Why Does My TV Turn on By Itself?

Why Does My TV Turn on By Itself?

Taryn Williford
May 31, 2011

Q: Last night, as I waited for the sweet sound of construction to whisk me to sleep, my living room TV turned on by itself in the next room. After checking under beds and in closets, I've determined it wasn't a bored intruder with an itch to watch Conan O'Brien. So what gives? Why did my TV turn on by itself?

A: Short answer: We don't really know.

But we did ask around inside the most reliable resource we know. Yep, that's right; we've carefully mined the endless riches of crowd-sourced question forums like Yahoo! Answers and Answers.com for a stockpile of possibilities.

Sure, these sites are full of uninformed advice and laugh-worthy trolling. But when the best answer you can come up with is "Ghosts," any advice is worth a look.

What Gives?

Here are just a few of the (more realistic) possibilities that your fellow anonymous internet contributors have suggested:

  • You or someone else has accidentally set a "wake-up" timer for your TV.
  • Your remote batteries are low. Remotes are known to send off some weird signals when they're on the last bit of juice. Your TV could be interpreting infrared noise from your remote as an "On" command.
  • The power button on the remote or the TV itself could be stuck.
  • Somebody could be playing a prank on you.
  • Your neighbors could be accidentally powering on your TV through the window, especially if they have the same model synced up with a similar universal remote (like the one your cable company gives you).
  • Your pet might have just sat or stepped on your remote control while you were in the other room.
  • Perhaps it wasn't powered off entirely before (maybe you shut off the cable box but not the TV screen?), and it's now flickering back on from a power surge.
  • A fluorescent lamp inside the same room as the TV is blinking red and causing a sensitive infrared remote sensor to turn the set on and off.
  • It could just be an internal electrical malfunction, like a resistor that's changed value or a defective infrared sensor.


It sounds like this happened to you only once, so we're going to lean towards the cause being a neighbor or pet accidentally sending signals to your TV to turn on.

But if it happens again, get started on some trial-and-error troubleshooting by pulling the batteries from the remote or placing thick tape over the remote sensor on the TV.

Oh, we do know one thing: If it happens at the same time every day, you definitely have a "wake-up" timer set. That, or it's ghosts. For sure.

Got a good question you'd like answered? Send your queries and we'll see if the Unplggd team or our readers can help answer it.

(Images: Flickr member
Stuart Pardue licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member zeni893 licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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