Killing standby power

Nov 15 2012, 04:51 IST
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SummaryThis little device detects when you turn your TV off, and switches off your set-top box, saving you power and money.

Green Star is a simple device with a simple purpose: saving you power when you switch off your TV. For it switches off your set-top box automatically when you power off your TV.

No big deal? But as our tests show, a modern set-top box—in our case, a Tata Sky HD Plus— consumes nearly 19 watts of power on standby, and 20 watts when fully on. Which adds up to about 160 units (kilowatt-hours) in a year, or over R800 on your bill.

A modern TV set doesn’t consume much power on standby. Our test unit, a 42-inch LCD, was drawing about 90 mW on standby. Older TVs draw more standby power. What the Green Star does is to learn two commands from your TV (or other) remote—on and off. The learning process is quick and easy. There are two power sockets on the product (which is itself plugged into the mains).

Once it’s learned your remote commands, you plug in your TV power plug into the power socket marked ‘main’ behind the device, and your set top box into the other power socket marked ‘aux’.

That’s it. You power on the device with your designated ON button, and TV and set-top box come on. Power it off with the OFF button, and both go off – it’s a full switch off. In the off mode, your TV and set-top box are completely switched off, drawing zero power. However, our Green Star test unit continued to draw a bit of power on standby—just over one watt. The company clarifies that our test unit was a version with higher surge suppression and filtering, which is not yet the market. The company claims a 0.5 watt standby power for the standard shipping unit. In any case, even 1 watt is better than the 10W or 20W that your STB would burn up through the year—adding up to less than 10 power units a year.

There’s another interesting feature: if you simply power off your TV set, the device detects that the TV has gone off. Its green light blinks for 30 seconds, and then it powers off the STB. Nice and simple.

The only thing I missed was an override switch on the device to let you switch off your TV without powering off the STB—for when you’d like to keep the STB on standby, with a programme reminder, or a recording instruction. A new model promises to

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