Projector Care and Projector Maintenance
Projector Care and Projector Maintenance
Take good care of your projector to extend your projector’s life
Benefits of regular projector cleaning lead to enhanced performance and effective cost savings.
Projectors are extremely fragile and expensive pieces of electronic equipment. By taking proper care of your projector you can greatly prolong its lifespan and can make sure that it will perform at its optimal level without fault. Performing regular maintenance on all the various parts of your projector, such as the projector filters, projector lens, projector lamp and projector cabinet will ensure that you are always displaying the best quality image possible to your audience. There are also certain precautions you can take when operating your projector on a daily basis to improve your AV equipment’s life span.
This Bamboo AV advice article should help you to understand what you need to do to keep your projector tuned up and operating smoothly. Provided below are detailed guides on how to tell when your filters need cleaning and how to clean them, the maintenance cycle for your projector’s lens, how to improve your projector’s operating environment, and a number of useful tips on ways to extend your projector lamp’s life span.
Remember to read the projector manual or documentation
Almost every new projector on the market will be supplied with an operating manual in either hard copy or electronic format on CD. Before operating your projector for the first time you should try to set aside time to read through the operating manual in detail. This can help to inform you of how to correctly operate your projector. In addition, operating manuals often provide useful maintenance tips specific to your projector model, for example, how to remove your projector’s filter cover. Even if you have previous experience operating projectors, each model has their own unique quirks and features that are important to be aware of. Becoming familiar with these features will allow you to tell when something is wrong, or even better, to take preventative measures to stop things from going wrong in the first place.
Increase projector life by choosing carefully where you operate the projector
When deciding where you are going to position your projector, read the projector manufacturer’s recommendation for where to install the unit. An advisable rule to obey is to have at least two feet of free space around the projector to allow ventilation for heat to dissipate. A lack of ventilation means that the heat that builds up in your projector cannot escape, which can cause damage to the projector’s internal parts.
Always be aware of the temperature your projector is operating at and try to avoid placing the projector directly in the path of sunlight or directly next to a heat source. Long-term damage can be incurred by operating the projector below 40 degrees or above 90 degrees. Furthermore, the majority of manufactures do not cover these damages under their warranties. If you mount the projector on the ceiling ensure that the projector is not directly next to a heat vent or an air conditioning unit. The last thing you want is more heat around the projector than it is already producing itself.
Try to refrain from using the projector in a smoke filled rooms as this greatly increases the chance of damaging the projector optics. Moreover, do not expose the projector to moisture, as this will also harm the screen image.
Try to keep your projector’s operating environment as dust and dirt free as possible. Dust causes problems for the projector’s filters, which is discussed more below.
Make sure that if you are mounting the projector on the ceiling, good quality, secure and appropriate mounts are used to prevent the projector falling off the mount, which could cause damage to the projector itself or people in the vicinity.
Storing and transporting your projector
When you first unpack your new projector, ensure that you safely store away the packaging the projector came in. If in the future it is necessary to transport your projector to another location, storing the projector in anything other than the original box and packing means that there is a higher risk of damage being incurred in transportation. Original packaging will often have protective Styrofoam moulded to the exact shape of the projector to prevent the projector moving while in transit.
If you are shipping your projector, it is advisable that you insure the shipment since the delicate construction of projectors means that they can become damaged in transit.
When transporting your projector you should try to avoid leaving the unit in environments of extreme temperatures. Cars can become very hot in the summer time and also very cold in the winter. On aeroplanes the cargo hold can be very cold indeed which can also cause damage to the projector.
Clean projector filters to increase projector and lamp life
LCD, DLP and L-COS digital projectors produce large amounts of heat during their operation. This heat must be channeled away from the projector to prevent overheating and projector malfunction. It is especially important for the life of the projector lamp that this heat is removed effectively since projector overheating is the primary cause of projector lamp failure.
Why do you need to clean your projector filters?
To remove the build up of excess heat, digital projectors have one or more fans which force air around the projector’s operating parts. Since the air contains dust and other particles, the air must be filtered before it cools the projector to prevent the build up of dust on the projector’s moving parts. If this were to happen, the build up of dust would actually insulate the projector and keep heat inside the projector unit which could be very damaging, especially to the projector lamp. Also, dust can get on to the LCD panels and the projector lens, reducing the quality of the displayed image or interfering with the colour of the image projected.
As a consequence, all projectors have filters, which is inevitably where all the dust particles removed from the air end up. To ensure that these filters keep performing well, they must be maintained regularly. This is very important since damage to the projector caused by dirty filters may not be covered by the projector warranty.
How often should I clean my projector filters?
How often you clean your projector’s filters will depend on the environment in which the projector filters are working. An environment that has minimal dust will mean that the filters will not need to be cleaned as often as an environment with lots of dust, such as in a classroom where chalk dust can be a problem.
Generally, projector manuals recommend that cleaning the filters once every 100 to 300 hours is usually acceptable, but you should check your projector’s manual to find out what the recommended filter cleaning cycle specific to your projector is. Remember that you should also clean or replace your filters whenever you notice an excessive build up of dust.
How do I know if my filters need to be cleaned?
