Immediately after setting up my first smart plug, I plugged my smart TV into it. “OK Google, TV on!” Nothing. Well not exactly nothing. The “standby” light on my TV turned red, indicating my TV was ready to be turned on.
I hadn’t considered standby mode at all and started to question whether a smart plug would actually be able to turn my TV on.
Can a smart plug turn on a TV?
No, you cannot use a smart plug to turn on a TV. TVs today go into standby mode when they are turned off. Smart plugs work by cutting the power completely, so when you try to turn your TV on using a smart plug, the TV will only enter standby mode.
Since TVs go into standby mode when they are turned off, they are never fully powered down, unless they are physically unplugged. And since smart plugs work by shutting the power off completely, you are effectively unplugging the TV every time you use the smart plug to turn off your TV. So, when you go to turn the TV back on via the smart plug, the TV will enter standby mode and will still require you to manually turn the TV on.
What is “standby mode”?
Back in the day, when TVs had tubes and valves in them, they could take several minutes to turn on, if previously powered off.
You read that right, several minutes. What a drag.
Fortunately even these “old school” TVs had standby mode, so that the TV could be turned on quickly when using a remote.
Less fortunately old school TVs used a lot of energy, and keeping this kind of TV in standby mode ran up the electric bill and fast.
These days, TVs no longer have the tubes and valves, but they do still have standby mode.
Standby mode in modern TVs simply means an LED is lit and a small circuit is powered on, waiting to receive a signal from the remote to turn on the TV.
The cost to keep a modern TV in standby mode is negligible, so almost all TVs have it.
It’s just a better experience when your TV comes on quickly.
Can I turn “standby” mode off?
One possible work around to be able to turn on your TV with a smart plug is to turn your TV’s standby mode off.
Unfortunately not all TVs allow this, so you’ll have to look into your particular brand and model.
However, for TVs that do allow this change more often that not you will find it in somewhere under “settings”.
With standby mode turned off, you should be able to use your smart plug to turn on your TV (your TV will simply skip standby mode altogether and power on).
Alternative ways to turn on the TV (without using a smart plug)
If you’re like me and your TV doesn’t have the option to turn standby mode off, you’ll need to find another way.
Luckily there are a few options.
Google Chromecast and Amazon Alexa
One possibility is to use Google Chromecast in combination with your Google Home. The setup is a bit complicated and not as straight forward as you’d think.
Luckily I put together a step-by-step guide for how to turn on your TV with Chromecast that you can use to get started.
Alternatively you can consider using Amazon Alexa to turn on your TV.
There are number of different TV makes and models that Alexa will work with. Personally I have a TCL Roku TV that I use Alexa to turn on and the setup was easy.
I found this detailed article outlining everything you need to know about using Alexa to turn on your TV.
In most cases you can’t use a smart plug to turn off your TV. That’s because most TVs today go into standby mode and never fully shut off.
One possible workaround to this is to shut standby mode off in your TV’s settings. This way your smart plug will simply power the TV on, bypassing the standby mode all-together.
If your TV doesn’t allow you to disable standby mode, you can always use Google Chromecast or Amazon Alexa setups to accomplish the same thing.