Reader Question: Repairing Plasma HDTV?

Q: Is it true that it is too expensive to repair plasma TV?
Ida Issac-Brewton

A: There are parts of a plasma television that can fail and be replaced at a reasonable cost. For example, the electronics are typically designed as separate modules that can be replaced fairly easily. I suspect, however, that your question is prompted by stories of plasma displays “burning out” or wearing out over time.

The fact is that plasma displays — like a regular CRT television — gets dimmer over time. And it is also true that this is an irreversible process. There’s no way to “clean” or “recharge” a plasma panel to restore its original brightness. Almost all displays have a lifetime rating, which is an estimate of how long it takes to decrease to one-half the original brightness.

Now, early plasma designs were rated for about 5,000 hours of use, which amounts to about 3 years when used an average of four to five hours a day. If these were left on all day and night, they could reach half-brightness in just a year. This caught some early buyers by surprise, and led to a bad reputation for plasma panels.

Current plasma models have lifetimes rated around 60,000 hours, which should be far longer than most people will want to keep the set. As a result, you do not need to worry about a plasma panel getting too dim any time soon.