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Old 05-29-2007, 05:30 PM
Chris Gohlke
Contributing Editor Emeritus
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,291
Default Smart Power Strips

So, you are probably asking yourself, what the heck are we doing reviewing a power strip of all things? Well, this is no ordinary power strip. SmartHomeUSA's Smart Strip Power Strips promises to automatically power down your peripherals when they are not in use, thereby conserving electricity. Even if you are not into the whole environmental green aspect of this, you may very well be interested in the monetary green aspect. SmartHomeUSA indicates that this product can pay for itself in as little as six weeks depending on your usage.

After the break, using my trusty Kill-A-Watt, we will take a look at how well it delivers.

The Smart Power Strip works on a very simple concept. You plug your computer into the master outlet and all of your peripherals are plugged into slave outlets. The strip detects whether or not your computer is turned on or off based on the current it is pulling and cuts power to your peripherals when the computer is off. You are able to turn a knob to fine tune the switching function in the event your PC still draws a small amount of power even when off.

SmartHomeUSA's power savings estimates are based on the assumption that your PC and peripherals are currently left on 24 hours a day and that part of your using their product would involve beginning to use the power saving features of your PC to reduce that to 8 hours per day. In my situation, my home PC had been on for 8 hours a day. I've started using the power saving functions on my computer to put it to sleep whenever I get up. As a result, I've cut the powered on hours from 8 to 4 per day.

When I got the Kill-A-Watt last year, I was surprised how much power some things draw when not in use. The following are just a few examples:

Altec Lansing Speakers: 3 watts
19" LCD Monitor: 1 watt
HP Scanner: 3 watts
External DVD burner: 3 watts
Laser Printer: 7 watts
USB hub: 5 watts

I plugged the above peripherals along with a few other things into the switched outlets. I did not plug my cable modem, wireless router, or Slingbox into the switched outlets since I often use these when my main computer is off. In total, I plugged 30 watts of equipment into the switched outlets.

My total computer system draws about 190 watts when fully powered. Using the Smart Power Strip, idle power has been cut from 70 watts to 40 watts. Therefore, before this little experiment, I was drawing 190 watts for 8 hours a day and 70 watts for 16 hours a day for a total of 2.64 Kwh per day or about $0.35 at my local billing rate. As a result of the above changes, I am now drawing 190 watts for 4 hours a day and 40 watts for 20 hours a day for a total of 1.56 Kwh per day or about $0.205. So I'm saving $0.145 per day, and while YMMV, it certainly seems feasible for this product to easily pay for it self many, many times over.

This product is pretty much a no-brainer. It is a good value just as a surge protector, once you plug it in, the additional benefits of using the Smart Power Strip are completely transparent and realistically offers the ability to pay for itself. No matter which type of green you are into, I highly recommend this product. You can purchase a Smart Power Strip directly from at prices ranging from $24.95 to $36.95.

Chris Gohlke is a Contributing Editor for Digital Media Thoughts. He loves Sci-Fi and loves to get his hands on real-life tech gadgets. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, USA with his wife and three cats.
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