New Energy Star Rules Will Change LCD TV Designs

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El Segundo, Calif.  - 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, according to iSuppli.

The EPA's Energy Star Program Requirements for TVs: Version 3.0, which went into effect in November 2008, are guidelines that impact on-mode power consumption limits for televisions.

The EPA believes Version 3.0 of the regulation can reduce energy demand by millions of kilowatt hours per year. The EPA guidelines for TV on-mode power limits will grow more stringent over time with Tier-1 limits now in effect, moving to more restrictive levels during the Tier-2 and Tier-3 phases in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

"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."

For 26-inch sets, Lawson noted maximum power consumption when the television is turned on should be reduced to 42.3 watts by 2013, down 52.8 percent from 89.7 watts in 2008. For 50-inch sets, on-mode power consumption should be reduced to 106.9 watts in 2013, down 66.3 percent from 317.5 watts in 2008.

The attached figure presents the EPA's on-mode power limitations for televisions in the coming years as well as the schedule for phasing in different tiers of power-consumption limits for TV makers.

Television power consumption is soaring mainly due to the transition from CRT to LCD display technology, as well as the resultant shift to larger screen sizes.

At screen sizes smaller than 26 inches, only a small difference exists between the power consumption of the two television types. However, LCD-TVs in the popular 37-, 40-, 42- and 50-inch sizes have dramatically greater power consumption than the smaller CRT-TVs, which max out at the 35-inch dimension.

Previous global standards, including earlier versions of the Energy Star regulations, focused on reducing power consumption only during the off and standby modes. However, the new requirements focus on the on-mode, in which televisions consume the most power. The Energy Star Program Requirements for TVs: Version 3.0 is the first such standard to go into effect, but will be followed by similar guidelines in other countries.

 "The advent of these more restrictive government guidelines will have a significant impact on the development of LCD TV technology and the television supply chain, impacting panel materials, LCD backlight unit designs and audio/video electronics," Lawson said.

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. 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.

Learn more about this topic, entitled, Digital TV Going Green, at


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