You’ve probably noticed that there are many new television products available in the market place. The marketing hype and tech jargon add many challenges when searching for a new TV. Without being overly technical, let’s try to clear up some of the confusion.
We have enjoyed high definition content for several years now with more programming coming all the time, including the new 3D. While there are no right answers to which type of TV is best, when it comes to getting green and reducing energy consumption, one flat panel technology clearly stands out above the rest. Enter LED TV!
The latest LED TVs are actually two technologies in one. Did you know that LED sets use LCDs to produce the television image, but also require advanced backlighting to provide an incredibly bright picture? In principle, LED TVs are quite similar to LCD TVs, but use much less power and feature state-of-the-art backlighting systems. This makes the newer LED panels very light weight, much thinner while they consume significantly less energy than the older LCDs.
The most common difference between LEDs and LCD TVs is the sidelighting used in most LCDs. This subtle difference accounts for less performance and increase in energy consumption when compared to LEDs. Generally, LCDs most typically use fluorescent tubes to provide their side lighting. On the surface, it may sound like LCD and LED TVs are the same, but this difference in light sources can cause a LCD panel to use 30% more power!
Plasma panels are the third type of flat TV. While they are also flat, similar to LED and LCDs, they are much heavier and use significantly more power. The underlying design principle is also fundamentally different in plasma TVs. You might think of the plasma TV surface as an array of tiny cells, very close one another. The cells are charged with gas, several chemicals, and the entire surface area is covered with glass. When voltage is applied to these cells, it causes them to light up. By controlling electrical energy to the cells, a full color image is formed on the panel. Plasma TVs tend to be the least expensive in up front, but they do come with a hidden cost. Plasmas consume significantly more power than LEDs or LCD flat panel TVs. Of course this higher operational cost will compound over time as utility rates increase.
Plasmas TVs are affordable, but use tons of power. LCDs are the middlemen, providing moderate value with some energy savings. When it comes to getting green, LEDs stand out from the crowd with big energy savings over the TV life cycle. Becoming familiar with the different television technologies helps make better-informed purchasing decisions. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
Dave High is a LEED Green Associate with Karbon Consulting in Pleasant Hill