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Plug it in, plug it in

December 23, 2008


Christmas Lights, originally uploaded by jonathanpenney11.

No I’m not going to blog about those wall plug room deodorizers, we haven’t used those in over year. Now I prefer to open the window to air out the house. If you prefer a little scent you could put a drop or two of essential oil on your light bulb.

Today I want to talk about the Smart Strip. We originally asked for it as part of our green wedding registry but never received it. When Christmas came around and our family wanted gift ideas we sent them back to the wedding registry and received among other things this power strip.

The list price for this is between $60-$80 but they are all discount to $30-$40 and honestly I don’t know that it’s worth that much. What I didn’t realize when I asked for this is that it operates based on a “control” outlet. The idea is you plug your TV into the control outlet and then everything that is plugged into the “switched” outlets will lose power when you turn your TV off and get power when your TV is turned on. I thought the power strip simply eliminated the vampire power drain from all the plugs without any special designations. In addition to the control outlet and the switch outlets you also have “constant hot” outlets. The manufacturer recommends placing your cable box in this outlet so it will never lose power. Because people the world would end if you couldn’t see what time it was on your cable box…

Now I do think this would be smart in an office. In this case the computer would be your “control”, the cable modem box, router, and phone would be “constant hot” and the printer, desk lamp etc etc would be “switched.” In the case of a computer the switched outlets would lose power when the computer goes to sleep in addition to when it is turned off. But with so many things still “constant hot” you aren’t really saving power because it’s all still drawing power. You could plug it into a regular power strip and save yourself $20. Maybe I’m biased because I’m used to unplugging everything and I can reach the plugs for my home office and entertainment equipment. If you couldn’t access the plugs or you wouldn’t (like my husband) want to unplug and replug everything in then this is a good product.

So how much energy can you save? According to the box “The Long Island Power Authority concluded that the average computer system uses 260 watts per hour just sitting idle. A computer with the Smart Strip in the sleep mode uses less than 25 watts.” (Or you could turn it off, J. and I are very guilty of this and have made a concerted effort to turn the laptop off if we are not physically using it.) The box also breaks out a formula explaining how it pays for itself in energy savings in 10 weeks but it is assuming that even when not in use you are leaving the computer on. Now if you own a business and this is a common practice because of nightly software updates you would see this savings but at home if you turn your computer off every night you aren’t going to see this kind of savings.

For us the product is worthwhile to avoid arguments between J. and I. He hates having to plug stuff in and take it out (and usually forgets) whereas I want to unplug everything if we aren’t using it. In the grand scheme its a very small piece and not worth bickering over on a daily basis. If you are in a similar situation or you can’t access your plugs its worth the investment at the current discounted price. Just make sure you take into account the number of outlets you will need and purchase the right unit. We got one of the larger models but find ourselves only using four plugs….

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 23, 2008 12:05 pm

    Same here, I always want to uplug Mr Chiots doesn’t. We finally settled on a few things that get plugged in to power strips (like the TV, DVD player, etc) and those get turned off when not in use. All the computer stuff in the office stays on all the time.

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