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Author Topic: A useful gadget, Energy Saving Power Strip with Autoswitching  (Read 11130 times)
HA Dave
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« on: September 28, 2009, 09:23:57 AM »

I recently purchased a Smart Strip [brand] Energy Saving Power Strip with Autoswitching Technology. I am pretty tickled with it so I thought I'd share with the forum. Ok... it's not X10 automation.. but it's still good automation.

I have used a couple of these at work some time ago. They were pretty pricey back then. I was kinda surprised to see them at a Meijers right along with the other powerstrips, surge protectors, and extention cords. It was even reasonably priced at about $30.

The device has a plug/receptacle for control, two always on, and four controlled receptacles. Turning on the device plugged into the control... causes the device to supply power to the four controlled plugs. Turn off the device plugged into the control and the controlled devices lose their power.

I got the strip for my wife's computer. She sometimes leaves the desk while the PC shuts down... often the monitor and or printer is left on. Of course both have sleep modes they go into.. but still a few watts are used with nothing accomplished. Now when the PC is turned on... the speakers and monitor also get power.. and the printer has power... if its needed. And when the PC is shut down... everything loses the power when the PC completes its shutdown.
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JeffVolp
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2009, 10:26:01 AM »

Years ago the old AT computer case had a switched outlet for a monitor and other accessories.  That disappeared when they went to the electronic switching, so I built my own switched power strip with a small solid state relay driven by 5V from a USB connector plugged into one of the computer ports.  When the computer powers up, so does everything else.

Jeff
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MANOWARę
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2009, 12:37:53 PM »

Hey Dave, what is the joule rating on that plug strip? I love that idea. I have a sub woofer that I have to leave on but because there is no on or off switch on it but this way I could power it down when the receiver is off.
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HA Dave
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2009, 01:09:51 PM »

..what is the joule rating on that plug strip?

1200

I have a sub woofer that I have to leave on but because there is no on or off switch on it but this way I could power it down when the receiver is off.

Good idea... I've been trying to think of more uses for such a cool device. In my Home Theater.. I have a neon clock that provides just enough light that you can find your way to get a refreshment during a movie. I control the clock AND my powered sub woofer with appliance modules.. both are set to the same code.

I use setup and shutdown macros that control my lighting. Putting the clock and sub woofer on the same X10 H/U code shorten the macros and the lighted clock gives me a visual check.
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Brian H
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2009, 02:38:20 PM »

Dave; Any problems with the controls in the strip and X10 signals?
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HA Dave
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 05:18:46 PM »

Any problems with the controls in the strip and X10 signals?

Actually... if the strip absorbs signals or generates noise... it wasn't bad enough that I had noticed it. And I have done some testing. I have no X10 controlled devices on the strip normally (it's my wife's computer desk). So I [just now] put an appliance module on one of the strips always on plugs. I grabbed a PalmPad and... nothing happened.... no click or clunk. I tried the module in the wall receptacle next to the strips plug. Still no sound of activation.

I moved the appliance module to a new room and it worked fine.
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Brian H
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2009, 02:09:56 AM »

Thanks for the tests. Sounds like a welcome addition for many users.
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HA Dave
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2009, 06:01:38 AM »

I do make some efforts to conserve. I mix CFL and LED lights to light rooms on-the-cheap.

Then I often see the little red and/or green LED lights on a device like a monitor or printer when the computer hasn't been on for hours. It frustrates me because I know many such devices use up to 10 watts of power when off. Based on that... it would take about a year to get a payback from the cost of the strip.

Sure I know... real energy savings are in efficient air conditioners wisely used with well sealed widows and doors (which I do). Or I guess I could use a smaller refrigerator... or completely remove the beverage frig from the theater (which I don't and won't do). Or I could switch to using a smaller TV in the living room (no chance). I understand at least one state will be regulating TV sizes to ban those big screen energy suckers (any guess which state?).

But even though I am an avid user and big fan of electric power... and not an actual member of any green movement. I save on power where the saving is easy... and it all adds up. I think X10 and Home Automation is a big help in keeping my power useage low.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2009, 06:07:12 AM by Dave_x10_L » Logged

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JeffVolp
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2009, 07:01:39 AM »

That powerstrip looks like a convenient widget.  I see there are two basic versions - a large 10 outlet version that accepts several large power modules, and a small 7 outlet version with room for only one large power module.  Then there are a couple of flavors with surge protectors for telephone and cable.

At just $25 and free shipping, the smaller one looked like a bargain on Amazon, but a number of people reported problems with that unit.  Apparently it is finicky about the power threshold, and finding a threshold setting that works reliably may be difficult or impossible.  There were also a number of reported failures.

Most people have been happy with the larger one.  Maybe that is a newer unit that corrected the flaws in the smaller one.

Jeff
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HA Dave
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2009, 08:13:44 AM »

..Apparently it is finicky about the power threshold, and finding a threshold setting that works reliably may be difficult or impossible. 

Yes it has a little ...dial of sorts.. and setting it was not intuitive. I actually had to read the directions.

But the device I am really looking forward to is your upcoming powersensing X10 signal generator.
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JeffVolp
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2009, 10:41:27 AM »

But the device I am really looking forward to is your upcoming powersensing X10 signal generator.

I picked up a couple of current sense transformers and started working on the design.  When it is available depends on how much time I can devote to that activity.  Right now most of my "free" time is spent over a hot soldering iron.  With my present backlog, it will probably be early next year before I can have a working prototype.  I'm a little afraid that the cost of the components will make it too expensive for the application.  The kit will likely be over $40, and an assembled unit around $70.

The next thing that will pop off the assembly line is an enhanced version of the small plug-in XTB that includes a basic repeater capability.  You may remember that was beta tested earlier this year.  I finally had time to update the PCB layout and get them ordered.

Jeff
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HA Dave
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2009, 11:02:42 AM »

..... The kit will likely be over $40, and an assembled unit around $70.

Even if I was to try and hack something similar... say use the $30 current sensing power strip, plus $14 for a plug-in filter for it [because it does seem to interupe X10 signals]... then another $30 for a powerflash module [that could maybe be wired to an AC transformer and plugged into a controlled outlet].

I think you've got a really good product on your drawing board.
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HA Dave
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2009, 08:28:33 AM »

I just found (albeit just on the Internet) another cheaper device. http://www.discounthomeautomation.com/TrickleStar-PC-TrickleSaver-US-TTS150PC

Apparently there is even a TV version:  http://www.discounthomeautomation.com/cgi-bin/dha.pl?pgm=co_disp&func=displ&retail_id=30&product_id=15217&session_id=0,0&search_id=444676
Might be handy for switching off the subwoofer.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2009, 08:30:31 AM by Dave_x10_L » Logged

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