/ 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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Sophie Gilbert says:
14 June 2011

“If you’re thinking of buying a new TV, don’t dismiss the importance of power consumption in your decision.” Don’t dismiss the importance of fire safety either. It is good practice not to leave your TV on standby before going to bed/leaving the house. If manufacturers are removing safety features from their devices, we should act against it.

Sophie Gilbert says:
15 June 2011

From the horse’s mouth (Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade): “Switch off and unplug TVs, washing machines and tumble driers when you’re asleep or out of the house. Appliances like fridge-freezers, videos with timers and cordless phones are designed to be left on.”

They’re not the only fire brigade in the country to give this advice.


I appreciate that the advice is always to switch off and unplug appliances that are not in use but what is wrong with just switching off at the wall socket? Assuming that the switch is working I do not see any significant benefit of unplugging an appliance except perhaps to avoid damage in a lightning storm.

Time would be better spent checking that appliances have the correct fuse and the cable is in good condition. Also unplug high power appliances occasionally to check that the pins of the plug do not become warm after use.

Phil says:
14 June 2011

A switch would be cheap but it’s not the way the economics of mass production works.

If the manufacturers can save £1 on each set they make and they make one million sets then that’s another million pounds profit they’ve made.

Completely at odds with the need to reduce energy consumption though.


The thing is, the switches are still on there (as far as I’m aware) it’s just that their function has changed – putting the TVs into standby rather than fully off. I wonder if there is a deeper reason for this – perhaps it is more costly to make a TV do this?


switches cost pennies I guess when purchased at scale/high volume. Sure all adds up, and taking them out makes the manufacturer more ££.

At a list price of £500 for a TV, surely there is no justification for not spending those extra few pennies on a switch

If the TV was £100, I guess I could be more understanding. for £500? Yes I expect a switch!

However if we buy products that *do* have proper “hard switches”, the manufacturers will get the point.

jon honeyball says:
14 June 2011

depends entirely on what the “deep standby” consumption actually is.

there’s no reason why it cannot be less than 0.1W. Which is such a tiddly amount of power that it can almost be ignored. Many products today are below 0.25W in standby mode. There are EU directives covering this.

The fire issue question — I’m not sure that this is actually real. There can be a tiny circuit which flips a power relay. Is that tiny circuit any less likely to fail than a physical switch, which suffers from physical wear and tear? I am not sure – a real power switch is not perfect or 100% reliable


Nick says:
29 May 2014

0.1W in each of 20 million households translates to 1 Wind turbine needed just to operate standby TVs.

However, more critical are businesses that close the curtains to protect against sunlight and then switch on lights all over to illuminate the office.