Testing the Smart Strip

The Smart Strip -- turns off everything plugged into it when the device that is plugged into the "control" outlet is turned off.  It allows you to turn the power off for a group of related electrical gadgets by just turning one of them off.


For example, you can plug your Personal Computer into the control outlet, and plug your printers, scanner, DSL box, ... into the other outlets.  When you turn the PC off, everything is turned off.


There are a couple models that vary in number of outlets and surge protection.  Price is in the $30 to $40 range depending on the model.


Its use is not limited to PC's, you could use it to control power to an entertainment center, or any situation where you want a several appliances to be turned off whenever one is turned off.


For another option look here ...

We bought one for use with our upstairs PC.  In this case, the PC is plugged into the control outlet on the Smart Strip, and the two printers, monitor, camera charger, intercom, and wall wart for the desk light are all plugged into the switched outlets.  The model we got also provides a couple of "Constant Hot" outlets for things that you don't want to be automatically switched off.

It was very straight forward to install -- basically just plug things in.

It has been working just as advertised for about a week now -- no problems.

The manual mentions the possibility that the sensitivity may have to be adjusted so that the switched outlets actually switch when the control device is turned off or on.  This was not necessary in our case, but appears to be a straight forward process.

It comes with a good manual and a 2 year warrantee.

So, with it hooked up in this way, when the computer goes into hibernate, all of the items plugged into the Smart Strip switched outlets are automatically turned off.  In this way, when you are not using the computer, ZERO power is being used by the computer and everything hooked to it.   We have the PC setup to go into hibernate after 15 minutes of inactivity, or when you press the power switch on the front.

For this particular computer, the PC and all the peripherals use 123 watts when on, but not actively doing anything.  The difference between leaving all this stuff on all the time vs using something like the Smart Strip is:

On all the time power = (123 watts)(24 hrs/day)(365 days/year)/(1000 watt-hr/kwh) = 1080 KWH/year

On 3 hours per day = (123 watts)(3 hrs/day)(365 days/year)/(1000 watt-hr/kwh) = 135 KWH/year

The saving in power = 1080 KWH - 135 KWH = 945 KWH per year

At 10 cents per KWH, this is $95 per year -- a 3 month payback in this case.

Your savings will, of course, depend on how much power your peripherals use, and how you currently manage power on your PC.  If you already have your PC set to go into standby or hibernate after some set time, you will not save as much, but you will still save the power associated with turning your peripherals off at the same time the PC goes into hibernate, and this can be quite a bit.

The CO2 emissions saving for power generated at a coal fired electric plant is 1900 lbs of CO2 per year!

For a typical US family, this is like getting no electric bill for one month.

One wonders why something equivalent to this could not be built into every PC sold?



Gary Nov 17, 2007