Plasma TVs at high altitudes
An interesting factor to consider when planning your purchase of a new plasma television is altitude. Plasma TVs use millions of tiny, gas-filled chambers to create a picture. When you move to higher altitudes, the constant pressure in the chambers and the now lower ambient air pressure create a buzzing sound
reminiscent of a halogen beer sign. This buzz is a combined result of the increased power consumption necessary to overcome the pressure differential, and the increase in fan use because the high power consumption heats the unit. This change in noise is really the only difference between operating a plasma television at sea level and one operating at extreme (above 6,000 ft) altitudes.
This noise increase provides a hint as to the more serious reason to avoid using a plasma television: lifespan. The life of a plasma screen is dependent on how hard it works
through the course of its life. Operating these televisions at altitudes above what they were designed for puts an excess strain on their various components. Using a plasma TV above
6,000 ft. is more likely to annoy you with additional noise than anything else, but it's a bad choice in the long run.
This pressure change is why airplanes chose to use LCD screens over plasma screens on flights that offer video entertainment. LCDs use crystals instead of gas filled chambers, and are thus indifferent to altitude changes. That said, there are manufacturers who have designed plasma
televisions for use at altitudes up to 9,000 ft. You'll pay for this upgraded design, so you must decide if the price difference is worth it. So, check the elevation information for your city to
determine if this should concern you, because it's not always obvious. Denver is just under the 6,000 ft. window for operating a regular plasma screen. You may see a slight difference in the lifespan of the unit here when compared to an identical television located closer to sea level, but this is likely to be very small. If you're not sure what your local elevation is, or if you're close, but still below the 6,000 ft. recommended ceiling, do some firsthand research. Go to an electronics store and test out the various plasma TVs on display. Listen closely for a buzzing or humming. You may find that your local air pressure is low enough to affect the performance of a plasma unit.
So you've done your research and planning, and you're ready to buy your plasma television? Now make sure you check your local conditions and, if necessary, invest in a high altitude plasma unit.
Article written by Jakob Culver
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