Sharp's record with many consumers regarding DLP projector lamp life has had a rocky past. Although a class action court case was put behind the company on January 15, 2012, owners still need to be able to gauge their projector's lamp life to properly maintain their device. Identifying when your projector's lamp life is reaching its end allows viewers to plan ahead, purchasing a new lamp prior to the existing unit failing. Additionally, knowing the signs of a failing lamp offers peace of mind when you see a dimming image or flashing red and yellow indicators on your Sharp projector.
Flickering and Dimming
Any projector displays some degree of flickering during startup and dimming as the bulb ages. Sharp is no different, with both scenarios considered normal operation. As the lamp ages to a point where it is close to failure, the image may be very difficult to see. You can check the lamp's life in the user menu if you experience flickering during normal viewing, or if the output seems unusually dim.
Lamp Indicator Meanings
A green flashing light as the projector starts up indicates the lamp is heating to normal operating temperature. You will not see an image during this process, which is normal. During trouble-free operating, the lamp stays a solid green. Should you see the indicator flash red but you still see an image, the unit's internal temperature is above normal. This can result from installing the unit in an enclosed space, or if the cooling fan vent is blocked. At some point, the projector will indicate imminent failure with the lamp indicator staying red as the unit is on. When the lamp finally fails, the indicator will stay on with the projector turned off. If you recently changed a lamp but see no image and the indicator flashes alternating red and green, check the seating of the lamp and the lamp cover to ensure both are installed fully. If you experienced a power failure, the indicator may remain red, indicating that the normal shutdown process was not followed. This indicator will stay on after you power up the projector until the bulb has sufficiently cooled. For this reason, you should never install any projector on a switched outlet.
Tips and Precautions
Sharp projectors follow the same installation rules as any other. Smoky, humid or otherwise relatively dirty environments do not bode well for long-term lamp life. These contaminants clog the internal filter, block inputs and cause projectors to overheat. Installing the Sharp projector in an enclosed soffit or closet with only the lens exposed as seen in many home theater magazines may look great, but if the space does not have adequate airflow, the projector will most likely enter thermal protection. Repeated thermal cycles adversely affect lamp life. Remember that should your lamp fail and you attempt to ignore the warning indicators four times, the unit will not turn on until you replace the lamp. If you're getting far less lamp life than promised and you aren't constantly using the projector, examine your installation environment.
Changing the Lamp
Replacing the lamp in a Sharp projector is designed to be accomplished at home and relatively quickly. After the lamp fails or you choose to replace the unit, allow 10 to 30 minutes for the lamp to sufficiently cool. Unplug and dismount the unit if it's on a mounting bracket. Flip the projector bottom-up on a clean, scratch-free and firm surface. Unscrew the screw holding on the lamp cover, using a Philips screwdriver. Remove the lamp door. Remove the retaining screw on the lamp housing using the screwdriver. Locate the two small handles on each side of the housing. Lift out the lamp and housing, slide the new unit in place and replace the cover. If the cover does not lay perfectly flat of resists closing, double-check that the lamp is fully seated. Do not force the door shut. Plug in and reinstall the projector. Remember to never touch the glass portion of the lamp at any time. Finger oils cause those sections of the glass to overheat and at faster rates, typically causing bulb failure. Be sure to reset the lamp timer in the menu to keep an accurate lifespan record for the new unit.