/ 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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Yoowan.Pradhan says:
28 August 2020

Need on/ off buttons for such country like nepal where most of time electricity went off most of time.. when u were watching tv till mid night n lights gone for 2 ..3 hours ur tv will switch on automatically when lights comes.. i m facing this problem most of time

I am looking for a tv with an on/off switch. Can anyone advise?

I doubt that you will find one, Deborah. In order for a remote control to be able to turn on a TV part of the circuitry needs to be powered to receive the signal. It would be possible to achieve this by using a rechargeable battery in the TV but I have not heard of this being done.

If you want to switch off a TV completely this can be done by switching off at the wall, if the socket is accessible. This may mean that the TV programme guide is not updated until the TV has been on for some time.

Am I missing something? My three tvs all have a power on-off button that takes them off standby.

These buttons simply turn the TV on to standby but part of the circuitry remains energised all the time it is plugged in. That can be confirmed by inspecting the circuit diagram, but the easiest way is buy using a plug-in energy monitor which will show that power is used when the TV is ‘switched off’.

Steven Knight says:
27 February 2021

Deborah Green, I have recently bought a 55″ Panasonic, on off switch right hand side rear bottom button as you look at it

Hi Steven – I expect that when you press the button you will hear a click (caused by a relay operating) when the TV turns on (or goes onto standby) and another when it turns off. Unlike a proper switch, this does not isolate the circuitry from the mains power. It is not quite as safe, though it is better than having a TV that remains on standby all the time, as some do.

My Panasonic tvs have an on-off switch, described as a mains power on off switch. This appears to switch the tv completely off. Only when on can it be put into standby mode by the remote control. That, incidentally, consumes 1W that will cost me around £1.50 a year.

There are requirements for the amount of power that electrical goods can use in standby mode: https://ec.europa.eu/info/energy-climate-change-environment/standards-tools-and-labels/products-labelling-rules-and-requirements/energy-label-and-ecodesign/energy-efficient-products/mode-standby-and-networked-standby_en

A power switch is generally regarded as one that interrupts the live (line) supply to a piece of equipment. I expect that what you (and I) have is a press button – a momentary contact switch. This does not isolate the equipment but probably operates a relay as I mentioned above. The power consumption may be zero but the design is less safe. It is one of the reasons that fire services advise that all electrical products are unplugged at night.

Dave says:
3 February 2021

my panasonic 55hx580 often loses wifi. no idea why, but the only way to reset it is to switch it off at the wall. the plug is inaccessible behind a unit. very frustrating. the best solution i have found is alexa and smart plugs. let her sort it out for me

Elaine says:
10 February 2021

Why there should be a power button. I have an old CRT TV with great sound & picture but was gifted a flat screen. After using it only a few times it wouldn’t turn on with the remote. Outlet had power and I put fresh batteries in the remote(s). Since TV had no power button I couldn’t tell if it was a problem with the TV or the remote or with the internet provider box or remote. After eliminating the internet devices, I was back to either the TV or its remote. Went online and found a test you can do using a cell phone to test the infrared pulse but never did get the TV to turn on. Didn’t want to get a new remote only to find it was the TV after all. Costs more to repair a small flat screen than buy a new one. Scrapped the flat screen. and went back to my dinosaur TV.

I’m not overly concerned about the small usage of electricity, my concern is the safety aspect. Since the Fire Brigade did a free safety check on our home a couple of years ago, and told me that leaving a TV on standby could potentially cause a fire, I feel worried about the safety aspects of this. Can’t I buy a new set with an on/off switch anymore?