How much valuable metal would one find in an HDTV?

I had a curious conversation with a co-worker last night.

I was telling him about how my Vizio 42" 1080p HDTV died after 4 years, and is now sitting in the shop awaiting replacement of 2 inverter boards. He related how his 720i HDTV died 4 years ago, after 4 years usage, but rather than have it repaired he decided to “scrap” the broken TV and buy another. He said, (and I quote)…

"I opened it, and took every bit of aluminum out… Every bit of copper… And took that to the scrapyard… I heard there’s GOLD in there, but you need to know how to extract it…"

I’m sure the look on my face said it all, (Dude. Surely you are not THAT cheap) :eek: because when I asked how much he got for the metal he’d ripped out, he just hand-waved it away with, “I don’t remember how much I got.”

Yeah, I’m sure you don’t. :dubious:

I’ve never been inside one but I figure most of the weight would be in the screen, (a glass/plastic sandwich) plastic, (the housing/wiring sheathes) and steel brackets, etc.

My question to Dopers:
How much metal value could be found in your typical 40"+ HDTV?


Well let’s assume we’re talking LCD.
I found a new one on sale for $276, so I think we can safely say that the answer to “How much metal value could be found in your typical 40” LCD HDTV?" is “significantly less than $276”

Brand new working TV does not equal broken possibly unfixable TV.

There must be something of value in a TV, I see them on the curb after someone has dissassembled them all the time.

Hah ok whoosh! So we have established it is less than $276 at least :slight_smile:

How much?


Well, from personal experience, I took a big 5ft-tall copper hot water cylinder that must have weighed 40lb to my local scrapyard a few months ago and got about £35 for it.

My 40in HDTV weighs about 31lb, so even if it was made out of solid copper (which it isn’t), it would be worth less than £30. The spot price of aluminium is about one quarter that of copper ($0.81 vs $3.36), so that’s only going to reduce the scrap value. The amount of gold, if there is any at all, will be vanishingly small.

TL;DR: Your co-worker is full o’crap.

Hell the scrap yard wouldn’t even take my old dishwasher because it had a plastic, instead of metal, case around the washing basin. They claimed it was too expensive to tear it down for the little bit of metal in it. I’m thinking the same might apply for a TV.

FTR, here’s what you see under the case of a LCD TV. For copper, there’s a handful of wires, and a handful of components on the circuit boards. At first WAG, there can’t be more than a few ounces. Aluminum, perhaps the big shiny back plate, a few other structural bits, and a smattering of heat sinks. WAG, a few pounds at most, and a lot of cheaper TVs are just going to use steel for anything structural, leaving you just a few ounces. In the circuit boards and display itself, there’s probably a fair bit of copper, some trace gold, and other valuables, but you couldn’t extract these at home.

You could perhaps get a few cents worth of gold from your TV.

It is possible to extract gold from the electronic components at home, but considering the chemicals needed to extract the gold, you’d probably end up in the red.

Check this out:

Here’s some statistics on precious metals in e-waste:

I remember seeing a 60 Minutes epidose where they talked about a small town in China that illegally imported old computers, and other broken electronic devices to harvest the precious metals. The city was full of kids with birth defects, etc.

Whole TVs aren’t being taken there, they are diassembled curbside and a giant mess left, so the labor is already done.