Alexa devices waking you up at midnight due to alert calls or notifications can be frustrating. Still, it’s understandable in the case of emergencies like robbery or fire. So, a frequently asked question among users is whether Alexa should be kept plugged in or unplugged.
Keeping Alexa unplugged at night saves energy, increases device lifespan, and prevents data collection and sleep disturbances. On the contrary, with Alexa plugged in, you can use smart home features, like alarms, turning on lights, and getting notifications about suspicious activities.
There is no single answer, as both have pros and cons. Please read this article till the end to learn about Alexa’s Always-on nature, whether you should keep Alexa plugged in at night, and the dangers and benefits of keeping them plugged in.
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Understanding Alexa’s Always-On Nature
Alexa is a voice service by Amazon.
As a voice assistant, Alexa will respond to your voice and perform tasks for you whenever you command her.
I have smart lights connected to Alexa, so when I need them to turn off or dim, I say, “Echo, dim the lights.”
She will send the command to the smart lights and dim them according to your preferred level.
Since Alexa is a voice assistant, she must stay active, listen to your voice commands, and perform them as needed.
Alexa will need to hear the wake word you have set for her to wake up and do the tasks.
ALEXA is the default wake word, but there are several other options, like:
I use all of them alternatively.
I keep changing the names to prevent others from guessing the wake word, hacking, and spying.
You can even use two similar words, like Echo, and Echo, to keep the wake word unique.
I do not keep Alexa devices unplugged because once they are not used, Alexa will automatically go to standby mode, where she will sleep and be inactive unless I call her wake word.
Also, I love Alexa’s features, especially the smart home features.
So, I personally prefer keeping the device plugged in at night.
A lot of people unplug Alexa.
According to them, it keeps Alexa from listening whenever she hears a word that sounds nearly like her wake word.
Since Alexa works by voice, she needs to be in listening mode so that she can wake up whenever she hears her wake word and perform tasks.
I agree with this point, but several exist that can help Alexa ignore the wake word.
So, keep reading to learn about those modes and settings.
Addressing potential privacy and security risks associated with leaving Alexa plugged in overnight
Several devices work with Alexa.
She is accessible on Amazon’s Smart home devices called Echo devices.
You need an Echo device, for example, Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, etc.
These devices need to stay plugged into a power source.
After that, you can turn on the device and start using Alexa.
But what to do if you do not need to use Alexa for a few hours, for example, at night when you are sleeping?
Will it be fine to keep it on, or should you turn it off?
There has been a lot of debate about this, but it is better to be left in the hands of the users.
Whatever they prefer the best, they will do.
If you plug in the Alexa devices at night, there will be a few liabilities.
Below are some common drawbacks of keeping Alexa plugged in throughout the night:
1. Data Collection and Usage by Alexa
Though there are a lot of words to use as a wake word for Alexa, Alexa is the most common default wake word used.
Remember these things:
- Despite several words, the default wake word, ALEXA, is used by numerous users.
- You can have conversations at night if needed.
- Several words sound nearly like the wake word, which can wake your Alexa.
- Since Alexa is a voice assistant, she will reply to the voice commands of anyone who uses her wake word.
Whenever Alexa hears her wake word, be it intentional or unintentional, she will wake up and listen to whatever you are saying.
These will be further sent to the Amazon servers so that a reply is sent through Alexa to you. This is how Amazon gets to collect your data.
Amazon collects data to improve Alexa’s performance.
They do not mean to eavesdrop and use this data to spy on you.
But many users do not prefer this as they become concerned about privacy.
If Alexa is unplugged, no one can collect any data.
That is why users prefer unplugging Alexa at night.
I have a lot of smart devices, like lights and thermostats.
Alexa collects data about how often and when I need these devices to stay on or off.
This is done to understand my preference and not to spy.
For example, you turn on the lights at night to drink water or go to the washroom.
So, Alexa can collect the data and interfere with your sleep at night during days when you do not need to get up.
It is understandable if some users are uncomfortable with this.
So, for them, this can be a privacy concern. So, they prefer keeping Alexa unplugged.
2. Impact on Energy Consumption
Since Alexa will need to be connected to a power source, keeping her plugged in the whole night can lead to energy consumption.
One of the primary reasons behind keeping Alexa off is to save money on energy bills.
Amazon’s Echo documentation shows that Echo devices can draw around 2W in networked standby mode.
In this mode, the microphone of the devices and the Wi-Fi will stay on.
Based on the US’s electricity cost, keeping the Echo off in your house for 8 hours can save around $21.
But you won’t be able to save this money if you keep the device on.
The more you keep your Amazon device on, the more energy it consumes.
This is a rough estimation. You need to calculate according to the number of hours you keep the device on or off.
However, you can worry less because no one entirely depends on Alexa and uses her all day.