There are several warning signs that you can look out for to tell when it is time to clean your projector’s filter. Most projectors will have a temperature warning LED. If you notice any of the points below occurring, it may be time to clean your filter:
The temperature warning LED is flashing orange – indicating that the projector is getting too hot.
The temperature warning LED is flashing red – indicating a problem with the cooling fan or temperature sensor.
The temperature warning LED is a solid red, which means the projector may turn off automatically due to overheating.
You can see dust appears on the projector’s fan exhaust port.
The projected image gets noticeably darker or starts to deteriorate.
How to clean projector filters
After removing the filter cover and taking out the filter which needs to be cleaned, there are a number of different ways in which you can effectively clean the filter to make sure your projector is kept cool while operating.
The two best ways to clean the filter are either to use a small vacuum cleaner designed for computers and other office equipment to suck out the dust from the filter, or to use a can of compressed air to blow the dust away. Washing the filter with soap and water is generally not recommended as the chemicals in the soap can damage the filter membranes. Sometimes you will be able to purchase brand new replacement filters, which can be a good option if your filters are heavily soiled. Also, some projector lamps come with a new filter in the lamp box.
Cleaning the projector cabinet
Before you re-insert the clean filters or new filter replacements, make sure that you also remove all the dust and dirt possible from the projector cabinet (the area where the filters are inserted into), by using the same small vacuum cleaner or can of compressed air you used to clean the filters. If you don’t have either one of these available, you may use a dry, lint free cloth to remove the dust. If the projector cabinet is extremely dirty, you may wish to use a mild detergent, but you should never use harsh chemicals or solvents such as alcohol and thinner.
Remember to keep out dust and dirt during the filter replacement process by covering the projector and its openings with a cloth.
How to clean the projector’s lens
To ensure that the optimal quality image is always being projected from your projector equipment, you should try to ensure that the lens of your projector is cleaned regularly – at least once per month.
To remove a build up of dirt and dust from your projector’s lens, you should apply a non-abrasive lens cleaning solution, used for photographic lenses, to a soft, dry and lint free cloth. The lens cleaner and lens cloth can be purchased at any photography or camera store.
Isopropyl alcohol can also be used to clean the projector lens, but other abrasive cleaners, solvents or other harsh cleaning chemicals should be avoided because they can damage the projector lens. Using paper towels or tissues should also be avoided since these products can contain hard fibres which could damage the lens, and they may leave paper particles, lint or other residue on the projector lens which will reduce the quality of the projected image.
You should avoid using an excessive amount of lens cleaner, and remember not to apply the lens cleaner directly to the projector lens. Put some on the lens cleaning cloth first, and then wipe the cleaning cloth gently over the lens, moving it in a circular motion. Replace the lens cap if you do not intend to use the projector immediately afterwards.
If your lens is simply dusty, the dust can easily be removed by spraying the lens with a can of compressed air. However, you should ensure that you are standing at least seven inches away from the projector when you are spraying the compressed air to prevent any damage or cracking of the lens.
Tips to extend your projector’s lamp life
One of the most expensive parts of the projector, and one which will most likely need to be replaced at some point during the projector’s life, is the projector lamp (also called the projector bulb, or projector lamp module).
Since these lamps can cost a lot of money, it is wise to take certain preventative measures to ensure that you get the most life out of your projector lamp as possible. Even then, it is generally recommended to keep one or more extra lamps spare in case the lamp needs to be replaced at short notice. This will greatly reduce your projector’s down time.
The following is a checklist of things you can do that can help ensure that you are getting the most out of your projector’s lamp’s life:
One of the easiest ways to increase the number of hours that your projector lamp works for is to operate the projector in economy mode where this is available. This means the lamp will operate at lower brightness for a longer period of time. The trade off is obviously the reduction in the quality if the image displayed.
Lamps that fail before their recommended number of hours have usually been affected by some form of temperature stress. Make sure that when you install your projector into your home theatre, classroom or boardroom, there is plenty of space between the projector’s cooling fans and any ceilings, walls, or enclosed compartments. Two feet is usually a good amount of ventilating space to leave to avoid lamps overheating.
Remember to always let the projector cool down sufficiently before unplugging the power cord to turn off the projector. Even though you may have stopped using the projector lamp, it remains very hot and so the projector’s fans must keep operating to cool the lamp down properly. If the power cord in unplugged, the projector’s fans have no power and cannot operate so the projector bulb will remain hot for longer. This reduces lamp life.
You should also try to avoid moving your projector unit until the projector lamp has properly cooled as described above. When the projector bulb is hotter its filament becomes more fragile, so you will want to do everything you can to minimize the level of vibration the bulb is subjected to.
If you frequently turn the projector on and then off again, this can further reduce lamp life. When the projector power is turned on, a surge of energy is directed to the lamp by the projector ballast. This is to kick start the lamp into action. Doing this repeatedly can damage the lamp’s filament.
As described in the section on filter cleaning and maintenance above, keeping the filters clean enables more air to circulate around the projector. This helps to keep the lamp cool to avoid temperature stresses. Some projector lamps have their own built in filter, which you should clean and maintain regularly just like the normal projector filters.