Updated Dec 09, 2013 By Cedric Demers

Plasma vs LED
TV Power Consumption and Electricity Cost

TV Electricity Cost Calculator

Use the following calculator to estimate the annual electricity cost of a television as defined by size, viewing habits, electricity cost, and TV technology.

Time watched:
Electricity cost:
Power Consumption:
Yearly Electricity Cost:
Plasma TV
Power Consumption:
Yearly Electricity Cost:

Power Consumption

plasma vs led tv power consumption

As shown in the chart, the power consumption of a plasma television is higher than an LED television. The difference is more noticeable with big televisions.

The chart displays the average typical power consumption for 2013 models as advertised. This isn't the maximum power consumption.

A plasma TV consumes significantly more power than an LED TV because each gas cell needs to be excited enough to produce a bright color. In an LED display, the light is independent and shared across all the pixels, so a more efficient way to produce the light can be used.

You can learn more about how they work here.

The data displayed represents the average scenario; the power consumption varies depending on the content viewed and the settings of the television. For example, a TV consumes a lot more power when displaying a very bright white screen as compared to a dark one, especially for plasma televisions.

Electricity Cost

plasma vs led tv electricity cost
Yes, the chart is exactly the same except for an axis change. This is normal because the electricity cost is directly proportional to the power consumption.

The next chart shows the yearly cost if the television is watched five hours per day for 365 days, at a cost of electricity of 0.11$ per kWh.

As you can see in the chart, a plasma television does consume more electricity than an LED TV, and is therefore costlier. However, the resulting cost at the end of the year is not very big - about $10 more for a 50" plasma. Over a period of five years, the total amount saved would be $50.

As mentioned here, a plasma TV costs on average $350 less than an LED TV of the same size. Based on this, it will take 35 years for the total cost of ownership (initial cost + electricity cost) of a plasma television to surpass its LED counterpart.