Most times, Alexa stays on standby mode, where the device does not use much electricity.
In that case, you may receive a consumption bill of around $5 to $12 per year, which is relatively low.
It is up to you whether to keep the device unplugged or not.
3. Potential Disturbances due to Alexa
With Alexa turned on at night, your sleep gets disturbed.
If the sound for alert calls and notifications is on, Alexa will ring whenever these alert messages and notifications arrive.
For example, you have set the setting where Alexa will tell you the weather conditions at 5 amp.
In that case, your sleep could be disrupted by the notification.
Though some adults get up early in the morning, it can be disturbing if you have kids at home.
Being a voice assistant, Alexa can wake up suddenly at anyone’s voice.
For example, you have kept Alexa near a window, and it is open.
Your neighbors go for a morning walk with their pets and keep talking loudly; Alexa can misinterpret one of their words as a wake word and wake up.
Let me give another example. Suppose your room’s door is open.
You are asleep, but a few house members woke up early and are working.
If Alexa is plugged in, she may hear those people’s conversations, misinterpret them as a wake word or commands, and start responding.
This can disrupt your sleep.
If you have set up a wake word with lots of background noises, Alexa can wake up whenever she hears those background noises and disturb your sound sleep.
Since these sounds can interfere with your sound sleep, keeping Alexa off or unplugged at night is better.
I keep my room’s doors and windows closed.
But many people prefer keeping them open, especially during hot weather. So, these are the people who can face issues.
4. Effect on Device Lifespan due to unplugging at night
Finally, keeping Alexa off at night for 8 hours can increase the Alexa device lifespan.
When you keep the device plugged in, the device is in use, even if you are not using her for your tasks.
When plugged in, the power supply in the device will generate heat, further accelerating wear and tear and reducing the device’s lifespan.
Keeping the device off at night would be a good choice.
It will allow the devices to rest after staying active the whole day.
Personal Comfort and Peace of Mind
From the previous section, it must be clear that keeping Alexa turned on can create issues for some people.
Keeping Alexa unplugged will prevent these issues and provide comfort and peace of mind.
With an Alexa device unplugged, there are lower chances of Amazon or hackers collecting your data, low energy consumption, and sound sleep, as no sound from Alexa will be there to disturb you.
All these factors bring personal comfort and peace of mind.
I do not think that these issues are any serious problems. With the correct settings, you can keep these issues from happening without worrying about privacy concerns.
Recently, technology has been improving a lot.
The new updates provide you with improved security patches and fixed bugs.
With these features, you can use Alexa at your comfort level without worrying about data information, disturbances, or spying.
Considering the preferences and needs of other household members regarding leaving Alexa plugged in overnight
Remember that Alexa will genuinely turn on when she hears her wake word.
Otherwise, the default mode is the standby or sleep mode.
So, Alexa won’t disturb you if you don’t look for her.
That is why it is safe to keep the Alexa device plugged in.
Some people would like to utilize Alexa’s smart home features to control specific devices like speakers, thermostats, TVs, and lights.
Besides this, there are other benefits of keeping the device plugged in:
1. Using Alexa as an Alarm
Many people put alarms on their phones or clocks to get up early and reach their destinations on time.
Alexa can help you wake up early by setting the alarm.
Just command your Alexa to set the alarm for your preferred time; she will ring the alarm and wake you up early.
This brings peace of mind and a sound sleep.
You do not have to worry about waking up late the next day, even if your phone has no alarm set.
You can set an alarm for every day.
For this reason, many people prefer keeping Alexa plugged in overnight.
2. Fire and Electrical Safety
Another reason why family members want to keep Alexa plugged in overnight is because of safety.
For example, if a burglary or any accident like a fire occurs, you will know by keeping Alexa devices plugged in.
You can sleep peacefully knowing that Alexa can help you wake up if something goes wrong.
For this, you need to use the Alexa Guards feature.
Once this feature is turned on, Alexa will listen for suspicious sounds like breaking of glass, footsteps, door opening or closing, smoke or CO detectors going on and off, etc.
Alexa Guard is a helpline or a home security feature, whatever you may call it.
It is designed for Alexa-enabled smart speakers and is compatible with various smart houses and security devices.
Once Alexa listens to suspicious sounds, she will trigger alarms to wake you up at night to check the problem.
Though you can try the Free version, the Plus version provides extra security to your house.
3. Alexa’s Boot-Up Time
When you unplug your Alexa, users get concerned about how much time Alexa will take to start working.
But Alexa takes only a few minutes to turn on and start taking your commands to perform tasks.
So, it won’t be a problem if you have unplugged your Alexa at night.
Most Alexa devices take around 30 seconds to 1 minute to start after rebooting.
But it depends on the type of device you have and its condition.
