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LCD vs Plasma: What Are Their True Energy Costs?

by Josh Kirschner on July 01, 2011

The marketing folks at LCD manufacturers have been working overtime to tout the energy benefits of LCD TVs (especially, LED-backed models) over plasma TVs. They have done such a good job, that California even passed a ban on plasma TV sales in the state.

But do LCD's really save you that much over plasmas during typical usage? We're about to find out.

All TVs manufactured after May 10th, 2011 are required to prominently display one of the Federal Trade Commissions’ new EnergyGuide labels. And starting July 11th, websites that sell televisions will be required to display an image of the full label as well.

The EnergyGuide labels are similar to those found on appliances, and must be displayed conspicuously on each TV. Each label will show the estimated yearly cost of that particular TV, based on a certain number of hours and cost per hour of electricity

EnergyGuide label for television

Currently, the EnergyGuide labels are determined using an energy price of $0.11 per kilowatt hour and 5 hours a day of use. At least here in New York City, our energy prices are far higher, so you may need to adjust accordingly. Likewise, if you're not glued in front of the TV for five hours a day, you should adjust for that as well. But the labels provide a pretty strong point for comparison.

Our friends at HD Guru did some analysis to determine if there is the real difference between “energy efficient” LED models, and “power hungry” plasmas. According to HD Guru, the LG 47-inch 47LW6500 LED LCD will have an EnergyGuide yearly estimated cost of $13. While the LG 42-inch 42PT350 plasma will have an estimated cost of $21.

That's not much. And, as HD Guru points out, given the vast price discrepancy between the average plasma and the average LED LCD (over $500, in this example), it is highly unlikely you would ever see a return on your investment, power consumption-wise (62.5 years, between these two).

So when shopping for a new TV, it's now possible to factor in the energy usage into the overall cost and you can make your own judgment whether LCD or plasma offers the better value.


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