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back to article Belkin Conserve

Like many folk, I tend to leave my TV, Sky box and other AV kit in their low-power standby mode when I retire to my boudoir in the evenings. However, even standby mode can consume a steady trickle of electricity, and now that the blood-sucking leeches [surely 'energy companies' - Ed] are hitting us with double-digit price rises …

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Boffin

I wonder ...

... how much standby current _it_ draws to power its wireless receiver?

The Belkin site & spec sheet are strangely silent on the matter...

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Devil

Who cares

30£, is 30W on for a year in the UK. At standard depreciation for consumer equipment this means that your standby power draw must be 45W+ for this to make sense.

Yeah... Right... Forget it....

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Anonymous Coward

Standby draw

I'm in the USA. Our TV, cable box and bluray player are plugged into the same power strip. We probably use it 6 hours a day. Standby draw is about 36W in total, mostly the cable box. That's constant 27W equivalent. (If I upgraded our old digital cable box to HD the standby would go up.) It's a pretty expensive way of running an EPG. Switching those devices off when not in use reduces our consumption by 3%.

If we left all of our electronics plugged in the draw would be more than 45W. But they wouldn't all be plugged into a single strip. They're either unplugged or switched off when unused.

The irony is that in this review the author states that he wants to keep the DVR running, but it's DVRs that are the biggest vampires in the modern home. It's a computer running 24/7, never going into an effective standby mode because sometimes, just sometimes, it might be needed.

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The manual method

A similar thing can be achieved with by thoughtful cable laying. Have 2 adapters: one for you always-on stuff, the other for everything else. Before retiring to your "boudoir" for the night, switch off the non-essential one at the mains. Works for me.

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Yup.

And, to make things even easier, get one of those switched adapters for the switching-off-at-night stuff, so you don't have to fumble around behind the telly to do it.

I know this goes against the gadget grain, but some solutions really do have to work hard to find their problems...

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I've done better than that.

When we had our house re-wired, I had 2 double sockets added, with a switched fused spur off, with a further 2 double sockets.

I have the router, printer and mouse charger on the permanently powered, and the PC, monitor etc off the switched sockets.

At bedtime, I can power off, flick a switch and a bank of switches is powered down.

Our old house had something like the above, but not remotely controlled. It was a board about 60cm tall, with 6 switched double sockets, 6 un-switched double sockets, and a big power switch at the top. This peeped over the top of the desk, and would disable half the sockets.

Admittedly these were all off a single 13A socket, but I had a shedload of development equipment that ran off wall-warts, so the total power & current was minimal, but I needed many, many sockets.

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Printer ?

Just being nosey - why is your printer on all night ?

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Printer / Fax machine?

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I've looked at this type of devices in the past and I've always wondered but never bothered to work out, how long would it take you to save the £30 in wasted electricity?

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Depends what you have plugged in and how much your 'leccy costs :)

In my case standby for all my AV stuff is about 25w (the Sky HD being the nasty one at 20w). So every hour that they are switched off saves me around 0.00425p. Mine are all on timers and are off for 68 hours every week. So that's nearly 30p a week or £1.2 a month. Nearly £15 a year.

So very roughly speaking(*) it looks like two years.

(*)Variables:

My power readings. Measuring power consumption at home without access to proper kit is a bit dodgy.

I have three digital timers running and they average a tad less than 1w.

Presumably this kit uses some power for the remote control.

Probably other things I haven't thought of.

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That's actually quite clever and handy

'nuff said

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Anonymous Coward

" I tend to leave my TV, Sky box and other AV kit in their low-power standby mode when I retire to my boudoir in the evenings"

Wow, for a tech journalist, your a bit in the dark ages. Oi, it's 2011. Where have you been?

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Anonymous Coward

I really like the idea of this, but I wish it was a bit more flexible than controlling 6 sockets with just 1 switch. To be able to sucessfully prevent leaving things on standby that don't need to be I would need more switches!

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Meh

I have a six-way strip

with a switch for each socket, which cost considerably less than £30. OK, the stick on remote is more snazzy, but mine is more flexible.

Nice idea, though.

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Flame

Once again we ask:

How much energy does this energy saving device consume itself?

With some 'energy saving' devices consuming >5W they aren't always as economical as they seem.

The Belkin website doesn't enlighten us, perhaps The Register can help?

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Facepalm

Wall-mounting

Not a great idea, you're bound to get confused and turn it off when leaving the room.

Especially as the "on" is up and everyone knows lightswitches should be mounted with the "on" down. The numbers on the Belkin are symmetrical but they've shoved their name in the middle so you can't mount it upside down.

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Boffin

Apparently Japanese light switches are up for on, down for off, but I haven't been there to confirm it. I do wonder if Japanese expats in the UK bother to undo the two fixing screws and turn all their switches around when the move in.

