The European Union will implement a ban on the sale of certain TV models from March 2023 due to their comparatively high energy consumption. Following this, all 8K TVs as well as some high-end 4K models could disappear from the market if the regulation remains in its current state. In this guide, we take a closer look at which TVs are affected by this measure, what manufacturers can do to prepare for it, how the new limits are defined, and where the problems lie.
Note: Should additional developments on the EU Ecodesign Directive follow, we will keep you informed here.
More sustainability due to EU Ecodesign Directive
The second stage on the adjustment of the legal requirements for the energy consumption of electrical appliances will come into force starting March 1, 2023. The goal: Increased sustainability. As part of a mandated change to the eco-directive, the measure aims to minimize the negative environmental impact caused by electronic devices. Some insiders also see this move as a long-needed action to reduce e-waste.
Alongside numerous other product groups, televisions are clearly in the spotlight as one of the biggest power guzzlers in our households. In the future, the EU Ecodesign Directive will place an even greater obligation on TV manufacturers to make their portfolios more energy-efficient and thus permanently ban electricity hogs from their product portfolios. In addition to a general reduction in the power consumption of certain device groups, the aim is also to improve the recyclability of such products and reduce CO2 emissions.
In the meantime, it was unclear whether the EU would actually follow through with its planned course. However, the decision now seems to be certain. Interested buyers should be aware that the availability of some models might be limited and that it might soon no longer be possible to buy specific devices. If you managed to get your desired TV, but are still looking for suitable speakers, you can take a look at our soundbar buying guide.
What are the new limits?
The so-called energy efficiency index indicates how high the power consumption of a TV device may be in relation to a specific screen diagonal. The area can be determined from the respective size as one of the relevant calculation factors for the maximum allowed value.
The distinction between SDR and HDR operating modes is important here. In the first mode, the consumption is often much lower and decisive for the rating. The power consumption in the brighter HDR mode, on the other hand, is currently not important.
To help you quickly determine whether or not the EU Ecodesign Directive approves your current model of choice or an already purchased TV set, we have summarized all standard screen diagonals in a compact overview along with the corresponding maximum consumption for you..
If we don’t list a screen size, you can also calculate the corresponding maximum consumption yourself using the following – not entirely uncomplicated – formula:
For explanation: The parameter “Pmeasured” refers to the energy consumption stated by the manufacturer. The screen’s area is stated by “A“. The variable “corr” stands for the correction factor and will be irrelevant for the calculation in the future.
|Size||Max. consumption (SDR)|
|32 inch||33 Watt|
|40 inch||48 watt|
|42 inch||53 watt|
|46 inch||61 watt|
|48 inch||66 watt|
|50 inch||71 watt|
|55 inch||84 watt|
|60 inch||98 watt|
|65 inch||112 watt|
|75 inch||141 watt|
|77 inch||148 watt|
|83 inch||164 watt|
|85 inch||169 watt|
|88 inch||178 watt|
Do exceptional cases still apply?
A crucial factor is actually based on various exceptions that have so far prevented a whole range of TV from being sold earlier. This fact will soon change as well, however, and the corresponding special regulations will no longer be valid.
So far, the so-called micro-LED displays and 8K panels have in fact been exempt from the requirements of the directive and therefore did not receive any specific regulations with regard to their energy efficiency. However, these screens are considered to be particularly energy-intensive and are the TV sets that are most affected by the Ecodesign Directive.
OLED types also have the advantage of a built-in correction factor in the calculations of the maximum allowed power consumption. This aspect took into account that such displays are – at least theoretically – particularly energy-efficient and are therefore allowed to have a higher power consumption than other screens. However, this assumption is not practice-related. In many cases, the self-luminous pixel technology is not really more power-efficient than LED TVs.
Beginning in March 2023, both the correction factor described above and the exemptions for displays with 8K resolution and micro-LED displays will no longer apply. This means that all of the above-mentioned types of models will also have to comply with the requirements of the EU Ecodesign Directive in order to receive a sales permit.
However, the EU does make one distinction. All displays designed for professional use are fully exempt from the regulations. This applies to industrial screens, displays for control, measurement, monitoring and testing, as well as CAD, graphics and video editing. The broadcasting sector is also excluded at this point.
Which TV models are affected in detail?
The new EU Eco-Design Directive not only affects micro-LED TVs and 8K ones, but also some current 4K models on the market. We have compiled an overview of these and their respective power consumption in SDR mode for you below. These top brand TVs manufactured in 2021 and 2022 may no longer be sold, according to EU regulations at the time of writing:
|Manufacturer||Model name||Size in inch|
|LG||OLED Z1||77", 88"|
|LG||OLED Z2||77", 88"|
|Samsung||Neo QLED QN900A||65", 75", 85"|
|Samsung||Neo QLED QN800A||65", 75", 85"|
|Samsung||Neo QLED QN700A||55", 65", 85"|
|Samsung||Neo QLED QN900B||65", 75", 85"|
|Samsung||Neo QLED QN800B||65", 75", 85"|
|Samsung||Neo QLED QN700B||55", 65", 85"|
|Samsung||S95B QD-OLED||55", 65"|
|Philips||OLED+936||48", 55", 65"|
Level of fluctuation in power consumption of TVs
The power consumption of televisions can vary greatly. It depends on various factors such as size, resolution and the type of panel. It also plays a role whether the TV has Internet access and thus gets the additional classification Smart TV or not. Additional decisive aspects are the actual brightness setting and the operating mode.