It can take longer if the device is old and has faced wear and tear.
On the contrary, a new device will take a few seconds to turn on.
At times, a hacked device will also take time.
Such a device will not only take time to start but also take your commands slowly to perform tasks.
If your device is in good shape but still slow, suspect a hacking.
Turn off devices, change passwords, and get help from the Amazon support team.
4. Alexa’s Updates and Maintenance
Regular updates of the Alexa and Amazon apps provide many advantages.
With the regular updates, you stay modernized, receive the new features and security patches, and get your app free from bugs that create many issues.
But a network connection is vital to use these features and stay updated.
If you keep your Alexa unplugged, you will not be able to receive it immediately.
You must wait to plug in the device again and then return.
If you still do not receive the updates, you must check manually and update your devices.
By staying plugged in, your Alexa will receive regular updates, and you will have unlimited connection to the Wi-Fi network.
So, your devices get automatically updated, allowing you to enjoy all the features securely.
5. Features that help a soundless sleep at night
At night, some features of Alexa are helpful for sound sleep.
For example, you can activate the Sleep Sound Alexa skill.
With this skill, Alexa will help you with sound sleep by playing some sounds to clear your mind and ease you.
Some sounds are:
- Babbling brook
- Bird sound
Alexa can also offer guided meditation to put you in a calm state of mind and help you with a deep relaxing sleep.
6. Smart lights and other devices
If your Alexa is connected to the smart lights, dimming and lighting up the lights will be easier.
If you need something at night, struggling to find the light switches becomes frustrating.
If you keep Alexa plugged in, you can command her to light up the lights without fidgeting with the light switches in the darkness.
You can also control other smart devices connected to Alexa besides the light.
For example, if your thermostat is connected to Alexa, you can command her to increase or decrease the heating or cooling unit’s temperature for a comfortable sleep.
Considering Alternative Actions
Instead of unplugging the Alexa devices, you can choose alternatives to keep Alexa from spying on or disturbing you.
Here are some of them:
1. Mute button
Instead of unplugging your Alexa device, you can mute the device.
This will stop the device from waking up, recording your voice, or listening to you.
If Alexa cannot listen to you, she won’t be able to wake up or create any fuss in the middle of the night.
Press the icon showing the microphone with a slash to mute your Alexa.
2. Do not disturb
Instead of unplugging, turn on the DO NOT DISTURB MODE in your Alexa.
Turning this mode on will keep your Alexa devices from getting alerts and notifications about various things.
Some of them can be important. But if most of them are unimportant and they bother you all the time, even at night, turn the feature on.
To enable this feature:
- Tap on the menu bar on the right corner, upside.
- Click on Settings and then Device Settings.
- Tap the device you want to set to the DO NOT DISTURB mode.
- Then, turn on the toggle button.
You have successfully set the DO NOT DISTURB mode on your device.
If you need Alexa to stay quiet at a particular time, you can set that, too, with the Alexa app.
After you tap the DO NOT DISTURB button, you will get an option called SCHEDULED.
Turn this on, set the start and end times, and you are done.
3. Away mode or Alexa Guard
The AWAY MODE or ALEXA GUARD mode will allow Alexa to remind or alert you about suspicious activities.
In this mode, Alexa will listen to activities like glass breaks, footsteps, door closing or opening, and smoke and CO detectors.
If turned on, Alexa won’t be able to alert you during these times.
So, turn the feature on and keep the device plugged in to receive these reminders.
- Why Is My Alexa Doing Random Things?
- How Do I Know If My Alexa Has Been Hacked?
- How Do I Stop Alexa From Spying On Me?
Ultimately, whether to unplug Alexa at night depends on the user. Unplugging Alexa at night can be beneficial in several ways. For example, it saves energy bills, you don’t feel disturbed by unimportant notifications at night, no one can collect personal data or conversations, and it increases your device’s lifespan.
However, keeping Alexa on allows you to use smart house features, like bedtime stories and calm music for sound sleep, receive alert signals about suspicious activities, use it as an alarm, and other things. So, it depends on how the user wants Alexa to use it.
If you want to stay safe and undisturbed by Alexa and still want her to stay plugged in, use features like DO NOT DISTURB, ALEXA GUARD, and press the Mute button so that Alexa does not hear your commands and wake up to disturb you.
Can Alexa turn off after a while of staying unused?
Alexa will not turn off even if you do not use her for a few hours. So, you have to switch off or unplug it from your outlet to remain undisturbed by her constant alert messages, notifications, and sudden disturbing reactions.
Should I turn off Alexa when I am away?
While you can do this, there is no need. By keeping Alexa turned on with features like Alexa Guard, you can learn about suspicious activities in your house while you are away. However, you can do it if you want to save energy bills.
Reference: Amazon Alexa Wikipedia