California outlaws large, power-hungry TVs

November 19th, 2009

In a move that could spell the end of the plasma TV industry as we know it, the state of California agreed today to enact strict regulations on the amount of power televisions can consume, effectively outlawing most large plasma TVs as of January 1, 2011, with many more televisions set to be banned beginning January 1, 2013.

The state had been concerned that 10 percent of a home’s energy use is typically devoted to the TV and its related equipment, and that percentage has been increasing as consumers gain access to larger and larger (and cheaper and cheaper) televisions, which command an ever-increasing hunger for power.

The new rules go into effect a little more than a year from now: On January 1, 2011, televisions will be required to reduce energy consumption by an average of 33 percent. In 2013, a second tier of restrictions will go into effect, with average energy consumption required to be reduced by 49 percent vs. today’s levels.

Rest assured, this doesn’t mean the end of the television as we know it. As the California Energy Commission notes, as of now, over 1,000 televisions already meet the 2011 standards, so many manufacturers won’t have to panic in order to comply with the regulations, at least for now.

Those who will be heavily affected are manufacturers who make televisions that draw more than their fair share of juice. A formula related to the size of the TV’s screen in square inches will be used to determine the maximum power draw allowed by a TV. For example, Panasonic’s 54-inch VIERA plasma TV would be allowed to draw 281 watts of power in “on mode.” Today that set is rated to draw 293 watts of power. Smaller plasmas are generally OK under the 2011 specs, but virtually all of them fall short when put up against the 2013 rules. That same 54-inch plasma will be required to draw only 175 watts once 2013 arrives, a power reduction that just might not be possible.

Bottom line: Most LCD televisions will be safe under the 2011 law, and many plasmas will as well, but come 2013, everyone’s going to have to do some serious belt-tightening.

All told, the new rules are expected to save 6,515 Gigawatt-hours annually in the state, save the state $8.7 billion in costs for additional power plants, and save consumers $8.1 billion a year in lower energy bills.

One additional point of note: The new rules currently don’t apply to very large TVs, those of 1,400 square inches or larger (roughly a 58″ set), although rules are likely to be enacted against these ultra-large sets in the second phase of this legislation.


Lets get this straight.

You buy an electricity supply from a company, or make it yourself with your own solar panels or windmill.

The state says, “you cannot use that TV because it consumes too much electricity”.

Too much of WHOSE electricity?

Once that electricity enters your house, or you make it yourself, it is completely up to you what you do with it. Why should someone who lives ‘off grid’ (or on grid for that matter) be stopped from spending his own money on electricity?

This is all part of the same core idea; that the state can get into your home and tell you what you can or cannot do there. Wether it is running a certain type of electricity consuming equipment, washing your clothes, heating your house, cook your food, flushing your loo or bathing, or eating, they are trying to regulate absolutely everything that you do, no matter where you do it.

And note the language in this piece, “more than their fair share of juice”. What does this mean exactly? Electricity does not come from a collective pool that is distributed free to everyone; it is a product that is purchased by a household for personal use. There is no ‘fair share’ in any aspect of electricity generation, distribution or consumption. And no, global warming is not a result of electricity generation.

No doubt, if america is even still there, there will be a ‘cash for plasmas’ where people are encouraged to trade in their perfectly good televisions for new ones, none of which are manufactured in the USA.

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