Power Strips Do Save Energy

Power strips come in a variety of configurations.  The ones most well suited for saving energy can meter it, use internal timers, employ smart switching or have remote control.  These energy saving devices will reduce or eliminate vampire loads commonly found in computer and home entertainment systems..

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Vampire loads refer to stand-by power that remains on 24/7 even though a device has been shut off.  Computers including peripherals, TVs, digital video recorders (DVR's), battery chargers and many other electronic components all contribute to this constant drain of power.

One issue to consider when eliminating vampire loads is the amount of time it will take to boot a device back up when the power returns.   With computers this is generally not a problem.  However, DVR's and home automation controllers can take upwards of fifteen minutes to fully restore.   Routers serving multiple computers can also have problems restoring communications across a network once power has been interrupted.

Metering vampire loads makes sense.  You'll know how much power is slipping away so you know what it is costing you.  A simple plug-in meter can be used to measure the vampire load of a single appliance. A power strip meter as shown below is handy for monitoring multiple components such as a computer or home entertainment system. Circuit level monitors such as the eMonitor can track vampire loads throughout the entire house

The best way to control vampire loads is to shut off all power to the device or appliance with a power strip timer.   These timers can be either mechanical or digital.    The mechanical timers typically switch on or off at 15 minute intervals while digital timers can get down to the minute.  Half of the outlets have a timed shut-off while the other half always remain on with most units.

Another handy feature is remote control capability.  This allows you to place a wired or wireless switch in a handy location depending upon the model.  You don't have to get down on your hands and knees to shut off the strip in a cramped location. When you turn out the lights to retire, simply tap the remote switch to cut vampire loads while you sleep.

Timed and Remote Control Power Strips

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Westek TM8DHB Power Strip Timer
Purchase Westek TM8DHB Power Strip Timer
GE 57698 Power Strip Timer
Purchase GE 57698 Power Strip Timer
Belkin BG10800-04 Remote Control Power Strip
Purchase Belkin BG10800-04 Remote Control Power Strip
Model Westek TM08DHB GE 57698 Belkin
Total Outlets 8 8 8
Controlled Outlets 4 4 6
Control Type Timer
Surge Protect No No Yes
Electrical Capacity 15A, 1800 W 15A w/
circuit breaker
Size (H"x W"x D") 10.3x4.8x1.6 16.2x4.4x2.8
Weight 1.2 lbs. 15.2 ounces 2.1 lbs.

Smart Switching

Smart switching technology defines another family of power strips.   These devices cut power to certain outlets based upon the on/off state of a master outlet.  Connect your computer to the master outlet and your printer and speakers to the slave outlets.  When the computer is shut off, power to the peripherals is also switched off.

Some outlets on the smart switch strip always remain on.  This way you can leave certain devices on, such as a router, up while everything else is shut down.  Smart switching strips generally come with surge protection as they are designed to work with computer and home entertainment systems.   Switching sensitivity can be adjusted to tweak slave outlet sensitivity.

Power Strip Meters

Measuring the amount of energy your vampire loads consume is easy when the device has a built-in energy meter.  Plug in each component and turn it on noting the power increase.  Now, shut each component off using its own power switch and note how much power continues to flow through the strip meter. When power is shut off with the strip meter, this wasted energy goes away.

This savings can also be calculated.  If you are using our Power Panel Profiler, subtract the vampire power draw from the total load.  Enter this difference and the vampire load as separate loads on the same breaker.  When a power strip shuts off the device the vampire load goes away.  Simply zero this vampire load in the Profiler for each device and compare it to the original baseline to get a rolled up estimate of the total energy saved.

Smart Switching and Power Strip Meters

Click on Image to Purchase Smart Strip SCG3 Smart Switching Power Strip
Purchase Smart Strip SCG3 Smart Switching Power Strip
Smart Strip LGC3 Smart Switching Power Strip
Purchase Smart Strip LGC3 Smart Switching Power Strip
Kill A Watt PS4320 Metered Power Strip
Purchase Kill A Watt PS4320 Metered Power Strip
Model Smart Strip SCG3 Smart Strip LCG3 Kill A Watt PS4320
Total Outlets 7 10 8
Controlled Outlets 1 Master
4 Slave
1 Master
4 Slave
Metered Outlets N/A N/A 8
Surge Protection Yes, 1225 joule
EMI/RFI filter
Yes, 2225 joule
EMI/RFI filter
Electrical Capacity 15 Amp
w/circuit bkr.
15 Amp
w/circuit bkr.
15 Amp
Size (H"x W"x D") 15.5x5.5x2 15.5x6.5x2 12.8x3x2.5
Weight 1.8 lbs 2.4 lbs. 1.7 lbs.

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