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NEC Projector Lamp Fails To Light: How To Fix It?

a white NEC projector

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I remember the first time I handled a faulty projector lamp. I had a presentation to make in about a day. And as I was going through the last-minute checks, I realized I couldn’t get the projector to light up.

I fumbled with the projector for what seemed like hours. The truth? I had no clue what to check. 

I could feel the waves of desperate panic rising from my gut.

Zach walked into a comical sight of me moving from the projector to the laptop where I was composing an email to my supervisor, explaining why we were not going to have a presentation.

When I finally muttered my dilemma, Zach, my tech-savvy roomie, said, “Ah, let’s see.” And in less than 10 minutes, the projector was back on. 

It’s been many years since that projector mishap. As I look back on that incident, I chuckle. Because I’m a lot better with gadgets now.

If your NEC projector lamp fails to light, I hope the quick fixes I share below will save you the agony I went through.

Materials Needed

  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement lamp (maybe)

Step 1: Power cycle the projector (i.e., turn it off/on)

Turn the projector off and unplug it from power. 

unplug black cable

Wait a few minutes, then plug it back into power and turn it on. 

Sometimes, the lamp will fail to light due to a temporary error within the system. Power cycling the projector often clears such glitches and restores functionality.

If a temporary error was the cause, the lamp should now operate as before. If the issue doesn’t go away, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Check whether the lamp cover is securely attached

Switch off the projector, then unplug its power cord. 

Inspect the lamp cover to see whether it is secured. 

  • In most NEC projectors, the lamp cover is situated at the top rear part of the projector. In some models, however, it may be located elsewhere. For example, on the side.

The cover should lie flat in its slot such that it is level with the projector’s casing. 

NEC NP-MC423W LCD Classroom Projector

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If it appears raised, you’ll need to remove it and reattach it the right way. 

To do that, loosen the screw that holds the lamp cover. The screw is non-removable, so you only need to make it loose enough to release the cover. If your projector uses a different type of fastener, you may want to check this manual to know how to unfasten.

Slide the lamp cover back and up to remove it. 

Align the cover with the slot and slide it forward to reseat it. It should click as if it’s latched onto a notch. 

Tighten the screw. 

Power on the projector and check whether the lamp is now working. 

No change? Go to Step 3. 

Step 3: Replace the lamp

Most NEC projectors have a user-replaceable lamp. In this case, replacing the lamp may be the solution. 

NP21LP Replacement Projector Lamp

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For models where you can’t replace the lamp, contact NEC Support for guidance on what to do next.

Replacing the projector lamp is the last resort. And you only do it when you’ve eliminated all other possible lamp errors, which Steps 1 & 2 help you do.

How can you tell that it’s time to replace the lamp?

If you recall seeing a lamp replacement message on the screen, then the lamp has, without a doubt, reached its end of life. On NEC projectors, the lamp replacement warning pops up when the bulb has 100 operating hours left (see pg. 132). 

Subsequently, the screen brightness diminishes gradually, another sure sign that the lamp is on its deathbed. Once the 100 hours are up, the projector won’t turn on.

But once you replace the old lamp with a new one, your projector should spring back to life with 100% functionality.

Here’s how to replace the projector lamp:

  1. If the projector had been on for a while before the lamp suddenly went out, switch off the projector and unplug it from power.

Wait 1 hour for it to cool before removing the lamp.

  1. Use a screwdriver to loosen the lamp cover screw. This screw is not removable, so don’t struggle to get it out. It’s meant to remain in position after you remove the cover.
  2. Now slide the lamp cover back and lift it up to remove it. 
  3. Next, remove the lamp housing.

To do that:

Locate the three screws holding the lamp housing and loosen them using the screwdriver. Some NEC projectors have two screws. Like the lamp cover screws, these screws are non-detachable. 

Hold the lamp housing by the two bits protruding like handles and lift it. 

  1. Take the new lamp housing and insert it in the socket where you just removed the old lamp housing. 

Ensure that the screw holes line up with the three screws in the socket. 

  1. Tighten the screws.
  2. Replace the lamp cover by placing it into its slot and sliding it forward until it snaps into position.
  3. Tighten the lamp cover screw.

Important things to note about replacing the lamp

1. Your NEC projector lamp has a definite lifespan, measured in hours. 

Most projector lamps will give you at least 2,000 operating hours. 

A fair number of NEC projector lamps have a lifespan of 3,000 or 4,000 hours. And NEC models in the ME Series  can last up to 20,000 hours.

NEC NP-ME453X LCD Classroom Projector

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It may look like a small number, but 2,000 hours can be equivalent to 5 or more years if you use the projector occasionally.

Or when you usually use the projector in the resource-efficient Eco Mode.

It’s crucial that you know how long your lamp life is and make plans for a replacement immediately. A slight delay in replacing the lamp and your projector may pop, leading to damage to the other components, and release dangerous mercury vapor. 

2. Use the appropriate replacement lamp. 

Projector replacement lamps are designed to be compatible with specific projector lamps. And so, not every replacement lamp is suitable for your projector lamp.

Avoid buying any random lamp readily available to you. Likewise, don’t choose a given replacement unit because your friend Gabby used it on their projector. 

Instead, use the replacement lamps that NEC recommends  for your projector model. Check your user manual to see the projector lamp replacements you can use with your projector.

NEC VT85LP Replacement Lamp for Projector

Click image for more info

You may also find this information on the NEC website. Just type in your projector model number followed by “replacement projector lamp” on the search box. 

Alternatively, contact the NEC Customer Support team and ask them. 

When buying the replacement part, it will also have a list of compatible projectors in the description. But it doesn’t hurt to confirm from the manufacturing company itself.

Step 5: Reset the NEC projector lamp

After replacing the lamp, you must reset the lamp usage hours so the projector can adjust and start the countdown anew. The lamp will not light, and the projector won’t work until this happens.

So here is how to reset the lamp hours:

Turn on the projector, go to Menu > Reset > Clear Lamp Hours.

If the projector won’t turn on and you can’t access the menu, press the HELP on the remote for 10 seconds. 

Doing this resets the clock back to zero, and the lamp indicator will then turn off. 

Your projector should now work as expected. 

Projector remote not working?

You can use the control buttons on the projector to reset the lamp hours. 

Do this:

  1. Turn on the projector.
  2. Press the Menu button. 

The control buttons for NEC projectors are located at the top of the projector. That’s where you’ll find the Menu button.

  1. Use the directional buttons to go to the Reset option. Scroll down and select Clear Lamp Hours.

The lamp hours will change to zero, and you can resume using the projector.

If you had previously replaced your projector lamp and couldn’t figure out why the projector still wouldn’t work, it may be because you didn’t reset the lamp hour counter.

Try this final step and see if that reprograms the projector and restores it to a working condition.

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