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Unplugging a TV Without Turning It Off: Bad or Not?


Your TV should last you over a decade, so it’s important you take proper care of it.

You keep it clean, regularly update it, and have even invested in a surge protector.

But, is unplugging your TV without turning it off damaging it? Are unplugging and turning a TV off the same thing? Should you unplug your TV at night?

Keep reading to find out!

Can You Damage a TV by Unplugging Without Turning It Off?

unplug black cable

Yes, you can damage a TV by unplugging it without turning it off first.

TV manufacturers consistently recommend turning off your TV before unplugging it.

Not only could this damage your TV, but it could also pose a fire hazard.

Abruptly unplugging devices that are turned on could lead to an electrical arc, which creates sparks. These sparks could quickly become a fire and combust, even more so if there are highly flammable materials around the plug, like synthetic fabrics.

Unplugging your TV without turning it off could also damage your TV’s software, especially if you own a smart TV. Your TV needs to go through the steps to turn off and shut down any apps.

This could also damage a TV’s integrated circuits, which control important components, like the computer memory and logic gate.

It could also burn the plug’s prongs, damaging them.

Is Unplugging the Same As Switching Off?

turn off TV vs unplug TV

No, unplugging a TV is not the same as switching it off.

Unplugging a TV and switching it off are not the same things.

Turning off a TV shuts down all functions and decreases its electrical consumption. Think of it as putting your TV to sleep.

On the other hand, suddenly unplugging your TV does not allow it to shut down the necessary functions. The TV is still consuming the same amount of energy and there is a strong electric current going from the outlet to the plug.

Unplugging it cuts all power, immediately shutting the TV off without giving it a chance to go through the necessary steps.

It also doesn’t stop the TV’s electric current, which could create a fire hazard and permanently damage your wall outlet and TV.

If turning your TV off is putting it to sleep, then sporadically unplugging it is knocking it out with a frying pan.

Does an Off TV Still Use Electricity When It’s Plugged In?

a TV is turned off

Yes, though very little.

TVs still consume energy when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off.

However, they use very little.

Though every TV will be different, most unit’s consume about 0.5 Watts when plugged in and turned off.

Whether this will make a difference to your electric bill depends on where you live and how many unused appliances are plugged in at your home.

It also depends on the plugged-in appliances’ wattages and age, since older gadgets tend to be less energy efficient.

However, if you’re an Earth-conscious individual, unplugging your TV and other electronics you’re not using is a good idea since it slightly decreases your home’s annual energy consumption.

Is It Better To Turn Off a TV or Leave It On?

It is better to turn your TV off when not in use.

There are many reasons why it’s better to turn off your TV rather than leave it on all the time.

Increased Chance of Burn-In

Burn-in occurs when a static image is left on a TV screen for a long time, burning into the screen.

This image will remain on screen as you flip through the channels or turn off the TV.

Although most people associate burn-in with plasma TVs, it can still happen on modern TVs with OLED panels, as well.

It is possible to reduce the appearance of burn-in on TVs by displaying a black or white image on-screen, but it’s not a guaranteed fix. Additionally, it’s very time-consuming, meaning that you’ll be unable to use your TV for several hours.

Also, the burn-in will likely reappear if you continue to display another image for several hours.

Higher Electric Bill

calculate the power consumption of projector for electricity bill
calculate the power consumption of projector for electricity bill

Leaving your TV on 24/7 will certainly increase your electric bill.

This will happen, even if your TV is set to “eco mode”.

Though the monthly increase may seem inconsequential, you could be adding hundreds of dollars to your annual utility bill by keeping one appliance on all the time.

Not to mention, that all that electric consumption is doing no favors to the planet.

Decreased TV Lifespan

TVs don’t come cheap, so you want to get the most out of your investment.

However, keeping your TV turned on all the time will significantly decrease its lifespan. While your TV may not immediately shut off, the screen could become dimmer and may stop responding to the remote’s commands.

You may also find that it’s beginning to lag, making it difficult to use.

All of these are signs that your TV is dying, and it may be due to you leaving it on all the time.

Should You Unplug Your TV When You Go On Vacation?

unplug TV while on vacation

Yes, you should unplug your TV when you go on vacation.

TV manufacturers strongly recommend you unplug your TV when leaving home for extended periods.

The main reason for this is because something could happen while you’re away that could damage your TV.

For instance, your hometown could experience lightning storms, which could directly or indirectly hit your house, traveling through your home’s outlets and burning your TV.

This electric shock will damage your TV, but more importantly, could start a fire, burning your home down.

There could also be some faulty wiring which, when triggered, could cause your TV and any other appliances plugged into wall sockets to burn out.

In essence, the real danger here is you not being home to stop and report any unfortunate events.

Coming home to a broken TV is one thing, but coming home to no home at all is something no one should have to experience.

Should You Unplug Your TV at Night?

a hand unplugs power cord of TV

It’s a good idea to unplug your TV at night.

It’s a good idea to unplug your TV at night to avoid any electrical surges damaging your equipment.

You can also sleep easy knowing your TV is safe should a lightning storm hit in the middle of the night.

However, it’s not completely necessary. So, don’t worry if you’ve been leaving your TV plugged in overnight.

Note that some smart TVs update overnight once turned off, so unplugging them will prevent any automatic updates from installing. However, you always have the choice of checking for and installing any updates manually.

Wrapping Things Up

It’s best to avoid unplugging your TV without turning it off first, even if you’re in a pinch.

Turning off your TV shuts down its software and greatly decreases its electric current, allowing it to be safely unplugged from the wall.

On the other hand, abruptly unplugging it from the wall could damage the TV’s software and plug’s prongs, starting a fire.

However, leaving it all the time could increase the possibility of burn-in and your electric bill, while decreasing the lifespan.

So, keep you and your TV safe by turning it off when you’re not using it and unplugging it at night and when you’re out of town.

What’s your experience unplugging a TV without turning it off? Did you know the threats of unplugging the TV without turning it off?

Let us know in the comments below!


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