smart home

Bits Limited

Smart plugs and power strips are great if you need flexibility, routines, and other features. But what if you just want auto-magic power saving, no programming or smart app required? You need one of these power strips.

The Secret Sauce Is Power Sensing

The simplest way to use a power strip to save money is to place it somewhere you can reach it with your foot and then just give the switch a nudge when you’re not using all the gear attached to it. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that, but there’s no automation of any sort. If you forget to turn the strip off, the various electronics with their phantom loads keep on wasting power.

The more complex way is to put your gear on a smart plug or power strip and program a routine to be triggered by the time of day or other variables. But even though smart strips can help you save money, they’re a bit pricey and require you to use an app or otherwise program them.

But what if you want something that doesn’t require you to remember to turn off the power strip but also isn’t as complex as setting up a smart home device? Enter the power-sensing power strip.

Power-sensing power strips have been around for decades but remain relatively unknown. The premise is very simple and very clever. One outlet on the strip is the “control” outlet, and you plug in the primary device.

Some or all of the other outlets on the strip are automatically controlled by the primary device outlet. If the primary device is on, the other outlets supply power. The other outlets are turned off if no load is sensed on the primary device outlet.

What does that look like in practice? If your computer is plugged into the primary outlet, when you turn your computer off, then the strip can automatically turn off your printer, monitors, and other peripherals that only need to be on if the computer is on. If your TV is plugged into the primary outlet, then you can turn off all the accessories—why power your Blu-ray player if the TV isn’t on, after all?

The most established company in the power-sensing power strip market is Bits Limited, makers of the Smart Strip line of power strips, and we recommend sticking with their tried and true models. Bits Limited’s power strips double as surge protectors and includes a calibration function so you can adjust the sensitivity of the primary device outlet.

They also include a combination of auto-controlled and standard outlets so you can automatically turn off your printer but keep your charging station active. The primary difference between the two styles (one is beige with colorful outlets, and one is a sleeker black design) is that the colorful outlets on the beige models have sliding outlet covers as an integrated safety feature and a higher surge protection rating.

Whatever model you choose, however, they’re a perfect (and auto-magic!) way to save power anywhere you have a device with peripherals that can—and should—be turned off when the primary device isn’t in use.

Not sure where the best place to deploy a power-sensing power strip is? Grab a watt meter and spend an afternoon hunting down phantom loads around your home.

Our list of common energy vampires is a great place to start the hunt, and in no time, you’ll be saving money by keeping wasteful devices turned off when you’re not using them.


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