How to Test a Projector Lamp

Beth Huston Profile image

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Updated February 13, 2023

Learning how to test a projector lamp helps keep money in your wallet instead of feeding the projector lamp industry. This article will explain how to check for problems when that bright light in your projector dims. You’ll just need some technical knowledge to do your projector maintenance. Even the best projectors will have technical issues that may require you to take the lamp cover off. Keep reading to learn what to look for when you do.


  • Issues that signal immediate replacement include color shifting, image flickering, and lamp modules exploding.
  • The projector lamp industry has made it standard to include a monitor that shows the projector lamp life as a countdown.
  • When replacing a bad lamp, make sure to shut down all electrical equipment and wait until the electrical current has entirely dissipated before replacing the lamplight. Moreover, be sure you know how to dispose of projector lamps, so you won’t injure yourself or anyone else. 

Explaining Projector Lamps

Figuring out how to test a projector lamp will help keep your projector’s bright light going. That means figuring out the type of bulb you need and opening the lamp cover yourself. Whether you have an overhead projector or one for backyard movies, this is information that you’ll need. On that note, if you’ve ever wondered, “How does an inflatable movie screen work?” then our article is perfect.

Signs You Have a Bad Lamp

There are a few ways to tell that you’re running out of lamp hours:

  • The once-vivid images are now flickering or fading
  • There are a few lamp hours left on the monitor
  • The indicator light has turned on

Troubleshooting Projector Lamps

When dealing with electrical material, always take precautions. Projector lamp manufacturers typically include a caution sticker detailing the ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor used in the actual lamp. It can be dangerous, so always wait for the projector bulb to cool off after unplugging the power cord. Only place the lamp on a soft surface to avoid breaking it.

Insider Tip

A great projector doesn’t have to cost millions of dollars, and many budget models are great for the everyday consumer.

STEP 1 Indicator Light Turns On

The indicator light will typically be red or orange. If that light indicator comes on, it’s time to check the screen menu on your projector. Modern projectors include a countdown of lamp hours until you have a bad lamp.

STEP 2 Check Lamp Life Monitor

You should occasionally be checking the lamp hours left for your projector over time. A projector lamp hour is just how long it takes until you end up with a bad projector lamp. Typically, the more wattage your projector uses, the faster your projector lamp will go bad. The type of projector also plays a part in power consumption. For instance, LED projectors tend to suck more power than DLP projectors do. 

STEP 3 Loss of Image or Flickering

If the previously amazing images are now lackluster, it’s time to replace the projector bulb. Open up the lamp housing, follow all instructions for your model, and carefully replace the components.

STEP 4 Use an OHM Meter

Digital meters make great testing equipment to see if the original lamp is dead or if the problem might be with the power board. First, remove the power supply by unplugging every power outlet. Then, open the rectangular panel and get to work. The vast majority of manufacturers will provide a more detailed explanation of this process.


When cleaning a projector lamp, take extra care not to touch any of the components with your hands because you can leave damaging oils behind.


Where do I buy replacement projector lamps?

Lamp replacements are typically bought through the projector manufacturer. The process of installing replacement lamps is relatively straightforward.

What are the different types of lamps?

There is a variety of lamps out there:

  • LED Lamps
  • Arc Lamps
  • Halogen Lamps
  • Metal Halide Lamps

What does a projector lamp do?

Essentially, the lamp is used to create the bright image you see projected on your screen. Depending on the projector lamp manufacturers’ preference, they achieve this in a variety of ways.

Can you clean a projector lamp?

You can extend the life cycle of your lamp by cleaning it regularly. You’ll do this with a microfiber cloth and ammonia-free cleaning solution.

STAT: Sales of monitors and projectors in the UK amounted to just under 16 million British pounds in 2020. (source)

Beth Huston Profile image