/ Technology

Would you buy a TV without an on/off switch?

TV standby button

Why is there a growing trend for TVs with no on/off switch? A switch doesn’t cost much to manufacture, can be placed on the side for the sake of appearances and saves power – so why is it so hard to come by?

I know someone who recently bought a TV with no power button. It reminds me of the old joke: My dog has no nose. How does he smell? Terrible.

How do you turn off a TV with no ‘off’ button, then? The terribly simple answer is that you can’t and you don’t. Without a proper power button the best you can hope for is to put your TV into standby or power-saving mode, but it will still be consuming electricity.

Alternatively you’ll need to fumble around on the wall behind the telly for the mains socket switch, or if it’s particularly inaccessible you could invest in a remote control socket adaptor.

Standby’s the lazy option

Thankfully, we’re not talking vast amounts of power being consumed when in standby – our TV tests show it’s often much less than the 1.5 watt maximum recommended by the Energy Saving Trust. On its own, having your TV on standby won’t cost the earth, even on your ever-inflationary electricity bill. But add it up across the nation and it’s a more significant, and unnecessary, waste of power.

So why the trend for making it harder to switch off our appliances? Why has there been a retrograde step in ergonomic evolution to take away our control when our gadgets shut down? With most TVs’ power buttons now on the side or underside, it can’t be for the sake of maintaining the striking, svelte lines of today’s flatscreens, and it’s not exactly a critical case of VPL (visible power-button line).

Regardless of the power wastage, many of us leave the TV’s evil red LED eye glaring from the corner of the room, too lazy to exert anything more than a finger to press the standby button on the remote control.

Some Sony Bravia TVs have a feature called the Intelligent Presence Sensor. This system uses advanced face recognition technology to turn the screen off if it thinks no one’s watching. Of course, it doesn’t go the whole hog and turn off the TV entirely, just into standby. Otherwise, how would it know when someone’s back in the room?

A simple switch isn’t too much to ask

Conversation readers think it’s an issue too. Stephen Speirs emailed to give his opinion on his new Sony TV :

‘I was very surprised to find it does not have an on/off switch. Maybe it does and I’ve yet to find it! And it’s not the only product with this problem – my Bose iPod dock has to be plugged in at all times, otherwise the battery discharges.

‘Seriously, in today’s age of environmental consciousness, IMHO it’s not acceptable to have products that waste energy in such a way, just for the few pence a switch costs. Isn’t it time all manufacturers had to include proper on/off switches to stop energy consumption when not in use?’

Well said, Stephen. So you know what to do. If you’re not watching, turn it off. And TV manufacturers – if you’re reading this – make it easier for us to turn off when we want to.

If you’re thinking of buying a new TV, don’t dismiss the importance of power consumption in your decision. All Which? LCD, LED and plasma TV reviews include a rating, based on lab measurements of how much energy each model uses while on, in standby, or firmly switched to ‘OFF’.

Would you buy a TV without an on/off switch?

No, I think they’re essential (76%, 764 Votes)

I already own one and hate it (11%, 114 Votes)

Yes, they’re not really needed anymore (7%, 68 Votes)

I already own one and don’t mind it (6%, 63 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,009

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Comments
Chris says:
21 June 2011

I know that modern LCD televisions are a lot less likely to catch fire but if a television without a mains switch did cause a fire how would the insurance companies respond?
I can remember seeing recommendations that televisions should be “switched off” overnight.

There is absolutely no comparison between old Cathode Ray TVs and modern flat screen TVs. So the need to switch them off and unplug them is obsolete.

Oh dear Terfar.

I’m afraid you are running a massive fire risk (not to mention some wasted energy) if you are working on that basis.

You’re right that the technologies used are incomparably different, but I’m sorry to say that the fire risk is just as present and indeed, in this age of using cheaper and poorer quality components to drive up profits, there is a slight possibility that the risk is greater.

It’s a just a different cause, but not a different risk I’m afraid.

Drivel. My TV uses one third of a watt when it is connected to the mains and the TV is switched off. That’s hardly wasting power. You lose more power than that just opening a door or window in winter.

Since 2004, all flat screen TV sold in Europe use fire retardant materials.

There are hundred of thousands of flat screen devices connected to the mains continuously for many years (except during blackouts) for purposes such as broadcast monitoring and CCTV monitoring.

You are far more likely to have a fire in a washing machine or dryer than in a modern flat screen TV. The risk is extremely low.

In fact the greatest danger from flat screen TVs is idiots drilling holes in the wall to mount the device. Either they drill through live wires or don’t secure the TV properly and it falls down unexpectedly injuring someone.

