Projector Lamp Anatomy

A projector lamp contains several components: the ARC tube, ultra-high pressurized mercury vapor, electrical wiring, a quartz globe or reflector, a fastener, a spoke, a bolt, a screw and finally the black plastic housing itself.

ARC Tube – The ARC tube is a component made of blown quartz measuring about 2 inches in length that located at the base of the quartz globe. The ARC tube is positioned by highly-accurate machines and set with extra strength plaster.

Mercury Vapor – The mercury vapor inside most projector lamp ARC tubes is ultra-high pressurized. The mercury vapor is sensitive to the amount of current running through therefore it is needed for projectors to have electrical ballasts inside them to regulate electricity flow. The ballasts ignite the mercury vapor at a high voltage and then bring the voltage level down to the appropriate running voltage required to operate the projector lamp.

Electrical Wiring – The electrical wiring on a projector lamp is fused inside the quartz ARC tube and runs out the top of the tube through the side of the reflector. Electricity, regulated by the ballast, runs in a circuit from the back of the projector lamp through the side and back into the projector.

Quartz Globe reflector – The quartz globe or reflector is the hard exterior skeleton of a projector lamp. The quartz globe is usually lined with a highly reflective metal material on the inside in order to reflect the light generated by the ignition of the mercury vapor inside the ARC tube. The quartz globe also holds the ARC tube in place and is usually filled with extra strength caulking to seal it in its base.

Plastic Housing – The plastic housing is the piece of molded plastic that holds the projector lamp in place when it is sitting inside the projector. Projector lamps are usually locked into the plastic housing using a retaining clip. The attached wiring easily screws into a slot at the back of the plastic housing.

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