LCDs, or liquid crystal displays, are found in a variety of applications. Among the most common are LCD flat-screen televisions. The backlight is what lights up the LCD screen itself and allows the images on the screen to be viewed. The life span of the backlight is an important consideration when buying an LCD display.
The backlight is the light source of an LCD display---without it, images on the display can not be seen. Therefore, the light source's life span actually determines the life span of the entire LCD unit. Once the backlight stops working, the display is useless.
The average light source in a backlight will last around 60,000 hours. Some makers of LCD displays make claims that their backlights can last upward of 80,000 hours if the display is kept at room temperature and is used on a regular basis.
Based on the 60,000-hour average, if your household watches 30 hours of television a week (which works out to 1,440 hours a year), the backlight should last around 41 years. Based on this number, an average household might replace the TV multiple times over before the backlight ever burns out---if, for example, they wanted upgrade to a larger TV or purchase a TV featuring the latest technology.
Certain factors can have an effect on the life span of an LCD backlight and reduce the number of hours of use before the light source burns out. One factor is heat. If an LCD display is kept under bright lights or in a room that is often above room temperature (77 degrees F), it can shorten the life of the LCD.
Another factor is the actual settings on the display. The contrast setting is important for maintaining the backlight quality. If the contrast setting is too high, it forces the light source to work harder, which shortens its life span.
If the ambient light in the room with the LCD display is usually low-level light, this can help keep the backlight in good condition, because low light levels require lower contrast settings. Bright lighting will require the contrast settings to be pushed higher.
When you're buying an LCD display, some sources recommend that your purchase a brand name, due to higher-quality light sources being used in the display.
Another important consideration is that the majority of LCD displays do not have removable light sources, which means they cannot be replaced if they are damaged or burn out. Some displays do allow for replaceable light sources---check the LCD display packaging to see if the manufacturer has designed the display with a removable lighting source.
It is a misconception that LCD displays never show any wear over time. Because a light source is used to light up the display, over time the display may become dimmer. This effect is amplified if the display is kept at high brightness and high contrast, and the appearance of screen dimming will appear sooner if the display gets high usage.
LCD TVs may use different light sources for their backlights. Fluorescent lighting is found in many models, and LED (light emitting diode) lighting is found in some slimmer LCD displays. OLED lighting, which uses organic materials in the LEDs, is found in some smaller LCD displays.
- Photo Credit CHG, public domain, a typical LCD display
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