Televisions are getting bigger and bigger – and therefore more and more energy-hungry. The EU wants to change that with a new directive. And thus effectively prohibits the sale of technologies such as 8K.
If you look for televisions at trade fairs and in some electronics stores, the trend has been clear for years: the devices are getting bigger and bigger – the resolution is also increasing. But these new diagonals eat up more and more energy. Now, on March 1st, a new EU guideline will come into force. And effectively puts a stop to the really big models.
The idea is actually different: In order to get the energy hunger of modern televisions and monitors under control, the directive now sets new limit values. While devices with HD resolution were previously not allowed to exceed a so-called energy efficiency index of 0.9, this has now fallen to 0.75. For models with a resolution above 4K, it is now 0.9 instead of the previous 1.1. The index is based on a complex calculation methodology and includes various parameters. In principle, however, the following applies: the smaller, the better – i.e. more economical.
Effective ban for 8K
The new regulation has dramatic consequences, especially for very large devices and those with 8K resolution. If they were previously excluded from the guidelines as an exception, they are now suddenly subject to the new, lower values for 4K devices. According to retailers such as MediamarktSaturn, the manufacturers can generally meet the new benchmark values for the smaller devices, but this is currently not the case for the very large models and the entire 8K technology.
With a far-reaching consequence: “All 8K TVs, larger QD OLED TVs, microLED devices and some 4K LCD TVs should no longer be allowed to be sold from March 2023,” the retailer summarizes the situation in an information text .
How big the effect of the ban will actually be in retail cannot yet be fully estimated. “Currently, less than one percent of the televisions sold in Germany are 8K models,” confirms a spokesman for the Society for Consumer Research (GfK) of the star. According to a report by the ZVEI industry association, which is available to “Heise”, less than 200,000 8K devices are sold throughout the EU every year.
The measurable effect of the measure that has been announced for a long time on the market is also likely to be small for the other models. According to “Heise”, most manufacturers manage to stay below the guideline values with cost-cutting measures and small tricks. A permitted method is, for example, to reduce the preset brightness, reports ZVEI. Accordingly, up to 65 percent of the maximum brightness can be regulated down. If the reference value is reached, it doesn’t matter whether the customer uses it more brightly at home.
With the new technologies such as 8K and extremely large televisions, however, manufacturers face greater challenges. Because the devices’ hunger for energy keeps increasing with the growth of the screen and higher resolutions, the guideline values cannot be easily implemented there. Because four times as many pixels have to be addressed with 8K as with 4K, the power requirement also increases significantly. The same applies to extremely large models. In the end, the manufacturers have no choice but to implement the technology in a more energy-efficient way from now on. According to “Heise”, however, the technical possibilities for this are currently still limited.
Incidentally, this is not a total ban on the devices. The directive only prohibits bringing devices into circulation that fail to meet the new guideline values. If the devices have already arrived in stores, the ban does not apply to them. “Devices delivered to retailers before March 1, 2022 may continue to be sold,” explains GfK, citing the ZVEI industry association.
Most customers have not been affected by the ban anyway. 8K devices and TVs larger than 65 inches are still a rather small niche in the TV market. “In 2022, 55-inch TVs were still the best-selling size in terms of volume,” explains the spokesman for GfK. This is also because the larger models and those in 8K are still very expensive. “German TV buyers are still willing to spend less than 1,000 euros. The average price actually spent was 699 euros in 2022. And that’s already a new high,” explains GfK.
Until the buying behavior of customers changes, the manufacturers should still have some time to come under the guidelines with the new technologies. In case they weren’t outdated beforehand: because issues such as giant displays, a fast refresh rate and 8K were not yet an issue when they were being set, the associations called for the rules to be revised again before they were introduced. Until the regulation came into force, however, this fell on deaf ears.
Sources: MediamarktSaturn, ZVEI, Heise, GfK