Difficulty Level: Intermediate (If you have patience, you can do this. If not, it will be hard.)
Time Needed: Varies, depending on your skill level. For a beginner, like me, it took me about 3.5 hours to replace 6 capacitors.
Tools Needed: Soldering Kit–including iron, solder, desoldering wick; Replacement capacitors–These have to be the same wattage as your TV and must be compliant in other ways (see link to YouTube video.); Phillips Screwdriver; wire cutters
*Note: I was able to get the soldering kit and replacement capacitors in a Capacitor Repair Kit for my TV from Amazon. Also, the technician in the video below sells these kits on his website. (I don’t endorse anything except myself.)
After both of my LCD TVs stopped powering earlier this year, I was sure that something was wrong with my new Blu-Ray Player. I was marathoning shows from Hulu, so I thought the combination of the internet connection to the Blu-Ray Player and the HDMI connection to the TV was transmitting a computer virus that blew out the power to the TVs. I did a little chatting and research online and found out two things: 1) Blu-Ray Players can’t transmit viruses because they don’t have operating systems and 2) the capacitors on TV power circuit boards could be the culprit. (FYI: My TV was a Vizio, but this happens with all brands of TVs.)
A TV power capacitor is like a rechargeable battery; it stores energy so that your TV can power up by the push of a button. And just like batteries, these also bubble up and blow up and go bad.
Capacitors (and almost everything else) live on a circuit board in an LCD TV, and this is where the soldering stuff comes into play. Stuff on circuit boards work by conducting and transmitting energy, which means in most cases, you need a metal connection to conduct that energy. Soldering is essentially fusing metal things together. From Wikipedia: “Soldering is a process in which two or more items (usually metal) are joined together by melting and putting a filler metal (solder) into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal.” In this case, we’re holding the capacitor on the board with solder . . . mixed with prayer and patience.
I swore that I would not work with electricity or plumbing (outside of something really easy), because those really need more than my small DIY expertise. But when I saw that a whole capacitor repair kit costs only between $25-35 for my TV, I thought, why not try it? The TV already doesn’t work, so what harm can it do?
I looked on YouTube for some how-to videos and found this one early on in my search…. AT FIRST, I thought it was a little too long, but for a beginner like myself, I did not know how long this process would really take. I can understand now why people take their TVs into repair places, and why those places charge so much. This is a simple fix, but working with solder, desoldering, and trying to make sure your solder connection is a good one (so you don’t have to do this again or mess up a capacitor) is very time-consuming. It took me most of the afternoon just to get my capacitors off the board (they were also glued in).
Biggest surprises/Lessons Learned:
- Soldering irons are hot! (even at 60w). You will burn yourself if you aren’t careful or don’t take a break when you get tired.
- Solder is not like any other metal I know. It most reminds me of mercury in the way that it immediately forms a ball after heat is removed. (I hope it’s not as toxic, because chemical poisoning is not worth marathoning old Star Trek® shows. 🙂 ) I had to constantly have the heat on it for it to fuse to the capacitor and board.
- Take the back off your TV before ordering capacitors. Some of these packages sold online don’t have the right numbers for each wattage. Examine and count capacitors to get the right amount of each wattage. You do not want to have to do several repairs.
- I sold my other TV for way less than what I should have. Now, I know why so many people bid on it on Ebay. I could have fixed it myself. (An excuse for a new LED TV…)
- You never know what you can do until you try it.