It’s cheaper to replace then repair an LED TV

For a guy who earns his living on television, I watch surprisingly little of it. But still, when my nine year old Samsung 46-inch LED went on the fritz this weekend, I suddenly felt unconnected. But what to do.

First, the bad news.


My broken TV’s screen sort of looks like this.

Not many places repair them. Parts are hard to get. Everything is on a circuit board. The board you need has to come from the manufacturer and that can take so much time that most independent electronic repair facilities find it financially prohibitive to try and fix them. Besides, they’re big and heavy and the owner has to unplug and haul them to a shop. Shop owners don’t like having them sit around taking up space while they wait on the unlikely chance that parts will be found.

Long gone are the days when a TV service tech would come to your house, take off the back of the set and then pop in a couple of new tubes.

So that $1,400 LED TV I bought nearly a decade ago is not going to get fixed. Bummer.

On the other hand, I can replace it today for about a third of the original price.

So we’re TV shopping. Alas, we have a big cabinet it fits in. I need whatever set I find to fit in that opening. So we’re making the rounds of the big box stores. One benefit, for around $600-$700, I can buy a much better set and the cabinet opening can accommodate up to a 50-inch screen. Today’s sets have built in Wi-Fi, for Netflix and YouTube and Amazon streaming, as well as Pandora music. And I can get three or four HDMI ports out, instead of the two I had on my old Samsung.

Now comes another dilemma: What to do with the old set?

It can’t be left curbside for trash because it’s too big and LED TV’s contain Mercury and other potentially items that need to be properly disposed of at a recycling center.

According to Earth 911, more than 70 percent of the broken electronic gadgets can be recycled, recovering items such as plastic, steel, aluminum, copper, gold and silver to be used in new products. They have a guide on their website  to finding the nearest center.

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The big box chain Best Buy has perhaps the most impressive recycling program I’ve found. Best Buy will remove an appliance or TV free of charge from a customer’s home when a new product is purchased and delivered by Best Buy. That’s a good enough incentive for me to buy from them. Or, for a fee, they will also schedule a pickup with no product purchase. In fact, the giant electronics chain says on its recycling info page that it collects  more than 400 pounds of product for recycling every minute their stores are open — no matter what retailer the products were purchased from.

I could try giving our broken TV away on Craig’s List. Some people collect these things, believe it or not. But from previous bad experiences, I’m not a big fan of the service and having strangers come to my house.

Many communities schedule electronic waste pick-ups a couple times a year. I just missed our spring one. But I suppose I can wait till fall, if necessary.

First step, though, it to find a new TV. So I’m off to do some shopping.







Posted in: Gadgets & Gear

About the Author:

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.
  • JTV

    Mike, The days of TV Techs coming to your house are not long gone! That is how I make my living, and I assure you there is an entire industry out there. Now with that said, the days of a tech coming to your house and replacing a tube are long gone, but they have been for about 40 years! Tubes?! You must have missed the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and so on. Televisions have been all solid state since virtually the birth of the transistor.
    So, If your LED TV was truly a decade old then you were one of the first consumers in america to own one and you paid MUCH more than $1400 for it. I’m guessing you are mistaken and it is an LCD TV or you are grossly exaggerating its age. You say you rarely watch TV, so the only truly consumable part in your TV is the source of back lighting, CFL Bulbs for the LCD with a life span approaching 100,000 hours or if indeed it is an LED much longer yet. I would expect a user who classifies himself as a rare watcher to maybe average an hour or two a day. So my calculator tells me at ten years you have used about 13% of your TVs potential life span or about $182 of your initial $1400 investment. So what about the other $1200+ you already spent? Well like the car dealers say “Roll it Over!” or like the bankers say “Upside Down!” So your new $600 TV cost how much? Sounds more like $1800 to me!
    Now, as far as the proposed parts issue. These days parts for most TV’s are very easy to find, there are a number of traditional parts distributors across the country who ship parts nation wide. It usually takes me 2 days. The parts that are difficult to find are usually cheap no name brands from China (of course as with everything, you get what you pay for), sometimes that $100 savings cost much more. Also, the industry you claim doesn’t exist is actually evolving and new industries are being born from it! There is now an entire booming industry around the salvage and redistribution of used TV parts. Large companies like Shop Jimmy do this as well as small ones and even individuals, check out ebay!
    Big, heavy, bulky…What? Your 46″ TV would probably fit in the backseat of 90% of the cars on the road. I have got a $50″ into the back of a Toyota Corolla!
    Lastly, there is one thing in your TV that cannot be replaced, it’s failure does indeed represent the end of life for your TV. That is called the panel, the screen itself. Technically it is replaceable but it’s cost is prohibitive in almost every case. However, this situation has existed since the beginning of the TV. Before it was the picture tube. I don’t know what the cost would have been to repair your TV, but I do know that I complete repairs for customers who contact me and decide that repair is going to be a wise decision saving them hundreds of dollars about 75% of the time.
    Now Mike, If your TV truly looked like the one in the picture…It didn’t exactly go on the fritz did it?
    The TV in the Picture has a physically broken (cracked) LCD panel. There is a clear impact point, thats what they look like when the Wi remote slips out of your hand, or the Hot Wheels flys across the room!

  • Tony

    Hey Mike….did you get your new TV? What brand did you go with? I recently brought an 8 year old 50″ Hitachi LCD Projection TV to Best Buy for recycling, they took it like they liked it, no problem at all.

  • Jesse

    If you don’t mind me asking, how did this tv break? I also have an led and it got a screen crack from nothing and I’m not sure how it could have happened…..

    • lupita

      I would also like to know,same thing happened to me.

  • Barney Samson

    Seiki 49″ TV went black- replaced one board for $30.00 from eBay, up and running.

  • pcl

    Do “LED TVs” really contain mercury? I’ve only seen the warnings on the older LCD models with fluorescent back lightting; these are said to contain 1 or 2 mercury-vapor tubes, though I’ve never had to replace one. With these, I would think you could take out said tubes and have them recycled wherever you’d normally bring fluorescent bulbs or tubes, then the rest of the set would be just like any other electronic waste. With the newer “LED TVs”, most of which are really LCDs with LED back lighting, wouldn’t all of it be mercury free and no different from computer or audio equipment?

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  • Cjsayler

    It’s too bad the writer of this article either did no research or a poor job of it. It’s articles like these that promote waste in our society.


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