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Although this is not strictly speaking anything to do with TV repairs, I thought we would give you the benefit of our unbiased advice about batteries ! We tested all the three basic types of battery Zinc Carbon, Alkaline and (rechargeable) NiMh. We didn`t bother with NiCads because NiMhs are so superior, certainly in terms of capacity.  The results were interesting to put it mildly.

Although Zinc Carbons are significantly cheaper than Alkalines they have a much shorter shelf life, are more likely to leak and in our tests (AAs on high current draw) they were exhausted within 30min.

Alkalines have by far the best shelf life of all the types, and on the capacity test they took between 2.5 and 4 hours to flatten, depending on the make.

NiMh rechargeables (1800mA, larger ones are available now) lasted around 3 hours which surprised us because that implied that they should be used for everything. Unfortunately they do have an Achilles heel in that their shelf life is very poor. Within four weeks they`d lost around a quarter of their capacity. Furthermore we have found that NiMh batteries can “go off” for some reason, not sure why. Maybe flattening them before recharge actually harms them (?), but if your NiMh batteries don`t seem to last long, try buying some new ones and comparing them with your old ones.

On the subject of shelf life, I`ve just changed the PP3 battery in my smoke alarm and it had lasted over four years. The previous one was a Zinc Carbon and that was flat in one year.  Similarly some AAA Alkalines (cheap ones) in an alarm clock lasted two and a half years, the previous Zinc Carbons were exhausted within 9 months.......

Lastly, we don`t recommend either Zinc Carbons or  rechargeable batteries for remote controls, always use Alkalines !


Never buy Zinc Carbon (the cheapest) batteries, they`re the ultimate false economy.

If shelf life is important (e.g. you want your camera to work when it hasn`t been touched since your last holiday) buy Alkalines. Incidentally if it doesn`t say “Alkaline” on the batteries you`re thinking of buying they`re almost certainly not. Battery manufacturers have become masters of embellishment, or being “economical with the actualité”, as Alan Clark would say. There`s an inverse law about batteries, the better the name makes them sound the worse they are. If they`re described as “Super Ultra Mega Turbo Charged Rocket Propelled Long Life”, they`re shit.

If you can be organised enough to recharge your batteries regularly, buy a NiMh charger and loads of high capacity batteries, they`ll repay their purchase cost in no time at all.

However, there`s a bit of a but, there always is. Sometimes, albeit rarely, rechargeable batteries won`t actually work right because their voltage is 1.2V not the 1.5 of Alkalines, or Zinc Carbons. We had this problem with some phones we`d bought, the caller display was much dimmer with rechargeable's than with Alkalines. And very unfortunate that was because the thing got through batteries at some rate of knots. It was a crap phone anyway, Binatone, but it was only cheap so, as is usually the case, you get what you pay for......

TV Repairs and other (more interesting) stuff

TV Repairs (we no longer repair TVs, this is for historical interest only ! )

Unrepairable Products

What Is An “Old” TV ?

Batteries, Zinc Carbon v Alkaline v NiMh Rechargeable (Some experiments ! )

Low Energy Bulbs v Incandescent Bulbs, not that simple........

  incl :  4WDs at 70 and 90mph v “low energy” light bulbs

Further to the above article we had this E Mail from Pat Molloy (March 2011)

Am now retired but held a research fellowship at Leipzig Uni developing battery technology in conjunction with a German battery company (Ansmann). Sanyo ripped off the technology and launched commercially around 2005. The technology is now becoming ubiquitous.
There is no such thing as a battery for all seasons but this new generation of
low self discharge batteries comes close.
NiMH can hold around 4x the milliamp hours than alkaline. So for high drain applications (camera, model boat racing etc) it's NiMH every time. But in a bedside clock or a TV remote the issue is the discharge rate. Hand torches present a slightly different situation. Doing nothing for long periods then high drain for short periods (that was before LED torches!).
Eneloop, Hybrio and the like are known as "low self discharge" and hold their charge sufficiently well that they are sold pre-charged. The manufacturers know that even if the box sits on a shop shelf for a couple of years the battery will still work straight out of the box.
Self discharge for Alkaline is typically 3% per annum. These new batteries have a much higher (than alkaline) self discharge - around 20% (but vastly lower than
standard NiMH - no annual rate possible. They are often dead within months!). However, given that they start off with around 400% of the power of an alkaline, in a low drain situation - or even just sitting on a shelf - the NiMH will have a higher residual charge until around 4 years when the alkaline will start to have a higher residual charge. But, of course these new batteries can be recharged.
I put some into my equipment during development. I reckon the battery in my bedside clock was installed around 2003 and is still going. I could recharge it now but am curious to see just how long it will last! The PP3 (9v) equivalent in my smoke alarms also looks like matching Li-ion's 10 year guarantee.
Li-ion has an even lower self discharge rate. Unfortunately its internal chemistry produces a native voltage of 3.7 volts and so cannot be used to make AA/AAA voltage batteries. Pity that!
Hope this helps. Google "low self discharge" batteries and see for yourself.

