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Projector Eco vs. Normal Mode


Projectors have for a long time been programmed to be preset at their maximum brightness, which is the normal or full mode. 

However, with the rapid increase in lamp brightness which significantly eats up the lamp life, there has been a need to give users the option of an economical mode.

Bet you’ve come across the term eco mode quite often. It’s become such a trendy term lately. It seems as though buying an Eco projector is the right thing to do.

But few people understand what eco mode is and how different it is from normal mode.

This post will delve deep into these two popular projector modes; Eco mode and normal mode. We will also give a side-by-side comparison between the two and give our verdict on which mode is better and why.

What is projector Eco mode?

eco mode of a projector

The projector eco-mode feature is a brightness setting that reduces the voltage and brightness amount of a projector’s lamp by 25-35%. 

The greatest benefits of the eco-mode are to extend lamp life, save on power, reduce brightness and minimize fan noise. 

You can also use eco mode when you want a lower lumen output when using small screens while maintaining a similar foot-lambert value.

While it is evident that the benefits of the eco mode feature far outweigh its downside, it’s important to know that there is a slight shift in color, contrast, gamma, and color temperature when you calibrate your projector for the eco mode.

Also, just because there is a brightness drop, it is not always a sure indication of an equivalent increase in lamp life.

You may see a 35% drop in brightness but only a 20% increase in lamp life. If you look at it subjectively, it’s always more a case of saving the dollar rather than extending the lamp life.

Keep in mind that some manufacturers have clever terms for an eco mode like a low lamp and low power, but in essence, they all mean the same thing as eco mode.

What is projector Normal mode? 

fullest bright projected by a projector

A normal mode, also known as full power mode, is when a projector gives off 100% of its brightness and light output as specified by the manufacturer

In full mode, the projector functions with preset brightness and offers an excellent picture quality regardless of the room’s lighting condition and ambient lighting.

Most projectors come already preset with the normal mode, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not to switch to a different mode.

Eco mode vs. Normal mode

The most significant difference between the eco mode and the normal mode is the brightness output. However, there are other significant differences.

This section will look at these differences to find what mode is the most preferred and why.

Brightness and light output

normal mode vs. eco mode

Up to this point, we have established that the main objective of the eco mode feature is to extend the lamp life by reducing the projector’s brightness. And it is in this objective that the differences between the two modes arise from.

The eco mode setting puts out 70% of the brightness, while the normal mode puts out 100% of the projector brightness.

The eco mode setting was designed for users who prefer to run their projector on less brightness when needed. In contrast, the normal mode is for users who choose to experience the full brightness of the projector, albeit being set on the maximum lumen output.

Ideally, the eco mode should be switched on when running a projector in a dark or darkish room where you won’t need as much brightness.

A full mode setting is for when you run your projector in brightly lit rooms or outdoors, where a lower lumen output will give you washed-out images and texts.

Important to note is that when a projector runs on the eco mode, it is significantly quieter and because the lamp brightness is controlled, the lamp life is longer.

Picture this. You have a 3000-lumen projector whose lamp life is 2000 hours.

If you run it in eco mode, say 1500 lumen, you get to extend your lamp life by  50% if all factors are constant. That means you will replace your lamp after 3500 hours and not 2000 hours.

Suppose you run the same projector in normal mode, you will replace your projector at the 2000 hour mark.

This goes to show that reducing the brightness of a projector ultimately increases its lamp life.

So while a full mode offers you the brightness you need to have an enjoyable cinematic experience, an eco-mode provides you a 20-50% increase in lamp life.

Image quality

Is there a difference in the quality of the pictures projected in eco mode and normal mode?

There is, but it isn’t as significant as the VHS and DVD picture quality.

The difference is that there is better contrast, color, and definition in the full mode than in an eco mode. Blacks appear blacker, and the colors are brighter than in eco mode.

Compared to how the full mode scores against the eco mode in picture quality, the full mode scores ten and eco-mode nine. There isn’t much difference, honestly. It will only take a keen eye to note the difference.

If you prefer your images to be near-perfect and not to show as patchy blocks, the full mode is your setting of choice, but if you’d rather persevere a dimmer image for longer lamp life, eco mode is then your best choice.

Power consumption

normal mode vs. eco mode power consumption

A projector with a high lumen will always use more voltage than a projector with a lower lumen. This means a projector running on the full mode will consume more power than a projector that puts out only 70% of its brightness.

For instance, a projector with 3000 lumens will consume up to 500 watts per hour on full mode. The same projector will only consume 300 watts per hour when running on eco mode. 

You can learn more about projectors and power consumption here.

Fan noise

projector making loud noise

The normal mode produces more fan noise than the eco mode. Well, it’s not that there is no noise in eco mode. It is just that the noise in full mode is hard to ignore while that of eco mode is easily forgotten. 

The difference in fan noise is due to the amount of heat produced. When less heat is produced in a projector, the fan uses less “energy” to cool down the projector, making less noise.

On the other hand, when a lot of heat is produced, the fan has to run high to cool down the projector so as not to overheat. Therefore more noise is made.

Comparison table: eco mode vs. normal mode

 Normal mode

Eco mode

Power output

100%

70%

Image quality

Bright

Dim

Fan noise

Loud

silent

Brightness100%

70%

Alternatives to eco mode and normal mode

BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector with HDR10 and HLG - 95% DCI-P3 and 100% Rec.709 - Dynamic Iris for Enhanced Darker Contrast Scenes - 3 Year Industry Leading Warranty
Click image for more info

There are more than two brightness modes. Some projectors have three while few have four brightness modes.

Benq, for instance, has up to four lamp modes depending on which model you go for:

Normal mode offers a full lamp brightness. 

Eco-mode lowers the brightness up to the preset level. Extends lamp life from 4000hours to 5000 hours

SmartEco can automatically detect the input content and determine how much optimum brightness is required for contrast and color. Extends lamp life from 4000hours to 6500 hours

LampSave can also auto-detect content to determine how much brightness is needed for optimum lamp life. Extends lamp life up to 10,000 hours

As you can tell, taking advantage of the various brightness modes can significantly increase your lamp life. This will, in turn, decrease the number of lamp replacements needed and power consumption. 

Conclusion

Optoma EH412 1080P HDR DLP Professional Projector | Super Bright 4500 Lumens | Business Presentations, Classrooms, and Meeting Rooms | 15000 Hour Lamp Life | 4K HDR Input | Speaker Built in , White
Click image for more info

As we have already seen, running your projector in eco mode extends its lamp life. It delivers a significant amount of saving on operational costs and reduces the frequency of buying lamp replacements. No doubt about this

However, the trade-off will be a dimmer output with slightly lower image quality as the contrast and color definition are impacted.

Normal mode, on the other hand, will offer you precisely what you paid for. An excellent image quality but at the cost of frequent lamp replacements.

Therefore, the question is, would you rather have an extra lamp life and save a few dollars but be content with a dim image or would you instead enjoy the bright and full-color images and incur replacement costs every two to three years?

Our verdict: you can use both modes depending on the conditions you are in. Run your projector on normal mode when the room is brightly lit and switch to the eco mode when watching in a dark room. After all, the settings are not cast on stone. You can always calibrate to suit your needs.


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