Smart Power Strips
Use a Smart Power Strip for entertainment centers and computer workstations.
Here's how it works:
Electricity use for plugged-in devices in Minnesota homes is about 20 percent of a typical home's total annual electric usage. Plugged-in devices do not include heating and cooling systems or larger appliances like refrigerators. This pie chart shows the breakdown of typical electric energy usage of plugged-in devices.
A smart power strip makes it easy for you to completely turn off plugged-in devices (like computer workstations or entertainment centers) and eliminate standby power usage (also known as "phantom load" or "vampire draw").
Frequently Asked Questions
Source: Niagara Conservation
Does everything plugged into the Smart Power Strip save energy?
No, energy is saved only on those devices that would normally be left on or draw an idle current even after they have been turned off. The Smart Power Strip will save energy on most computer peripherals and home entertainment products. Computers tend to have the greatest energy savings when used with the Smart Power Strip.
How does the Smart Power Strip save energy?
It saves energy by electronically unplugging all of the devices that are plugged into the secondary outlets when the device plugged into the master outlet is turned off. (Note: The minimum amperage for the master to activate the secondary outlets is 0.4 amps.) This stops them from drawing any current without the need to turn them off or unplug them. Some devices still draw the same amount of power even when turned off.
How much energy does it save?
While everyone's computer is different, the average home computer system can waste the equivalent of a 60-watt lamp when the computer is turned off and all the computer peripherals are left on. Almost all DSL modems, cable modems, routers and computer speaker systems do not have an energy-saving mode or a power switch, so you can save energy when they are plugged into the Smart Power Strip.
Is it good to shut off my computer peripherals?
Yes, when any electronic device is left on 24/7, the heat inside the components is constantly building up without any chance to cool down. This heat can eventually weaken the electronic components and cause failure of the device. Devices today are designed to be turned off and/or go into low-power sleep mode without shortening its life span.
Does the Smart Power Strip work with the sleep mode of my computer?
If your computer has a true energy-saving sleep mode, then it will shut off the secondary outlets when your computer goes to sleep. If your computer only shuts off the monitor when it goes to sleep and you have an ENERGY STAR® monitor, plug the monitor into the master outlet and the computer into one of the always-on outlets.
What is sleep mode and how do I use it?
Most computers have a sleep mode but not all of them actually save energy. When your computer goes into sleep mode, it remains ready to use with a touch of your keyboard or movement of your mouse, but uses less energy than when it is fully on.
Can I use the smart power strip as an on/off switch for refrigerators, window are conditioners, space heaters, or dehumidifiers?
The Smart Power Strip should not be used with this type of equipment. It also should not be used outdoors or in wet or oily conditions. The optimum application for the Smart Power Strip is with computer workstations and entertainment centers.
Can I use the smart power strip with a "set-top box" for my cable or satellite systems?
Yes, but we recommend plugging it into the "always-on outlets" so you don't disrupt your settings such as the internal clock, DVR recording function or software updates. If it is plugged into one of the secondary outlets, it would be turned off when the TV is off and any functionality would be interrupted until it is turned back on again. Plus, when it is turned back on it would most likely take time to go through the rebooting process. A timer may be used as an alternative to the secondary outlet on the power strip so you can control when it comes back on to ensure time to upload existing and new functions. This will enable you to save energy by reducing the 24/7 usage of most set-top boxes.
What are the parameters for the Surge Protection feature of the smart power strip?
- Joule Rating: This number defines how much energy the surge protector can theoretically absorb in a single event, without failure. (1,050 Joules)
- Clamping Voltage: The maximum amount of voltage that a surge protector will allow through itself before it will suppress the power surge. When the device reaches its clamping voltage, it blocks any further current from flowing through the device and into a computer system or other electronic device. (400 v)
- Maximum Spike Voltage: A sudden, short surge in voltage. Voltage spikes can be caused by lightning, power outages, short circuits or power transitions in large equipment on the same power line. (600 v)
- Response Time: Surges usually take around a few microseconds to reach their peak voltage, and a surge protector with a nanosecond response time would kick in fast enough to suppress the most damaging portion of the spike. (faster than 1 nanosecond)