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Is it time to go laser for my next projector?

What is the difference between a amp and laser projector? Why would I chose laser? Is it more expensive? We answer all the questions you have about projector types.

LED Laser projectors have been with us for some time with most major manufacturers firmly embracing laser technology at both the install and portable ends of the market. However, you may be unsure as to what having a laser projector really means; we’re here to help you understand.

As you have probably already guessed, the answer is no, but it is still very clever! In simple terms, in a laser projector, the traditional lamp has been replaced by a bright white laser LED source. With a lamp, the light from the lamp that creates the bright white illumination travels through LCD panels to create the image. This means that the actual image is created the same way in both types, but the light source is the key difference. A 5000-lumen lamp projector and a 5000-lumen laser projector will have the same brightness and look almost identical on the screen.

So why do we need laser projectors? Lamps have several downsides:
  1. They contain mercury, a metal which is dangerous if released into the environment.
  2. Lamps are much less energy efficient, producing a good deal of heat as well as light.
  3. Lamps have a much shorter lifespan, typically 10x less than a laser equivalent and have a lower average light output in long-term use.
  4. Lamped projectors require lamp changes and servicing whereas laser units are designed to be almost maintenance-free.
So what are the deciding factors now when choosing laser over lamped units?

Currently, there is still a considerable percentage difference in the cost of laser above lamps within all levels of the market, typically adding 30% to the purchase price.  Although in some market areas laser is fast becoming the only option. Some situations will also be more suited to laser, as we will come on to in a minute.

A diagram showing the inner-workings of a projector.

So the decision you make depends on your usage pattern:

If you are running the projector every day for several hours you are going to be replacing lamps on a regular basis (possibly every 18 months). So the total cost of ownership is going to be heavily influenced by the cost of lamps, and possibly by the additional cost of access and installation of the lamps if your projector is sited at a high level. Using a laser-based product in these circumstances would definitely be a good idea if you can stand the initial purchase cost.

For those with less demanding usage requirements, the decision is slightly harder, as in many cases, such as churches where use can be confined to a few hours a week, the original lamp may well be the only one in the life of the projector. With technology and resolutions moving so fast, many customers prefer to change the projector rather than fit an expensive lamp in an out-of-warranty unit. However, this is not good from an environmental perspective.

However, where this equation changes is in a situation where the projector is mounted in a location that is difficult or expensive to access safely.  If you have to factor in the cost of two technicians and a scaffold tower or powered lift, then a laser unit with 10,000+ hours of laser life and long-life or filterless design becomes very attractive.

Add to this the advantage of laser technology that overcomes the traditional lamp issue of rapid reduction in light output after around 50% of lamp hours, and the declining cost of laser projectors, laser becomes an attractive alternative.

Some projector brands are already saying that in two years they will not be selling a lamped projector in the UK, having replaced all of their product with laser alternatives.

To discuss how APi Sound and Visual could assist your church with a laser projector, please call us on 0845 5578350 or contact us online.

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