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Where do you find current-sensing power bars?

Posted by Rob Klovance

It proved to be among the most popular stories on bchydro.com in recent months, but it left one big question unanswered: Where can you find a current-sensing power bar in B.C.?

Several customers have contacted us in the wake of the February story Two steps to big savings on desktop computers. The piece, written primarily for a business audience but of interest to anyone who runs a desktop computer, explained how desktop energy management software, combined with current-sensing power bars, could save $25 per desktop per year.

The specialized power bars also got a plug in blogger Nola Poirier's piece that detailed the power-saving measures she put in place in her home office.

But not every hardware store out there stocks current-sensing power bars. So we asked Power Smart to have a look, and here's a list of places that are stocking the Smart Power Strip:

The Smart Strip energy efficient current sensing power bar is available from the following retail stores in B.C.:

  • Canadian Tire
  • RONA
  • Zellers
  • Acklands-Grainger Inc.
  • Home Hardware
  • Tru-Serv/True Value

Staples also stocks a current-sensing power bar product. In general, you should be able to get these power bars for between $15 and $30 more than a regular power strip, but prices vary.

What does a current-sensing bar do?

Current sensing power bars can be used to control all of the devices on or near a desktop, including computer, monitor, printer, modem, fax machine, cell phone charger, calculator, under-desk heater or on-top-of-desk fan and even task lighting. Here's how they work.

Most current sensing power bars have 10 outlets. One outlet is called the "control outlet." Six others are called "controlled outlets" and three – marked in red – are called "always-on outlets."

You plug your monitor into the control outlet spot and your computer (and any other device you want on all the time, such as a cordless telephone) into one of the always-on outlets. This will ensure you do not have to waste time restarting your computer unnecessarily.

As soon as your computer – and thus your monitor – goes to sleep, the current sensing power bar senses the change in current and shuts down all devices plugged into the controlled outlets. This shutdown helps eliminate what's known as "phantom load" – the small but significant amount of electricity drawn 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by virtually every device plugged into an electrical outlet.

Once again, just a touch on your computer keyboard or a click on the mouse will bring everything back to full power.

Business customers should note that a BC Hydro Product Incentive Program incentive of $7, is available for each Smart Power Strip.

For more information, see our detailed story on desktop power savings. Business customers can also call 1 866 522 4713.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com.

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Source: BC Hydro News