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December 20, 2007

Comments

Luttkus

Bring it on! I've known about "vampire power" for about 6 years and have developed the habit of turning off all electronics via a power strip on/off switch. Products like Power Integration's will help me continue to save on my electric bills, with the added benefit of appearing less anal to my friends and family.

Cyril R.

That's fascinating. I always thought this was penny-wise-pound-foolish stuff. Apparently there's big gains to be had after all. And with Congress approving the new energy security and independence act, things are looking a bit better. Just a little bit.

donb

Not to burst anyone's bubble here, but I almost feel like I'm reading history here. Linear power supplies are rather rare these days, if for no other reason than that switching power suppies are now cheaper to build - the transformer and filter capacitors are so much smaller, lighter, and cheaper that the cost savings more than pay for the additional electronics. In addition, because switching power supplies are so efficient, they generate little heat. This is important because getting rid of heat can be a major pain.

The state of California enacted legislation regulating the standby power consumption of most consumer equipment some time ago. This has driven the market in general to adopt these standards. Just about all electronic component manufactures in the power supply area have updated their product lines to include features like cycle skipping to help meet the requirements.

Sasquatch99

With the positive comes the negative side. Switched power supplies cause non-linear loading of the up stream transforms. The non-linear loading of the upstream transformers cause them to be more inefficient. For households the impact is minor. For a server rack, (which all modern power supplies in computers are switched) can require the need to buy a specialized transformer to handle the extra heating (energy loss) from the non-linear load.

The good news is the wasted energy is not lost inside a climate controlled space but outside.

More technical details check out the Square D Catalog:
http://ecatalog.squared.com/pubs/Electrical%20Distribution/Low%20Voltage%20Transformers/Non-Linear,%20Energy%20Efficient,%20K-Rated/7455CT0001.pdf

eric

There are some consumer devices for which there effectively isn't a choice however. In particular, satellite boxes from DirecTV all draw the same amount of power no matter whether the box is on or off.

Some have taken the attitude that the solution is to just put the thing on a power strip, but for a DVR that sort of defeats the whole purpose of the thing..

And to top it off, some of the boxes take about 5 minutes to boot up, which is a huge disincentive to forcibly powering them down on a power strip.

I have tried raising these points on DirecTV support forums, and they always have excuses for why things need to be the way that they are. The DVR is one, and they claim that the need to keep the program guide uptodate is another. My feeling is that they haven't even tried as the issue hasn't been raised as a high enough priority.

Carl Hage

The real solution is to require an electric consumption sticker on all electronics-- like those that used to be required on large appliances. Ideally it would be measured in $ over 10 years, with separate for standby/allways-on and hour/day cost. Then consumers would choose rather than rely on arbirtrary regulations.

If 10% of household electricity is being wasted, why keep wasting 2.5%? Standby power can be reduced even more than 75% using a relay and batteries to power a VCR clock, remote-control IR receiver, etc.. (Your watch and home IR alarm runs for years on batteries, a cell phone runs for days-- plug-in electronics need not use more).

Home routers, modems, etc. could go into standby if the connecting computer is powered down, and the network power on can be disabled unless someone actually wants to use it. These devices could auto-power up when any connected computer powers up.

donb

Sasquatch99 said:
With the positive comes the negative side. Switched power supplies cause non-linear loading of the up stream transforms. The non-linear loading of the upstream transformers cause them to be more inefficient.

Two comments here:
1. The additional loss in the upstream transformers is much more than made up by the increased efficiency of the switching power supply over the linear supply, thus total system efficiency increases.
2. There is a technical fix for this called a "power factor corrector". While this circuit does indeed correct power factor, its biggest contribution is greatly reducing non-linear loading of upstream transformers. They are pretty much required in Europe for anything drawing more than 40 or 50 watts. There is some loss in efficiency of the power supply, but it is still way more efficient than a linear power supply (which also presents a non-linear load to upstream transformers)

Ken

We turn things off at the wall - the following power bill went down noticeably. We have a few clocks that stay unset as a result. As most of our household electricals are more than a few years old, they aren't as efficient as we'd like and replacing them is a big expense that despite potential future savings, will keep being deferred. The energy and GHG costs of dumping stuff that still works vs the savings is a calculation that is probably beyond my abilities. That they'd probably end up used by someone else, perhaps replacing even older less efficient ones, or perhaps adding items that previously weren't used at all makes that calculation more complex again.
Given that this is how much of the replacement cycle works, it seems even more important that the next gen stuff is significantly more efficient - from manufacture through use to final disposal or hopefully recycle.

bigTom

I'm afraid eric has a serious point. I have comcast digital, and their converter box is pretty power hungry. Power consumption stickers are nice to have, but I suspect >90% of consumers don't know what they mean. And their are a lot of products for which the end customer, and the person who chooses the equipment are not the same (i.e. the decider doesn't pay the power bill).

