This article describes the process of replacing a plasma TV screen. For LED or LCD TVs, go to LCD / LED Screen Replacement. If you're not sure what kind of TV you have, see Is my TV an LCD, LED or Plasma?.
Replacing a display panel is like replacing a part under the hood of your car. You may have to remove some parts to get to what needs to be replaced, and then put it all back together again in the reverse order. Unlike working on a car, however, replacing a TV panel will not get you dirty, but it will take some mechanical know-how.
It's a good idea to have someone else with you while you’re doing the job. Your assistant can help you keep track of the parts and how they go back, and can help you with any lifting. If the diagonal size of the TV screen is 50-inches (130-cm) or greater, you should have someone helping you.
To place an order for the panel from a TV parts distributor is not difficult. Follow the steps that are described in How to Order TV Parts. The service manual would also be a handy reference to have if you have a high-end television. It might contain special instructions specific to your model. You can order one from a the suppliers listed under Resources.
What to do when the shipment comes in
Once you’ve received the replacement panel, inspect it and make sure it has not been physically damaged during shipping. If the outer carton looks like it was punctured or bashed, don’t accept the shipment until you’ve inspected the contents thoroughly. Open the box and check to see if there are any cracks in the screen.
Notice that there are circuit boards attached to the panel. This entire assembly will replace what is in your TV now. You will only need to transfer a few things from the original panel to the new one.
The replacement panel usually has one or two large plastic support structures mounted to it. They give the panel rigid support during shipping, and they make it easier to carry. Remove the plastic structure(s), usually held on with only four screws. Save the screws - you may need to use them to mount the defective panel back in the shipping carton if it needs to be returned to the supplier to receive reimbursement for the core charge.
The front face on some replacement plasma panels may also have a clear, protective peel-away sheet over it. Find the corner with the finger grip and remove the protective peel-away sheet.
It is possible that you may receive a panel made by a another company. This can happen if the TV was designed for panels made by more than one manufacturer. There are also a few cases where a manufacturer may substitute a panel made by a different manufacturer. In any case, if you order the part from a supplier specifying the OEM part number, and rely on the part supplier to deliver the proper screen, you should be in good shape. Part suppliers get it right 99% of the time. So, for example, if you receive a Samsung replacement panel for an Insignia television, chances are that you have the correct part.
If the TV is mounted on the wall, it will have to be taken down. You will need to prepare a place to work where there is plenty of room to lay the TV down horizontally on its face. Contrary to popular myth, it is okay to lay a flat screen TV down horizontally. Read the article Plasma TVs - Myths vs. Realities? for more details. If the TV is less than a 50-inch (130-cm), a large table would be suitable. Make sure the surface is flat, soft (e.g. covered with a blanket) and wide enough so that the screen does not hang over the edge. If the TV sits on a stand, position the TV such that the stand hangs over the end of the surface, and remove the stand.
If the diagonal size of the TV is 56-inches (140-cm) or larger, your best option might be to lay the TV up-side-down flat (with the rear of the TV facing up) on a freshly-vacuumed, carpeted floor. If the TV is on a stand, you will need to remove the stand from the TV before you lay it down. With most TVs, this can be done as follows: 1) While it is in its normal upright position, unscrew and remove the screws holding the stand, then 2) gently lift the TV up and off of its stand, and lay it face down on the floor.
Removing the Back Cover
Now you are ready to remove the screws that hold the back cover in place. There may be up to four variations of sizes and threads, so pay close attention to the screws as you remove them. You will want to remember where they go when you are ready to put the back cover back on. If the TV has a VGA connector for hooking up to a computer, you may need to remove the two screw posts that are on either side of the connector. There may also be a nut on a coaxial cable (TV/Cable) connector that would need to be removed. On some of the new LED TVs you will have to remove the little door where the power cord comes out in order to get the back cover off. Be very careful when lifting the back cover because some have very sharp edges, on which you could easily cut yourself.
Some 38-inch (96-cm) TVs may have plastic back covers that will not seem to want to come off, even after you’ve removed all of the screws. These back covers are latched into the bezel (frame) with tabs. You will need to forcefully pull apart the back cover from the plastic latches along the bezel rim (like prying a hub cap off of the wheel of a car). Non-slip gloves are a great thing to wear for this. Just start somewhere along the bottom edge and continue around until the whole cover pops off.
WARNING: Always leave the power cord disconnected from the television when the back cover is removed, unless otherwise instructed.
Replacing the Plasma Panel
With the back cover removed, you will now begin dismantling the TV in order to free up the panel assembly. You may want to take pictures of how things look as you go along. First, if there is a metal plate that supports the mounting stand, remove it. Next, you will be removing one or two circuit boards. The main board (the board with all the jacks and ports on it) will definitely need to come off because the main board (sometimes called the signal board) never comes with replacement panels. And unless there is a power board already on the replacement panel, you'll have to remove the power board from the original panel as well. There is useful information about unhooking cables from circuit boards in the article, Replacing Circuit Boards.
The inside of the TV should look something like this:
Sometimes the original and the replacement panel assemblies will not look alike. The circuit boards on the replacement panel may not be identical to the boards on the original panel. Don’t be alarmed – you probably received a substitute, which is generally not a bad thing considering that the sub is usually an improved version of the original assembly. It should all still connect up just fine to the main board and the power board. You could go ahead and mount them onto the replacement assembly at this time, just to make sure the new panel is compatible with the original.
Remove the screws and any hardware around the perimeter of the panel holding it to the bezel (frame). Disconnect any wiring between the bezel and the chassis. Now you (and your assistant, if needed) should be able to lift the panel away from the bezel and set it aside. Don't forget to use proper precautions when handling a plasma panel (i.e., do not flex, bend or torque the panel). This should leave the bezel by itself.
Now you are ready to install the replacement panel. If the front glass piece stays with the bezel, you may want to take a feather duster and dust it before you place the replacement panel on it. Take the replacement panel and place it into the bezel. Then put everything back together again in the reverse order. If you haven’t already done so, remove the main board (and also the power board in most cases) from the original panel, mount them in the replacement panel, and connect all the cables.
If you were billed for a core charge, you will need to ship the original panel back so this charge can be reimbursed. Mount the plastic support structure(s) that came with the replacement panel onto the original panel, and pack it in the box from which the replacement panel came.
If the replacement panel did not come with a power board, and you had to take the one from the original panel and mount it in the replacement panel, then it’s voltages will need to be checked and possibly adjusted to match what the replacement panel needs. Follow the special instructions entitled 'Power Supply Boards for Plasma TVs' in the article, Replacing Circuit Boards.