Info & Answers
New Energy Specs to Change TV Design
Higher energy standards will usher in more LED TVs, ambient light sensing.
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Proposed Energy Star specs 4.0 and 5.0 would continue to cut power consumption way down in televisions.
July 30, 2009 by Steven Castle

Like the idea of LCD TVs with energy-saving features like LED (light emitting diode) backlights and ambient light sensing, which turns down the backlight in dimmed rooms?

You better, because you’re likely to see a lot more of them, if much stricter Energy Star specifications go into effect for TVs in 2010 and 2012, says iSuppli, a market intelligence firm.

“New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines call for the energy consumption of some televisions to be cut by as much as two-thirds by 2013, compelling the LCD TV supply chain to implement changes in its products and components,” says an iSuppli news release.

“While not mandatory, these guidelines are likely to spur major changes in television design as brands move to maintain the coveted Energy Star label on their sets,” said Randy Lawson, digital TV and display electronics senior analyst at iSuppli. “The larger the television size, the more power consumption should be cut to comply with the guidelines.”

Energy Star 4.0, which would go into effect May 1, 2010, lowers the on-mode power consumption of 42-inch TVs by 93 watts while on (from the current requirement of 208 watts to 115 watts), and 50-inch HDTVs to reduce power by 165 watts (from 318 to 153 watts). Sixty-inch TVs would have to use 210 watts or less, down from the current requirement of 391 watts.

The proposed 5.0 spec, due in 2012, will lower power consumption to 81 watts for 42-inch sets and svelte 108 watts for any set over 50 inches (including 60+ inchers). The new specs are set to be finalized in August.

The new and stricter standards are in response to the majority of TVs that met the Energy Star 3.0 specification that went into effect in November, 2008.

“While many design changes will occur in television electronics and OEM-enabled features, including technologies like ambient light sensing to help facilitate intelligent backlight drive options, the largest gains will have to come from redesigns of the panel materials and backlight source electronics,” says iSuppli. “One very effective approach to address the need for on-mode power reduction will be the adoption of LED backlighting, especially the direct-lit type, which will can allow for up to 40 percent or more power savings in a typical 30-inch-or-larger LCD-TV.”

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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