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Incandescent Light Bulbs Banned                             

Incandescent light bulbs were phased out as part of a green agenda. I`m pretty environmentally aware, I walk to work, only drive about 4,000m per year and catch the train despite the horrendous cost. BUT banning incandescent bulbs is politically correct bollox. Why ? Well it can even be argued that low energy light bulbs do more harm than good because I`d be rich if I had a pound for every time I heard “I`m green but I can still fly a few times a year on my holidays and use my car as often as I want because I`ve got low energy light bulbs" (and recycle my newspapers, obviously).  Let`s be honest about this, using low energy light bulbs is a drop in the ocean compared to using the car less*, flying less or even turning down the heating. The thing is that all those require a bit of a compromise in life style, so far fewer people actually do them.

But the most misunderstood factor is that low energy light bulbs are not necessarily that much more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Low energy bulbs do use significantly less energy to produce a given amount of light because they run cooler and the same principle applies to any electrical product, if you make it more efficient it`ll run cooler. However in this country for most of the year we`ve got the heating on, we certainly did in February 2009 when I was writing the initial version of this article, it was bleedin` freezing. Under those circumstances incandescent bulbs are 100% efficient, because that heat goes to help warm up your house.

Change 4 x 100W bulbs for 4 x 25W low energy bulbs.

Result ?    300W more heating required !

Furthermore, all those things you leave in standby are using up extra power, but it is helping heat up your house as well. In this country turning them off will not save you the full amount of that power, this certainly applies in the winter and possibly the spring and the autumn as well. I accept that on the rare hot days we get that the by product heat is actually a negative, but lights are required far less in the summer and opening a window will dump far more heat than the 300W contributed by the bulbs in the above example.

Then there`s the fact that manufacturing low energy bulbs takes far more energy and uses far more resources.

Incidentally, the fact that the heat from electrical appliances also warms up your house does not just apply to lights. For instance, if you boil more water than you need for your cup of tea, as the kettle cools down that heat is not “wasted” (not in the autumn, winter or spring anyway), it`s warming up your house.

Having said all the above, it should be borne in mind that gas heating is cheaper and more efficient than electric heating, which is effectively what you`re using with incandescent bulbs, or unused water in the kettle !

So yes, low energy bulbs are more energy efficient, but those figures you read of saving 75% power are absolute bollocks (in this country at any rate).

How good are low energy bulbs (technical name compact fluorescent bulbs or CFLs) at actually giving off light ? Many of us have taken the lighting equivalent given on the box with a large pinch of salt, and we`re right to do so. Even the European Commission, which is behind all this legislation, admits that many of the lighting claims of the CFLs are "not true".  Furthermore many of us have always known what a report in the Institute of Engineering & Technology confirmed, that is, that CFLs light output declines with time. The research in the latter journal indicated that whilst incandescent bulbs may drop by up to 7% in their light output, CFLs routinely drop by 22% (or more) as they age.

And all that`s before we talk about low energy bulbs not working with dimmer switches and, very annoyingly, they take a lot longer to come on to full brightness. In fact  I often find I`m in and out of a room before the sodding thing has even got up to full brightness. I only use CFL bulbs in locations without dimmer switches and which aren`t constantly being turned on/off.

