Simple Idea Saves Power, Money And The Environment

Written by Dave Jansen     25/03/2009 | 03:52 | Category name i.e.AUTOMATION

It's not generally something many of us think about but every year we spend money on electricity for devices that aren't even turned on.

Most devices have a Standby feature so that when you need them, they can turn on quickly.  In Standby mode, they don't draw a great deal of power but they do consume enough that when you combine all the devices in your home, it starts to add up.  The TrickleStar PowerSaver is a simple but effective solution to eliminating the use of that extra electricity which can not only save you money each year but also help the environment as well. In the average home, around 12% of the yearly power bill is attributed to devices in standby according to TrickleStar.

The device is a fairly basic idea, executed brilliantly.  It is an automatic switch connected to two power cables.  The first cable is the Master cable and you connect your TV to it.  The second is the Slave cable which you plug a power board into and connect all your other devices to.  The switch is designed to detect when you turn your TV off and it goes into power save mode.  When it notices the TV is in power save, it cuts power to all the devices connected to the Slave plug.  Unless the TV is turned on, none of your other devices receive any power. 

Obviously, this could be a problem for certain devices such as PVRs that need to be in standby to record programs when you aren't watching TV but for any devices that are just sitting there doing nothing, it's a great idea.

The device also has a number of dials that let you manually set up the power save wattage threshold of any device connected to the Master plug.  It is automatically set to detect the threshold of a TV in power save but if you want to use it in a different configuration, you can manually set it to detect the wattage of other devices too.  By allowing customisation, it opens the unit up to endless uses.  As long as the device connected to the master socket has a power save feature you can set it to turn off any other devices you wish.  If you wanted, you could connect the lamps in a room to the slave and have it so when you turned off your TV (or whatever device you have as master), the lights turn off as well. 

It can also work if the device in the Master doesn't have a power save feature as it will turn off any slave devices as soon as it detects a drop in power below the set threshold.  Using the same example, you could have a lamp connected to the master plug and when you turn off the lamp when going to bed, your TV, DVD player etc will turn off automatically. Of course, that means you can only watch TV when the lamp is turned on so that's probably not the best set up to implement but you get the general idea.

It isn't just limited to TV either.  You can use it on your PC set up as well.  When your PC goes into standby, you can set it up so your scanner, printer, speakers and any other devices connected to a power socket turn off too.  It can't turn off any devices drawing power from a USB port though but it can still save you cash nonetheless. There are two different TrickleSaver models designed for use with either a TV or a PC.  You can use the TV one with a PC but you will have to manually set the power threshold so it detects when your PC has gone into standby mode.

We tested the TrickleSaver and were impressed with how well it worked.  It doesn't take any effort to set up and performed beautifully.  Manually setting up the power threshold for devices other than televisions wasn't terribly difficult and consisted of putting the Master device into standby and turning the dial until it turned off the Slave devices. 

The TrickleStar TrickleSaver is available at the recommended retail price of $119.95 for the TV model and $79.95 for the PC model.

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Easy to set up; Simple to customise; Great idea executed well

Cons:

Would be good to see a version with USB ports in it for PC use