25 Panasonic television lifestyleSmoking isn’t just bad for you, it’s bad for your television. And, as it turns out, other home entertainment equipment too.

Appliance Retailer, a specialist newsletter for the retail electronics industry, recently carried a story about a UK couple who were refused warranty repair on their Panasonic television because the damage, according to the maker, was caused by their smoking.

The couple had paid for an extended warranty and after a couple of years noticed shadowing on the screen. Panasonic blamed this on their both being smokers and told them that such damage was not covered under the warranty. The couple said they each smoked about 20 cigarettes a day, but didn’t do it all in the same room and kept the windows open, so the television was not in a smoke-filled room.

Panasonic’s service staff found that as well as smelling of cigarette smoke there was evidence that cigarette smoke had entered the television, causing the shadowing. The warranty excluded damage caused by build-ups of dirt or dust and exposure to corrosives and matter entering the product.

“The exposure to nicotine is classed as environmental damage. This is not a manufacturing defect and is therefore not covered under the warranty,” a spokesman for Panasonic told the couple. “The panel is manufactured with many layers of diffusers and when the television is exposed to air that contains nicotine this is subsequently passed through the television and to the panel, and can then damage the picture quality.”

I asked Panasonic’s local media people for a comment. They asked me if I smoked. No, but plenty of readers do. No comment ensued.

Cigarettes weren’t a problem with old cathode ray tube televisions as the tube was fully sealed. Smokers were simply advised to clean the screen from time to time as smoking brought a more rapid build-up of film on it. LCD and LED televisions, however, draw air through the cabinet to keep the electronics cool, and all manufacturers recommend that vents be kept clear so air can circulate. If you smoke at home there’s no foolproof way of keeping smoke from entering the television.

And it’s not just televisions; cigarettes are a problem for projectors too, especially ones that are mounted overhead where smoke can linger after it has risen. Projectors generate lots of heat and have powerful fans to draw cooling air through.

An installer friend in Sydney routinely recommends projectors be cleaned and serviced every two years or, if there is even just one smoker in the house, every year. He says film build-up inside and on the lens happens much faster when there’s a smoker present and this affects brightness and picture definition. When he started doing this clean-up work he gave up smoking. “I couldn’t stop thinking of that gunk building up inside me,” he said.

But I’m not sure I believe the on-line forums that suggest smoking makes dust harder to remove from the blades of ventilation fans, reducing cooling to the point where the equipment shuts down.

Keeping equipment clean, well ventilated and dust free is the most basic long-term maintenance measure there is. The effects of smoke in components like amplifiers, disc players and anything with cooling vents can also be deleterious but it takes much longer to become a problem.

25 Cat fur in Rotel AmpWhether you smoke or not, if you haven’t cleaned your television screen lately you may find it improves brightness and sharpness. But modern television screens are delicate and you can’t use strong detergents. The owner’s manual supplied with your equipment will carry recommended cleaning measures and these should be followed, but generally start by going over the screen lightly with a dry, lint-free cloth (camera shops have them) which is often enough to get the job done. If there’s a build-up that won’t move use warm water, then (some manufacturers suggest) a very weak detergent solution in warm water. Ensure there are no drips or runs that can enter the cabinet and come into contact with the electronics inside. This can cause short circuits while voiding your warranty.

Warning: It’s not just smokers, another source of environmental damage can be build-ups of fur shed by heat-seeking cats. The picture? It’s all cat fur.


Published July 2016


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