We Could Soon Have a TV, Air Conditioner and Microwave Shortage—Here's Why

Common home appliances such as televisions, air conditioners, and other electronics may see a price increase in the near future due to a global semiconductor chip shortage.

Semiconductors are crucial components in essentially all modern electronic devices and are designed to control the flow of the electric current inside.

The shortage has already hit some consumer electronics such as Sony's PlayStation 5 video games console and made them hard to get, and now Chinese domestic appliance giant Midea has said more common items may also be affected.

In a statement to the South China Morning Post, Midea said the global shortage could soon increase the price of semiconductor chips that are used in things like washing machines, refrigerators and more.

China also produces about two thirds of the world's microwaves and air conditioners, SCMP adds, citing China Household Electrical Appliances Association data.

It was not specified if this price increase, or a shortage, could be passed on to consumers. Newsweek has contacted Midea for comment.

Electronics firm Xiaomi is reported to have already increased the price of some of its TV products after the company's president Wang Xiang warned in March the semiconductor shortage may lead to higher prices for consumers.

There are a number of factors behind the shortage, including a severe winter storm that hit Texas earlier this year which caused three major semiconductor chip makers to shut down sites there; an equipment fire at the Renesas semiconductor factory in Japan—no casualties were reported; and the Suez canal blockage that affected shipments worldwide.

The coronavirus pandemic has also played an obvious role. Demand for devices such as computers, tablets, and televisions ramped up amid the COVID outbreak, which led to a demand on chip manufacturers that they were not ready for, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The semiconductor shortage has already led to concerns within the US car industry, leading one sector group, the Alliance for Auto Innovation (AAI), to call on Washington for help.

The group, which is made up of major car manufacturers including Ford, Toyota, VW and others, said a number of automakers have been forced to cancel shifts or stop production in the U.S. due to the shortage.

It also said the chip shortage has been worsened by events in 2021 such as severe weather in Texas that disrupted supplies and the Suez canal shipping route blockage.

John Bozzella, CEO of AAI, wrote in a letter to the Department of Commerce, April 5: "Semiconductors are currently used in a wide and growing variety of automotive electronic components that perform vehicle control, safety, emissions, driver information, and other functions.

"A significant investment in and sustained commitment to building additional domestic semiconductor capacity that meets the future needs of the auto industry in the United States is absolutely essential."

Automakers and medical device manufacturers had also asked the Biden administration to subsidise U.S. semiconductor factories earlier this year.

Man looks at televisions
A stock photo shows a man looking at televisions in a shop. Household appliances may be hit by the semiconductor shortage. Sergeyryzhov/iStock