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Probably because they inherited the design from the USA.

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According to the consumption meter I coupled to mine, it consumes a small fraction of a watt in standby - a big win compared to the 16W the original - now binned - Sky box used in standby (17W in operation - really what is the point?).

As for by cable laying - I lay mine carefully out of site and flush afterwards.

As for appliance cables, they're all carefully out of sight like the sockets they plug into. I'm as much of a geek as the next man but cables are not aesthetically pleasing things to have draped around the place. SWMBO moans and groans as I install the concealed cabling but is secretly pleased with the result. I can tell by the sigh.

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Pure filth...

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Limited use

So really no different than having two mains distro boards and switching one off. But with the (in)convenience of a remote control that still has to be manually activated.

Why not just run one distro board through a mains timer switch?

Now if it had USB or LAN connection and could be automatically scheduled to power each socket on and off individually then that could be something to talk about. But even so, when trying to implement anything like this, the impracticalities become obvious pretty soon; many devices power-up in standby mode so you have to do a lot of faffing about with extra remote control button pushes to properly turn things on, then wait for them to be ready to use.

It all amounts to delay, frustration and leaving things switched on. And the fist time something critical auto powers-off whilst recording something is likely to be the last time you leave auto power-off enabled.

Most people find they have very little they can or need to switch off, and it's rarely all in one place.

Bottom line : A seemingly good idea but not as useful as it may first appear.

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WTF?

Lidl to the rescue!

I bought one of their surge protected power strips last year for 15 squid.

2 permanent power sockets, a master, and four slaves. When the device plugged in to the master socket is powered off, the slaves are switched off too...

Works for me, at half the price. 3 year warranty too!

HTH.

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I was about to make the same comment.

My home cinema is connected to the master. TV sat and console to the slave.

Htpc and 4 port switch to the normal 2.

Harmony remote to control it all.

In the other rooms All4one do a rf remote plug + universal remote for about £12 that does the snug and the bedroom.

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Anonymous Coward

How quaint: an off switch....

http://www.standby-saver.co.uk/

is a much smarter class of a similar power-saving idea. There are others, but this happens to be the one I've had for the last couple of years....

It recognises the TV-OFF code and turns off not only the TV, but also other things that are not needed when the TV is off (eg DVD, games console etc).

When you push the relevant on the remote to turn the TV on again, the devices recognises that and restores power.

Incidentally, does the Belkin switch support the UK-style "down for on" configuration in addition to the US-Style "up for on"?

Having a separate switch to perform that functionality seems quaint and primitive!

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I have one too. cost about a tenner on fleabay. Top bit of kit.

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Luckily

Most sockets in the UK (in my home included) come with an On/Off switch already.

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Has anybody done the maths

on how much standby is actually costing me? I'm sort of under the impression it's in the order of a few pounds a year - I blow that on sweets for the kids.

Or is this a 'save the planet' device?

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WTF?

Nothing New

B&Q have been selling a range of similar products (HomeEasy) for years & I'm sure they are not the only one. About £20 gets you 3 remote controlled sockets with a remote control. They can be controlled individually or as a group. Smaller, cheaper, more flexible.

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FAIL

Haha I'm pretty sure the current that thing draws maintaining a microwave receiver will dwarf the standby mode of modern devices. The only think I think this would be useful for is amplifiers which keep their transformers charged.

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Had one for a while

Certainly makes it easier turn everything off. The location of the sockets makes it very awkward to reach them, as they are tucked behind large cabinets (can't move those due space constraints thanks to the size of the TV).

Whilst it may use a tiny amount of power, I'd guess it's far less than that used by a PS3, Wii, DVD recorder and big TV all in standby.

Also, as it allows some gadgets to stay turned on, I can have the Sky box on standby, ready to records films at 3am and also ready to be turned on from the comfort of the bed, something you can't do if it's switched off at the socket downstairs.

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FAIL

Probably false economy

When I last measured the standby draw of my kit, most of it came out very low indeed; I think the TV was about 1W. My V+ box burns 20W or something, but that has to stay on standby to record shows. Just for fun, I'd like to know 1) how long it would take for this device to pay for itself in energy savings, and 2) how long it would take for the carbon emissions it saves to cancel out the environmental impact of its manufacture/transport/etc.

Let's assume your PVR/STB is going to stay powered to record stuff, so a typical household might be switching off the TV, an amplifier, and perhaps a console or disc player. My TV is about 1W in standby, Sony amp is about 0.25W, xbox360 is 2W, so call it 4W in total. Let's assume the things are actuall in use for an average of 5 hours per day, so standby for 19 hours/day (generous), or 570/month. Let's call it 13p per kWh. So 0.004kW * 570 hours * 13p = 29.6p per month.

