Monday, April 11, 2011

Replace DLP TV Bulb or Buy a New TV?

Television is something that has been around for many decades and has infused itself into our lives. Modern society has embraced the television and has supported its many variations as technology advances. Tube televisions had a long rein and can still be found in many homes around the world. The big phase after tubes was rear projection. Rear projection or DLP (digital light processing) works by shining light (from a lightbulb) through a series of mirrors that generate the image being provided through the cable feed. These TV's represented a signifigant advancement in image quality and overall TV weight/size. DLP TV's also pushed us head over heels into the high definition (HD) revolution that we are still riding now. These amazing TV's were expected to replace our tube TV's and the light engine parts (the bulb and ballast) last anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 hours. What a  great deal, even at an average of around 12,000 hours, conservatively that gives us a bulb lifespan of 5 hours a day, every day, for over 7 years. What a great deal right!?

Well I can tell you that a lot of bulbs have not lasted 12,000 or even 8,000 hours. The real kick in the pants is that these bulbs can't be purchased at your local Home Depot as now your best bet is through the manufacturer or online store. Even if you can find the bulb you need, your likely going to pay a minimum of $100 (including shipping) just to get the bulb and then you have to hope your technical enough to replace it yourself (or have the added cost of paying someone to do it for you). I'd be interested to know if the manufacturers of these bulbs knew that the lifespans where not as advertised. 

So you were just watching your trusty 6 year old DLP TV when all of the sudden you heard a "poof" sound and your screen went black. You can still hear your show and there is even a little red light blinking above the "blub" logo. The TV's instruction manual says that your bulb is fried and you need to call the manufacturer to order a new one. They tell you the bulb will run you $150 plus S&H. Do you get the bulb to rekindle the love of your 6 year marriage, or do you ditch the bitch and spend big dollars to get yourself a new slimmer, brighter, clearer mate? You really need to ask yourself the big question, do you NEED a new TV? Do you crave a better quality picture or a TV that you can hang on the wall? Can you afford a new TV? Do you have any high definition sources to even take advantage of the expensive beauty? These are all very important questions to answer before you take the plunge.

Some key factors also need to be considered before making your final decision. You could get your new bulb and then the ballast (internal power converter/supply) could blow and then you have to make another purchase. What was the lifespan of your initial bulb and are you OK with your second bulb not lasting as long (as replacement bulbs can be inferior in quality to the originals). New LCD, LED and Plasma TV's are rated at a minimum of 60,000 hours, that is nearly 10 times the realistic lifespan of a DLP bulb. 

I could probably go on and on about this as there is lots to consider in this area. I think the main thing is whether you can afford a new TV. If you simply can't afford more than $300 for a new TV then you should consider looking for your bulb online (for a discount) or for a used TV. I have found that Northstar AV has lower prices than any other bulb site and the shipping prices are very fair. I have personally purchased a bulb through Northstar AV and the customer service was fantastic. The sales manager I spoke to, Jon provided all Ian's Blog readers with a discount code for 5% off your entire order. Just enter IANSBLOG5 during checkout to make your purchase price even lower than the competition. 



  1. projector! though mine's rated for 5k hours, and with my use, that's 2500 hours heh

  2. I've now received my bulb/lamp from Northstar-AV and once installed, it works perfectly! As I mentioned in my post, buy from www.nortstar-av.com and save money on a high quality replacement bulb for your rear projection TV.