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The Eco Switch

brownbag
15/02/2012 - 10:07

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Saving stand-by power is a very important component of household energy efficiency. Products not turned off at the switch can use a significant amount of standby power and nobody likes using power for nothing. In fact, some sparingly used products can use more power on standby mode over a year than they do when actually on. You can turn these devices off at the switch, but sometimes this is not practical, and expecting your kids to go to such an extent is a bit like expecting a power company to voluntarily reduce their rates.

I’ve tried and done reviews for a myriad of these products, including the TV tricklestar, the future switch and the embertec smart device.  Each device has its own benefits but all of them suffer from some form of complexity, either internal complexity that leads to failure, or complexity in setup.  Some also use batteries and some also use some amount of stand-by power themselves.

Now for the simplest, most effective and cheapest device of all, the eco-switch.  This nifty little item retails for just under $20 and it is a simple switch that enables you to turn off your power from a more accessible and (more importantly) noticeable location.  The eco-switch is basically a 1.2 metre extension cord with a simple switch hanging off it.  The switch is on a cord extending 1.5 metres, so that you can very easily place it in an accessible location.  In essence, it is a way to turn your appliances off at the switch without having to reach the switch.

Here are the pros of the eco-switch:

  1. It has no complex internal components prone to failure.
  2. It requires no batteries.
  3. It uses absolutely no power.
  4. It turns off every bit of stand-by power (typical master slave devices only turn off power to the slaves, not the master). 
  5. It is simple to use, and also very easy to tell the difference between on and off (unlike the future switch). 
  6. It is cheap - $20.
  7. It has far less embodied energy than the more complex devices.
  8. Simplicity – this is the real beauty of the product.  This pro covers all the others but it is such a good one that I have added it twice.

Cons

  1. You have to press the button to turn the devices off, but if this is a con, then you shouldn’t be bothered putting the effort into reading this.
  2. It is not remote – you cannot put the device on the coffee table to turn off your devices (as you can with the future switch).
  3. It doesn’t have the capacity to be programmed to turn off more than one powerpoint (the future switch and equivalent devices can be programmed so that one remote turns off several, or all, powerpoints in the home).

The cons are not really problems at all, just things that it doesn’t do.  What it does do, it does brilliantly and simply.  So now that I’ve reviewed the best of the stand-by power savers, I’m done with reviews of these products.  I think I’ve covered them all and finally got to the best.  Now if I could just replace the rest of the devices in my home with this simple unit…