What are the causes of a black horizontal line in a plasma tv?

Written by amy rodriguez
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What are the causes of a black horizontal line in a plasma tv?
Image distortions interrupt television viewing. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Plasma television technology provides a clear and distinct image across a flat screen surface. However, this technology can develop problems that older televisions never experienced. Large black horizontal lines may appear across the plasma's screen surface, creating an extremely disruptive viewing experience. Many factors can contribute to black line development.

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Plasma TV Composition

Plasma technology uses neon or xenon gas trapped between two glass panes. Light illuminates the gas, along with colour application through various pixels. Each pixel has its own electrode power source, producing the colour. The plasma television itself has millions of pixels, forming a huge grouping of tiny, coloured light bulbs for image development across the flat screen surface.


Burn-in occurs when an image remains static on the plasma screen. For example, movies that fill only the screen's centre have constant horizontal black lines along the top and bottom of the screen surface. Over time, the black lines will remain as a permanent image across the screen. The pixel assemblies that are in the blackened area age less than the pixels in use on the moving image. As a result, the used pixels age faster, projecting less light over time, as opposed to the pixels remaining younger from less use, which appear brighter, generating permanent horizontal lines.


Plasma screens use from 26 to 40 drivers for powering sections of the flat screen. Black horizontal lines, measuring about 2 to 3 inches wide, may appear if a driver, or set of drivers, fail. The failed drivers generate a dead section along the screen since there is no power for generating an illumination through the pixels. Unfortunately, one dead driver typically requires a replacement of the entire screen since the drivers are built into the flat screen surface without a way to separate the two assemblies.

Possible Driver Failure Causes

Drivers are electronic integrated circuit chips that can fail from overheating. Electronic components must have sufficient cooling, such as from internal fans, for effective operation. Drivers that become overheated from the television running for a long period can fail easily. Circuitry becomes damaged, and electrical current cannot flow correctly through the driver. Consumers should verify a particular model's cooling system before purchasing a plasma television. Many manufacturers do not add in a cooling feature, significantly reducing the screen's lifespan.


Preventing black horizontal lines requires some diligence on the part of the consumer. Change channels periodically for preventing burn-in from television logos on the screen. Additionally, turn down the television's contrast while the screen is new. The lower contrast level will help the screen remain functional.

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