In this week’s BLOG we take a look at counterfeit lamps, examining the dangers of using them and giving some advice on how you might spot a counterfeit.
To recap on the information in our previous BLOG there are three basic types of lamp:-
- Manufacturers’ Original, sometimes referred to as OEM. These are provided by the manufacturer of the projector or RPTV.
- Genuine. These are manufactured by authorized 3rd parties who source their bulbs from the lamp developer that holds the technology patent and the cages from elsewhere. Examples include Diamond lamps, APO-G and Alternative lamps.
- Copy, sometimes called compatible. These lamps come in a variety of forms including counterfeit, which is the subject of this particular BLOG.
Counterfeit lamps fall under the copy category and are those, which the manufacturer and or reseller attempt to pass off as Manufacturer Original lamps in much the same way as people try to pass off counterfeit merchandise in other markets such as sportswear or watches. Again like sportswear or watches there can be a lot of difference in quality with some fakes being fairly obvious and easy to spot, whereas others look exactly like their brand name counterparts – without of course using proper materials and going through the exacting quality control procedures. Consequently these lamps cost less to produce and are sold at prices that are much lower than the Manufacturers’ Original.
So what’s the problem?
There are a number of issues associated with counterfeit lamps.
Health and Safety. For many people this is the No1 consideration. Projector lamps contain mercury, which is a highly toxic substance. Lamps that have not been manufactured in quality controlled conditions run the risk of mercury leaks – the consequence of those could potentially be disastrous. There have also been instances where counterfeit lamps have literally exploded resulting in a shower of glass. All users should be aware of this risk, but customers using projectors in situations with large audiences – schools, colleges, universities and churches for example – need to take special care to avoid buying a counterfeit lamp.
Reduced cost is not a long term saving. Counterfeit products are generally sold a lot cheaper than the real thing – fake Rolex watches are rarely sold at $5,000 – and lamps are no different. However, because the manufacturing methods are not carried out to the same standards as the original they will tend to stop working a lot earlier. So any savings are really a false economy. Buying a lamp that should work for 2,000 hours at half price but only lasts for 500 hours works out twice as expensive compared to buying an original. In addition if the lamp causes problems to the projector then you are looking at a total write off because use of a counterfeit lamp will invalidate the projector manufacturers’ warranty.
Lack of ongoing R&D. Not necessarily a major consideration with many consumers, but both the bulb and projector manufacturers put considerable research and development into new technologies, which improve the performance and efficiency of their products. The cost of this R&D is recouped through sales of products – if they don’t get the benefit of the sale they don’t get the revenues to continue development of new products. Nor is it ethical!
How can you spot a fake?
Too cheap! It is an old adage, but if it looks too cheap then it probably is. Depending on their buying power, most resellers will set their pricing for Manufacturer’s Original lamps within 20% of each other – so if for example a lamp has an average selling price of $200 you would expect to see a range of prices between say $180 – $220. If you find the same lamp being offered at say $130 then it is almost certainly a fake,
Check the part number. Whilst it is entirely possible for a counterfeiter to use the same part number as the manufacturer, many don’t and a check of the part number quoted against the manufacturers’ website may reveal a discrepancy. For example there have been a number of counterfeit lamps with PL or GL in the part number.
Beware of “clever” wording. To give themselves some protection against being sued some resellers use tricky wording in their advertising to disguise what they are selling. Examples of this include “OEM Equivalent” and “100% Brand New”.
Examine the physical product. If you have purchased a lamp and have suspicions that it could be a fake, carry out a physical inspection of both the box and the bulb itself. Is the part number the same as the one you ordered? Does the logo look like the manufacturers genuine one? If you suspect you have a fake – send it back.