February 05, 2008 by Steven Castle
Energy Star, the U.S government-backed program that identifies energy-efficient electrical products, has finalized new requirements for TVs. The new standards bode well for LCDs, but not so well for plasma-based displays.
For the first time, TVs will have to meet lower power requirements in their “on” or active states to bear the Energy Star logo. Currently, Energy Star-compliant TVs must consume less than 1 watt of power in standby mode, or what most of us know as off. (See “Why Your Electronics Suck [Energy]” for more on standby power.) The new specifications, however, include both standby power and active power requirements, and will go into effect in November 2008.
Energy Star is allowing separate on-mode power-consumption rates for standard definition (480 lines) and high definition (720 and 1080 lines), and with more lenient requirements for HDTV sets of 680 square inches in total screen area and over (40 inches diagonally and larger) and HDTVs with screens of 1,045 square inches (50 inches and larger). However, no allowances were made for different display technologies, such as LCD and plasma. As a result, power-hungry plasma-based TVs would have to meet the energy-use levels of many LCDs. For example, a 50-inch plasma HDTV would have to use 318 watts and a 42-inch plasma HDTV use 208 watts to qualify as an Energy Star product. Many plasma sets of these sizes consume 300 to 500 watts of electricity.
Energy Star says that about 27 percent of today’s TV products would qualify as Energy Star-rated under this proposal, and that 71 percent of manufacturers currently have products that would meet the new requirements. Most of the existing TVs that would meet the new requirements are in the 32-to-42-inch range, while only a handful of models 50 inches and above would pass.
With the new requirements going into effect in November, we may see new TVs meeting the new Energy Star levels by the year’s end. A second tier of requirements that qualify only 25 percent of existing products will go into effect in September 2010, so expect even more stringent standards then.
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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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