There are many advanced power strips (APS) on the market, which operate on the same basic principle of shutting off power to devices that you’re not using. However, they vary according to the control strategy they offer.
Which APS is best for you depends on your lifestyle, and what types of control you’re happy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Let’s take a look at the different types of APSs in this easy-to-understand guide!
Master‐controlled power strip
The master‐controlled APS is the classic configuration of a ‘control’ outlet, ‘switched’ outlets and ‘always on’ outlets. When you turn off a primary device plugged into the control outlet (like a computer or TV), the power strip automatically disconnects the switched outlets where peripheral devices (like a printer or game console) are plugged in.
Master‐controlled power strips aren’t the cheapest APSs available, but they’re not the most expensive either. Their only downside is that in some contexts it may not be obvious which appliance to select as your ‘control’ device.
Masterless power strip
When you turn off all the devices plugged into a masterless power strip, the APS disconnects power to those outlets completely, eliminating all phantom loads.
Masterless APSs are more expensive than other types and also have the slight downside that—if the power switching threshold is not set correctly—turning off one high‐powered appliance could turn off the entire power strip. However, for a masterless power strip to be considered an APS, it must be possible to manually adjust or automatically set the power-switching threshold to accommodate multiple devices, so you can always solve this problem with a little tweaking.
Timer power strip
Timer power strips have a digital or dial timer that you can program to automatically energize (turn on) and de‐energize (disconnect) outlets according to a pre‐set daily or weekly schedule.
They’re generally mid‐cost and save most energy in settings where you use devices on a regular schedule.
Remote switch power strip
Using a remote switch, you can completely turn off this type of power strip. These are the least expensive APSs, but the user must remember to turn-off the power strip when finished using the connected devices in order to reap some energy savings.
Activity monitor power strip
An activity-monitor power strip typically has a load‐sensing control outlet, like a master‐ controlled APS, but also has a motion sensor or an infrared ‘eye’ that detects movement or remote‐control use in the room. If there are no signs of activity, the APS disconnects power to the control outlet. This turns off the primary device, and then the rest of the outlets are also de‐energized, as in the master‐controlled product.
These are more expensive than most APSs, and the motion sensors aren’t yet 100 percent effective, but they’re a great option in settings where you use equipment unpredictably throughout the day, or where you routinely leave equipment on when you’re not using it (like when you fall asleep in front of the TV at night!).
Tier 1 versus Tier 2
If you’ve already begun looking into APS options, maybe you’ve come across the terms ‘Tier 1’ and ‘Tier 2.’ So what’s the difference?
In simple terms, Tier 1 APSs are the master‐controlled type. They delegate one control outlet to a primary device and automatically switch off peripheral devices when the primary device is powered down. They also have ‘always on’ outlets for equipment like landline phones or fridges that need to stay on all the time.
Tier 1 APSs currently retail at between $20-$35 and, according to the General Services Administration (GSA) they’ve achieved plugload savings of 26 percent at office building workstations (even with advanced computer management already in place), and 48 percent savings in kitchens and printer rooms. You can shop Tier 1 APSs on the Electric$ense® Marketplace at affordable rates, with $5 incentives!
Tier 2 products, on the other hand, are the activitymonitoring type. They save the energy you don’t mean to use. For example, a Tier 2 APS can turn off entertainment equipment like gaming consoles and speakerswhen it senses that everyone has left the room (or fallen asleep). You then re‐energize the power strip by pressing a button on the sensor. You can’t use a remote control to turn the console back on because it has effectively been disconnected.
Tier 2 APSs come with software that alerts you before a shutdown, so you can override the shutdown, if desired.
Because of these additional features, Tier 2 technology provides greater energy savings than Tier 1 products. Right now, Tier 2s cost about $70–80, so they’re a little more expensive, but they’ve been shown to achieve average plugload energy savings of 65 percent at office workstations.
Choosing the right APS for you
An APS allows you to save energy safely and almost effortlessly. To help you choose the best APS for your situation, here’s a quick checklist:
1.Pick a control style that suits your lifestyle:
a.Master‐controlled APS: Turn your primary device off when you’re ready, the APS does the rest
b.Timer APS: Great for regular, predicable usage patterns
c.Activity monitoring APS: Perfect for areas where you use devices intermittently and unpredictably
d.Remote switch: De‐energize whole strips at once
e.Masterless APS: De‐energizes the whole strip to eliminate all phantom loads once you’ve switched off the separate devices plugging in
2.Check out your options and select the type of device that matches your style.