OLED displays require a little more care and attention than their LED-LCD counterparts. Organic compounds inside the panel mean that these displays are susceptible to burn-in and heat damage in a way that other types of displays are not.
Here are a few tips on how to look after your new OLED TV.
How Do You Avoid OLED Burn-in?
“Burn-in” is another name for permanent image retention, where a pattern gets stuck on the screen permanently. This is caused by uneven pixel wear, where organic compounds inside the panel wear out at a faster rate than those surrounding them.
Permanent image retention is a cumulative process. This means that watching the same image for 1,000 hours straight will have the same effect as displaying that same image for an hour a day for 1,000 days. Burn-in generally takes hundreds if not thousands of hours to show up.
The easiest way to avoid burn-in is to avoid displaying static elements on your screen for extended periods. This includes “breaking news” banners on rolling news channels, health bars and other video game-related HUD elements (as illustrated below), or the “YouTube” logo that always appears in the same part of the screen when you boot up the app.
It’s another reason why OLED displays, despite being beautiful, don’t make ideal computer monitors. Whether you’re using macOS, Windows, or Linux, you’re going to have the same static elements on the screen every day. The same can be said for a game that you play every day for months or years on end, or for a rolling news channel that you might leave on in the background.
If you consume a variety of content, you’re unlikely to ever see burn-in. If you’re the type of person who plays a video game for a few weeks and then moves on to the next, you’re also relatively safe. If you’re conscious about turning off your TV rather than leaving it sitting in a static interface, you shouldn’t need to worry.
Be conscious of your usage, but not obsessive. You didn’t spend all that money on a TV to not enjoy it, and OLED TVs have come a long way since the mid-2010s when many burn-in protections didn’t yet exist.
Should You Buy Extra Warranty for Burn-in?
Permanent image retention isn’t usually covered by a standard warranty, with the main exception being LG’s “OLED evo” panels found in the 2021 G1. With that in mind, LG has been known to replace panels that have developed burn-in for free or at a reduced cost, so your mileage might vary.
Some retailers offer additional protection for a fee, but you should check that the plan you’re purchasing explicitly covers burn-in before you buy. Best Buy is one of the few major retailers in the U.S. to offer extended warranty protection that covers burn-in, but it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it.
Be aware that some jurisdictions (like the EU) offer more than the standard one-year limited warranty seen in the U.S. Others might have consumer guarantees (like in Australia), which cover you for even longer than the standard warranty process.
What Features Can Prevent Burn-in?
You should enable all burn-in protections that exist on your TV. For example, if you have an LG OLED, you can set “Logo Luminance Adjustment” to “High” to dim static areas of the screen. This is an aggressive setting, but it works, and it’s ideal if you play a lot of games on your TV.
Pixel shifting is another feature found on many OLED models. This shifts the onscreen image so that different pixels are used, spreading wear over a wider pixel area. Your TV will also likely have a screensaver that kicks in after a short period, although be aware that this only applies to system apps and menus (rather than HDMI inputs like a game console dashboard).
Most major consoles also offer a screen dimming setting, which reduces brightness to avoid burn-in. You can find these settings on the PlayStation 5, most Xbox models, and the Nintendo Switch. You’ll need to do this manually if you’re using a PC with your OLED TV.
Some games allow you to disable HUD elements or enable HUD transparency, which can both help in reducing static images.
Is Your OLED TV in the Right Place?
Placement of your TV is important. One of the main reasons that OLED displays can’t get as bright as their LED counterparts is owing to the heat that they generate. Too much heat can degrade the organic components in the panel, leading to damage and burn-in.
You should make sure that your TV has adequate cooling, especially while in use. Avoid placing it too close to heaters or open fireplaces, and make sure that there’s good airflow to the back of the unit. Clean the vents regularly with a dry cloth or duster to prevent dust build-up, which can affect heat dissipation.
You should also avoid exposing the front of the panel to direct sunlight. This goes for most displays, but it’s especially important for an OLED TV since the organic compounds used in the panel are at risk of damage from harsh UV rays.
How Often Should You Run the Pixel Refresher?
Most OLED displays use a pixel refresher program to keep the panel in good shape. This works by checking and adjusting the voltage values for each pixel, effectively “evening out” wear across the panel. Most, if not all, modern OLED TVs include the option of running a pixel refresh manually.
There’s no need to initiate a pixel refresh yourself in most instances. The clear exception to this is when you’re advised to do so by a technician, for example, if your TV develops a fault. Different manufacturers have different approaches, but most will manage this aspect of panel health for you.
For example, LG TVs run a short pixel refresher cycle for every four hours of continual use. Every 2,000 hours, LG OLEDs run a longer cycle akin to manually initiating a cycle yourself.
According to Sony, its “Panel refresh” function “can affect the usable life of the panel,” and so, the company doesn’t recommend doing so more than once per year.
Unplugging your TV from the wall will prevent these cycles from running, so make sure to leave your TV in standby mode.
What About Software Updates?
Your TV will receive software updates over the air like most modern connected devices. These updates not only fix bugs and improve performance, but also, they often introduce entirely new features. Sometimes, they also introduce issues.
For example, LG’s C1 received a Game Optimizer overlay via a webOS software update, while Sony’s 2021 flagship A90J has promised that VRR support will be unlocked by an update at a later date.
Updates can also introduce bugs and issues. Firmware released in early 2021, for some LG OLEDs, also introduced a bug that reduced brightness in game mode, with the fix coming a few weeks later via another update.
If you’re happy with how your TV is operating and you notice that an update is available, you might want to search the web to see whether any other owners have had issues with the new software. It’s impossible (or difficult) to roll back an update once you’ve applied it, so you’ll have to live with any bugs until the fix arrives (which could take weeks or months).
How Do You Move Your TV?
This issue of safely moving your TV is a concern for all panel types (particularly as sizes get larger), but OLED models are particularly fragile. LG boasts about their shockingly thin panel design on the C series, which makes for an impressive statement piece in your living room, but does little for rigidity.
The easiest way to move your TV is in the box it came in. If you have space, you should always keep the original packaging, ideally with the foam or polystyrene inserts. Keeping these inserts is useful since you can rest the TV facedown on them while attaching or removing the stand.
If you’ve gotten rid of your box and it’s time to move, you can buy replacement boxes (like this one) that should allow you to get the job done safely.
Replacement TV Box for Moving
Remember to Enjoy Your TV
Many people prefer OLED TVs for their superior contrast ratio, near-instant pixel response times, and high-end gaming features like native 120Hz panels and support for VRR to smooth out performance dips. In line with the advice above, owning an OLED shouldn’t require tons of maintenance in most cases.
Still on the fence about which TV you want? Check out our guide to buying a TV to ensure that you make the right choice.