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Beware of counterfeit lamps

It is illegal and unethical to buy and sell counterfeit product, yet many well-known and respected distributors are doing just that and in so doing are also compromising the reputation of resellers with their customers.

The sale of fake projector lamps is on a rapid increase and has infiltrated legitimate markets in every country of the world. Many resellers are unwittingly buying and selling fakes without realising it because their reputable supplier has been similarly duped by their supply chain.

Which lamp is phony?

The lamp on the left is a genuine lamp made by NEC. The lamp on the right is a lamp branded as NEC but wasn’t produced by them. It is a very convincing copy, similar to buying a fake Rolex watch or Gucci handbag, but whereas the latter are sold at a fraction of their true market prices, projector lamps are sold at the full price, because there are elements of the supply chain that has been duped.

Spotting a Fake

Counterfeit lamps aren’t always easy to spot and often you need to have an original lamp in its box together with the fake to start to see the anomalies in cage design and manufacture, box construction, labels and general printing. When replacing a lamp you don’t have the old packaging and often a reseller will ship a lamp for the customer to install and therefore never have the chance to compare old and new.

However, the majority of counterfeit lamps can be identified.


Philips bulb made for Benq                        Philips bulb made for After Market

The left hand bulb was made by Philips for Benq, we know this because the 55 underlined in red is the marking Philips put on the bulb for Benq. If you buy a manufacturers original replacement lamp it will also have a Philips bulb with the number 55 on it.

The right hand bulb was made by Philips for the aftermarket with the ‘AM’ code and you would expect to see this on a Diamond Lamp or other ‘Genuine Inside’ lamp but not on a manufacturer’s original lamp.

If you bought a manufacturer's original lamp for this model and don’t see a Philips bulb, got a Philips bulb with a different two digit number on it or received a bulb with ‘AM’ marking on it then you have probably been sold a counterfeit lamp.

From 3M to Zenith there are approximately 200 different projector brands known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and nearly all of them buy their bulbs from a 3rd party. Even huge manufacturers like Sony, NEC, Samsung and Dell.

The bulbs are supplied by a select group of specialist lighting manufacturers that include household names such as Philips, Osram and Ushio. However, as well as making for the projector brands they also make bulbs for aftermarket customers such as Diamond Lamps. These latter customers buy bulbs that are identical in performance to the OEM bulbs but are intended to be packaged in their own branded boxes using cages they have developed for themselves as an alternative lamp to the OEM at a similar performance but a lower price.

The Issue #1 is that some aftermarket competitors to Diamond Lamps are producing their alternative lamps and then making replica boxes identical to those from Sony or NEC for example then selling it as a Sony or NEC lamp. Not only are they defrauding the original projector brand and breaking the law, but they are duping the resellers and their customers out of money by charging a much higher price than they would for their correctly boxed lamp.

The Issue #2 Other manufacturers of counterfeit lamps go for the cheapest solution possible and will fit any old bulb into a lamp they think will work, including second hand. Examples encompass counterfeit bulbs and compatible bulbs that give lower brightness and have a shorter lifetime. They can even be a fire risk.

Bulb Markings. Fortunately, most bulb manufacturers clearly mark their bulbs accordingly, so it is relatively easy to see if you have the correct lamp you purchased by checking the bulb marking – if you know what to look for


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