Importation of 100w incandescent bulbs banned from Aug 09,

Importation of 60w incandescent bulbs banned from Sept 2011

Importation of all incandescent bulbs banned from Sept 2012

* Actually it`s not even a case of "just" using the car less, even driving slower would save far more energy than a low energy light bulb will ever do. I wonder how many of those people speeding past at 90mph plus in their big 4WDs use low energy light bulbs to be "environmentally sound".

What a waste of  time.

Incidentally, we get some pretty clever people (so they tell me anyway) reading this site, so if anyone out there could work out the the answer to the following question I`ll put it on here with an acknowledgement (if wanted) :

How long would a 23W low energy bulb have to be used (in comparison with a 50W [adjusted efficiency] incandescent bulb) in order to save the same amount of energy required to drive a Range Rover for 100 miles at 90mph rather than 70mph ?

TV Repairs

We are more than willing to give advice to those actually purchasing from us. Could those only seeking information please just find the answer somewhere on this site, or ring an aerial installer local to them, or call the reception advice phone numbers.

As of 27 July 2010 we no longer repair TVs.

This article is being left on the site for its general interest/historic value......

We undertake the repair of all makes and models of TVs and Videos in our fully equipped workshop. However we do not repair CDs, HiFis, DVDs, or LCD / Plasma TVs.

When considering whether to have a TV or Video repaired please bear in mind that most new products are of worse quality than those of even a few years back. I am constantly shocked  to discover just how flimsy even major brand videos are these days. One should also bear in mind that you are familiar with the operation of your existing unit, having to set up a new machine and work out how to use it is a pain.....

If we repair a TV we will usually attend to the most fallible joints (on the PCB) as a matter of course. This means that with the exception of tube wear the set will generally be just as reliable as a new one. You can gauge how worn the tube is for yourself, if it`s got a good picture the tube is fine, also see CRT failures. It is strongly recommended that when you are assessing picture quality you do it by comparison with another set, this applies just as much to checking for a worn CRT as it does when you evaluate an LCD or plasma picture against a CRT. Any TV engineer will tell you that customers become used to looking at a poor picture (when they have nothing to compare it with) and will report their set has a “perfect picture” when in fact it`s awful !  As mentioned below shops take advantage of this need for a comparison (in order to adequately judge picture quality) when trying to sell you a flat screen, i.e. they generally make it difficult for you ! On the subject of which, if you are thinking of “upgrading” to an LCD/Plasma or an integrated Digital set, click on the relevant links and think very carefully about it !

When you bring the set in (or phone through to have it collected - please quote the model number of the TV, it`s usually on the set back) you will be given a rough price for which we can usually repair sets of that type. If (upon bench inspection) we are unable to complete the job for the initial estimate, we will phone you to confirm the repair is still required.

It is important to realise that one can only be sure of the fault(s) on any TV by actually repairing it. Thus, it normally takes almost as long to diagnose any fault(s) as it does to repair it/them. For this reason we require a Bench Fee/Deposit (usually between £10 and £30) which is deductible from the repair cost. If required we can sometimes collect sets (subject to distance) though the cost and BF/Deposit will be increased. Any set over 25" in size will require on site help (from the customer) for our driver.

We do not repair any TV on site. To be perfectly honest I do not believe a quality repair can be done in someone's house, plus the risk of dropping molten solder on the customers carpet ! Repairing TV`s is difficult enough on the workbench, with good lighting, a decent soldering iron, the service manual, and all the correct spares to hand. The thought of crawling about on the floor,

in the some dim corner of the customers house with a gas powered soldering iron, whilst

the TV`s PCB is propped up on their coffee table, is too awful to even contemplate.....

Call me a cynic if you like (you`re probably right ! ) but I suspect that any engineer who claims to repair sets in the house probably ends up taking most back to the workshop anyway... Due to size/weight considerations we do not repair any conventional TV over 32".

Plasma`s, LCD`s and Projection sets

We do NOT repair Plasma or LCD or Rear Projection televisions.

So there`s another reason to save your money and not buy one in the first place. Let`s be honest, their picture quality is inferior to a CRT in many significant respects (also see Digital Picture Quality), which is why the retailers used to display them separately. If they did stock them together they often showed cartoons or still images as demonstration material to minimise the LCD/Plasmas inherent picture failings. These days most shops don`t stock any CRT TVs at all, so at least they don`t have to worry about their customers seeing how crap they are.....

