Leaving amp on vs power strip

Thread Starter

river251

Joined Jan 2, 2023
7
Hello this is my first post here and I hope this is an okay question.
I have an old solid state polytone guitar amplifier. It is an awkward reach for me to turn it on and off so I have left it on. Does that damage it?

I'm concerned about damaging it like that so I bought a power strip so I can plug the amp into the power strip and use the red button on the power strip to cut electricity to the amp and turn it on and off that way. But I don't know if that might also be damaging to the amplifier, by passing the amplifiers on off switch to deliver power to it.

I would certainly appreciate any advice anyone can give.
Thank you much in advance.
Jim
 

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
18,984
Hi Jim,
Welcome to AAC.
That method of Power On/Off is OK, I often use power source switching for some of my devices.
E
 

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
18,984
Hi boost,
I read the TS request as just using the power strip On/Off switch as the main switch, and leaving the guitar amp switch always switched On.

So the power to the amp would not be left On all the time.
E
 

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
18,984
I'm concerned about damaging it like that so I bought a power strip so I can plug the amp into the power strip and use the red button on the power strip to cut electricity to the amp and turn it on and off that way. But I don't know if that might also be damaging to the amplifier, by passing the amplifiers on off switch to deliver power to it.
Hi boost,
Sorry to sound pedantic, but he asked the above question.

E
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,559
Hello this is my first post here and I hope this is an okay question.
I have an old solid state polytone guitar amplifier. It is an awkward reach for me to turn it on and off so I have left it on. Does that damage it?

I'm concerned about damaging it like that so I bought a power strip so I can plug the amp into the power strip and use the red button on the power strip to cut electricity to the amp and turn it on and off that way. But I don't know if that might also be damaging to the amplifier, by passing the amplifiers on off switch to deliver power to it.

I would certainly appreciate any advice anyone can give.
Thank you much in advance.
Jim
Hi and welcome to the forum,

First, NO! It is not OK to ask questions like that (ha ha, just kidding). Almost any questions are ok to ask but some topics are not considered safe to talk about. You can read about that on this forum.

Most commercial amplifiers just have an on/off switch inside anyway so they do the same thing as your power strip would be doing. The internal switch breaks the power coming in just like the power strip would do too.

I have used power strips that have several switches on them so you can switch several devices on and off with those separate switches. That comes in handy sometimes. I don't need them anymore though so haven't used them for some time now, but they do work ok with anything I can think of offhand even a home PC computer. They even make some of them just for that purpose.

Now I use those radio frequency remote controls. You plug this little thing into the wall, then plug your computer or amplifier into that thing, and there is nothing else there no wires or anything. It's a like a very small box that plugs into the wall and you plug your amplifier into that.
Now you can walk across the room and operate the remote and it turns the amplifier on or off with two buttons, one for on and one for off. It's very convenient and safe because you are never anywhere near any regular line voltage potentials. The remote uses a small battery.
You can not use the type that also perform a "dimming" function though, that could damage the equipment. You have to use the kind that have a little relay inside. I can show you some models online if you would like to see what they look like and where to get one. They often come with two or more of those little boxes too so you can use the other boxes for other devices like a room light, a fan, etc.
Again though, you have to be careful not to get the kind that also perform a dimming function because that could hurt the amplifier or whatever you plug in. They are made for incandescent bulbs or LED bulbs that are made for dimming, not for amplifiers or anything else really.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,924
The ON/OFF switch on the power bar does the same thing as the power switch on the amplifier. Hence the choice is yours if you want to leave the switch ON all the time or only when using the amp.

However, I am with boost on this one. I would leave the amplifier ON all the time.
The only drawback is the cost of electricity. I have no idea of how much power is used when the amp is sitting idle or the price you pay for electricity.

Here is a wild conservative estimate.
Let us suppose that the amp draws 50W while sitting idle.
Let us suppose that the average price of electricity is $0.15/kWh.

In one day, the amp draws 50W x 24h = 1.2kW
Hence it costs 18 cents per day to leave the power ON. Your mileage will vary.

Why leave the power ON permanently? It saves on the wear and tear of the electronics, particularly on power capacitors and the power switch.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
34,676
Why leave the power ON permanently? It saves on the wear and tear of the electronics, particularly on power capacitors and the power switch.
So by that logic you shouldn't turn off any electronic devices?
I have no concern that turning solid-state electronic devices on and off significantly reduces their life span.

I use WiFi plug-in switches to remotely control device power, which can be done by voice command from Alexa, or other smart controllers if desired.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,924
There is one good reason for turning the power switch to OFF.

If you are at home and the utility power goes off, you should turn off all your electronics. Better still, unplug all electronics from the outlet. This is where using a power bar becomes convenient.

