Recharging Plasma TV Pixels, Plasma Pixel Outage

By: Robert Wiley

We get a lot of inquiries about this topic so I thought it easier just to write a short article about the subject to put it to rest.

For some reason at retail stores in different parts of the world salespeople often tell consumers that they should not purchase a plasma display because the pixel cells have to be periodically recharged. Who knows where they get this information. It is completely false.

Fujitsu Plasma TV
The above is an example of a Fujistu plasma TV with a cluster of green cells.

There is no recharging process. There is no gas that needs to be pumped back into the display. There is no way to “re-gas” a plasma monitor anyway, since the plasma display element is a fixed pixel device with each pixel etched into the glass substrate. So called “ribs” within the glass substrate envelope further separate this cell. Further to discourage any potential “re-gasser” are black striping and more ribbing separating each of the three phosphor colors of red, green, blue. Finally, there is a rear glass substrate protective layer behind all of this technology.

Each pixel cell in a plasma display has its own transmitter or electronic power supply. In the case of a 1024X1024 plasma display that is 1,048,576 individual pixel cells with 1,048,576 electric pulse transmitter wires connecting video boards and processors to the rear panel of the rear glass substrate. In sum, there is no practical (nor probably impractical) repair.

Not sure if I have made the point yet but let me state it plainly. If a pixel cell expires, it is out, and there is nothing you can do about it. It is just one of 1,048,576 and is likely not to disturb your viewing pleasure. It will just appear as one black spec on the otherwise vibrant, colorful screen, and thus, not noticeable.

The cell may first appear in green only. When a cell appears in green it is noticeable. This means that the electric pulse is not exciting the red and blue phosphors in that particular cell. You may find this annoying but at least you can rest assured that the green phosphor in that one cell will expire years before your plasma display.

Thankfully, pixel outage has not been a problem for recent models of plasma TVs. Manufacturers test the product very thoroughly for these defects before shipping to the U.S. or anywhere for that matter. I have seen it in some of the NEC product more frequently than other manufacturers but the problem seems to be under control.

Still, manufacturers do not publish exact policies regarding pixel cell outage. They follow some practical gray guidelines suggesting that if there are four or more pixels out on one plasma display then that it is a replacement case. Less than that, and the unit will probably not be replaced unless the dealer you purchased the unit from is willing to go the extra mile to take care of you.

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