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Feb 06 2018
Are Smart Power Strips Worth the Money?
Really there are two questions here regarding Smart Power Strips:
- Is it worth the money to replace all of my existing power strips with a smart power strips?
- If I’m already buying a power strip, is it worth paying for a smart power strip over a regular power strip?
Let’s start with the second, because it’s the easiest. Smart power strips won’t cost you any more than a regular strip. They’ll both hover around 10-15 bucks. It’s going to vary depending on where you are buying, but these are approximates. So yah, if you’re going to be out of pocket for a new strip anyway, get the one that is going to pay for itself.
The first question is more complicated, and will depend on your specific case. Put simply, a smart power strip saves you more money when more things are plugged into it. They also save you more money when the things plugged in draw a lot of power.
Here are some hypothetical examples:
With only 1 laptop plugged into a smart power strip, you’ll offset about 16 watts of power when used properly. Over a year that will accumulate to 68 kWh. This will cost different amounts in different parts of the country. Here in Chicago, with electricity rates averaging $.11 per kWh, that amounts to $7.69 in energy savings. If you spent $15 to replace your power strip, you won’t be getting that money back for 2 years.
However, imagine a pretty common case where a workstation has a desktop computer, monitor, and personal printer plugged into the same power strip. When asleep, a desktop computer draws 21 watts, a monitor draws 1.4 watts, and a printer draws 5.3 watts, for a total of 27.7 watts. Using the same assumptions of usage, that will add up to 121 kWh and $13.30 of savings. So you’re looking at a 1.1 year payback.
Smart Power Strip Payback Analysis
It’s up to you to make up your mind as to whether it’s worth investing into something that has a 1.1 year payback. As a rule of thumb, anything less than a 1.5 year payback is what I find the market aligning in being an appealing payback. But I understand that saving $13 per year isn’t all that exciting. Certainly, it will not urge you to go out of your way to get a new power strip. However, you are managing a school, library, or office with many, many computer stations. Then, those savings add up to something more exciting.
There are tons of benefits to smart power strips, often they exceed the energy efficiency savings. Primarily, they just plain add the benefits of regular power strips – more outlets on a single location. In fact, I have one in my garage right now and my PHEV plugged into one outlet, with a smart power strip plugged into the additional. This takes my two outlet garage and gives me 8 total.
Additionally, smart power strips have surge protectors inside of them, adding additional value to everything plugged into it. This protects from surges in electricity, which can destroy delicate equipment that does not have its own internal surge protection.
If you own a business, your local utility may offer incentives around smart power strips. In Chicagoland, our utility is Comed and offers a $30 incentive around installed smart power strips for small businesses. While not the biggest drawer of power in your business, this small incentive offers both savings and added value to your operating income.
These incentives can help you make work stations more comfortable for your staff, providing extra ability to charge and have devices at their space, while even potentially lower overall energy usage. Designed for the desktop computer set up, we have seen businesses get a lot of value out of this small piece of energy savings equipment.
In summary, my answer for the first question is split down the middle. If the payback is reasonable, then go for it. If you have a lot of power strips to change over, then you should consider the cost. But if you are looking to replace one or two power strips, you’ll find some more exciting opportunities for energy savings in your lighting, refrigeration, or HVAC equipment.
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