Video and data projection
What is the life expectancy of an LCD projector?
This is a question that has no right or wrong answer at this point in time. LCD projectors have
only existed for about a decade, which means there hasn't been enough time for any long term
studies. Ten years isn't long enough you say? Well, the technology changes so fast that studies
done on projectors that are ten years old are barely relative to the projectors made today. What
is known is that the life expectancy of an LCD panel itself could be indefinite. Think of how
long you've had that $20.00 LCD display calculator that you bought back in grade school. Yes,
the LCD technology used is basically the same.
(Okay, if you're as old as I am, they didn't
have them back then, but you get the point.)
One important difference between a calculator display and an LCD in a projector is the
intense heat of the high intensity lamps in today's projectors. Your calculator doesn't have
concentrated high energy light focused upon it during normal use, as an LCD projector panel
does. Can you imagine what would happen to your calculator's LCD display if you took it outside
and used a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays on it? This is why proper airflow to provide
efficient cooling is so critical to the life expectancy of your projectors. We can't stress
enough the importance of regularly cleaning the intake filters and also regularly scheduled
cleanings of the entire unit by an authorized service center. As a rule of thumb, the filter
should be cleaned every 300-500 hours of use and the entire projector should be cleaned by an
authorized service center, like United Visual, at least every other year. Even a projector that
is rarely used will gather enough dust in two years to require a thorough cleaning.
As you can see the biggest threat to your projector's life expectancy is heat. And,
unfortunately, this doesn't just affect the LCD panels. The electronic circuitry is just as
susceptible to early failure from overheating. The most common electronic failures occur within
the main power supply or the ballast, which is the high current power supply for the lamp.
Electrolytic capacitors, used for voltage filtering and regulating, contain a liquid electrolyte
that dries out over time. This process is accelerated drastically by inefficient cooling of the
So, after all of this, what is the life expectancy of these projectors? In our experience, we
see projectors becoming obsolete due to technology just about the same time they begin to have
major failures. That time frame is about 4 to 5 years. With a little luck, and with a concerted
effort on your part to overcome human nature which feeds the "if it's not broke, don't mess
with it," mentality, you could extend that to 6-8 years. But remember, if you are one of those
that needs to be on the cutting edge, you should budget to replace your projector(s) at least
every 4 years.