Importance of Preventive Maintenance on Projectors by Ruinexplorer
Often times it is not the end user who installs video equipment and that user is not made to understand the importance of properly maintaining their equipment. As with an automobile, a projector needs regular check-ups and tune-ups to remain functioning and dependable. The maintenance required on your equipment will vary depending on the type, how often it is used, and the environment in which it is used. By understanding why maintenance is necessary and learning the basic techniques, you should be able to begin making a proper maintenance program and avoid common mistakes.
Often it is asked why it is necessary to do any maintenance on projectors. First answer to that question is always reliability, averting disaster in the middle of a presentation. While this could be misconstrued as being told that you purchased faulty equipment, which is far from the case. The second biggest reason is financial. Proper maintenance can help avert costly repairs or even premature lamp failure. Going back to the vehicle metaphor, whether you drive a top of the line car or the budget model, both will end up failing if not properly maintained. While many drivers receive education about vehicle maintenance while learning to drive, the same does not apply to other technology.
There are many factors that lead to failure in projection equipment. First and foremost you need to consider the environment in which you have your projector. In a nightclub or many theater applications, the projector is constantly subject to dust and fog or haze particles. There will be plenty of discussion about how this affects the various components of a projector, but first consider heat. Most projectors have some type of filtration device to limit the amount of particulates from entering the projector housing. If you have your projector in a dusty environment you may either find that the filter is not dense enough and causes too many particles to get inside your projector or the filter is adequate and needs to be cleaned or replaced frequently. You will probably find this out within the first few months of operation. If the particles are allowed to get inside of the projector, you will end up with a wide variety of problems including coating heat-sinks causing components to overheat. If you have an adequate filter but do not clean or change the filter often enough, you will limit the amount of air flow and the ability for the components to cool which can result in component failure and shorter lamp life.
Now, to continue with the hazards of heat, there are other factors to consider. When turning off a projector after use, it is necessary to use the proper procedure listed in your user manual. The reason this is crucial is that there will be an abundance of heat built up inside the projector even if used for only five minutes. All components will have a greater chance of failure if not cooled properly, especially if the unit is moved prior to cooling. Generally when a projector is shut down in the proper manner, the lamp will be extinguished and the cooling fans will run at a higher speed for a few minutes. When the fans have stopped, the projector should be cool enough to remove power.
You need to monitor the use of your projector to ensure that you are not causing stress on the components. The most common failure by users is neglecting to monitor the hours used on a lamp. The manufacturer will provide you with the amount of hours a lamp can be used. Unlike a lamp used in a lighting fixture, you do not want to push a lamp until it fails. After a lamp reaches a certain point in its life cycle, it may start emitting a higher degree of infra-red light which can damage the light engine resulting in poor color or possible failure. Another potential problem is running a lamp to the point of failure may include an explosion, sending fragments into other parts of the projector. Although projector lamps are expensive and there is the temptation for using them until failure, you can easily negate your savings by neglectfully causing other internal damage. On higher end model projectors, you may have the option of connecting to the projector with an internet browser, allowing for greater monitoring of internal temperatures and other potential failures.
Besides dust clogging air filters or accumulating on heat sinks, it can cause havoc with your optics. At this point, it is recommended to not clean the optics with anything other than air (compressed or a lens blower). If your lens has an accumulation of contaminants such as oils from atmospherics or fingerprints, you may need to clean the lens. The manual should include a recommended practice for your particular model, but an important thing to consider is that the lens can scratch fairly easily and that it will have a coating that most cleaners will destroy. The lens is a particularly expensive component to your projector and is not something that you want to replace, so be careful. Dust can also cause problems with your internal optics as well. LCD projectors are particularly at risk for dust as the optics train is usually not a sealed component. When the dust settles on the panels, it traps heat which will cause premature failure or discoloration of your image. You will start to notice the increase of contaminants in your optics when your image is out of focus.
The question often arises as to whom should provide the maintenance. First of all, consult your user manual for recommendations about timing for different maintenance options. It will clearly explain the extent of the userís ability to perform certain maintenance and what must be done by a qualified technician, especially in order to maintain a warranty. Most repair facilities will give you the option of sending in a projector for cleaning or sending a technician to your property if you have multiple projectors. In the end, a regular maintenance routine may cost a couple hundred dollars per year, but an improperly maintained projector can easily cost 75% of the initial purchase price in a short amount of time.