When power is restored, wait 15 minutes or longer for the power to be stabilized. Power surges have been known to wipe out electronic equipment.
I recently repaired the power supply in a home automation system for someone that stopped working following a power outage.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,943
Since it is solid state, it's probably best left turned on. It will prevent thermal stress caused by it warming up and cooling down.
This is true. But it's also true of older tube type amps. I can't add anything of value to this thread except that some solid state amps are never completely off. I doubt this is true of your amp. Equipment that have remote controls are always on. Otherwise if they're completely off they would have no way of detecting an ON command or WAKE command. I've never seen a guitar amp with a remote so like I said I don't think your amp is going to be on even when it's off.

With tube type amps keeping them on all the time is more beneficial than switching them on and off just as BoostBuck states. Even though he's talking about solid state - which is also true of them as well, but far less thermal stress than tube amps - the same basic thing applies to SS amps (Solid State). SS amps left on mean the main power transformer (if it has one and is not controlled by more modern power supplies), the transformer is always under electric pressure. Due to their inefficiencies they will draw a small amount of power and turn that into heat. Support components in the power supply circuit will also be under electric pressure.

Now this is just my opinion but I don't think there's much if any difference in switching a SS amp on and off verses leaving it on at all times. So to answer your question regardless of the type of amp you have, switching power on and off from a power strip will not harm anything. And it may save you a very very tiny amount of electricity. Too small to notice a change in your billing. But over a year's time it could amount to a few cents. Maybe even a dollar or more. ME? I'd use the power strip.
 

Thread Starter

river251

Joined Jan 2, 2023
7
Thanks very much for the responses. I actually tried to ask two questions. One, does it hurt the amplifier to leave it on continuously for days and weeks. Second, does it hurt the amplifier to use an external power strip's switch to power it on and off.
In high-end audio, some say that their amplifier doesn't sound blessed by Angels unless it's left to warm up for a couple hours before listening to it, so they just leave it on all the time so it's always warm. So that argues for it being okay to leave amps on all of the time.

On the other hand I have about 20 computers in my laboratory, mostly Dells. I would leave them on all of the time because we did analyses that could last for days. It seemed to me that they didn't have very long life, especially the power supplies, which would go out regularly. I always got the five year warranties on them because of that.

So I didn't know whether it's okay to leave my guitar amp on all the time. It sounds like opinions differ about how components are affected by power cycling versus leaving it on.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
18,928
REally, lleaving the amp constantly powered on wastes power, and much worse, leaves it exposed to power line transients constantly. None of those are good. I have seen two solid state power supplies burned to where they were not even repairable because of damage that occurred while they were on and the system powered was not in use.
Using the plug strip, if it has a normal mechanical switch, is best because it avoids wearing out the switch on the amplifier. THAT matters because it is possible that an exact replacement would not be available.

When I say "Not Repairable" it means not even with serious efforts, burned PCB and traces, as an example
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,559
There is one good reason for turning the power switch to OFF.

If you are at home and the utility power goes off, you should turn off all your electronics. Better still, unplug all electronics from the outlet. This is where using a power bar becomes convenient.

When power is restored, wait 15 minutes or longer for the power to be stabilized. Power surges have been known to wipe out electronic equipment.
I recently repaired the power supply in a home automation system for someone that stopped working following a power outage.
Hi,

Then there is the green movement where because energy is becoming a precious commodity and contributes somehow to greenhouse gas we want to use as little electrical power as possible. The old wall warts used to use a lot more than the new ones for example and that came about because of this concern. People were leaving their wall adapters plugged in all the time even if not doing anything, and over millions of users the energy usage was high even though nothing was actually running.
Currently I have one that I have plugged in all the time but that is for my phone. Of course it's a newer type too and uses very low power after the phone charges up. Everything else I have to charge only needs it once in a while so I don't need to keep the adapters plugged in all the time.
 

Thread Starter

river251

Joined Jan 2, 2023
7
REally, lleaving the amp constantly powered on wastes power, and much worse, leaves it exposed to power line transients constantly. None of those are good. I have seen two solid state power supplies burned to where they were not even repairable because of damage that occurred while they were on and the system powered was not in use.
Using the plug strip, if it has a normal mechanical switch, is best because it avoids wearing out the switch on the amplifier. THAT matters because it is possible that an exact replacement would not be available.

When I say "Not Repairable" it means not even with serious efforts, burned PCB and traces, as an example
This sounds sensible to me. There are good reasons to turn it off when not in use as you point out, but not as compelling reasons for leaving it on so I have purchased a power strip that I will use from now on to turn it off when it's not in use. And I'll just feel better about it. I never thought about wearing out the switch on the amplifier itself, and that definitely would not be a part I could find as the amplifier is from the 1960s. Thank you and everyone else for your help.
 

Thread Starter

river251

Joined Jan 2, 2023
7
See also my response in post#16, regarding transients present on the mains power source. This in addition to other reasons.
Yes. This is the real reason that convinces me to turn it off when I'm not using it. I'd hate to come home someday and see it fried. It is a precious old vintage amplifier that produces a sound it took me a long time to find and I would really hate to lose it. So that's plenty reason for me. Thanks again.
 
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