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Most modern electronics draw power even when in “standby” mode — turned off but still plugged in.  The Smart Strip helps you reclaim those expensive wasted watts by automatically killing power to accessories when you turn off the “main” device.  For example, when you turn off your computer, it powers down your speakers, printer, etc.

Here’s how it works: first, you plug your control device — such as your PC or TV — into the blue outlet.  Then when you turn the power off to this device the ‘Strip automatically cuts power to all of the gear plugged into the switched white outlets.  So, for example, I could turn off my TV and have the VCR, DVD and cable box all power off automatically.  If you don’t want something to lose all power — like your router and cable modem, which might piss off other computer users in the house — simply plug those things into the red outlets which are always hot as long as the strip is powered on.  When you power the control device back on, the ‘Strip reinstates power to the devices connected to the switched circuits.

As surge protectors, these offer 1,225 to 2,875 joules of protection (depending on the model), EMI/RFI filtering and line noise reduction, plus coax and/or RJ-11 protection on some models.

The Smart Strip costs a little more than a standard surge protector — street prices start at $25 for a small, single-row Smart Strip — but the price isn’t unreasonable.  And if you tend to leave lots of electronics fully powered even when they’re not in use, the savings could add up quickly.

Most of us are making at least some efforts to be more conscientious about our energy usage, and while I don’t plan to run out and replace all of my current surge protectors, considering the positive reviews I’ve read from a number of different sources these Smart Strips seem worth the investment.

Of course, you might want to keep the VCR plugged into a hot outlet lest you join the flashing 12:00 crowd. 

Energy Saving Smart Strip [BITS, Ltd.]
Street Pricing [Google Product Search]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


4 Responses to The Energy Saving Smart Strip

  1. John Laur says:

    This is the greatest powerstrip ever and it has a lot of fantastic uses even if you don’t give a flip about “conserving energy.”

    I use on in my MAME cabinet (if you want to see it follow the link from my name) to toggle power the monitor, amplifier, marquee backlight, and other accessories when the computer is powered on or off. I rigged a button on the outside of the cabinet up to the internal ATX power switch header on the motherboard and i have a one-button on/off switch for the entire thing. Beautiful!

    The other key here not mentioned is that the smartstrip has an adjustable sensitivity dial so you can control what threshold triggers the activation. That way things like a TV or monitor that use a bit of power even in sleep mode do not keep the rest of your devices on. The sensitivity is good enough that you can get a monitor going into DPMS mode to turn off your speakers and desk lamps — in this way you can have your screen-saver toggle power to lights and other things when you leave your desk for 10 minutes or something.

    Another handy trick is to plug one of those little “Y” pigtails into it and have two devices that can trigger the switched outlets — in the desk scenario above you would be plagued into darkness if you needed to work at your desk and didnt need to use your computer.

  2. William says:

    Would that work a little like the Craftman Autoswitch? http://toolmonger.com/2007/04/16/20-auto-switch-50-shop-vacuum-400-festool-dust-collection-vac/

    Also don’t plug your TiVO / DVR into the switched plug or you’ll never get anything recorded.

  3. John Laur says:


    It’s like the autoswitch but it serves a bit of a different purpose and I would probalby suggest one over the other depending on application.

    The smartstrip has a bit of a delay when turning the other appliances on and off that would make it unsuitable to say, power your dust collector when the saw turns on.

    You might also have a problem with current as the smartstrip would probably pop its 15A breaker real fast if you plugged both a saw and a vacuum into it; the autoswitch hangs right by the outlet so you should be able to draw ~20A or so from it.

    The autoswitch has a manual override switch; the smartstrip does not. If you want to operate a device plugged into the switched outlet when the control device is off you’d have to change where it’s plugged in.

    I don’t know this for sure but the control outlet on the Autoswitch is labeled “Power Tool” — and I’m guessing that because of that it is generally designed to be activated by a current hungry power tool. If you want to use it to turn off your desk lamp when your LCD monitor drops from active (~9W) to idle (50mW) it just MIGHT not be enough to trigger the autoswitch which is designed for when you fire up something that consumes a hundred times more power. The smartstrip’s ad justable sensitivity is a plus for things like this, but it’s also probably what causes it to switch with a slight delay.

  4. karl w says:

    where can I get a single power saving plug (not a strip) that can be used for basic appliances like toasters, coffee makers and microwaves. ?

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