Friday, January 23, 2009

Cool Technology of the Week

When I travel to the Far East or Scandinavia, it's common that hotel rooms have a master power switch. When you enter your room, you slide the room key into a slot, which activates a breaker and powers on the lights and sockets. The energy savings occurs when you leave the room and take your key - it's impossible to leave on a light, air conditioner or television.

Throughout Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess we use Energy Star compliant devices which power down when unused. However, computers and monitors are only one element of the total power drain. Printers, speakers, and scanners continue to draw power, even when unused.

How about using a power strip that senses when the CPU hibernates and then powers down all peripherals?

The APC Power-Saving Essential SurgeArrest 7 outlet is such a device.

The Power-Saving SurgeArrest not only safeguards your equipment from damaging power transients, it also helps lower total power usage. "Master/Controlled" outlets are designed to detect when your computer is asleep and it automatically powers "off" connected peripherals. Other features include:

• Noise filtering
• Protection Working Indicator
• Resettable circuit breaker
• Right Angle Plug
• Site wiring fault indicator

As I wrote about in my previous Green IT blog entries such as Kill-a-Watt, we're approaching power reduction holistically. I oversee 20,000+ computers and 10,000+ printers, so a power strip that shuts off all connected devices when the computer is not in use is really cool!


Healthcare technology guy said...

Ah, but will people willingly give up on their addiction to "instant on" devices? The pull of instant gratification is strong.

Alan said...

There's a UK company called Bits Ltd. that makes a line of products called Smart Strip that do the same thing. They are available on Amazon and get mostly very positive reviews.

Anonymous said...

You could take it a step further. One could also build smart functionality into the power strips that are used on entertainment devices and other items that use power even when the switch is off. These could have timers that turned the power off when no one is home, and/or the ability to turn them back on with a remote control or motion sensor. The TV could go form fully powered down to having the power strip "go live" at the time you normally arrive home and plan to turn on the news. However, what we really need to get at is that there are still some functions on many devices that do require small amounts of power. For example, many of these devices have a clock. Pull the plug or turn off the power strip and the clock needs to be reset, which is annoying. But, why can't we modify these devices to use a rechargable or replaceable battery to power these core aways-on functions. This would be similar to the battery that keep a motherboard's CMOS settings functional when the power plug is pulled.