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OEM vs. Generic Projector Lamps: Are All Projector Bulbs The Same?


Replacing the lamp in your projector can seem like a difficult task. At times, language used by sellers isn’t exactly clear, and it can be hard to find which replacement lamp is the best quality for the money that you are spending.

It’s important to understand the language used by sellers when referring to projector lamps. When you are buying your new lamp, make sure that you find one that is a good mix of quality and cost.

When to Replace Your Lamp

man replacing projector lamp

Most of the time, you will only need to replace your lamp if the old one is growing dim.

However, you might want to replace your lamp if you are running into other issues, or if a replacement lamp you previously bought is not good quality.

When you are replacing your lamp, make sure that you choose one that is right for your projector, and what you will need from it.

What Does OEM Mean?

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. It is not as much a specific kind of lamp as it is a lamp that has been made to fit into a particular manufacturer’s projector.

Each projector has a lamp that has come from one lamp manufacturing company. When you buy an OEM replacement lamp, it means that you are replacing your original bulb with the same kind, and from the same manufacturer.

What Is a Generic Lamp?

A generic lamp is essentially any lamp that is not OEM, or made at the original manufacturer of the lamp that came with your projector.

Just because a lamp is generic, doesn’t mean that the lamp is not good. A generic lamp might be just as good as an OEM lamp, but you will likely have to look harder to make sure that a generic lamp is of good quality.

OEM lamps are popular because they are almost guaranteed to be good. They work perfectly in your projector because they were the ones that were designed to fit with that projector.

Read more: How To Test If A Projector Lamp Is Bad?

Lamp Versus Housing

lamp vs housing

Sometimes, you might see the lamp and the lamp housing referred to as two separate things. A lamp is the actual bulb, whereas the housing is what goes around the bulb.

Housing keeps the bulb (or the lamp) in place when it’s inside the projector. As long as it is keeping the lamp where it needs to be, housing does not have any effect on the lamp’s brightness or the projector’s image.

Because of this, some lamp sellers might have an OEM bulb, but a non-OEM housing for the lamp. This would likely be sold at a discounted price when compared to an OEM bulb in OEM housing, but there is really no difference between the two.

This might be called 50% OEM. If you see this, check the description to make sure that the bulb is a real OEM bulb before you purchase it to avoid mistakes.

Quality Lamp

In general, OEM lamps are considered to be quality lamps. However, you might be in search of another quality lamp, but with a discounted price.

If getting a replacement OEM lamp is out of your budget, or if you’d just like to save a little money, there are plenty of quality generic lamp options out there. You could even save by buying an OEM bulb in generic housing, which would be almost the same as a full OEM lamp.

A quality generic lamp will be less expensive than an OEM lamp, but they will not be the least expensive lamps that you could buy. A quality generic lamp is probably going to be somewhere in the middle of the price range of available lamps on the market.

In general, a quality lamp will last longer than a lamp that is less expensive. It might also have better materials, and could produce a better image than a less expensive lamp.

Inexpensive Lamp

Generic lamps will often be inexpensive when you compare them to OEM lamps. There is not the same amount of quality guarantee in a generic lamp than you would get with the recommended manufacturer lamp, so they are risky to buy.

Even though they are priced less expensive than OEM lamps, a generic lamp might not actually be the most cost-effective option.

When you buy a less expensive lamp, it’s more likely that it is going to burn out faster. Then, you are stuck having to buy another lamp to replace the one that burnt out.

With the amount of money you will spend on an inexpensive lamp and its quick replacements, you might even be spending more money than you would if you had just gotten an OEM or a better quality generic lamp in the first place.

While it’s possible to find decent inexpensive lamps, you’re better off spending a little more for some security.

How to Find the Right Lamp

oem projector lamp

Sometimes, sellers will try to use confusing language to make it seem like an inexpensive lamp is of higher quality. They might even use “OEM” in the description of a generic bulb listing.

Make sure that if you are looking for an OEM lamp, or at least an OEM bulb with a generic housing, that the listing specifically says that this bulb or lamp is OEM. If it does not explicitly claim that the bulb is OEM, then there’s a good chance that it is an inexpensive generic bulb.

In general, if you are not sure about the quality of the lamp, you should buy an OEM lamp. They are guaranteed to last a long time and to work perfectly with your projector.

If you are going to buy a generic lamp, make sure that you look into your options before you make any purchases. Look at the reviews for the product, and what the product’s life span is.

Often, less expensive lamps will have a shorter lifespan than better quality or OEM lamps, which will only build up more cost in the end as you have to keep buying replacements.

Related post: How Long Do Projector Lamps/Bulbs Last?


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