Plasma Vs. LCD Energy Usage in TVs


In terms of features, looks and other similar technicalities, there aren't many differences between a plasma and LCD television. In terms of energy use, however, LCDs have the upper hand, as they have been proven to use significantly less energy than plasma televisions. Certain conditions, such as the programs being watched and the size of the television being used, can also play a role in energy consumption for both plasmas and LCDs.

The Facts

  • Plasma screens are the bigger consumers of power because their screens are composed of pixels, with each pixel utilizing an individual light source that gets illuminated as needed. LCDs, on the other hand, have a backlight that illuminates the entire screen. Basically, LCD televisions are the opposite of plasma screens because they create their picture by blocking light from getting to specific pixels as opposed to illuminating the pixels. Not only that, but the backlight of LCD televisions provides a constant source of power, whereas plasma pixels turn on and off. This is why energy consumption will vary depending on what type of program is being watched, but generally, LCDs use less energy than do plasma screens.


  • Different types or brands of LCDs and plasmas haven't really been found to have a determining factor on the amount of energy each set uses. Size, however, plays a large factor in terms of energy consumption. According to the website, smaller-screen (those that are less than 40 inches) LCDs are, unsurprisingly, much more efficient than regular CRT televisions. In large-screen LCD sizes (those that are 50 inches and above), the site reports that a CRT television is actually more efficient than any other television you can buy, including plasmas and LCDs. According to the site, large CRT televisions still consume half as much electricity as similarly sized LCDs and plasmas.


  • Some reports have found that the more features an LCD (or plasma screen) television has, the more energy it consumes. This is especially true if your TV is connected to a cable box, video game console, etc. The most obvious reason for this is that most people do not unplug these extra devices--or the TV itself, for that matter--when they're done using it.


  • You can check out the energy consumption of specific brands and types of TVs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website. It's important to realize that the Energy Star ratings have been labeling energy-efficient TVs based on the amount of electricity they use in standby mode. This means they measure the number of watts the TV uses when it's turned off and unplugged, not when it's in use.


  • Many people have been led to believe that under certain conditions LCD televisions use more power than plasmas, but that's not the case. Studies have proven that conditions can affect the amount of energy each type of TV uses, but LCDs--no matter what the conditions--never use more power than plasmas. A solid color being displayed on the screen background or the set experiencing static electricity cause LCD televisions to use more energy than normal, but rather than surpassing plasmas in energy consumption, they simply matched it.


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