Phil says:
22 June 2011

One telly burning a third of a watt in every household in the UK is 7.2 MW and as most houses have more than one set, it’s said some have as many as seven, that is almost certainly an underestimate.

It’s not just televisions either, it’s the set top boxes, stereo systems, computers etc which get left on all the time and with the country facing a substantial generating capacity shortfall within a few years, not to mention prices going up, we ought to be thinking of more ways to save energy rather than wasting it.

@Phil

I won’t disagree with your figures or logic, but let’s just say that if I just ONCE walk into the garden and hang out my washing to dry au naturelle instead of using the tumble dryer, I will save more power in that single act than I will ever save by turning off my TV at the wall.

Some of the older flat screen TVs (and set-top boxes, computers, etc.) were relatively power hogs on standby and I did switch off the power then.

So power conservation is important but there are just so many ways that we can make a HUGE difference long before switching off the power to my TV will have any effect.

Phil says:
22 June 2011

So power conservation is important but there are just so many ways that we can make a HUGE difference long before switching off the power to my TV will have any effect.

Do them all; we may need to.

I purchased remote control switches (£10 each from my supermarket) and can now stop everything from glowing red with one click. My Sky box objects to this but, given time, it revives when the power returns. I ignore the flashing time set on the DVD but it could be a nuisance if I needed to record things. There should be on and off switches on all electrical appliances, I shouldn’t have to buy my own.

Speedy says:
21 June 2011

I fail to see the problem here at all. We use Remote Sockets to turn any appliance that is plugged into the socket off or on. We have total of 6 remote sockets for our TV, Computer, DVD, Sky TV, Xbox and Wii. And if you don’t have enough sockets you can now get extensions with multiple sockets that can each be individually turned on or off remotely

I purchased a TV from a friend (I needed a new flat-screen TV and a friend was selling hers which had been used only a handful of times). Annoyingly it has no off switch and every time I turn it off I hate the feeling that I am wasting energy on it being on ‘standby’. I decided to invest on a remote power on/off switch to shut down the TV at it’s power source but, to my dismay I found that in doing this the TV re-sets itself to the factory settings. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Patricia North says:
23 July 2019

I’ve just bought a smart LG TV that doesn’t turn off completely, which I didn’t realise never used standby but I believe you have to reset your Wi-Fi every time you turned it off at the wall

raja says:
11 October 2011

i thinks it to do with something with the manufaturer actually wanting the tv to remain at atleast basic operational status at ALL times..My tv sends out IR signals for some reasons, why I asked, no one told me.
convenience at the cost of the earth?

chris spain says:
15 May 2012

I have solved the problem on my LG tv by fitting a 2 pole in-line on/off rocker switch into the mains lead.

Of course one has be confident in carrying out this mod.

I purchased one from Ebay in black so it is unobtrusive.

anmaex says:
26 April 2013

I had the same idea – what was the AMP rating for the switch – not sure which one to buy. I’ve only seen them as 2A or 6A – is that high enough?

Shell says:
26 December 2012

Okay-I am someone who really hates change.I just recently got a smart phone, have a few lcd t.v.s,but no digital h.d. service-I find the picture too bright.My new Sony bravia,to my dismay(I am being polite)has that annoying red light that won’t shut off-which is how I came across this site.I really believe in that old saying-one step forward,two steps back.We think the world is progressing,only to learn that things are being made crappier and cheaper.This would also explain the drastic drop in prices on these t.v.s in only a few short years-but this is typical of most things being purchased by the average consumer.I am really getting fed up by the crap that companies are pushing at us.I understand now why my boyfriend would like to escape some of the trappings of modern life.I hate being taken advantage of,and that is exactly what these companies are doing to us-taking our money for their ever decreasing-in-quality products.

A tv on standby is not only wasting electricity its also using the television power supply which if left in standby will wear your tv out out quicker….

Brian Dudhill says:
6 July 2016

I just spent 30 minutes on the phone to Asda asking where the on/off button is so I could turn the blue standby light off at nights. The Polaroid P50LED16 is in the bedroom and the blue light is annoying. Asda says there should be a physical on/off switch but didn’t know where it was, the fact is there isn’t one. I could put tape over the annoying blue light but that’s not the point, it’s a fire hazard surely? I didn’t think manufacturers could sell TV’s without an on/off switch. It was great value for money and is a good all round TV but I would prefer to switch the thing OFF before going to sleep. I’ll look for an on/off switch next time I buy a TV.

I imagine that there is a small fire hazard in leaving a TV on standby but leaving a washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher on overnight is an unacceptable risk to me. Some electrical goods continue to use power even if there is not a standby light. This can be tested with a simple energy monitor that is used between the plug and socket.

