bulb’s tube.

There is the serial number on the bulb’s tube and on the outer area of the bulb that encloses the tube. The outer surface looks like a dismantled umbrella.

Now, check the serial number on the tube and this outer area. If they both match, then it is not refurbished, and you are good to go with it. Otherwise, it means that the tube is cheap material installed in an expensive bulb.

This will deliver poor quality at a high price.

Did you get something out of this projector bulb guide? Hold On We Have Something Exciting To Share.

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Do the projector bulbs cost differently through each brand?

The projector bulbs don’t cost differently from brand to brand.

Their price is not dependent on the brands that manufacture them. The price differs from type to type.

Is the lamp different for each projection technology?

The lamp is not made distinctive for each projection. The product listing which says that “their bulb is specially designed for DLP projectors” is misleading you.

The lamp is the same for all projection technology. That’s why their life span varies from DLP to LCD. Because the LCD consumes a lot of light. The same lamp will have a shorter life on the LCD. They have not created specialized lamps that can last the same way as a DLP projector bulb.

What if you buy it from a third-party vendor?

You can buy it from a third-party vendor. But first, confirm that it is OEM or generic. If that is OEM then it is good because it means that they have built this lamp on demand based on the projector’s brand.

The third-party vendor usually sells generic lamps.

What if you buy it from the brand itself?

The brand itself provides the lamp replacement but that will be expensive as they use OEM lamps. But it is the best option if you are okay with a higher price.

You can get their replacement plan at the time of the projector’s checkout. Some brands provide free replacements within 1-3 months of buying the projector. They will replace it if it is blown up by any accident.

Why are projector bulbs so expensive?

The projector bulbs are expensive because the manufacturing process is difficult and also requires expensive materials to build with precision.

You have to build a bulb that lasts for a long and doesn’t overheat. Keeping quality and hazards in check is a very difficult task and a very expensive one. The brands are required to deliver bright images by keeping the bulb temperature lower.

What happens if you don't replace the projector bulb?

If you don’t replace the bulb in the required time it will result in the bulb blowing up. This can start a fire or damage the important components of the projection technology.

There are lenses of glass present in the projection device. These lenses can break and your projector will lose its projection ability.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. This was my opinion, read more about it on Chron’s blog. (Resource for the fifth answer)
  2. This was my opinion, read more about it in this AVsforum discussion. (Resource for the sixth answer)

Watch To Learn More

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Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

I'm Ayaan khan, a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After my degree, I started an internship with my father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month I realized that this is the best job in the world for me and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when my internship ended, I joined my father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. I test new equipment and approve it before it can be installed in the customer's house. I love to test equipment and sometimes love to install it by myself in the customer's theater room. I have the right experience and knowledge to learn from my articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy. If you have any questions for me. Reach out to my email (Support(AT)

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