Long Term Costs of Operation
Factors that affect your long term cost include both predictable and unpredictable ones.
The costs of replacing lamps when needed, and the cost of electricity, are predictable.
For each lamp, we know how long it is expected to last (doesn’t mean it will). Some lamps out there are $199, or even less, but $299 to $399 are most typical for home theater projectors.
Lamp life varies from about 2000 hours to 5000 hours at full power depending on the projector, while in “eco-mode” that range is now about 2500 to 6000 lumens. Most common today, is probably 4000 / 3000 hours (eco / full power), about 1000 more hours in each mode than 3-4 years ago. If you are a light user – 5-15 hours a week, you probably don’t need to concern yourself, as you’ll likely get at least 4 years (at 15 hours a week), at full power (3000 hours). Thus, lamp cost will be less than $100 a year, and could be far less (depending on hours used, and lamp cost).
For a heavy user – where the projector typically is treated as a primary TV, and the hours per week are up more like 30 to 50, the differences start to dent your pocketbook. At 40 hours a week, a typical lamp 3000 hour lamp will last 1.5 years, so with a $400 cost, that’s more than $267 a year, while a 4000 hour lamp costing $300 would cost only $150.
Cost of electric should also not be an issue for those running 15 hours a week or less, but can get very pricey, especially in a state with absurdly expensive electric, such as California. Here I’m paying $.37 cents per kilowatt for my top tier. A projector drawing 350 watts (typical DLP) at 15 hours a week will cost at my California rate, approximately $2 a week, call it $100 a year. At 40 hours a week, we’re now looking at about $5.25 a week – over $260 a year! That’s right, at California’s top tier rate, the electricity will cost you more than staying in lamps, over the life of your projector.
The thing to note, is that different technologies draw different amounts of electric, with 3LCD projectors typically being the most efficient. Consider: