Sunday, September 10, 2006

Standby button - friend or foe?

(click on the comic strip to enlarge it)
When I put up the standby challenge poll, Steph left an interesting comment:
My hubby who works in the electronics industry says that flourescent tubes take over 500 times the energy to start when they're boosting compared to when they're running. But as it only takes 10 secponds to 'strike' a flourescent tube, do the math ie turn it off if you'll be out the room more than an hour and a half.But he says that the switch mode power supplies on modern tellys will pop a lot faster due to inrush current if they're switched on & off at the mains, as opposed to standby. BUT our telly is 25mAH standby(so that's 25 milliamps, ie 25 thousandth's of an amp, per hour) so if our telly is on standby for 24 hours, it will use 0.138 of a killowatt a day, so that's about 1.86 pence based on 13.55 pence per unit electricity, so that's £7.12 a year for our modern telly on standby, with a class A stanbdby rating.BUT, older tellys with a higher standby current will work out more expensive. For our telly, I choose to keep it on standby, cos I don't want to shorten the life of the appliance due to the inrush spike to the power supply by turning it on at the wall multiple times a
This comment gave me much food for thought and I decided to do a little more research. I Googled around a bit but didn't find anything that really supported Steph's hubby's opinion (which proves nothing, I could have been using to wrong search terms). And then I asked my friends in some environmental forums. Some people expressed the point of view that it's nonsense (or words to that effect). For example Malc said:
Personally and I am an electronics engineer I switch them off. If they're not designed to be switched on then they won't be any good in the long run anyhoo. My TV is quite old (for some values of old) and still works perfectly and most nights I switch it off, my amplifier is getting on for 20 and has taken that treatment for all its life (ok it doesn't have a standby function). Repeated switching on and off may blow some devices but not a couple or so times a day. Also somethings like monitors and TVs need to be switched on occasionally to degauss them.
[translated from Sheddese]
But Martin, who works in the alternative energy industry, had this to say:
Its all far deeper than just "b****X!" For a start, electrical engineeers have a damned good idea how long components will last, often their "life" is quoted - they can pretty accurately work out how long they'll last (built-in obsolescence). So we then consider our test telly (a modern one, designed to be on "standby") - if a few components were of a higher spec., they may well be able to last indefinitely, but they don't fit them. The way economics are balanced these days, and there is so little residual value in electronic equipment, it is often cheaper to replace the whole thing with a new one, rather than having one or two minor components replaced - a great cost to the environment! I think Chickpea hit the nail on the head - it ISN'T a simple question. I think the one thing we should agree on is that all consumer goods should be designed for longevity, repairability, and recyclability!
Thanks Martin. I can agree on that, but should I leave my TV on standby or not?


blackberry44 said...

Older TVs and computers lasted for a long time.

18 months ago we had to replace the sitting-room TV because it no longer worked. We bought it second hand about 12 years ago, so I don't know exactly how opld it was.

A few months ago I had to replace my personal TV, which was second-hand when I bought it over 10 years ago. Again, I don't know how old it was when I bought it.

Last week John replaced his personal TV because his old one, which I bought him new about 10 years ago was knackered. It *was* a cheap one, but it didn't last as long as the other two, having been bought new more recently than the other two.

In these cases we had to buy new TVs because of the fact that we needed SCART for digiboxes since the gummint (hock! ptui!) are switching off analogue TV fairly soon and we don't want to find that our new TVs will be redundant when the changeover comes about, as we won't have got our money's worth out of them even though they're so much cheaper than they used to be. Heaven knows what a TV set does to landfill!

Charles is still using an old TV/video combo which we bought for the office about 10 years ago.

We always turn everything off when we're not using it, except the Freeview box, because that has to update overnight, or something.

I have to say that I don't actually turn them off at the wall socket, as Mel suggested we should, because I didn't think they would be using electricity while they were turned off, except for the video clock. I'd like to know whether it makes any difference whether you simply turn things off with the "off" switch, or turn them off at the wall socket.

I'd also like to point out that we don't actually watch all that much TV, but we all like to watch different things and often they're on at the same time. John has never been able to program the VHS and Charles and I get fed up with endless programmes about the army and various wars. Even Dad's Army palls after a few re-runs! And Charles & I make do a point of watching programmes or DVDs together in the sitting-room ,ost evenings.

I'd really like to know whether we should turn things off at the wall, or whether it's sufficient to turn them off with the Off switch, because we all have PCs and printers which we turn off when we're not using them as well, and I begrudge paying more money for electricity than I have to.

blackberry44 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melanie Rimmer said...

If it has a little LED that is on even when the TV is "off", then it's on standby. If it displays a clock when it's "off", it's on standby. If you can switch it back on using only a remote control, it's on standby.

But if none of these things are true, chances are it's really "off", even when it's switched "on" at the wall.

That's my understanding, anyway. I'm still researching and I have some interesting facts for a future posting.

Bogget said...

I am an Electronics Engineer, NEVER switch off at the wall, it does shorten the life of equipment buying new equipment is not very green is it. Being green isnt just saving electric it is saving the earth buy not buying new as often.
My 42" TV uses 1W on standby and 160W when in use, nothing like the 45% the government claim? so why would they say it, the economy is poor at the moment so what are they trying to get us to do, they are trying to restart the economy by getting us to spend , so are you going to buy a new TV this year, maybe not, but if your TV dies will you then? Think about it.
Watch for how many adverts on TV will want you to switch off you wall you will see a lot more of these adds over the next few months.
Almost all electrical equipment has more stress on componants starting from cold than it does when starting from standby, when your last light bulb whent pop when was it, was it when you was turning it on by any chance? when your TV or almost anything electrical went wrong last was it when you came to turn it on? dont get me wrong sometimes things do go faulty when on but more often than not it is at switch on. But you will say "it is a fire risk when it is on", maybe it was years ago voltages are much lower in equipment now and fire is very very rare, ok then "what if there is a storm while im out and my mom always said unplug when a storm is about" (lol) ( i have heard this many times) if lightning has traveled 20 miles from sky to your house it will not worry about the last 2 feet.
I am sure we have all worked somewhere where there is a light that has been there for years and years never being replaced it is usually because it is never turned off so no stress, it will go eventually but it will last a very very long time.
I repair lots of equipment i always ask when or how did it go wrong 98% of the time they say i just turned it on!!!!

BE GREEN leave it ON

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Again unreadable, in none English?

Anonymous said...

The above is not English so again can not comment?