Plasma TVs are brilliant bits of kit, cutting-edge consumer technology that has made living rooms across the world look just that little more like the Jetsons and a little less like the Flintstones. However, there are some questions about the technology that keep coming up. The first is over its power consumption – plasma TVs are not eco-friendly and add heavily to your carbon footprint – while the other concerns lifespan. How long is a plasma TV likely to last, on average?
The reputation of plasma screens as being unreliable and constantly needing to be replaced comes largely from the hugely expensive early plasma models around the turn of the Century. With huge fans, massive power consumption, terrifying price tags and getting hot enough to double as a radiator for the living room, plasma TV did not make a dignified debut in the television marketplace, and it is fair to say that you will be lucky to find a 1999 plasma TV screen that still works.
As is common with new products, however, the technology was refined quickly, with green phosphors, lower power use and measures to reduce the occurrence of ‘burn-in’ all boosting the longevity of the average plasma TV. At the time, plasma screens could be compared unfavourably with the old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) screens. Now CRT sets are all but obsolete however, plasma TVs are measured against LCD or LED screens, and to be honest there is not a great deal of clear water between the two varieties.
So how long will an average plasma TV last? Manufacturers are claiming that a new plasma TV will last you anything from 60,000 to 100,000 hours, which sounds like a pretty good deal. Of course, as a consumer you are probably not too concerned with the number of hours you can use the screen before replacing it, most consumers tend to measure the longevity of products in the number of calendar years they will last before a replacement is needed.
In this case, assuming you or your family watch an average of three hours of television a day a plasma screen should last you about fifty-four years. That sounds a little ambitious for a piece of modern consumer technology, particularly in these days of rapid technological progress where entertainment systems are released and become obsolete on an almost annual basis. The thing is that when manufacturers claim a screen will last 100,000 hours they really do just mean the screen, calculating the rate at which the plasma screen’s phosphors are likely to give up the ghost and dissipate during the screen’s lifetime.
Anyone who works with electronics will tell you that there are many many more things that can go wrong with a TV than the screen itself, and this 100,000 hour claim does not extend to the TV’s other parts, from wiring to fans. There are many things that can go wrong with your TV which would be uneconomical to repair.
If you take simple steps to ensure your TV is in good working order, however, a plasma screen should last about as long as you need it to. Switch it off when it’s not in use, avoid pausing or leaving static images on the screen for long periods of time, make sure the room is well-ventilated to ease the strain on the cooling system, don’t let children anywhere near it, the usual sorts of advice.
An average plasma TV should now last you at least ten years, by which time it will probably be obsolete in any case, especially now people are getting excited at the prospect of 3D TV. Buy a decent brand plasma TV, look after it well and it should last you well over a decade on average.