Ecodesign requirements

Ecodesign rules for simple set-top boxes are mandatory for all manufacturers and suppliers wishing to sell their products in the EU.

When a television signal is delivered with ‘conditional access’ by specific providers, requiring a registration and a fee payment, a specific decoding product is necessary, called a ’complex’ set-top box.

A voluntary industry agreement on complex set-top boxes commits signatories to reduce electricity consumption by 6.5 TWh by 2016, saving €884 million and 2.6 Mt of CO2 emissions. The signatories to the agreement control its implementation.

Standby and off mode

A wide range of electric devices can have standby and off modes.

These are required to switch into a low power mode (such as standby) after a reasonable amount of time and they must not consume more than 0.5 Watts in standby or in off mode.

Energy savings

Under the EU ecodesign requirements, a simple set-top box must not use more than 5 watts (W) of electrical energy in normal operation and 0.5 W in stand-by mode. This measure saved about 9 TWh of energy by 2014, avoiding the emission of 4 million tons CO2 and saving European households about €1.4 billion on their energy bills.

Various types of set-top boxes are on the market, capable of decoding images from terrestrial digital signals, satellite signals, terrestrial cables (known as coaxial) or from the Internet. Set-top boxes are needed to display images and audio if the internal television decoder cannot be used. Old televisions with cathode ray tubes only had analogue decoders. When the transition from analogue to digital happened (at different times in different EU countries), a set-top box had to be purchased as a retrofit to keep old analogue televisions in use. It is these set-top boxes that are subject to EU ecodesign rules.

Digital televisions now on the market generally include both a terrestrial and a satellite decoder, avoiding the need for a set-top box.