One of the most common pieces of technology used in the AV industry today is the projector. These units are critical components of boadrooms, classrooms, training facilities, meeting rooms, and even the home theater. Modern projectors are almost maintenance free, but there is one simple task any projector owner can complete on a regular basis to keep their units functions properly throughout the life of the projector and that is cleaning the air filter.
Most projectors are air cooled and it is critical that air flow remain strong and constant to keep these units from overheating and damaging internal components. Internal fans bring air in from the outside, pass it through the projector, usually directed over the sections generating the most heat, and then back out again through a vented panel. Since standard room air is used in this process, all of the little bits of hair, skin, dirt, and dust that float in room air are also pulled into the projector. The projector’s air filter prevents these particles from getting inside the optical path and degrading image quality. If it is not regularly cleaned, however, the dust can clog the filter reducing air flow and ultimately damaging the projector. With repair costs typically starting in the $500.00 range, it is easy to see why keeping the filter clean is so important.
This is a typical projector filter access area. This unit has a side mounted filter. Depending on the model, filters will generally be located on the side or the bottom. The filter cover can be seen as well as the finger tabs that allow for easy removal.
After removing the filter cover, the filter should be exposed. Again, every model is slightly different so please consult the user’s manual for more specific instructions on removing the filter. In the following picture, the filter can be seen. Note the dust in the filter. The lines are caused by the grill patter on the filter cover.
For this projector, the Hitachi CP-X1250, the filter can be removed separately from the filter cover as shown below.
Once the filter has been removed, it can be cleaned in several ways. Compressed air can be used to blow the dust out of the filter from the opposite side. Most filters can also be cleaned with warm water. If you use water, be sure the filter is dry before putting it back in your projector. Water and electricity are usually a poor combination. A clean filter is shown in the next picture.
Reassemble the filter and cover according to the manual. Many projectors also come with timers that remind you it is time to clean the filter so check the instruction guide to see if your unit has a timer and how to reset the timer if necessesary.
That’s all there is to it. Clean filters can make a projector last longer and help you get the most life out of the expensive lamps that come in the units. Dirty filters can lead to many problems including overheating, poor image quality, blown lamps, and degraded optical engines. The filter cleaning process only takes a few minutes, but it is the single most important maintenance activity an end user can perform on their equipment. Holt AV recommends checking filters at least once a month and more often in dirty environments like manufacturing plants or places where smoking is common. Just remember, whatever is in the air will be pulled into a projector so the dirtier the environment, the more often the filter should be checked and cleaned.
One final note on this subject: Projector technology is constantly changing and some projectors are coming with filters that have longer cleaning cycles or automatically rotate a filter bank to keep clean filters in use. Although most projectors have user removable filters, many higher end models use more complicated systems that reduce the need for regular cleaning. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions on filter maintenance.
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