The Life of LCD TV Screens

Written by tyler lacoma
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LCD screens have lifespans measured by how long their backlighting systems last. Most LCD screens last around 30,000 to 60,000 hours before their backlighting systems fade. This pertains to the screen's half-life, or how long it takes for the brightness to diminish to half of its original level.

LCD vs. Plasma

When buying flat panel TVs or monitors, many consumers wonder about the life of the screen itself---how long it will last before they need to buy a replacement. Since LCD screens are the primary devices used to create images in the panel-TV market, their lifetime in particular is important to interested buyers. Unlike plasma televisions, LCD screens do not uses gases that can decay over time, so their lifespan is dictated by the durability of their physical materials, allowing them to last on average much longer than plasma versions.

LCD Screen Life

Screen life is measured in hours. An average lifespan of an ordinary LCD screen may be 40,000 hours, for instance. The wider the screen and the way it is lit will influence how many hours the screen will function correctly. LCD lifespans range from 30,000 to 60,000 hours, enough for several decades worth of TV watching and generally plenty of time before the wear becomes noticeable. Most LCD screens are replaced because of technological advancement rather than because they reached the end of their lifespan, though a screen left on throughout the day may be need to be replaced.

TV Half-Life

It should be noted this TV screen lifespan is actually a half-life measurement. In other words, instead of measuring the time it takes for the screen to go from its brightest to complete dimness, the lifespan hours show how long it takes the screen to reach half its original brightness. This is much more useful, since the screen has essentially reached the end of its useful life by the time it has dimmed to 50 per cent its factory-level brightness, and any fading after that point only will only render the TV exponentially less usable.

LCD Structure

LCD screens are peculiar in their durability. While plasma screens depend on gases to function correctly, LCD screens use rows of carefully controlled crystal structures, hence the name Liquid Crystal Display. These crystals are aligned in small groups to produce different ranges of colour based on the light shining through them, which it turn creates a single pixel for the screen. These layers of crystals do not generate light themselves: For this they need some type of backlighting. Original LCD lighting was set above the screen and directed down through the panels, but more modern versions have an entire panel of light positioned behind the screen, shining through to create the image.

LCD Backlighting

This configuration divides the screen into two parts: the LCD layers and the backlighting system. The crystals have no "fading" parts and can last for a long time without particular signs of wear. The lifespan of LCD screens is then determined by the life of the backlighting system, which produces light and can wear down over time. There are several different methods of producing this backlighting, including OLED systems, which can give LCD screens their 60,000-hour ratings.

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