Plasmas and LCDs could theoretically have superior fine detail over a CRT (which is why they`re often used for PC monitors) but apart from when you`re purchasing it most people wouldn`t watch a TV from close enough to see the difference. An analogue CRTs strengths lie in superior contrast, more natural colour and displaying movement, particularly when the latter is combined with fine detail. In fact when we install aerials it`s often difficult to tell whether any (relatively) poor picture is the signal or the LCD/Plasma TV !

If I`m being totally honest a flat panel display should have superior convergence and raster correction, i.e. it shouldn`t suffer from misalignment of the red/green/blue colours and the (vertical) edges should always be bang straight. That said virtually all modern CRTs are very good  in this respect and it would probably take an expert to spot any flaws.

The above comments on inferior LCD/Plasma picture quality probably don`t apply to HDTV. However, since I have absolutely no intention of ever paying anything (apart from my licence fee) to watch TV, and I would never want a big TV dominating my lounge, HDTV is of no interest to me, not until I`m forced to watch a digital picture anyway....    

If you still want a flat panel TV for reasons other than picture quality that`s fair enough, but at least you know what you`re getting.

I may hate flat panel TVs but I can understand why someone who is short of room * would be tempted by one. What I cannot understand is why anyone (except a pub) would buy a rear projection TV, it`s up there with the Mary Celeste as one of the great mysteries of all time. Let`s be honest, they are rubbish..... I`ve never seen one with a good picture and if you are thinking of buying one I really do advise you to compare the picture simultaneously with a conventional CRT set, or even an LCD/Plasma, you`ll be pleased you did....

* There`s no denying that flat panel TVs are much thinner the CRTs but in our experience many (most ? ) people put their TV in the corner of the room because that`s the natural place for most people to get a decent view of it, not too near and not too far. If you think about it, if your TV is in the corner of the room it`s depth (or lack of it) is an irrelevance.....

Also see (that ultimate subject of misinformation) High Definition TV.

It should also be stressed that (compared with a conventional TV) you will probably find it much more difficult to find anyone to repair your Plasma/LCD and when you do it will almost certainly be expensive..... Integrated digital TV`s can also be more difficult to repair which is why we recommend the purchase of an analogue set with a separate set top box.

I would say over 80% of conventional (i.e. non-integrated CRT) TV`s can be economically repaired but with Digital types the percentage is rather lower....

Having said that even “conventional” TVs are getting harder and harder to repair what with Surface Mounted Devices (which aren`t even needed for space saving in a TV but save a few pence for the environmentally unfriendly manufacturers....), double side print, microprocessor control of all the ICs and overly complex power supply circuits. The irony is that many of the latter are supposed to be environmentally friendly (by reducing power consumption) but if the set is less repairable if it fails, and ends up being dumped, how environmentally friendly is that* ? Thus this figure of 80% of (conventional) TVs being economically repairable will inevitably fall.......

On a more general point, it is advisable to buy separate components (e.g. a washer and a separate drier) as opposed to integrated products as they are always easier to repair and if a unit is unrepairable at least you haven`t “lost” both items.

Obviously if the tube has gone a TV isn`t economically repairable but luckily CRT failures are relatively uncommon. Ironically, if there is no picture at all the fault is almost certainly not the tube. CRT failure is usually betrayed by a low contrast picture and/or one of the colours missing, but even then the tube may not be responsible. Another common fallacy is "if the set won`t come on it`s the switch". Switch failures are not as common as they once were and the fault usually lies elsewhere. Furthermore, if there is any light on the set at all (e.g. the standby LED) it is not the switch that's causing the problem.

For ease of repair we advise customers to buy a conventional (i.e. CRT/Tube & non digital) television no bigger than 32" in size, in fact a 28" is even better. Have you ever tried lifting a 32" television !?!

* On the subject of which, if manufacturers really are bothered about the environment why do they make their products so hard to repair ? Washing machines (especially Hotpoints) used to be eminently repairable, but not now. Hotpoints are getting absolute pigs to repair, any “white goods” repair man will confirm this, and it is particularly the case for any product manufactured since 2001 when they were taken over by Merloni. In the last two years we`ve had four (FOUR ! ) post 2001 Hotpoint products (two washers, a fridge and a fridge freezer) which haven`t been economically repairable.

