Vampire Killers

Lynne Kiesling

No, this is not a post about Buffy, this is about all of those electronic devices that use electricity in standby mode, or device chargers that you leave plugged in when you take your cell phone anad head to work. This very cool vampure graphic from Good points out the worst culprits: plasma TV (by a long shot!), game console, computer, laptop, laser printer. These data may not be definitive, but it’s certainly true that plasma TVs and game consoles are major standby power users in the home.

Today’s Lifehacker has a post on a power strip to help you suffocate those vampires — a mechanical off switch for each outlet on the strip. Simple but effective; leave your vampires plugged in, but turn off the outlet while leaving other devices on the strip plugged in and running.

Here’s my simple-minded smart grid engineering question: does it have to be a mechanical switch to turn off the individual outlets? Why not a software switch? If there’s digital embedded intelligence in the strip, then I can tell my strip and the devices simple rules to follow … such as turning off the power to the outlet once the device is fully charged, or specifying a time when the outlet powers on and therefore powers whatever is plugged into it.

And I bet we could come up with cool things to do with a Bluetooth-enabled power strip …


2 thoughts on “Vampire Killers

  1. There’s a power bar called the Smart Strip that I’ve been trying out which will turn off power to multiple outlests when the primary control outlet device is turned off.

    See Amazon for details and versions with various features:

    Smart Strip

  2. Some of the smarter versions of the vampire killing strips are getting there. The better ones have a “control outlet” for the lead device–say the TV in an entertainment center that in turn controls all the other devices via the TV switch. Vampires that need to get away–the DVR that records The Daily Show after my bedtime–can be plugged into an always hot socket.

    A well done Energy Circle (full disclosure: my company) video on how these work is here: http://www.energycircle.com/blog/2009/03/02/killing-energy-vampires-with-a-bits-smart-surge-power-strip/

    Still, I’d agree there’s more progress to be made, absolutely.

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