Review: TrickleStar’s PC TrickleSaver and PC TrickleSwitch power conservation gadgets

TrickleStar is a tech company that makes a line of products geared to save you money with your energy usage. We reviewed 2 of their products that go hand in hand. The main product is the PC TrickleSaver. It basically works by monitoring your computer (via USB cable) to see if it’s on. If it’s not, then it kills the power to any devices you have plugged into the TrickleSaver. You can look at the TrickleSaver as a different take on similar power conservation products like the Smart Strip.

If you have numerous devices about your office and/or main computer that you never think about shutting down when not in use, then the TrickleSaver can save you some money, by automatically cutting the power to them. However, before you rush out and buy one, you should consider whether or not this makes sense for you.

Perhaps the best way to understand the TrickleSaver is to take a look at this schematic of how you would plug devices into it and attach it to your PC.

At about $17 for a PC TrickleSaver, and assuming that your electricity costs about $0.15/kWh (kilowatt hour), then you would need to save 113kW of power in order to break even. That’s 113,000 Watts. Many electronic devices use less than 1W when in standy mode, which means that if you only had 1 device plugged into your TrickleSaver, it would take 113,000 hours of standby use to break even. That’s over 12 years!

However, 5 or 6 devices that have more significant standby (or vampire) power draws will have you saving money in a few months. If this equation is important to you, we recommend that you get a power meter (like the Kill-a-Watt) to take accurate measurements. Another option is to use TrickleStar’s online calculator.

There is of course another aspect to this – you may not care as much about the cost and simply want to reduce your carbon footprint. In this case, devices like the TrickleSaver are a must-have.

TrickleSaver works and once you’ve set it up, you can forget about it.

There are some additional minor things to know about if you’re considering a TrickleSaver:

  • Its built-in electricity sensor depends on whether or not the USB ports on the computer still get power on shutdown. This depends on the motherboard. For example, I ran a test with a Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 mobo and it continued to power the USB ports with the machine ‘shut down’. The only ways to cut that power was to toggle the power switch on the power supply or yank the power cable completely. This means the TrickleSaver would not work with that particular machine. However, this is a rare condition.
  • A follow-up to the above point is that sleep mode is not usually the same as shut down mode, and usually motherboards still continue to power its USB ports. If you’re a fan of sleep mode, then this will not work for you. Hibernation mode is a toss-up and again, depends on the motherboard.
  • There are some devices that you may not want to power down abruptly and would not want to control via a TrickleSaver. External hard drives come to mind first. However, devices like speakers or power adapters are usually safe.
  • You may need an additional power strip to plug in your various accessories, as the TrickleSaver only has a single grounded outlet that you can plug stuff into.

The 2nd TrickleStar device that we tested was the TrickleSwitch which is useless by itself, but works in conjunction with the PC TrickleSaver to let you power on/off your accessories without powering down your computer itself.

It is simply a switch that goes inline between the TrickleSaver and your USB port. There is not much to say about this device except that it works, is a nice-to-have, and ideally should be bundled for free with the TrickleSaver.

Overall, we like the TrickleSaver, but feel that there are some improvements that can be made. It is a solid device that works, is attractive enough (even if it gets lost in your cables behind your desk!), and helps you conserve energy. There is also a similar gadget geared for your TV and AV devices called the TV TrickleSaver.