With the vast amount of models of projectors on the market, finding the right projector for your needs can be a daunting task. Most people will quickly at specifications such as ansi lumens, the contrast ratio, what resolution the projector is capable of and of course what the price is. What is by far the most overlooked factor when deciding on what projector to buy is the cost of the projector's consumable part - the projector lamp. The cost can range from a couple of hundred dollars right through to well over a thousand. The most important thing to note is that you have the power to affect the price of your replacement lamp when you choose your projector. This means that before you buy a projector, be sure to check the cost of lamp replacements, so a couple of years down the track you know what to expect and won't your jaw won't hurt from it hitting the floor.

This brings us to by far the most common question there is when it comes to projector lamps. Why do projector lamps cost so much?

1. Projector lamps aren't exactly the same type of lamp lighting in your room right now. The bulb inside the projector lamp module involves a mix of chemicals, including precision electronics and mercury all tightly packed into a sealed glass bulb which is then pressured to over 200 atmospheres (just to compare, a car tyre pressure is less than 4 atmospheres). The unit is expected to operate at above 8000k " in fact, that's hotter than the sun! " Not only that, it has to be safe enough to be handled as a spare part that members of the public can replace themselves. Not to mention, original lamps undergo rigorous testing throughout the manufacturing process to ensure they meet performance and quality standards.

2. Economies of Scale. This may not necessarily apply in every situation but as a rule of thumb, popular projectors generally have cheaper lamps. Other than production efficiencies etc, popular projectors have a more predictable lamp replacement forecast thus enabling manufacturers to produce the amount of lamps the market will require in the future. For un-popular models, manufacturers tend to lean towards the side of caution and produce fewer lamps than what the market will need in the future and of course as Economics 101 teaches us, this leads to higher prices.

3. Supply Chain. Major projector manufacturers don't generally own their own lamp factory. This ultimately results in what can be a long supply chain. And of course every step in a supply chain then adds to the cost.

4. Profiteering. The majority of Projector manufacturers try to price their lamps at a fair level. Unfortunately there are a select few that price their lamps so high they are either a) encouraging people to go out and buy a whole new projector altogether or b) Trying to make extra profits from spare parts sales.

As I mentioned earlier, there is any easy way to avoid the financial pain of replacing a lamp and that is to check the cost of a replacement lamp before you purchase any projector. Generally, projectors that cost less than $5000 NZD, the lamp replacement should be no more than $600 ex GST. If it's more than $600, then you might want to check out a different projector.

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