A few years ago, we featured the SmartStrip LCG3 from Bits Limited, a 10 outlet unit that detects whether or not you have something plugged is on or off and stops drawing power accordingly, thus reducing the ‘vampire load’.
Fast-forward to today. Bits Ltd sent us one of their latest products – the 10-outlet Charging Station (model LPG3E), which as the name suggests is geared to plugging in chargers. As we’re suckers for green, eco-conscious, power-saving gadgets, we had to accept.
I took this unit for a spin and found a lot to like.
There is some minor setup that involves calibrating the device based on the chargers that you have plugged in, but that took less than 5 minutes.
Once that was done, I just waited for my devices (cell phone, iPad, MP3 player and a digital camera’s battery) to charge up. There’s a green LED that indicates that the 7 monitored outlets (appropriately colored green) are powered, but sure enough, once those devices hit 100% charge, there was an audible click and the green LED light went out and the charge indicators on my devices were also extinguished.
I repeated this experiment multiple times with differing numbers of devices and various levels of charges without fail. My only issue with the whole thing was that if the switched outlets were off, then I had to press a little button on the strip to get them turned on again.
As a further test, I plugged the Charging Station into my trusty Kill-a-Watt meter to measure the ‘vampire load’ once the ‘green’ outlets shut down and even though there are a couple of red indicator lights on the station, even after 3 hours, it hadn’t registered any power draw. Notch one win for the environment!
So that this power strip is completely useless for other persistent-power uses (like other electronics or lamps, etc.), there are 3 constant (always-on) power outlets.
The manufacturer claims that this could save $35 off your energy bill in a year. Even if they’re off by a factor of 2, in 2 years, this will pay for itself (currently under $30). While that may seem like a long time, there’s another point to note – you’re also extending the life of your gadgets’ batteries by not overcharging them and in some cases not overheating them.
Now if only this charging station had pivoting or rotating outlets and/or it was waterproof, and/or sensed when you were in the room, then it might be the ultimate in power strips. But we jest. This is a solid answer to what may be as much as 15% of an average American home’s wasted energy.