It’s better to switch off at the socket or unplug electrical goods, but acknowledging that many don’t do this, having a real mains switch is clearly safer than leaving products on standby.

Pfram says:
25 February 2017

I have to assume that the huge number of people who answered the poll “No, I think they are essential” missed the point of the question, since almost all the TVs on the market today, at least in the USA, don’t have an “on-off-switch” as the author defines it, and we keep buying them. I can see the case for one, but I’m not loosing any sleep over it. The switch to LED backlighting, at least in the “EnergyStar” mode, which I prefer anyway, saves far more power than the standby current will ever cost.

While Wavechange puts forward a completely correct approach to switching everything off/unplug for electrical safety Pfram is not so bothered . I look at this from a different perspective and one that many might not know about or appreciate with the swift advancement of digital electronics . You know about Samsung (and others ) “smart tv,s ” (too smart for their own good ) recording your speech in your living room and if you have a TV camera you actions as well – big uproar in the States about it but maybe you don’t know Samsung/Sky (and others) can REMOTELY take them out of standby mode ?? (think about it ) . This is just a small thing in comparison to what ours and US “security services ” can do to all our Internet/wi-fi/ cell-net communications .I wont go into detail as I might be accused of something and it might upset some but believe me when I go to sleep at night my PC gets unplugged . I already know that your dect phone can be “manipulated ” as well , I proved it , but I wont say how I know and what does a digital phone have -voice communication. For those thinking I am wrong ,if you know where to look it can be verified on the web by those with lots of letters after their names in the digital communication business .

I knew that van, cunningly disguised as an Openreach vehicle, was up to no good. These blokes got out with bags and, after furtive checks to see they weren’t being watched, opened a green roadside cabinet and started doing things inside it. I think it’s aliens.

James Elam says:
20 March 2017

I have a Vizio tv without an off/on switch, I will never buy another Vizio or any tv without a off /on switch.

Kathy says:
16 July 2017

I need a small (20″) television to be able to turn it off at the tv as have no access to a socket and cannot sleep with with the the light on from the stand by

Boris Curran says:
10 June 2018

It’s not just TV’s. I just bought a portable bluetooth radio/cassette from Aldi hoping to use it in the garden and greenhouse and shed. When I read the instruction book it said that it is not possible to turn it off completely, the only way to do it is to unplug it from the mains or remove the batteries. If you leave the batteries in it will draw a charge from them even if you are not using it! Am I being silly by not wanting to have to take the batteries out each time I stop using it and then put them back when I want to use it again? Not very cutting edge technology is it? I was treated like an idiot when I took it back and said that if I could’t turn it off I didn’t want it.

Perhaps we should start a campaign to bring back the off switch.

This is down to Bluetooth Boris it keeps “searching ” for a signal and info many users of Windows 10 have the same problem but there is a cure in the programming unlike a radio. You had me worrying on Linux Boris but got the message NO Bluetooth adapters fitted so Bluetooth manager inoperative –thank god !

Here’s one of our Conversations about on/off switches, Boris: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/power-buttons-tv-on-off-switches/

Ed the dog says:
10 November 2018

With most new TVs having built in Wi-Fi and being connected full time to the internet, companies collect data on your viewing habits and in some cases, those with a built in camera send images back.this is more than the cost of electricity this is data trawling.

Margaret says:
20 November 2018

Progress? Our fitted bedroom furniture has a cut-out circle [with special cover] for TV wires and aerial to pass neatly to the sockets behind the drawers. That’s fine—-until we bought a new TV which has no switch! The only way to switch off the TV is to remove the drawer! Too heavy for me, an 80 year- old, so please does anyone have any bright ideas to overcome this, apart from leaving the blue light on all the time?

DerekP says:
20 November 2018

Hi Margaret.

One candidate solution would be to plug your TV in via a remote control switch, so you can use the remote control to switch off the TV.

I used to use a remote control switch for my TV but now, with re-arranged furniture, I can directly reach the socket and just switch my TV/DVD/etc. off there.

Another, arguably simpler but possibly less tidy solution would be to power the TV via a short extension lead with switched outlets.

Probably the most elegant (but most expensive) solution would be to have a qualified electrician fit a switched socket somewhere convenient. (I wish more hotels would do this, as I don’t like sleeping in the presence of unfamiliar stand-by lights on wall mounted TV’s.)

Same here!

Margaret: Derek’s idea is exactly what you need. If it helps, we have a very inaccessible socket for the lounge TV, Sat receivers and numerous set-top boxes of all kinds so I fitted a wirelessly operated remote switch, and connected that a board of other sockets. That way I could completely switch everything off with a single button press (although I did leave some recording boxes on all the time),