DLP vs. LED Projector

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Updated December 1, 2022

The difference between a DLP vs. an LED projector is not as simple as it seems, just like the differences between DLP vs 3LCD projectors. These phrases refer to two separate parts of the projector. The projector may be digital light processing, liquid crystal display, or liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS.) DLP and LCD projectors are the most common, and they use laser light, LEDs, or traditional lamps. However, most of the best projectors use DLP or LCD panels as their projection technology. To find out more about different light sources, check out our article on LED vs. laser projectors.


  • Digital light processing (DLP) refers to the projector’s type of technology used to create the image shown on the screen.
  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) provide the lighting element for different projector technologies, including DLP, liquid crystal display (LCD,) or liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS.)
  • An LED projector is more cost-effective than its traditional lamp-based counterparts and has a longer life.

Difference Between DLP and LED for Projection

Digital light processing (DLP) projectors use light shined onto a digital micromirror device (DMD,) a chip featuring many microscopic mirrors for individual pixels angled for alignment in each frame. The device shows an alternating image for each of the primary colors (red, green, blue) at speeds quick enough for our brains to merge them. The light from a laser, light-emitting diode (LED) bulb, or metal halide lamp also passes through a spinning color wheel for these images. In some cases, a DLP device backlit by LEDs is referred to as an LED projector. You may also be interested in a laser projector vs lamp projectors.

Insider Tip

LED projectors eliminate the color wheel that causes color breaking, providing more consistent colors.

Light Source Life for Projectors

LED projectors have a longer lifespan than most other DLP models. Laser models have an even longer lifespan but are not as common at home. An LED projector lasts about 20,000 hours of use, while a traditional lamp model only lasts up to 5,000 hours. After 2,000-5,000 hours, you will need to purchase a projector lamp replacement and replace it. As a result, LED projectors generally have lower maintenance costs and maintenance frequency. If you’d like to see a model we recommend, read our AAXA Projector P300 review.

Illuminating Projections

DLP projectors feature higher light output than LED projectors, with at least 2,000 ANSI lumens. LED light projectors (like the one in our Optoma ML750 review) have an output of up to 2,000 ANSI lumens of light. However, if you are looking for a projector in a home theater with little ambient light, you will likely not need as bright of a projector. Think about the effect of ambient light, like the effect of the sun on a flashlight. You can’t distinguish between the two lights if the sun is extremely bright. You should consider a laser projector if you need the highest light output.

Color Consistency in DLP and LED Projection

Projectors with a spinning color wheel sometimes suffer from color breaking at close distances. This may not be common among the top long-throw projectors, but this aspect is common in DLP devices since the wheel has to adjust itself many times within a minute to create each color image. However, LED projectors that feature other projection methods without a color wheel do not suffer from color breaking, including LCD technology. In these projectors, the colors are produced using differently colored LED bulbs. By eliminating the color wheel, brands eliminated the color-breaking tendency as well.

Color Accuracy and Black Levels on Projectors

Although they work within the same color space, LED and DLP projectors differ in color accuracy. This aspect partly relies on the fact that LED bulbs come in a wide range of colors, while traditional lamps use white light with a color filter. As a result, LED devices offer enhanced color accuracy and black levels, especially newer models using 4LED. In addition, these devices are designed to create consistency throughout the projector’s lifetime.


An LED projector often refers to the light source for the projector only, so you should check the product description for the technology type.


How Are LED Projectors Different?

LED projectors use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as their light source instead of laser light or projector lamps.

How do laser projectors differ from DLP ones?

The term laser projectors refer to the light source for the projector, which is lasers. DLP is the projection technology rather than the light source.

What is better: DLP or LCD projectors?

DLP and LCD projectors each have their advantages, but LCD projectors are often quieter and less expensive, with exceptional brightness.

STAT: The LED projector has a lifespan of over 20,000 hours, delivers better colors, and potentially has little to no maintenance cost. (source)

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