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Some colleagues told me recently that you should not lay LCD screens (e.g. TVs and computer monitors) flat. They should never be put face down horizontally, but kept vertical, or they may go bad.

If that were true, digital watches, laptops should not even exist, right?

What do I do? When I'm moving LCD screens, should they be kept upright or may they be laid flat?

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2  
Anecdotal: Have stored an LCD for 2 years mostly flat. Zero problems noticed. One concern is dust or debris being embedded into the display which could cause the failure of the LCD itself. But as long as you store it in protective packaging, you should be okay. –  Thomas O May 23 '11 at 14:23
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I've got no references, but: The issue is nothing to do with LCDs: it is about not applying pressure "sideways" onto large planes of glass in a plasma or similar TV, for fear of cracking them. Consider laptop screens as examples why LCDs, themselves, can be stored flat. Also, be sure not to stack anything on top of an LCD screen, for similar reasons. –  Oddthinking May 23 '11 at 14:24
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Would you care to cite this claim? I've only heard it about plasmas, and then it's related to putting stress on the heavy glass panel when hitting anything bumpy in the road. This would not apply to small screens such as a digital watch, but from what I gather about LCDs, it should not apply to them at all. Might this be a misconception on either your or your colleagues' behalf? –  David Hedlund May 23 '11 at 14:24
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I'd say it's got very little grounding in fact. I've routinely left my laptop sitting flat on a desk with the lid closed, making the screen facing down flat, and I've never had a problem. –  Dave May 24 '11 at 1:49
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@sharptooth I wouldn't be surprised if that's already assumed among the high-end audio/video crowd. There's a tremendous amount of woo involving electricity there... :-/ –  Brian Knoblauch May 24 '11 at 18:49
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1 Answer

up vote 16 down vote accepted

This appears to have a valid concern (increased risk of scratching the screen when laid flat), but has been mistakenly extended into a blanket recommendation with no basis (nebulous concerns about TVs/monitors "going bad").

How did I come to this conclusion? I figured one way to go about this would be to look into LCD TV/Monitor manufacturer's manuals to see if there were any warnings about this. While not guaranteed, I'd figure those who make these devices should know about this and at the very least have a vested interest in not being liable for returns if customers broke products and no warnings were given.

Well, pictures say it much better than words:

  • LG LCD TV manual (LINK) :

lg lcd tv manual


  • LG W2753VC LCD Monitor manual (LINK):

lg lcd monitor manual


vizio m260 installation

vizio m260 repacking instructions

(No mention of how to transport in terms of orientation, just that using original packing material is recommended.)


  • Panasonic TC-L42U30 (LINK):

panasonic manual


  • Sharp 70" 70LE732U (LINK):

sharp manual


Based on all of these images, it seems that we can draw a couple of conclusions:

  • The pure orientation component cannot have anything to do with this "folk" recommendation, otherwise manufacturers would specify that laying them flat would be disastrous.
  • Several manufacturers (all except one) recommend putting a soft cloth down under the screen. I see two possible reasons for this:
    • Put something "cushy" under the screen so that if there are any irregularities on the surface, it doesn't damage the screen, and because a cloth won't scratch the screen
    • Support the screen/glass to prevent deflection which might damage it. There are discussions on many forums about the glass potentially breaking if laid flat (HERE for an example).

I can't tell from the manuals whether cracking is the concern, or whether it's scratches/uneven pressure.

To see if cracked glass was a real concern, I tried finding complaints online about this issue. After all, if this truly happens, individuals should be complaining and asking for input after it happens to them! Alas, no such luck. While absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, I would have expected to find more online in forums if this was a common occurrence.


Takeaway: In the end there's no mention whatsoever of concerns about the horizontal orientation of monitors except for scratching the screen. Nothing about sagging potential, cracked glass, electronics, having liquid crystals go bad, etc. If laying a monitor flat was that big of a concern, I'd at least expect a mention in the caution sections (I looked at them in all manuals above) of even a possible issue. Nothing of the sort. Also, there's no bread crumb trail of real users complaining about their stupidity for breaking their precious screens. Therefore, I see no basis for the concern.

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And the iPad wouldn't work. –  matt_black Feb 25 '12 at 19:06
    
Personal experience: had PC monitor LCD (5 years old too) laid flat for more than 1 month, and is still working properly. I also dropped it twice from a desk before that (dropped it while moving furniture, had it laid flat while working on the house). For those who wonder, it's a Samsung SyncMaster 205BW. –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Jul 30 '12 at 20:04
    
note how the screen is flat on a surface for most all those illustrations. Seems to me the manufacturer doesn't think laying it that way will cause harm, they'd be sued if their instructions damaged their product :) –  jwenting Oct 11 '12 at 6:43
    
@jwenting Which is why I used them :) If the manufacturer suggests putting it like that, I figured they'd know it's fine. –  Hendy Oct 13 '12 at 17:27
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