If we take all these key facts into account, the average power consumption of a modern TV can – at best – be less than 50 kWh per 1000 operating hours. However, large 8K devices that are set at maximum brightness and max out resolution can easily consume more than 10 times as much power. The range is therefore quite large. However, since the stipulated thresholds are much lower, the considerably higher consumption will ultimately become a sales hurdle for the manufacturers.
Micro-LED TVs also require a comparatively large amount of energy and could therefore fail to meet the targets as well. However, displays of this type have so far been exclusive to the business sector and are therefore not a consideration in private households.
What can TV manufacturers do about it?
In order to avoid potentially being left stranded on devices, manufacturers currently have little room to maneuver. Generally, producers like LG, Samsung or Sony can adapt the TVs affected by the directive on the software side. Based on a picture mode specifically designed for the EU Ecodesign Directive, the device would then be just below the prescribed consumption values as soon as you switch on the TV at home for the first time.
This trick is one way of avoiding the sales ban. The downside of such an approach: Due to a darker display in combination with the low power consumption, the picture performance would not correspond to the quality respectivly brightness at the retailer after the first start-up and has to be adjusted afterwards.
Impact on consumers
The new regulations could have a negative impact in many ways and confront consumers with an undesirable challenge that ultimately ends in irritation or resentment. Industry insiders assume that the implementation in its current form will have a major impact on the TV industry and will force consumers to buy older, less powerful models.
Assuming that producers do indeed add a special operating mode, buyers could end up being the “dumb ones”. Retailers would have to make consumers aware of the EU Ecodesign Directive in relation to the picture settings in advance. In many cases, buyers rely on the fact that a purchased device will work “correctly” immediately after it has been set up.
At worst, the clueless average consumer will simply return the newly purchased TV because the adjustment process seems too complex or important information has been passed on incorrectly if at all. It is also possible that this could have a negative impact on the image of manufacturers.
Even a short manual that is somewhere flying through the box would probably only be noticed by the fewest buyers or even read properly.
A better solution would be a prominent adhesive label on the screen that explains in a simple way and in a few steps what the user has to do to be able to use the device to its full potential. Whether and in what way such help will be implemented remains pure speculation at the moment.
Loud criticism on all sides
When appropriate limit values were set for the EU Ecodesign Directive, reference points for technologies such as 8K were lacking. Screen diagonals of 65 inches and above were rarely a topic for private consumers.
High contrasts and frequencies that now exceed 120 hertz per second belonged to the dreams of the future of the following years as well.
The demand from manufacturers, associations and organizations is designed to persuade the EU to change its mind and redefine the permitted values accordingly. To achieve this, the necessary adjustments must be made and the regulation must be aligned with the current conditions on the TV market.
This also includes the appeal to exclude micro-LED TVs and 8K TVs from the outset. The reason for this is that these technologies are not yet widespread in Europe, so that the higher energy load of comparatively few devices – measured against the total sales market – does not play a significant role.
Hardly better efficiency values
The adjustment of the energy efficiency label in March 2021 is already a barely practicable solution for consumers. Since TVs have not made the expected leaps in energy efficiency in recent years, even current models are grouped into one of the two worst categories in most cases.
Technologies such as OLED or 8K are not considered differently and, in addition to power consumption, the luminance in the delivery state is also included in the assessment. The TV must achieve either at least 65 percent of its peak brightness or 220 candela per square meter over the entire surface.
In other words, the new EU Ecodesign Directive gives almost three-quarters of all TVs a G rating. Less than 20 percent manage the F level. This makes it more difficult for consumers to separate them, because although the exact consumption values are generally comparable with each other, there is no clear reference factor for classification.
Two decisive reasons are relevant in this context: First, the EU’s assumed efficiency increase of 7.5 percent per year deviates significantly from reality. Second, the implementation of technologies such as HDR and increased screen resolution caused the power demand to rise continuously for several years instead of falling.
The bottom line today: Many TVs will not only share a single efficiency class, but will no longer be able to meet the standard that will come into effect on March 1, 2023. To meet the standards 8K devices would have to reduce their energy consumption by up to 50 percent and therefore halve it. This will be technically unfeasible in the coming years.
The directive as an investment brake
Within the framework of the EU Ecodesign Directive, the goal of promoting the use of energy-efficient devices has been proclaimed. This makes sense in order to reduce energy consumption and minimize environmental impact. However, this directive can also hinder the development of new technologies.
Display manufacturers often invest in new developments like 8K panels or micro-LED displays. Especially in the introductory phase, however, such trends are often perceived as unnecessary by consumers, and rightly so, because they are too expensive for daily use and thus quickly seem redundant. Nevertheless, it is right and important to continue developing these technologies, since they will be a part of our lives in the future.
In the long run, the EU Ecodesign Directive in its current wording may contribute to display manufacturers not investing as much money in new technologies, because these investments may only be recouped to a lesser extent. This could slow down the development of new technologies.
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