Liquid crystal displays (LCD) have become an essential component to the industry of display technology. Involved in a variety of contexts beyond the indoors like LCD TVs and home/office automation devices, the LCD has expanded its usage to many environments, such as cars and digital signage, and, thus, many temperature variations as well.
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As with any substance that requires a specific molecular characteristic or behavior, LCDs have an operating temperature range in which the device, if within, can continue to function properly and well. In addition to that, there is also an ideal storage temperature range to preserve the device until used.
How Temperature Damages LCD?
This operating temperature range affects the electronic portion within the device, seen as falling outside the range can cause LCD technology to overheat in hot temperatures or slow down in the cold. As for the liquid crystal layer, it can deteriorate if put in high heat, rendering it and the display itself defective.
LCD Temperature Limits: What Temperatures are Too Hot and Too Cold
In order for the LCD panel to avoid defects, a standard commercial LCD’s operation range and storage range should be kept in mind. Without adaptive features, a typical LCD TV has an operating range from its cold limit of 0°C (32°F) to its heat limit of 50°C (122°F) (other LCD devices’ ranges may vary a bit from these numbers).
The storage range is a bit wider, from -20°C (-4°F) to 60°C (140°F). Though these ranges are quite reasonable for many indoor and even outdoor areas, there are also quite a few regions where temperatures can drop below 0°C or rise above 32°C, and in these conditions, LCDs must be adapted to ensure functionality.
Does Heat Affect LCD Screens and How?
Heat, can greatly affect the electronics and liquid crystals under an LCD screen. In consideration of heat, both external heat and internally generated heat must be taken into consideration.
Seen as the liquid crystals are manipulated in a device by altering their orientations and alignments, heat can disrupt this by randomizing what is meant to be controlled. If this happens, the LCD electronics cannot command a certain formation of the liquid crystal layer under a pixel, and the LED backlighting will not pass through as expected, which can often lead to dark spots, if not an entirely dark image. This inevitably disrupts the display’s readability.
Depending on the upper limit of the operation temperature range, LCD device can be permanently damaged by extreme heat. With long exposure to extreme heat, besides the destruction of the liquid crystals, battery life can shorten, hardware can crack or even melt, response time may slow to prevent even more heat generation from the device.
Electronics Operating Temperature – TFT
The LED backlight and the internal circuitry, typically TFT-based in the common TFT LCDs, are components that can generate heat that damages the device and its display. To address this concern with overheating, many devices use cooling fans paired with vents.
Some devices that are used in extremely high ambient temperatures may even require air conditioning. With air vents to carry the heat out, the device can expel it into the surroundings.
But this leads to another problem: how can moisture be prevented from entering through the vent? If moisture enters the device and high heat is present, condensation can occur, fogging the display from inside, and in some cases, short-circuiting may cause the device to turn off. In order to circumvent this issue, the shapes of the air vents are specific in a way that allows only for air movement, not forms of moisture.
Can an LCD device be left in freezing temperatures?
In the opposite direction is extreme cold. What typically occurs in the cold is “ghosting” (the burning of an image in the screen through discoloration) and the gradual slowing and lagging of response times. Like heat-affected LCD modules, the extreme temperature can affect the liquid crystals. This layer is a medium between the liquid and solid state, so it is still susceptible to freezing.
An LCD device can be left in freezing temperatures because it will likely not be permanently damaged like in the heat, but it is important to understand the device’s limits and how to take precautions when storing the device. The standard and most common lower-bound storage range limit is -20°C, below freezing, but if possible, it would be best to keep it above that limit, or else there is still a risk of permanent damage.
If the device is not adapted for the cold, it would be good to keep it bundled up, trapping the heat within layers. However, this is only a temporary solution. Adapted, rugged devices have advantages such as screen enclosure insulation for heat level preservation and, in more extreme cases, heaters to generate extra heat to raise the internal temperature to a level above the minimum.
After storing a device in the cold for a prolonged period of time, it is essential to give the device time to warm itself up.
Selecting LCD Modules for Extreme Temperatures
When selecting the appropriate module, it is necessary to understand the device’s expected primary application. The application will decide factors such as display type, environmental conditions, whether or not power consumption is a factor, and the balance between performance and cost. These factors can have an effect on the operation and storage temperature ranges for the device.
Display types have a lot of variation. Choices like alphanumeric or graphic LCD, human-machine interactive LCD modules and touchscreen panels capabilities, the width of the viewing angle, level of contrast ratios, types of backlighting, and liquid crystal alignment methods are often considered. For example, the twisted nematic LCD provides for the fastest response time at the lowest cost, but cannot offer the highest contrast ratio or widest viewing angle.
Temperature Range & Environmental Issues
Environment-based factors must consider things besides the obvious temperature like UV exposure and humidity/moisture, as they all are necessary in finding the perfect fit extreme temperature LCD module.
Besides the LCD modules, recent new products have opened doors in wide temperature range displays, such as OLED displays. OLED displays offer better displays in regard to contrast, brightness, response times, viewing angles, and even power consumption in comparison to traditional LCD displays.
These benefits, in addition to its ability to achieve a wide temperature range, provide more options for consumers in search of high quality displays for extreme climates.