Bulb Flickering?!?! How it is Caused and How to Solve it!

Posted by Dalton Ikenberry at

So, you are having issues with your projector bulb flickering? Do not fret! This is a common issue and can arise in virtually any projector, but this issue is more common in certain models of projectors. The flickering is caused by what is called "arc wander." The point at which the arc strikes begins to move slightly on the electrode and makes a track that the arc "wanders" along. When this occurs, flickering frequently results. A period on max power may solve it, but if the arc track is well established, it cannot be reversed. What can cause this issue to arise? Well, several projector related things can cause the bulb to arc wander.

They include:

Deformed anodes and cathodes due to poor power supply filtering.

Deformed anodes and cathodes due to excessive in-rush current.

Deformed anodes and cathodes due to long igniter "lay-on's."

Weak or misadjusted magnets if the bulb requires the use of them.

Operating a bulb with magnets when it does not want them.

Stray magnetic fields getting too close to the bulb.

Bulb being operated outside the recommended electrical parameters.

Bulb being operated outside the recommended mechanical parameters.

Now this is not always a permanent thing and it can be reversed if caught early enough. Some simple solutions include:

Switch to another lamp power mode (i.e., from high to low or from low to high) for a few hours, then back to your preferred bulb mode

Usually, it is to switch from low to high, as low or eco mode is more prone to the problem

Change picture modes and then switch back

Finally, if the issue persists then the only options is to replace the bulb, the issue has essentially ruined the bulb. When purchasing a new bulb, if your projector has this known issue it may be a good idea to run the projector in high power mode for the first few tens or hundreds of hours on a new bulb to establish solid strike points for the arc.

Now this issue is more common in some projector models, these models include but are not limited to:

Optoma hd141x, after 85 hrs. of use

Sony HW40/55/65ES - varying from 15 hours to 600 hrs. - quite a few around 400-600 hours.

Epson 8350

Epson EX3200

Panasonic PT-AE8000

A thing to note is my post is based off research done in 2011. These issues have only become worse and more prevalent as time has gone on. Projector’s do not work better with age and some of these projectors are showing the flickering issues more often than others. Thanks again guys for looking and have a great day!

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