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All squirreled away within a nice little cabinet are the following components of my entertainment center:

  • Pentium-4 based (vintage ~2002) PC
  • Samsung 32" LCD HDTV
  • Netgear Ethernet hub
  • XBox 360
  • Wii
  • A huge surge protector, to which all of the above are connected

It's a wonderful and painstakingly configured setup, but the end result is a monster that sucks roughly 13 watts (via Kill A Watt) when it's just sitting there (i.e., everything in standby* mode). There is, of course, a switch on the huge surge protector, so I can reduce this drain down to 0 watts every evening with one flip of this switch, but I am concerned:

Does cutting the power to these devices on a nightly basis risk damage to any of them? As you can see in the list, all of these devices (save for the surge protector) are more-or-less computers, all with individual DC power supplies, so general advice regarding PC power supplies should apply. Right?

Edit:
*When I say standby, I refer to the entire rig holistically, and that all of the devices are at as low of power use as possible without unplugging them. So the PC still has limited power to the mobo to check for the use of the soft power switch and wake-on-LAN, the TV is waiting for IR signals, the Xbox and Wii are listening for RF, and the hub is at full power (there's no off button period). Still, with everything "as 'off' as possible", it draws 13W.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The only thing that could cause problems by cutting the power are the TV, and the Wii (assuming everything else is powered down).

Some TV have to reboot if they lose power. On my TV it takes about minute, though it doesn't lose any settings.

It's possible the Wii could be downloading something while you unplug it (if the light is yellow instead of red) but that risk is small enough to not worry about.

Just make sure the everything is turned off and you'll be fine.

As for the CMOS batteries, those take years to run down.

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Turning the power off at night should be fine. (Assuming you've shut down the OS and turned "off" the other components.)

I've been doing something similar for years with no ill effects.

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When you say you put everything in standby mode, you're not actually shutting it down. If you shut it down, the power draw should be minimal (>1W).

As for cutting the power every night -- this is not something that's recommended. All these devices have internal clocks that typically draw from the CMOS battery or the power line (the computer definitely has this). Cutting the power could drain the CMOS battery, which will reset the BIOS settings every time the power gets cut in the future.

Also, you have to consider the power draw from doing a full-on cold boot. Each device draws its max power at boot, which stresses the line more than during any other moment (this is why your lights might dim when the computer boots).

Generally, you'll be fine by doing a shutdown of all the devices but leaving the surge on. That switch is designed to turn everything back on after a surge more than to kill the power on a regular basis.

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In the case of the PC (and depending on it's OS), if the operating system has not written what it needs to disk, you may experience some data loss when flipping the switch. You may want to shut it down first.

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