Power Vampires

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Much is being made of how turning off (unplugging) cell phone chargers and the like can save you on energy cost, and save CO2 emissions of the nation as a whole, and about how much supposed power vampires are sucking electricity even when not in use.

I believed that as well but while that may be true with the older generations of chargers and power supplies of some four or five years ago it no longer appears to be the case.

How do I know despite the fact that so many other supposed experts claim that those devices are power vampires? Well, I tested it by using an energy monitor and found that none of those newer generation chargers and power supplies keep drawing power when not in use and when no load is present. Or, if they do then it is so little that the monitor cannot record it, which would mean that it would be below 10 milliwatts an hour. They only appear to be drawing power when a load is present, that means when they actually have to charge and even turn themselves off when the device is charged even when it remains plugged in; the device, not the charger.

It would appear that, grounded in my own research, a lot of this talk about unplugging to save the Planet is not really anchored in truth. More important is to reuse the use of the real heavy power consumers in the home, such as air conditioning, dryer, etc.

Not leaving lights on unnecessarily, turning off appliances, such as TVs, PCs, etc., off when not in use, and such like will make much more of a difference and have a much greater impact on energy savings than concentrating on chargers and power supplies and the unplugging of those when not in use.

That is not to say that turning them off or unplugging them is not a good idea. It is and it also extends the lifespan of those power supplies, more likely. In fact, I wish I had followed my own advice here as I just managed to burn out (no fire, thank G-d) a power supply – a cheap Chinese made one – for a small multi-band radio from Lidl. Oh well! One learns.

Having said what I have beware of cheaper and older chargers and power supply units that plug straight into the mains. They remain on and, in fact, can burn out and that can, in extreme cases, lead to a fire.

To sum up let me say again that, according to my research, much of the talk about cell phone chargers and such being energy vampires is a lot of hot air. But, it is still a good idea to turn them off when not in use, simply to extend their own lifespans. If removing them from the outlet is a hassle then get a multi-outlet panel extension cord with switch and turn that switch off. I do with most of my chargers and such. Though that has less to do with energy saving as with giving the devices a rest overnight.

© 2012