Mention a projector and many people will think of their days watching film strips in school, the movie reels used in old theaters, or multimedia presentations given at business meetings before the ubiquity of PDFs and wall-mounted flat screens. In reality, projectors are anything but antiquated. They continue to be widely used in many settings and pair well with all types of digital media.
The advances of projector technology have broadened their use in many venues and as home entertainment equipment. But even consumers who choose a top-of-the-line media projector will need to eventually complete some maintenance to keep their projector running without fail. From identifying projector lamps for replacements to learning how to clean delicate lenses, a little maintenance savvy will help maximize the life of any projector and prevent unnecessary repair costs.
Handle With Care And Keep Cool
In general, but especially when in use, avoid touching the projector anywhere but the control panel. Even light contact with natural oils of the skin could damage sensitive parts of the equipment or simply hinder clarity and visibility. Ideally, a projector should always be positioned in a stable place that will not require it to be moved or adjusted when in use. Its placement should also allow the built-in cooling features to work uninhibited, as excessive heat will quickly harm a projector.
Many problems can be avoided by ensuring the projector is placed so that it does not need to be handled, its vents, fans, and heat syncs allow the free flow of heat away from the equipment, and it is not run excessively. Even highly efficient, low-heat units should be allowed to cool off after a few hours of use. Shut-down cooling cycles should also always be allowed to run completely, so avoid unplugging the unit prematurely.
One of the most basic ways to maintain a projector for virtually no cost is regular cleaning. This involves most exterior portions of the projector, including the housing, vents, as well as any buttons or other control module components. Cleaning can be done with a microfiber cloth. If there’s any stubborn dust or smudges, a damp cloth with a mild detergent or dish soap is safe to spot clean the outer housing. The lens should be cleaned using special lens-cleaning paper or a microfiber cloth moistened with manufacturer-recommended lens cleaner. Special care should be taken not to scratch this or any other components. Any cleaning liquid should never be applied directly to the unit, especially the lens.
If excessive dust has built up in the vents or filter, it is not wise to use compressed air or an air duster to address this issue. Doing so could force dust buildup into the inner cavity of the projector where it may interfere with operation. Removing an accumulation of dust may require disassembly of the housing. This can sometimes be done by hand or it may require special tools and the knowledge of a professional. When in doubt, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s manual.
Regular surface cleaning can help prevent many of the problems that require specialized maintenance and expensive repairs.
Identifying Projector Bulb Replacement Options
If the projector is kept clean and used with care, very little upkeep is needed to keep it functional for regular use. The one exception is the need to replace projector lamps and bulbs after they have run through their operational life. With modern equipment, projection bulbs will last for many years before they need replacement. Those that utilize LEDs can last for tens of thousands of hours, and in projectors that are only used occasionally, may last the full life of the equipment.
In other cases, replacement projector bulbs will need to be acquired from either the manufacturer of the projector or an OEM-approved bulb distributor. It will be necessary to correctly identify the type of bulb or bulb and housing combination. A projection equipment professional or authorized bulb distributor can offer guidance in this process.
Although many projector bulbs can be replaced by simply following the manual or manufacturer’s instructions, some may require professional services.