Unexpected expenses

A New TV vs. $325 Lightbulbs, That is the Question

purchasing a new TV, replacing the TV, TV lightbulb


“DAD! Something blew up,” yelled my son.

I ran into the living room to find the TV had turned itself off, and a whiff of burnt electronics in the air. I knew exactly what had happened, the lamp that illuminates the screen of our LED TV had burnt out again.

Let me back up and give you the full picture (no pun intended) of why this bulb has been a source of frustration.

We purchased this TV in May of 2004, completely unaware that there was even a light bulb inside the TV. Every TV I had owned previous to this was a picture tube TV, which contained no such thing. We became very familiar with this light bulb very quickly, unfortunately.

The bulb burnt out the first time within the first year of ownership. The TV was still under warranty, so Panasonic replaced the bulb for free. We learned that the bulb was supposed to last on average 10,000 hours of use. If the TV was on for five hours a day, a bulb would last more than five years. We laughed at the fact that we dodged a bullet of paying $325 for a replacement bulb.

That’s an expensive light bulb!

Over the next nine years, the light of our life burnt out a total of seven times. We paid $325 for a replacement bulb once, after which we discovered after market bulbs on Amazon ranging from $40 – $100.

Each bulb lasting just over a year on average.

At some point we called Panasonic and learned that there had been a class action lawsuit in which they admitted there was a defect in the TV causing the bulbs to burn out more quickly than they should. They offered owners $700 towards buying a new TV. Unfortunately the lawsuit period had ended and we were no longer eligible for the buyout. To my knowledge, we never received anything in the mail on this lawsuit, otherwise we would have been all over it.

Now that you have some background, you can likely guess my reaction as this bulb burnt out after having replaced it only five weeks ago. I was slightly unhappy. I instantly hopped on Amazon and ordered another after market bulb for about $50. It should be on my doorstep within a few days.

My wife would love to sell, or simply dump the TV and get a new one. I’m equally as frustrated, but it’s much less expensive to buy a $50 bulb than to go out and buy a replacement TV. At some point, it does become death by a thousand pokes. My wife is already there, I’m not.

She proclaimed that this is the last bulb we buy. We will replace the TV when this bulb goes dim, whether it’s next year, or next Wednesday.

What do you think, would you replace the TV, or continue to replace the bulb?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I would buy a new TV (says the cheapskate woman still watching tube TV.)
    We have a similar problem with our car. How many times do normal cars need new headlights? Ours have been replaced no less than 10x. Unfortunately, cars are a little more expensive than televisions, or we would have certainly replaced the monster. We have also discovered that there was a recall on that model, so next time it blows, we are taking it in (if it’s still running at all – apparently the model itself is lemon-ish.)

  • That’s a tough question. $50 per year is still quite a bit cheaper, but at a certain point the TV is probably old enough where you could justify replacing it simply because the technology is more current and the prices have come down.

  • Wow – before getting half way through I was going to say it really shouldn’t be happening that often. Then I read the rest 🙂

    One other option you maybe haven’t considered. Can you try to contact the lawyer that filed that class action lawsuit? If you weren’t contacted at all, there may be some steps you can take to still get your $700. Since you were not notified, technically you didn’t fall under the ruling. Educating yourself a little here, you may be able to get something done. I’m thinking you could get equipped with enough knowledge to get panasonic to give you a couple hundred anyways. Just a long shot idea….

  • @Cathie- That sounds like our TV….we know it’s “lemonish” as well, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. That’s too bad about your car and the headlights…they’re not super difficult to change, but if I had to do it 10x times I’d get pretty sick of it. 🙂

  • @moneybeagle – Very true…it’s an HDTV, but doesn’t have an HDMI port. It’s got 1080i resolution, but that doesn’t take full advantage of the picture quality of our blue ray player. I’m almost at the point where I’m looking for an excuse to get a 1080p capable TV.

  • @moneyahoy – If I remember right, after my wife did enough complaining, they did offer $150 off another panasonic TV….but we’ve got a low enough of an opinion of that brand at this point we declined.

  • @Bryce – don’t think I haven’t looked at the gigantic TVs every time I walk into Costco……I’m almost there, but it’s such a low cost to keep the TV running. Maybe one more “prick.”

  • I’d say if the TV is 10 years old, it’s probably a good idea to upgrade the TV at this point anyway. The technology has changed a lot in that time and the prices have come down considerably to the point where you can get a nicee 50″ or 60″ TV for $6-700, or even less in some instances.

    I say once it blows next time, get a new one!

  • @Peter – I’m not letting my wife read your comment, or we’re in for a new TV for sure. Haha…yeah, that’s kind of where we’re heading at the moment. We’ll see how long this next one lasts!

  • Brock,

    We have multiple panasonic TVs/Projectors, etc. and have never had any issues with them. You could always take the $150 and try another panasonic product. Also, if you purchase via credit card, I think you’ll automatically get a 1-year warranty.

    Good luck with the decision!

  • @MoneyAhoy – I wouldn’t be able to replace my TV for $150 unfortunately….but the point about getting the 1 year warranty if I bought the lamp with a credit card is worth looking into for sure. Thanks for the suggestion!

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