Winner: LED

Questions & Answers

Your data on plasma TV power consumption is incorrect or incomplete. I have a 50" plasma. I measure 59 watts with black screen. Power varies with brightness. At maximum and white, it is 450 watts - but that never happens. Under normal viewing averaged over several hours, power consumption is around 110 watts. Even less than the 40" and 32" LCD TVs I own. Your power consumption should include average viewing when including plasmas. LCD power doesn't vary with program material since its light is always on. Plasma is only lit when and where it needs to create light.
Yes, this is true. The good way to interpret this data is the worst case scenario. Our data is from the advertised power consumption, not the measured average. Note that some LED TVs will change the brightness of the backlight automatically, so this applies to them also. The problem, though, is that power consumption of a TV varies a lot depending on the content viewed and the settings (especially brightness), so we still prefer to use the advertised numbers. We updated the article to reflect your point. Thanks.
Does a Plasma TV also generate more heat?
Yes, a Plasma TV also generates more heat than an LED or LCD TV. Practically all the electricity consumption is transformed into heat - even the light produced will eventually be transformed into heat. So the heat generated is in proportion to the electricity usage, putting it at about three times more heat for a Plasma TV than an LED TV.
I was thinking of getting rid of my 50" old Plasma and getting an efficient LED TV. The manual of my existing TV says the power consumption is 480 W. I know nothing about how to estimate consumption and everything else, but I would like to know if you think it's a wise decision to get a new one.
Your manual probably lists its maximum power consumption, not the average. The maximum would be when displaying a completely white screen at maximum brightness. You will save a little bit of money in term of electricity with the LED, but not enough to recover from the cost of a completely new TV. Also, an LED would most likely have a worse picture quality than your plasma.
I am confused about the difference between LCD and LED. So many top range Samsung TVs say LED because they have Edge or back light Led. Yet the reviews say they are LCDs and not LEDs! So therefore what is a real LED television?
Technically, what we refer to as an LED TV is also an LCD TV, but with a different backlight. The screen is the same technology; Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). Old school LCDs used a CCFL backlight to create the light. In an LED TV, instead of the CCFL, it is LEDs. This is why a lot of literature will use LCD and LED interchangeably, even if the real term of an LED TV is an LCD TV with an LED backlight. It is just easier to say LED TV instead.
With regards to power consumption, you really pay twice: once for the running of the TV, and a second time to cool the house with an air conditioner. However if you live in an area with cold winters, the TV can help heat the house, and the home heating cost would be reduced. So if you live in a hot southern climate, power consumption is a much bigger issue than if you live in the colder north.
Indeed, it really depends on your climate whether power consumption is an issue or not.
One thing not mentioned here: the massive amount of heat a plasma TV generates can mess with your thermostat, especially if they are in the same room. My central air will run constantly when my plasma TV is running, thereby making the rest of the house cold (and increasing the electricity bill).
Yes, thanks for pointing that out.
If plasma generates more heat, does it cause a problem with the TV?
By itself under normal usage, no. However, on a very hot day (110F +), if the TV is turned on for a very long time and if it doesn't have space to breathe (like if it is inside closed furniture), it could start to overheat and possibly damage itself. Otherwise, do not worry about it.
What type of lighting source would be found in a Sony 32 inch LCD from about 2008? And is it possible for the lighting power to decrease over time, thereby reducing the brightness potential?
It is either CCFL or LED, depending on your model, but going off the year and size, most likely CCFL. It is unlikely that the luminosity will decrease over time. Usually it is the backlight, or at least part of it, that breaks completely. That said, it is possible. For example, if it is an LED TV and one the capacitors in the LED driving circuit became unable to hold its charge the same as it had before, but still continued to operate.
Do plasma TVs of today use less energy than those from, say, 2007? Would having an old plasma change the equation at all?
Yes, 2013 plasma TVs use about 30% less energy than those of five years ago.
Can an LED TV run on 80 watt electricity?
It depends on the size. The smaller ones can.
What are the safe distances for watching plasma vs LED ?
There is not a difference between a plasma and LED for the safe distance. However, some people are bothered by the flickering of a plasma. For them, sitting closer means the effect is even more disturbing.
Is it a good thing to do to get rid of a CRT TV and buy an LCD one?
Yes and no. The upside is you can have a bigger screen, better resolution and lower power consumption with an LCD TV. The downside is the contrast of a CRT can't be matched by an LCD, and CRTs also offer a very low level of motion blur.
Since the LCD and LED television have been around, I have yet to find a good one that offered better quality picture than the older technology. I have gone everywhere in search of the best one. Please help. Could it be the settings? Cause to me all these new television shows' colors do not look right. They look like they don't have enough ink to produce true colors.
All LED TVs have a lower contrast than the old CRT TVs, which explains your difficulty in finding a good TV. You should look for a plasma TV instead if you really care about picture quality.
My LED TV goes off as soon as there is a voltage drop. Does that mean it requires high voltage?
This is a mechanism to protect the TV from damage caused by voltage fluctuation. If your electricity is unstable, you should definitely protect your TV using a surge protector (and ideally one with a UPS).
I usually turn my plasma TV off (or put it in standby mode), but leave my cable box on. I have heard the cable box uses more energy than the TV. Would it use less energy to turn off the cable box and leave the TV on, but set to a dark screen?
A cable box definitely uses less power than a TV. It is better to turn off both if you can, but if you choose just one, turn off the TV.
I think you need to mention the 'halo' visual issues of LCD/LED TV's. They are less clear looking than 20-year-old CRT TVs are. It is a big deal. It is a deal killer, making the picture quality of an LED TV worse than that of a 1990s CRT. Every time a dark image and a light image are near one another you get a serious loss of contrast. In fact, depending on the set, (less expensive ones get this a lot) you can have a dark scene with a bright moon and end up with a stripe from the top of your set to the bottom in the area that has the moon. This screws up all space movies, dark scenes in horror movies, outdoor scenes with water and sky.. and a lot of video games look bad. Terrible. Plasma's make their own light for every pixel and LCD's do not. To get bright colors (with any contrast) they need 'regions' (divide your screen into vertical stripes, or blocks) and each region gets some LEDs... and if anything inside of a 'region' is bright the entire region is bright (it makes looking at the stars about as 'crisp' as putting olive oil my glasses). The LED TV makers have spent the last 3 years sitting on their hands, fiddling with gimmicks like 3D and 4K sets (in a world with no 4K content) instead of fixing the native contrast and 'haloing' issues. The 'good' tech to get around this isn't even ready in the LAB yet. The only work around is more LED regions which raises the cost and the power usage.
Yes, but this is only true for local dimming LED TVs. When you turn that feature off, the backlight is constant no matter the picture displayed. The black color is still not as good as a plasma, but there is no halo effect.
How much power is consumed when an LCD/LED is turned off?
About 0.5W, so only $0.10 per year. It is really negligible.
I am actually surprised that picture quality is not given enough priority in this comparison. What is the point of watching a good movie when your TV can't produce a high quality picture? The most important factor in a TV is picture quality, not how much it weighs nor the power consumption (the difference between the power consumption of all flat panel Tvs over a period of one year is very trivial). People get carried away with all these useless statistics. I feel your article is biased towards LCD displays.
Thanks for the feedback. Indeed, the picture quality should be someone's priority when buying a TV. You are right, putting the picture quality page second last diminishes its importance. We will reorganize the pages according to their priority in the buying process. After re-reading all the pages of our article, I think we made it pretty clear that plasma TVs win for picture quality (except in a bright room), so we won't touch the text. The update should be up tomorrow. Let us know if you have any more feedback once it's updated. Thanks!
Since you mentioned flickering with Plasma, does that mean it is bad for our eyes? Does plasma put more strain on our eyes than LCD?
Yes, some people can get uncomfortable when watching a plasma TV for too long. The flickering is similar to old CRT TVs, but because the TVs are bigger, it is a bit more apparent. The majority of people don't get bothered by it, though.
My friend is selling his plasma TV, which still looks good physically. But is there any specific lifespan for this TV? Max running hours (manufacturer's design)?
The first thing to look for in a used plasma TV is image retention. Display a gray picture and look for any residual burn-in. If it has none, you are good to go. There really isn't a specific lifespan. Manufacturers advertise a crazy one but it means practically nothing.
I would like to use my Samsung smart TV to listen to Pandora throughout the day. I was wondering if that would have a noticeable impact on my electricity use. The alternative would be to use my old laptop to stream Pandora. Which would be more cost effective?
The TV will probably consume less than your old laptop, assuming you disable the screen. Most TVs have that feature, but it is sometimes hidden deep in the menus.
Will the picture quality on a 720p plasma TV be better than a 1080p LED?
It depends on your viewing distance. A 720p plasma will appear to have a screen door effect if you sit too close to the TV (about 10 feet).
Is it more cost effective to turn a TV off when you aren't watching and power back up when you want to watch? Is there a burst of energy consumed when powering up? My husband and I have a wager.
It's more cost effective to turn it off. There is only a tiny surge when a TV (or nearly any other electronic device) is turned on. It's very hard to measure and will not affect your bill.
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