You recently turned your detached garage into a man-cave, and now you’re looking for the perfect TV to accommodate. You want something high quality but durable, capable of enduring the harsh winters that revisit your home year after year. But what about an older and more budget-friendly model, like a plasma screen?
Plasma TVs work well in the cold, capable of better handling below-freezing temperatures than other LED models of similar price and quality. Consulting the TV’s manual will help you understand the proper storage and handling techniques necessary to get the most out of your TV no matter the weather.
In this article, we’ll discuss how plasma TVs function in the cold, proper storage and handling techniques for maintaining the best quality possible, and some ideal TV choices for your weather-related needs.
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How Plasma TVs Function in Cold Weather
The gaseous plasma layer of a plasma TV largely shouldn’t be affected by external weather conditions. However, as with all electronic devices, plasma TVs contain delicate inner mechanisms that may suffer when exposed to extreme weather.
A plasma screen should function as expected in colder climes, as long as the environment where the screen sits doesn’t dip below freezing. Even in scenarios where that’s the case, plasma TVs tend to hold up pretty well in storage.
Be aware of any sudden temperature changes, and reintroduce the screen to your home slowly to avoid potential permanent damage. Allow some time for the unit to acclimate to room temperature, ideally letting it sit for six hours to a day before attempting to turn it on. This delay ensures that there will be less of a chance of water damage to electrical functioning due to condensation.
Do Temperature Ranges Differ According to the Brand and Model?
It’s good to do a little research beforehand, as different brands will have varying temperature limits that their devices can withstand. The owner’s manual of your TV should give instructions as to proper operating and storage conditions.
Samsung, for instance, specifies that their plasma TVs have a broad operating range of 50 °F to 104 °F (10 °C to 40 °C). The company advises against installing their plasma units in areas outside of that temperature range due to the potential negative impact on the overall quality and longevity of the TV’s operation.
Samsung does not recommend storing their products in conditions of excessive heat or cold, with a safe temperature ranging between 4 °F and 113 °F (-20 °C to 45 °C).
LG—another popular plasma producer—advertises units that seem to fare a little better in frigid weather, with an operating range between 32 °F and 104 °F (0 °C and 40 °C). LG asserts their products function best at room temperature in terms of maximizing the unit’s lifespan.
Is it Okay to Store TVs in Areas Where the Weather Is Cooler?
Some say they store their plasma and LCD TVs in a cooler place over the winter with minimal issues, while others claim that this kind of climate irregularity is detrimental to the TV’s condition.
In online forums, many users from continental climates say they have had their plasma TVs stored in garages or shops for prolonged periods and experience little to no operational issues. LCD owners state that they experience few problems with their TVs during the winter, aside from slower initial boot up and response times.
Guidelines for Storing and Operating Your TV in the Cold
It’s not an impossible feat to keep a plasma or LCD TV working in the cold, and some report little-to-no changes in their TV’s functionality despite wildly vacillating weather conditions. Here are some pointers to keep in mind between storing and operating your TV in colder weather conditions:
Consult The Manual
Most TVs are not made for use in frigid weather, and the manual that comes with your TV will clarify the set’s ideal operating and storage conditions. The sweet spot on most TV sets is anywhere from 50 °F to 90 °F (10 °C to 32 °C).
Storing Your TV in the Cold Is One Thing—Using It Is Another
TVs are far more flexible temperature-wise regarding storage versus active use, with most LCD and plasma sets able to endure temperatures as low as 4 °F (about -16 °C). However, be forewarned that damage to your TV can still ensue if temperatures drop below this range. Particularly with an HD TV set, the image quality may be compromised and delayed in response to overexposure to the cold.
Protect Your TV While It’s In Storage
If you’re not planning on using your TV for a while, it’s best to keep it in a dry, covered place that will prevent it from gathering dust and from being exposed to direct sunlight. The sun’s heat can potentially create condensation in the unit, with the possibility of freezing overnight.
Equinox seasons are particularly risky, as the marked difference between daytime highs and nighttime lows can permanently damage the screen and create potential condensation with repeated freezing and unfreezing. It’s better if the area has an arid cold climate versus a humid cold, as there is a slimmer chance of condensation occurring.
Let the TV Get Reacclimated Before Use
This advice is pretty solid for any electronic device, especially those that produce a lot of heat from use.
When gearing up to use your TV again in March after a winter’s hiatus, make sure to heat the space to room temperature before attempting to turn the TV on. Most recommend waiting anywhere from one hour to one day before turning on the TV after a prolonged dormancy. The longer it’s been since its last use—and the colder it’s been since its last use—the longer you should wait.
An extreme shift in temperature can cause permanent damage to your TV, with the contrast between the residual cold and sudden heat forming condensation inside the TV set. Waiting at least 24 hours before turning the TV should allow enough time for any condensation inside the TV to evaporate and hopefully avoid any severe electrical issues.
Turning on your TV prematurely before it acclimates may not cause it to malfunction entirely but can permanently damage the screen’s image quality.
What TVs Are Most Weather-Resistant?
The range of high quality 4K weatherproof TV screens currently available is astounding. These TVs can not only withstand the highs and lows of summer and winter weather but also boast newer, upgraded features like voice control and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection.
Unfortunately, many of these sets also come with a prohibitive price tag; at the end of the day, it all comes down to how much you’re willing to invest. You can do some research on the best outdoor TVs to determine what is best for your situation.
Plasma vs. LCD: Which Is Better?
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that still can handle some fluctuations in temperature, a plasma or LCD TV might be your choice. Plasma screens seem to be the more popular choice in a garage or seasonal home, but LCDs aren’t far behind. LCDs seem to be more temperature-sensitive: an LCD screen will freeze if stored below -4 °F (-20 °C), whereas a plasma can handle temperatures down to -40 °F (-40 °C).
If you don’t already have one, good luck finding plasmas on the second hand market. They are no longer in mass production and could get pricey.
There is a bevy of different options to choose from when considering cold-proof TVs. Plasma TVs offer a durable, high-quality option that can easily manage winter’s whims at a very approachable price. By consulting the manual and handling the plasma with a little care, you’ll be able to enjoy your TV for years to come.