Can You Recommend an Energy Efficient AV Receiver and TV?

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Q I'm big into home theater and computers, hobbies that naturally consume lots of electricity. Now that my AV receiver and TV are both due for replacement, I'm hoping you can recommend “green” products that will give me the same great experience, but without the ding on my energy bill and the planet. —Justin Nealis

A My green receiver recommendation would be to buy a model that uses Class D amplification instead of the Class A/B type typically found in AVRs. Class D amps operate by generating a pulse-width modulation version of the incoming analog audio signal and using that to control the amplifier’s output stage, switching it completely on or off. This lets Class D amps achieve up to 90 percent efficiency compared with Class A/B models, which can dissipate up to 50 percent of incoming energy as heat. Manufacturers that make receivers with Class D amplification include Pioneer and Rotel.

The green TV recommendation is trickier, especially now that new UHDTV models are tasked with dramatically boosting light output to reproduce high dynamic range content. Looking at the Federal Trade Commission’s EnergyGuide labels for new high-end LCDs from Samsung and Sony, I found ratings ranging from 130 kWH ($16/year based on 5 hours use per day) to 262 kWh ($24/year). LG’s 65-inch B6P Series OLED TV, meanwhile, sits in the middle of that range at 200 kWh ($24/year). But these ratings are based on viewing using the set’s default, energy-saving “Eco” mode, which Sound & Vision typically doesn’t recommend for achieving optimal picture quality. They also don’t take high dynamic range viewing into account.

So, while I can’t give you an easy answer about which set to buy, I can share the advice we regularly dispense regarding DIY TV setup: Install the set in a light-controlled room (ideally with dimmers and blackout shades), select its Theater, Cinema, or User picture mode, and adjust picture settings using a test Blu-ray like the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark . Not only will these steps optimize image quality, they will reduce the set’s light output to a level that’s easier on your eyes and electrical bill — and on planet Earth, too.

utopianemo's picture

S&V is right on regarding the energy efficiency of Class D amplification. I put two dedicated circuits in to power my Pioneer Elite SC-95, and my Behringer iNuke 6000 DSP Sub amp(which powers two 18" Dayton Ultimax subs) without sapping power from my other devices.

I wanted to see just how efficient these are, so I played some punishing bass-heavy music in 7.2.4 Dolby upmixing, on my 4-ohm speakers, at reference level. I could hear the AV room's sheetrock literally vibrating.....from the garage. I checked the circuits and they were both drawing about .8 amps a piece(!). That's what I call efficiency.