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Are Samsung and LG & Co. manipulating the power consumption of TV sets?

Research by the US Environmental Protection Agency NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has shown that the electricity consumption of television sets manufactured by Samsung, LG and Vizio as measured by official energy tests is significantly lower than in everyday operation. The reasons for this are deficits in the official test methods used to test the energy consumption of new TV sets, whose manufacturer-side utilization confers on the devices in test operation a higher energy efficiency than in everyday practice.1

In October 2015, barely a week after the emissions scandal surrounding automobile manufacturer Volkswagen (VW), in which software installed in VW diesel passenger carsreduced pollutant emissions in official laboratory tests but not in real world scenarios, the Guardian reported on Samsung’s alleged

in the electricity consumption of its TV sets.2  According to the Guardian report, unpublished tests by a research group supported by the European Union showed a clear discrepancy between the energy consumption of the devices in test and normal operation. The so-called “Motion Lighting” function was responsible for this, this function lowers of the brightness of the screen during the official test procedure, resulting in the measured energy consumption being on average lower than in real everyday operation. This caused the suspicion that the software was a shutdown device, which would recognize the laboratory conditions and then switch to the energy saving mode in order to achieve correspondingly better test results. Samsung, however, rejected the allegations with the statement that the function was activated by default and not only during the test run in each device.

The current NRDC study can not provide any conclusive proof of the use of such “defeat devices”.3 However, the fact that the energy savings under laboratory conditions are significantly higher than in real everyday operation suggests that some manufacturers are using the energy saving “motion lighting” mode when the characteristics of a ten minute test film – abnormally often and quick scene changes – are identified. This would result in a better energy efficiency rating and would give them a competitive edge.1

NRDC also demonstrated that a deactivation of the factory settings of the tested TV sets by the user resulted in drastic increases in energy consumption, but without the user being warned through the use of corresponding warning messages on the screen. If only one-third of all US owners of Samsung, LG and Vizio brand TVs acquired in 2015 and 2016 were to make changes to the standard settings of these devices, for example, more contrast or brightness, this would mean electricity costs of more than 1.2 Billion US dollars over the next 10 years.1

  1. Natural Resources Defense Council, accessed 26.09.2016 [] [] []
  2. The Guardian, accessed 26.09.2016 []
  3. Süddeutsche, accessed 26.09.2016 []