Get Smart about Energy™


A smart power strip works on the principle of one master outlet, and a number of slave outlets. The slave outlets are automatically turned off when the "master" device connected to the master outlet is switched off, enters "sleep" mode or standby. I was kindly provided a quality Green Power MDP 900 by Monster Cable for testing energy savings possibilities. (I do like their Green Power products for surge protection and power filtering.)

After plugging my laptop into the master outlet I began to test how it could be used to save energy in practice.

First the laptop. There is nothing a power strip can do for my laptop that is not managed by my operating systems power management settings. I will add that optimizing these settings for energy efficiency, in particular display brightness, screen saver and sleep settings did reveal potential savings. I will cover this in a separate discussion.

I do not want my DSL modem or Wireless Router turned off when my laptop either sleeps or is turned off. The laptop sleeps after 15 minutes of inactivity during the day, and I turn it off when I am done working. The "standby energy" used when sleeping vs. the energy consumed rebooting is worth discussion, but another time. I prefer to be certain that the laptop cannot be hijacked by internet thugs while on-line. The wireless router is needed by family members when my laptop is turned off, and getting my DSL service back after a power out is not something I am going to inflict on myself. Do note the vampire power of these two devices so you can turn them off at the outlet, or unplug them when not needed.

So far no savings from the smart strip. For information, the operating cost of the router and DSL modem, total 7.9 Watts for 365 days (assuming I leave them on 365 days) is 69.20 Kwh @ 11.5c per Kwh amounts to $7.96 I agree that there is operational energy to be saved here, but the only practical saving I have noted is to turn them both off should I leave home for a few days. Getting the DSL and Internet connection going again could be worth the risk and effort.

Some users do a lot of printing but I do not. But being willing I plugged the printer into the first slave outlet, to see how having it managed by the state of my laptop would work out. The problem with this approach soon became clear. The printer uses 500 watts to power up, and with my 15 minute sleep setting, it was turning off and on regularly. Besides using nearly all my standby savings, it was simpler and less demanding on the printer to have it plugged into a regular outlet, and to turn the printer on when needed.

I do not have speakers and other peripherals I need automatically turned off, so this ended the testing, except for one last step. And that was to test the standby energy used by the smart strip, to be smart.

The smart power strip uses 1.9 Watts of standby power continuously - what a complete waste!

Get Smart about Energy™