So it's going to take 8.4 years to save you the purchase price. Of course if you have a sucky old energy hog TV, it might be better, but then you might be better off saving up for a new TV. I'm not even going to start trying to work out the carbon footprint of manufacturing the thing, or how long it might take to offset that.

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FAIL

Agreed - all these "me to" so-called "green" devices are just dumb.

It's not like the industry hasn't spent the last fifteen years making equipment on standby as efficient as possible. EnergyStar anyone?

My telly has a standby mode and a hard power button on the side. Useful for turning it off when the kids are hypnotized and won't listen, but otherwise I doubt the cost of adding the button will never be recouped.

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Holmes

Or you could buy some cheap fourgangs (prolly get three or four for less than £10) and plug them into a timer. That way you won't even have to remember to switch things off.

I actually use three timers (*) and between 3:30am and 3:30pm weekdays the only thing still powered on is my Humax HDR because it draws less than a watt anyway and used to have a bug relating to power cuts. The Sky HD box is finally allowed back on at 3:30pm (7:30am weekends) because at 20w draw when idle I'm not leaving it on all bloody night.

But if we're discussing green energy then Kudos to Samsung for my TV. 37", HDTV and it consumes less than 50w in use. The top gets little more than luke warm. It's not an LCD backlit model either.

(*)The third timer switches a radio on for my budgie. Awww :)

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Happy

Just out of curiosity, as this IS The Reg...

...is it DAB or analogue?

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Facepalm

Or

You could have your DVD recorder in one outlet of a double wall socket and everything else on a 4-gang extension from the other outlet , like we do. Then just switch off the "everything else" outlet at night.

Turn the digibox off at night unless you're on a contract with $ky - ours drinks almost as much power on standby as it does when turned on - about 18W, which adds up over a year. The "standby" feature just blanks the TV picture and the processor continues to decode the signal, wasting energy.

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Some interesting comments...

So many reasons not to get one of these, some of them work for the individuals who mention them. Just for balance though, there are reasons that none of those would work for me, and possibly for others.

* Timer switches are useless when people work shifts.

* A new distribution board, and accompanying re-wiring would cost more than £30

* TV-sensing on/off is useless for when you want to listen to music and the TV isn't needed

* 3-gang cheaper options from B&Q become more expensive when you have to buy 2

* Individually controlled switches may be more flexible, also more confusing for kids

* Not all electrical sockets are easiy accessible, nor is the Belkin itself, being behind the TV

As for how long till I get my money back? Don't care, I bought it for the convenience of being able to turn stuff off and I needed a trailing socket. For this reason the question of carbon offsetting is irellevant, as I doubt the footprint of this socket is much different to any other non-remote controlled one.

If your own personal solution works for you, great, but don't dismiss this solution, as not eveyone's requirements are the same. It works perfectly for my needs.

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Washing machne

A lot of people in here mentioning hard-to-access electrical sockets. There could be a safety issue there. If you need to quickly power off at the socket and can't, while someone is being shocked. Even "always on" stuff should be easily switch-offable, right there where it is located.

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Anonymous Coward

Some lower end Belkin extensions have 1 or 2 rotating sockets which helps with the issue of large plugs that won't fit on this type of extension without blocking surrounding sockets. It's a shame they didn't bother to include those on this high end product.

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DJO
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Mushroom

I built my own using a solid state relay powered from the USB so when I power up the computer all the external crap gets swirtched on and when I turn off the PC it all gets turned off. Easy & free because I already had the relay in my spares (AKA assorted electronic rubbish) box.

Icon - what happens if I overload the relay.

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Yet Another Remote

Really how many do I need? And do I care that my devices use a trickle of electricity overnight. Compared to some the real leccy eating horrors in a house your average TV's standby requirements are negligible. Putting the fridge in the garage would help a lot as fridges use lots as does anything else with a pump (central heating, fish tanks, etc...).

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Actually rather good

I've had one of these for a while, got it for about £21 at PC World, and I love it.

The alternative, the type that is attached to my friend's TV where the TV remote supposedly knocks the other things off is a pain in the arse to operate nicely. My main concern it has to be said is not the electricity but the hum of my speakers even when they're off on the switch.

Another excellent product are the £5 pack of three remote sockets you get in Asda. Use two sets of these for mood lighting / xmas lighting and they're worth every penny (although need resetting after any power cut > 10 mins)

In the interests of full disclosure the receiver on my first one of these broke after 14 months, however it has a lifetime guarantee and Belkin posted a brand new one out within a week so no complaints there (also means I now have two remotes for even lazier operation).

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@Jim 59

Every time you cut the power to an inkjet it will reinitialize /recalibrate it self. That waste ink.

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