We won`t buy anything Hotpoint ( = Merloni / Indesit / Ariston) again, no chance.

Remember, if you`re thinking of buying anything, ask someone in the trade which are the most fixable !  You`ll be glad you did......

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What Is An “Old” TV ?                                                                  

This section is dedicated to the lady who phoned us ordering some user instructions (we supplied them up to 2010) for her three year old Grundig widescreen TV. That particular make has been a “badge engineered” product since 2004 but since we knew the cross reference we were able to supply the relevant operator guide. Apparently Dixons (or Takeaway Currys Digital or whatever they call themselves these days * ) had told her “it`s an old one, we don`t keep the instructions for them anymore”.

Now I accept that I`m one of those people who thinks every car newer than a K plate (and I mean the old K plate) is new * but anyone who thinks that ladies Grundig TV was “old” does not know what the hell they`re talking about. My own television is over 15 years old, still gives a picture to blow away any flat screen and it`s not bleedin` old. I`m a TV engineer so I know better than any salesman. They can take their built in obsolescence consumerism and shove it where only a colonoscopy is ever going to find it again. If any smarmy wet behind the ears sales assistant at Dixons had tried to tell me that my three year old set was old, I`d have told him to get back to his Playstation or (better still) try and get out a bit more. To me “old” implies that the performance of something has deteriorated or its reliability is suspect. On TVs the former can be easily checked (see CRT failure) and the latter is not just a function of age, the conditions that a piece of electronics are kept in are probably more important. There is certainly no particular age at which this accelerates.

If it`s got a good picture and it doesn`t break down then it`s not old.......

* Don`t you just hate all this name changing bollocks ?  

It`s not Mastercard, it`s Access.

It`s definitely not Snickers, it`s Marathon.

And it`s not The Post Office, it`s Consignia.


* The first new car I can remember my Dad buying was a K plate and I can still remember the reg, PWA 791K, a white Vauxhall Victor, I still think any car newer than that is “new” !

If you`ve found this site informative and, hopefully, interesting as well,

please help us increase the number of people reading it.  

Also see "low water use toilets"........

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In Nov 2013 we had this useful contribution from Dorien James

Assuming Land Rover efficiency is roughly comparable to BMW535i Touring, then the chart at suggests 22mpg @ 70mph (26.5 miles per imp gallon), 17mpg @ 90mph (20.5 miles per imperial gallon). So consumption over 100 miles is roughly 5.9 gals vs 4.5 gals. (Yes they may be US gallons but this is all approximate). So 1.4 gallons (1.16 imperial gallons) more burnt by being in a hurry (though you do get there 19 minutes earlier). Petrol generates 33kWh/USgallon, so that's an extra 46kWh to save those 19 minutes.
Coal-fired power plants deliver about 33% of energy input to the power socket, so your light bulb would have to save 15kWh to compensate for the car journey. If it's using 27W less than the other one, then that's
about 550 hours, or 3 hours a day for six months.

An interesting piece I`m sure you`ll agree.

Unless we get the actual fuel economy figures for a Range Rover at 70mph and 90mph these figures will have to do ! I assume the reason the quoted fuel economy for the BMW is so poor is because it`s a US model 4WD as opposed to an estate which is the British model BMW 535I Touring.

Drax estimate the efficiency of their coal fired power station at 40% with their 2013 turbines, older power stations (like West Burton) estimate 35 to 36% efficiency. Incidentally I`ve been on a trip round Drax and West Burton, they were mind blowing !

An alternative calculation based on the above quoted fuel economy figures is to use the prices of electricity and petrol. I know there`s more tax on petrol than electricity, but it`s what the consumer actually has to pay out that counts. In Nov 2013 petrol is about £6 per gallon and electricity is about 13p per kWh. Thus 1.16 imperial gallons would be £6.97. That would pay for 53.6kWh so if you were “saving” 27W per hour (50 - 23) using your low energy bulb it would take 1985 hours to equate. 1985 hours is 83 days if in use 24hrs a day, or 661 days at 3 hours per day. That`s not far off 2 years, that`s two years.

I hope I`ve calculated this correctly, I`m sure someone will point it out if I haven`t.