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Plasma TV Problems at High Altitude

Plasma TV Problems at High Altitude

A concise write-up on Plasma TV problems that you are likely to experience at high altitude, i.e., an altitude of 6500 feet or above, which will help you figure out whether opting for one would be a wise thing to do.
Abhijit Naik
A Plasma TV is an ideal bet when it comes to brightly lit rooms as you don't need to adjust lights or pull the blinds when you are watching it. Similarly, wider viewing angle means you can watch it from any corner of the room without any distortion in image. Add to it the fact that these television sets are lighter than most of the alternatives, and the list of reasons why you should opt for a Plasma TV gets even better. That being said, a Plasma TV does have its own share of problems that you need to be taken into consideration when you opt to buy it; one such problem is that of 'altitude pressure'.

Plasma TV Problems at High Altitude

As funny as it may sound, even Plasma TVs tend to suffer from 'altitude sickness'―the effect of which is at its peak at an altitude of 7000 feet. As you won't get to see any obvious difference in the picture quality at this altitude, you may not even realize that you television is being affected, unless you have sharp ears, as the most obvious symptom of Plasma TV's altitude problem is the noise that comes from the unit. This loud noise is attributed to the cooling system which is used to regulate the temperature of display element. At times, the problem may vary from one region to another. For instance, a unit may work fine at an altitude of 7200 feet without making any noise, but the same model may make a lot of noise at 6500 feet. This can be attributed to the fact that altitude pressure tends to differ from one location to another.

How Altitude Affects Plasma TVs?

Basically, Plasma TV display is made from rare natural gases, such as xenon, neon, or argon, which are compressed inside several tiny glass envelopes. The pressure at which these gases are compressed has to match the pressure of gases outside the glass envelope. Most of the manufacturers tweak the pressure to make sure that it matches the atmospheric pressure at the sea level, so these television units work fine at sea level and a few feet above it.

The rule of the thumb is that atmospheric pressure decreases with elevation, owing to which the air at high altitudes is thinner than air at the sea level. This difference in the atmospheric pressure results in imbalance in the inner and outer pressure, which, in turn, increases the stress on the gases inside the glass envelopes. In such circumstances, the plasma display has to put in more efforts for cooling the display element. If the Plasma unit has cooling fans, they will create a lot more noise than they would in normal circumstances as a result of this added pressure. On the other hand, if the unit uses a convection cooling system, there will be a distinct buzzing noise coming from it. Other than this annoying noise, the extra efforts that the cooling system has to put, will also reduce the lifespan of the unit as it will be subjected to excessive wear and tear.

The answer to such high altitude problems is altitude-friendly technology, which has been already implemented by various Plasma TV and Plasma display manufacturers across the world. In fact, NEC Corporation, a Japanese firm dealing in consumer electronics, has already introduced a Plasma television which works fine up to an altitude of 9180 feet. Other prominent names such as Panasonic and Pioneer also have models which boast of a decent altitude limit in their lineup. If you want to save yourself the trouble, you need to crosscheck what the manufacturer has to offer in terms of altitude limit when buying a Plasma television―that's if you happen to reside at an altitude of 6000 feet or above.