DaveMart

Google are also pushing better efficiency in computer power supplies:
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2006/092806-google-energy-savings.html?page=1
A worthwhile initiative, in my view

Engineer-Poet
their [sic] are a lot of products for which the end customer, and the person who chooses the equipment are not the same (i.e. the decider doesn't pay the power bill).
All the more reason to tax standby-state power consumption, perhaps at several dollars per watt.  A set-top box which isn't recording anything could spin down its hard drive at zero cost; a small advance would be for it to shut down completely save for a RAM refresh (instant restart) and a clock to wake it up for the next program update.
rannie dean

we have an R&D plant in oklahoma to make fuel ethanol. we have spent $530,00 with the goal of making 2400 gallons per day. we can grind grain, cook, ferment, strip, distill and dry. we have been unable to rectify to 95%. do you know of anyone that can help us?

thank you

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BER Assessor Ireland

thats fine to talk about energy saving when it comes to stanby modes on electrical devices....however, the energy crisis in the US needs to be assessed on a much larger scale.

In Ireland, we do not constantly keep our water hot...when we need hot water, we turn on the gas or electricity to heat the water in the tank...this saves energy on a large scale throughout the entire country.

In addition, the recent Irish budget has penalised people with larger cars, by taxing the gas guzzlers....

In the States, the cars are only getting bigger! It's bigger decisions like this that need to be made by the US Government. The average citizen can do his or her part, but this is minute compared to what really needs to be done.

BER Assessor Ireland

thats fine to talk about energy saving when it comes to stanby modes on electrical devices....however, the energy crisis in the US needs to be assessed on a much larger scale.

In Ireland, we do not constantly keep our water hot...when we need hot water, we turn on the gas or electricity to heat the water in the tank...this saves energy on a large scale throughout the entire country.

In addition, the recent Irish budget has penalised people with larger cars, by taxing the gas guzzlers....

In the States, the cars are only getting bigger! It's bigger decisions like this that need to be made by the US Government. The average citizen can do his or her part, but this is minute compared to what really needs to be done.

inov8 blank media

Anything to reduce unneccessary energy consumption is a great idea. I'm astounded at the 10% wastage figure.

Energy Efficient Homes

10% of household electricity is being wasted, isn't that easy to control?

* Close window blinds and drapes in the summer.
* Use fans whenever possible instead of the A/C.
* Turn off unnecessary lighting during the day.
* Unplug electronics when not in use.
* Install a programmable thermostat.
* Seal any cracks in your door frames and windows.
* Replace old single pane windows.

We need to act!

PC Multi-touch

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lilylee86

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lilylee86

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airheat pumps

An energy efficient home can generate part or most of its own energy. The use of solar energy, geothermal heat pumps and other renewable energy options aren't only an environmentally-friendly solution. They allow huge energy savings.

LED Light Bulb

The real solution is to require an electric consumption sticker on all electronics-- like those that used to be required on large appliances. Ideally it would be measured in $ over 10 years, with separate for standby/always-on and hour/day cost. Then consumers would choose rather than rely on arbitrary regulations.

plumbing

These are great tips. I'am going to do what you said and take a good track on my energy bills this month. Thanks.

energy drinks

The best energy drink for you is out there somewhere...hiding among the others on some shelf. How do you know which one is the best for you and your fitness needs? Here's some tips that you can use to help you make that decision.

Party Bags

In countries with a supportive environment for energy efficiency, well-designed risk management products can accelerate investment rates and trigger long-term improvements in the pricing of energy efficiency risk by the market.

Fancy Dress

Energy a simple word but very meaningful and important without it no work can be done. The other form of energy are those we need in order to live conveniently and easily. In short we couldn't live without it.

traditional sweets

Having an efficient energy within any country will save lots of money and it will help to our environment. We must use energy that is Eco-friendly.

Double Glazing

Energy is the capacity of a physical system to perform work. Energy exists in several forms such as heat, kinetic or mechanical energy, light, potential energy, electrical, or other forms. In order to save energy, we should all use solar power instead.

GadgetTown

I sincerely got a kick from your article. I really do not truly have much to say in response, I only wanted to comment to reply great work.

furniture stores los angeles

I will start trying to turn things off instead of putting them on standby!

dentist los angeles

I didn't realize 10% is wasted by standby mode...

fashion books

Wow, that's a lot of wasted energy!!

toyota car lease deals los angeles

I like Power Integrations.

Air Purifiers

I would buy something that lowers power consumption.

backup camera

Great products, I need to get something, I turn my lights and appliances off but leave many things plugged in.

acting classes los angeles

It's sad that people are still resistant to saving power, I keep turning lights off in my office that we don't really need but my boss turns them back on!

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